Later Florida. Later 2014!
Off the plane and straight to the Salt Lick stand in the terminal. Jon says we didn’t get the good pieces, but it still hits the spot.
We met up with Sameer and Amanda for dinner at Fabi + Rosi. Though Jon has spoken to Sameer many times on the phone, this is the first time we are meeting him and his girlfriend in person. We had a fun time getting to know them both. The food was delicious -- the fried oysters, cheese board and my lobster linguine were all well done. The night ended with sparklers, which unfortunately went out just as I snapped the photo. Happy 2015! We are excited for what the new year will bring.
Getting our taco on first thing in the morning at Torchy’s Tacos, a popular food stand. Although breakfast tacos are big in Austin, I opted for The Democrat (shredded beef barbacoa with avocado, and queso fresco), and the green chile queso with chips.
Since most places are closed for the new year, we’re killing time in between our meals with a quiet stop at the downtown location of Houndstooth Coffee. There’s good stuff here and the baristas are super friendly.
Even though we weren’t hungry yet, a bowl of pho hit the spot on this cold and rainy day.
@missankle and Daniel are coincidentally in Austin, so we made plans to go out to the original outpost of The Salt Lick on New Year’s Day. My first impression: the restaurant is a lot bigger than I imagined. After a short wait (15 min?), during which we thoughtfully planned our order (go for meat by-the-pound and not the plates!), we were seated at a cozy long table. Our final tally after two rounds of ordering: 2.5lbs of pork ribs (the best of the night), roughly 1.5lbs of double cut beef ribs, 0.5lbs of sausage (also delicious), 0.5lbs of brisket (dry), a pint of baked beans, and a healthy slice of pecan pie a la mode. Tired and full, we painfully made our way back to the city. We had a lot of fun catching up with old friends Texas-style!
It feels a bit warmer today, so we decided to check out Jo’s coffee stand. Though the coffee was better at Houndstooth, and the breakfast taco was just okay, it seems like a quaint place to hang out on a sunny day.
This place is the mecca of all Whole Foods. We’ve seen some slick, new Whole Foods stores, but this one is of Texan proportions. The variety of foods goes far beyond the average location, and there are additional offerings like a juice bar, BBQ stand, taco stand and what appears to be a gigantic walk-in, refrigerated beer closet.
We arrived early to avoid the lines, though they seem to move pretty quickly. The ramen is solid (was a chicken shoyu broth) -- I would have liked the noodles slightly chewier, and could have done without the raw, chopped onions that were included as garnish. But coming from West Palm, which is completely void of a ramen place, these bowls of soupy noodles made us very happy.
In the South Congress area. I’m loving the whimsical neon signage in Austin. Also, baby cowboy booties.
It’s too bad that it’s so cold and rainy, as this small food park area seems like a nice place to sit and relax. The weather, however, did not put a damper on our enjoyment of this very delicious donut. We got the Miss Shortcake: a donut topped with cream cheese icing and sliced strawberries. The donut had a nice texture -- delicate and slightly crispy on the outside, and fluffy and doughy on the inside.
After refueling at the donut truck, we headed a couple of blocks south to warm up with a cup of coffee/tea.
I was only able to get a 5:15pm reservation at qui, a popular restaurant by Top Chef winner Paul Qui. There are two prix fixe menus -- the regular and vegetarian menus -- both offering up modern Japanese fare with European and Filipino influences. We obviously both went for the regular menus, and Jon got the beverage pairing. Every course was creative, super delicious, and a delight to eat. My favorite dishes were the almond gazpacho (marcona almond, pedro ximenez gelee, pea tendril, and foie gras), and the yellowtail seared on white charcoal, then dipped in a midorizu sauce. At $65pp for the prix fixe, this meal was well worth the price!
Whimsical sumo wrestler chopsticks and simple pottery by Keith Kreeger added pleasing, aesthetic touches to our meal.
During the first week of January, music venues all over the city offer free shows featuring local bands. We settled on The Mohawk, which is supposed to be a good place for live music.
As we wait for the first band to start, the group next to us is having an in depth discussion about mustaches and beards. One of the guys, who has a mustache, is wearing a t-shirt with a handlebar mustache on it. Come on now.
It was a lot of fun discovering Austin’s local bands (Good Field, The Deer, Little Brave and Molly Burch), but we had to call it a relatively early night after a long day of being on our feet.
It was nice to wake up to the sun after two cold and drizzly days. We headed down a few blocks for brunch at South Congress Cafe, where I had a kale and avocado salad and shared the migas with Jon, while he had shrimp and grits. The kale salad was cooked, which I was not expecting, but the migas were tasty. Jon’s Bloody Mary was also delicious with the right amount of kick.
We were feeling too lazy after brunch for a hike to Enchanted Rock or Mount Bonnell, though the exercise would have done us some good. Instead, we stopped by the LBJ Presidential Library, then headed to a cafe on the east side.
Next up on our cafe tour was Wright Bros, where we spent a relaxing hour catching up on our phones.
After waiting in line for 40 minutes (they serve free beer on weekends to help pass the time), we were treated to some really good beef brisket. They were sold out of the ribs and whole dill pickles, but we’re glad to have checked delicious brisket off our list!
Or at least we thought it would be. It was actually just an extended flight of steps up to one of the city’s nicer lookout points. Would have been more enjoyable at dusk, without the crowds of tourists.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery seemed more promising, but was equally crowded and underwhelming. The gallery consists of a matrix of concrete walls covered in graffiti, but more like graffiti done by anyone who can get his hands on a can of spray paint.
Back to the giant Whole Foods to rehydrate at the juice bar. We got the New Year’s Resolution: kale, parsley, apple, carrot, cucumber, coconut water, and ginger. Tasted very healthy.
Checked out a bookstore near the Whole Foods with interesting chairs and Austin-appropriate books.
Grabbed a quick bite at Thai Kun (which just moved down the street last week). This food truck is located in the back of a nice cocktail bar called Whisler’s. I got the waterfall pork, which came with sticky rice. The pork was very tender and the spice was perfectly balanced by the sticky rice and cabbage. Highly recommended!
I happened to wake up early, so I drove around and checked out the State Capitol as the sun rose.
I’ve come across this bakery’s branding by LAND (www.workbyland.com/#/random) on several blogs before. The gold script logo (on the front door) and interior graphics were really nice to see in person. The plain and almond croissants were equally fantastic!
Had to on our last day. We shared the green chile queso, and since I got The Democrat last time, I thought I should try The Republican: grilled jalapeno sausage, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and poblano sauce. It was a bit on the salty side -- I liked The Democrat a lot more.
Our final cafe stop was just one that we saw along the road, across from the Gourdough truck. This cafe is just five months old, which would explain why I didn’t come across it during my trip research. I really like the bright and open interior, and appreciate the black flag logo with a bit of typeplay. The staff was super nice... the barista made me a delicious cup of hot cocoa after informing me that they were out of decaf. It was milky, chocolate-y goodness without being overly sweet or heavy. We hung out for a bit before we had to head over to the airport.
Though the weather was less than ideal, we had a great time eating our way through this quaint city, and enjoying some of its cultural offerings. Thank you ATX, for treating us so well!