Category Archives: atx

Urban Betty Salon: A Series of Selfies

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My hair was growing out, and as the roots got browner, the ends got brassier. I was looking slightly ragged, and had long since lamented that the last time I colored my hair, it didn’t turn out Targaryen White. I needed help, and decided to turn to Jami at Urban Betty Salon.

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I dragged my poor boyfriend along, and thankfully we were both greeted with drinks. (I went with wine; he went with Shiner.) My stylist was almost immediately ready to take me, which can be rare, and she was beyond patient with my waffling back and forth on, “Should I go violet or platinum? Kelly Osbourne has violet, so maybe I should avoid that.” She brilliantly came up with the idea to put on a slightly violet toner that would appear lilac in certain lighting, and silvery-blonde in the dark.

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I’m pretty chatty, and Jami kindly engaged with me as she worked. She took the time to explain what she was doing, and how long things would take. I, unsurprisingly, got a refill on my wine, and laid back comfortably as the chemicals worked their magic. When all was said and done, my hair looked exactly how I wanted (minus that fact that my @$%!%ing bangs won’t grow out fast enough!).

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If you’re looking for a new salon, one that will make you post way too many selfies to Instagram during and after (*cough cough*), then I highly recommend UB. The place is spacious, stylish, and brimming with talented people that truly care about making you look and feel like, well, like I felt. Which is hot enough to post way too many selfies to Instagram when they’re done!

All Night Long: Monday’s Best Happy Hours

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If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being swanky on a budget. Here’s a list of some of my favorite happy hours that last well after the usual 7 o’clock cut-off:

Hillside Farmacy: Enjoy half price east coast oysters, and $5 cava.

East Side Show Room: Fancy cocktails for $5, and discounted snacks (such as pork ribs).

Olive + June: Half off piccoli piatti and wines by the glass.

The W: $6 wines and local spirits, $5 bites, and $4 beers.

Jeffrey’s: Half price bar food, and $2 off drinks.

Peche: $5 cocktails, and half off select menu items.

Eddie V’s: $1 Louisiana oysters, $6 wine and cocktails, and a lot of delicious, discounted food.

Winebelly: Select bottles are half off.

Olivia: 30% off appetizers and bottles. $1 off drinks.

 

Mellizoz: Let’s Taco Bout It

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Mellizoz makes some of the best tacos in Austin, and there’s absolutely no argument against that. See that fish taco? You can’t argue.

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How about the ‘Escobar’ filled with carne guisada?

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See that little face drawn on the fresh avocado? You aren’t going to tell him to his adorable, little face that he’s not delicious.

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Oh, maybe you’re vegetarian, and you think Mellizoz doesn’t have your back? Think again: Shroom. Tacos.

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Have you had one of the greatest green salsas town? Okay, we know Taco Deli has a magical one too, but just look at that stuff up there.

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Argument = won. Mellizoz makes some of my favorite tacos, and often has $5 off PayPal deals. You must try them!

Adventures in Apps: PayPal Edition

I’m pretty famous for my shameless abuse of happy hours, deal apps, and open bar parties. You really have no idea. It’s bad. (It’s good!) Recently, I was told about the PayPal app, and that you could simply use the app and get anywhere from $5 to $20 off your bill, regardless of the amount you spent. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Let me walk you through a day of me wreaking havoc on (just a small fraction of) these specials, and to clarify: PayPal did not contact me, and is not paying me for this post. I just wanted to share the good with you, and make you aware of the promotion while it lasts!


Macarons at La Patisserie

 Life is short, so we’re going to talk about dessert first. In addition to $9 off at Sugar Mama’s, $5 off at Holy Cacao, and another $9 at Hey Cupcake – PayPal has a discount at La Patisserie. Combine this with a sweet Yelp check-in offer for free mini-macarons with qualifying purchase, and you’re set. Did I mention that you don’t have to spend the full amount at any of these places? That’s right. You can spend, say, $6 and tip at Sugar Mama’s and still have some change left to use there for next time. Another full disclosure: I don’t think my boyfriend was aware that you didn’t have to use the full amount in one go, and came home with 3 cupcakes. I am not complaining.



Iced Coffee at Caffe Medici

 In addition to desserts, this deal also works at restaurants and coffee shops. All 3 Caffe Medici locations have it, and it’s $8. 8-freaking-dollars! That’s a lot of iced coffee! If you didn’t know already, Medici is famous for their mind-blowingly delicious coffee. They don’t serve alcohol (sad face), but the coffee drinks are top notch.


