Texas Democratic debate and the primaries had political celebrities dining at local favorites, and Manor Road's restaurant row gets some action

It's been a very long time since Texas Democrats felt as relevant to the national political picture as during the recent primary season. Austin was certainly feeling the love – all that increased national media attention and renewed political involvement was certainly good for local bars and restaurants. Debate watch and results watch parties were the order of the season at local watering holes, and political celebrity sightings at restaurants were pretty common. A professional audio-visual crew set up big-screen TVs at Güero's (1412 S. Congress, 447-7688) so that Sen. Hillary Clinton and her team could watch a debate retelecast with plenty of Mexican food and margaritas. And though former President Bill Clinton didn't make it into his favorite local Mexican restaurant on his quick trips in and out of town, his staff did order Güero's food to go for his plane rides. Meanwhile, daughter and champion campaigner Chelsea Clinton was spotted at El Chile Cafe y Cantina (1809 Manor Rd., 457-9900), and the dinner crowd at Hoover's Cooking (2002 Manor Rd., 479-5006) was all abuzz on primary eve when Michelle Obama and her guests enjoyed big platters of barbecue and cobbler... I can't wait to shake off the flu so I can get into Stortini (1917 Manor Rd., 391-9500) to check out the new pizzas they've recently added to the menu. Pastry chef Alex Manley developed the dough and chef Kristine Kittrell and her kitchen staff are responsible for such toppings as house-made sausage with roasted peppers and mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and pesto. The pies are cooked in a vintage pizza oven purchased in Manley's former home of Marfa. We hear the new pizzas are a big hit with the clientele, especially in the Red House Lounge, where there is a half-price pizza happy hour every day from 5 to 7pm... And speaking of Eastside menu additions, Gene's New Orleans Style Poboys & Deli (1209 E. 11th, 477-6600) has added Soul Food Wednesdays, where you are likely to find braised oxtails, meatloaf, sweet potatoes, chicken 'n' dumplings, greens, black-eyed peas, and banana pudding... Ever since Curtis Clarke had a conversation about authentic Southern-style fried chicken with Chronicle contributor Claudia Alarcón last summer, he's been working on how he could put it on the menu at the Evangeline Cafe (8106 Brodie, 282-2586). Well, now he's got it going on. Try Clarke's bone-in, skin-on, light or dark fried chicken pieces at lunch or dinner.

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food news, Güero's, Hoover's Cooking, El Chile Cafe y Cantina, Stortini, Alex Manley, Kristine Kittrell, Red House Lounge, Gene's New Orleans Style Poboys & Deli, Curtis Clarke, Evangeline Cafe

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