Cuisines editor Virginia B. Wood explains why one of Austin's most successful 24-hour restaurants is going to college.

KLC Goes to UT

One of Austin's most successful 24-hour restaurants is going to college. The newest Kerbey Lane Cafe (2606 Guadalupe, 477-5717) opens on the Drag this week, making it the fourth outlet for the homegrown chain. Kerbey Lane's hearty, reasonably priced menu should be a big hit with hungry students looking for a reliable meal in the middle of the night, or any other time of day, for that matter. Look for the same eggs, flapjacks, and round-the-clock slacker-style service you know and love... Also new in the campus area is Anthony Stephen's first restaurant venture, Wings of Texas (2828 Rio Grande, 480-8081), in the former Hangtown location. Stephens has developed four spicy signature sauces for the ever-popular buffalo wing, and he's eager for folks to try them. All orders of fried chicken wings come with a side of bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks. Wings of Texas is equipped to handle large bulk orders for parties or happy hours. They serve sodas and sports TV these days, but a beer license is on the way.

Saved by Soup I'm not a doctor and can't guarantee you'll get well, but I do have two friendly suggestions for distressed flu and allergy sufferers. The first is a wonderful little book reviewed here in mid-January last year. A Soothing Broth (Broadway Books, $18) by Pat Willard is full of "tonics, soups, and other cure-alls for colds, coughs and out-of-sorts days." It's full of folk remedies, recipes, and good common-sense ideas for taking care of yourself or someone else who is sick. It makes a worthwhile addition to the family culinary library. The second suggestion would be to utilize tortilla soup as a weapon in your disease-fighting arsenal. Having been saved from a nasty bout of pneumonia a few years back by daily doses of tortilla soup from Guero's (1412 S. Congress, 447-7688), I'm a firm believer in the curative powers of this dish. I've also had success vanquishing allergy symptoms with the dark, chile-spiked version at Manuel's (310 Congress, 472-7555; 10201 Jollyville Road, 345-1042). Think of it as the Austin version of the age-old chicken soup cure: pieces of fresh, homemade corn tortilla and aromatic vegetables in a rich, hot chicken broth that packs the powerful vitamin C punch of capsicum peppers. Though your favorite version of tortilla soup will probably work equally well, remember to avoid the cheese sometimes added to this dish if reducing overall congestion is your goal. No bill will be forthcoming for this advice.

Viva Tex-Mex BBQ

"Fusion food" ideas rarely move me anymore, but this marriage of Texas' two most prominent culinary influences really works. Intrigued by a sign advertising Tex-Mex BBQ (S. First & Oltorf), I had to check this out. Since Circle S Catering took over the former hamburger joint on this busy corner, the fare includes breakfast tacos, smoked meat by the plate and the pound, and sizzling fajitas. Traditional barbecue side orders are available, as well as Spanish rice, pico de gallo, tortillas, and hot sauce. A three-meat combo offered meaty and succulent pork ribs, bias-cut sausage full of spicy flavor, and tasty fajita meat with great grilled onions. Pintos are spiced with just enough jalapeño and the rice is fine. Fresh, uncooked salsa comes with every order. It's a no-frills joint that offers good value for the money.

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Pat Willard, Guero's, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Wings of Texas, Anthony Stephen, Tex-Mex BBQ, Manuel's

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