The Oasis Restaurant, which sits on a cliff some 450′ above Lake Travis in Austin, labels itself as the sunset capital of Texas…and it may very well be. I recently visited with an out-of-town guest and a few of my daughters and was amazed at the enormity of what they are building out there. You see, in 2005 the Oasis burned as a result of a lightning strike. It has since been rebuilt and then some. An employee informed us that the place currently seats 2600 people — enough to be the third largest restaurant in the USA. Construction is well underway on an expansion which will increase the seating to 4000…largest in the country is their claim! According to their own website there will also be about 30 retail shops on site.
The signature architectural feature of the Oasis is its many levels of outdoor decks. Large patio umbrellas cover the tables and about ten minutes before the sun hits the horizon the staff makes a mad scramble to collapse all the umbrellas to maximize the view. As the sun sets, a bell rings out, hundreds of cameras click, and everyone cheers.
What’s the food like? Let’s just say that I’m not all that picky and I still don’t like it much. Oh well, I go (once every 5 years maybe) for the sunset and not the food.
I took brackets of three different compositions on our last visit. One was an immediate reject and I processed one of the others (shown above). Standard-ish 3-exp (or was it 6???) HDR tonemapped in Photomatix, combined with bits from the original exposures, and run through a bit of curves adjustments, etc. I plan to get out there again sometime soon and really spend a bit of time taking photos from various vantage points.
Today’s shot was taken several months ago in front of Chuy’s TexMex on Barton Springs Road in Austin, TX. Chuy’s is an iconic place and I love to eat there. Unfortunately, my wife isn’t crazy about Mexican food or TexMex (Sacrilege?), so I’ve got to go there on my own time for the most part.
I’ve been craving Chuy’s lately and the cravings get stronger every time I see the image above come across my screen (it’s one of my random desktop backgrounds). The drive-up speakers pictured are typical of the not-so-typical decor in the various locations. There are bottle caps embedded in cement, Elvis shrines, hubcaps hanging densely from the ceiling, and so on. Each location is eclectic, but each is also unique. In fact, the owners have a saying: “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s”.
The food is also unique, as even the names of the entrees indicate: Chicka-chicka Boom-boom, Chuychanga, and the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo. I’ve liked everything I’ve everything I’ve ever eaten there. Yum.
Chuy’s has TexMex locations all around Texas and now even in Tennessee and Alabama — a regular global conglomerate! The company also has other types of restaurants and they’re excellent IMO.
This image was created from two exposures. I honestly don’t remember if I tonemapped the image or if I simply fused exposures — nothing fancy in any case.