Cheap Eats: Quickie Pickie
Convenience dating at a convenience store
Sometimes, when you're not sure if you like someone and you don't want them to get the wrong idea, you go on a not-a-date date. These not-a-date dates can take plenty of forms, such as grocery shopping together or going out to dinner but very pointedly splitting the bill. You might think that getting dinner is obviously a date, but the more low-key the place, the more questionable the intention. It's the thrill of eating out, without the commitment of actually dining. I've gone on a lot of not-a-date dates and have since pulled this trick many times – going somewhere so unassuming that both my "date" and I were confused about what was actually going on. These unpretentious meals serve a purpose: You can pretty quickly figure out if your Bumble match can make even the most low-key of meals interesting. Enter Quickie Pickie.
Cheap Eats Case File 003: Quickie Pickie
The original Eastside Quickie Pickie (a second location recently opened on East Cesar Chavez) is a fantasy of a convenience store. There's a whole aisle of wine, breakfast tacos, and lattes. There's quinoa salad, expensive varietals of kettle corn, and slices of pie to-go. You can eat in or take out. It's a good place to pick up gourmet Popsicles, or Topo Chico. It's supremely casual, and that's exactly what makes it so groovy.
The Meal: My date and I were both ravenously hungry. I ordered the muffaletta ($10), and he got the Butternut ($7). The muffaletta was salty as all get out, thick layers of ham and salami, topped with molten provolone cheese, and the barest smattering of crushed olives. The bread was good, and the sandwich was hot. However, I wanted more olives and cheese and less meat. (Fundamentally, a sandwich's soul lies in the accoutrements, ya dig?) My date's sandwich was creative, a tender slice of butternut squash, covered in caramelized onions and topped with a heaping, juicy mound of fresh greens. However, the best treat at Quickie Pickie – the stop-you-in-your-tracks part of the meal – were the fried pickles ($5). The masterpiece in junk food science is tangy, hot, slippery, and crunchy all at the same time, especially when dunked in QP's aïoli.
The Atmosphere: The atmosphere is really what sells Quickie Pickie. Despite the fact that it's perhaps the epitome of Eastside hipsterdom, there is a charming neighborhood feel to the grocer. People bring their dogs and hang out on the patio, making it ideal for people-watching if conversation gets boring. A variety of bars are a short walk away, where you can keep things going if your date is going well. Alternatively, you can drink a $3 draft beer at QP on Wednesdays and head to the amazing food trucks up the street if you're feeling like your suitor has potential, but needs a little walk to jog them back into remembering to ask you questions.
The Verdict: Quickie Pickie is great if you're in a pinch, or looking for a stress-free experience. Be forewarned, though, that a full meal here is relatively pricey if you both go for a sandwich or burger, (though there are cheaper taco options.) If you include a crisp glass of rosé ($7) as I did to compensate for the lack of scintillating conversation, you're way over budget with no hope for a brighter future. Were I to go to QP again, I'd get a bottle of wine and a bag of fancy kettle corn and call it a day. However, if you want to throw your date off your trail, or if you're not sure what is actually going on between the two of you, it's indubitably best to play it safe with a meal at one of Austin's best gourmet grocery stores.
Quickie Pickie1208 E. 11th, 512/479-0136
Mon.-Fri., 7am-12mid; Sat.-Sun., 8am-12mid