South Congress Cafe: Watermelon Salad
4700 S. Congress Ave. 851-9300, www. southcongresscafe.com.
You’re walking down Congress Avenue on a murderously hot summer afternoon. The
Capitol blurs in the heat waves on the horizon. You begin to wonder when the desert added cute vintage shops and food trailers as you long for respite from the radiating concrete sidewalks. Ducking into the South Congress Cafe, you’re immediately greeted by a blast of cold air as welcome as the restaurant’s soothing white tabletops. The only dish appropriate for the oppressive occasion — the Watermelon Salad ($10) — catches your eye, and you realize that picnics weren’t just meant to be appreciated al fresco. The bright red cubes of sweet melon atop mixed greens provide an immediate burst of flavor, their juices adding to the bright, refreshing lemon-mint vinaigrette dressing. The light bite of red onions keeps the fruit from overpowering your palate like a sugary soda. Both the sweet and spice, along with the watermelon’s coarse texture, are mellowed wonderfully by a soft, chunky feta cheese crumbled liberally. I like to add grilled shrimp ($7 extra), because its sweet, charred crunch enhances both the texture and flavor of the salad, making it the perfect culinary salvation from the Texas heat.
Eastside Cafe adds crunchy cabbage to its chicken salad as well as toasted peanuts.