President Obama visited Austin, Texas on Friday as a keynote speaker for the SXSW (South By Southwest) Conference and Festival. He spent the day with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and, as he often does, the President made a stop at a local restaurant. The lucky spot that afternoon was Torchy’s Tacos.
As the POTUS entered the small dining room, there was applause and cheering. In his inimitable style, he greeted the diners and workers. With an entourage of Secret Service and White House Press members — plus Mayor Adler’s detail — the dining room filled up quickly. Obama stopped at the first table and received a hug from the woman there (which made the Secret Service guys a bit twitchy) and greeted her companion before heading to the counter.
The restaurant staff was lined up behind the counter, eager to greet the President. Once he’d shaken hands, he checked the menu and decided that he would get a “Democrat” (shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions & a wedge of lime, served with tomatillo salsa on a fresh corn tortilla), a “Republican” (grilled jalapeño sausage, shredded cheese & pico de gallo, served with Poblano Sauce and on a flour tortilla) and an “Independent” (Hand-battered and fried Portobello mushroom strips with refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilantro and avocado, drizzled with ancho aioli on a flour tortilla).
Because “I’m bipartisan.”
Adding tacos for Mayor Adler and one of his Secret Service guys (he asked the entire entourage if they wanted one, too (even the Press Corps), the President insisted on paying, telling the cashier who tried to comp him, “Nah. Look at all these cameras, they’re going to be saying Obama got free food.” The bill came to $18.40 and, after stuffing a twenty-dollar bill in the tip jar, the President handed over another $20 and walked away. A $21.60 tip? What a guy!
He visited with the rest of the customers in the dining room, then went out to the patio:
— David Simas (@Simas44) March 11, 2016
Tacos in hand — well, bag — the President’s motorcade continued to the Long Center, where he was to speak. During his casual conversation with the Editor of The Texas Tribune, Obama called on the tech industry to solve America’s big problems hand-in-hand with the U.S. government:
It’s not enough to focus on the cool, next big thing, it’s harnessing the cool, next big thing to help people in this country.
He also encouraged attendees to help make a difference in their communities. His slogan in 2008 was “Yes WE Can,” he reminded the listeners. You can watch his conversation with Evan Smith here.
Once Obama had gone, the man who served him showed off the receipt, which he says he will keep as a souvenir:
— Jennifer Kendall (@jenniferonFOX7) March 11, 2016
This is one of the things we love about our President. He doesn’t have to stop at a local eatery when he visits a city, but he does. He knows that a visit from him gets said restaurant free publicity. It also highlights small business and (usually) minimum wage workers. His natural charm and friendliness help put people at ease — sometimes so much so that the Secret Service gets nervous. All-in-all, a visit from President Obama makes everyone’s day, as we can see from the smiles in this video from the WH Press Corps:
Featured Image via Screen Capture