Blackened Tilapia Salad

I hate when my pictures turn out blurry! Too bad. I’m still posting this, because Turf N’ Surf Po Boy is freaking magical. Sure, the term “po boy” is a buzzkill for me, but for those out there who also avoid po boys, you can get an enormous salad. Look at that salad! It’s huge! The prices aren’t cheap, but the quality makes them worth every penny. You can even upgrade to fancy things like Chilean sea bass. Turf has a 4.5 star Yelp rating, and that’s not easy to come by, especially for a former food truck tucked into a sports bar. I can’t remember if the deal was $8 off or $9, but regardless, download the PayPal app, be sure to save the deals before you use them, and go nuts. It’s completely worth it.

If you need more pro-tips and discounts, hit me up on twitter: @amberdemure.

Drinks at The Gatsby



Old Sport
The Gatsby is 1920’s flair meets expansive patio, laid-back Austin meets upscale drinks, and “Dirty 6th” meets a great happy hour spot for locals. This new, relatively under the radar joint is nestled just west of 35, and offers an ambiance worthy of F. Scott himself.



McMaster
 We started off with the Old Sport, which was much like an Old Fashioned made with lemon oil and Templeton Rye. The next drink we tried was hands down my favorite drink (ever?) of the evening, The McMaster. It combined grapefruit, green chartreuse, Deep Eddy Ruby Red, and basil. 

My drinking companion was admittedly apprehensive about trying a sweet looking drink, but both of us were pleasantly surprised with the balance of flavors. If you head out to The Gatsby, this is the one I recommend.



Lemon Delight
 As a lover of the classic French 75, the Lemon Delight was truly delightful. One of the most interesting surprises in this cocktail is that they start it off with a habanero rinse. It’s not enough to make the drink spicy, which may be in part because the drink is quite sweet, but I appreciated that like everything else, they took a classic drink and did their own take on it.



Moto Antigua
The irony of it all was that I was out with a Frenchman, and the Moto Antigua was his favorite of them all. He’d never had nor heard of Mezcal, but it swiftly won him over. In fact, he pretty much instantly claimed that drink as his own. Just imagine Vida Mezcal and fresh juices with old fashioned bitters. Mmm…

When you go, try to make it in for happy hour or Whoopee Wednesday which boasts $3 vodka specials, $4 house wines, and $5 martinis. The specials are usually for Deep Eddy drinks, and I love the quality of juice that was used in my Deep Eddy + grapefruit. (It even came with a grapefruit slice!)

Oysters at Clark’s Oyster Bar

Martini + Hamster at Clark’s
Clark’s Oyster Bar is dangerously close to my house, and appeals to my need for nice atmospheres, over the top service, potent martinis, and fresh seafood.  The ambiance is perfect, despite the small space, and everything about the experience is pleasant. It’s simple luxury, nothing too seemingly flashy… Only the price.
Peanut Butter Jelly Time
 I like coming here during the day. Lots of windows means basking in the sunlight, while servers in deck shoes pass out bread with sea salt to freshly seated patrons. The partner and I are a bit obsessed with trying all kinds of oysters, and chose to mix and match several. (They have 12 different varieties!) The prices range from $2.75 to $3.25 each. They definitely were some of the best oysters we’ve had in town, despite putting a (fake) mortgage on our (non-existent) house to pay for them.

Oysters!
The drinks were fair in price at about $10 per martini. If oysters aren’t your thing, but seafood still is, you can have their ever-so-popular red snapper ceviche, clam chowder, catch of the day, or even their $24 crab cake. In defense of that crab cake, it’s all crab, and very little “cake.”

The only thing stopping me from a weekly jaunt is the price. Maybe they’re worth it? Maybe it’s a tad too much? I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Happy Hour at Olive & June


Torta Napoletana
Olive & June offers half-off antipasti and cocktails from 5-6:30. Its location near 34th Street means you don’t have to stress about parking; the complimentary valet means parking is a snap.

Farm Egg
 The farm egg was one of my favorite dishes. It had enough butter to make Paula Dean go “Whoa!” and it tasted too good for me to worry about the calories. The mushrooms added a nice earthiness. This is something not to be missed.

Aperol Spritz
Negroni. Obviously.
 The cocktails were well made, but some were on the smaller side. Trust me, I sampled just about every cocktail they had. (I was doing it for science!)

White Anchovy Crostini
 The crostinis are just $2.25 each, and we really enjoyed the anchovy ones. A lot of the dishes under Piccoli Piatti section had impossible to understand Italian names. My dining partner, that I brought out for her birthday, had previously lived in Florence. Even she had trouble deciphering what some of the plate names meant. It made it a little awkward when talking to the server. “Can you tell me what one means? And that one… I also would like to know what the heck this item is…”

Torta Napoletana
I almost forgot to mention the torta! Also delicious. I think I was more excited about the garnishes than the dish itself. I love olives.

Overall, I like Olive & June. It has the most perfect of perfect patios, and the food really is good. We only had an antipasti plate and a crostini each, but we were full. Despite items being 50% off, I still wound up spending over $50. Maybe I shouldn’t have had all those cocktails?



Lunch at Lucky Robot

Green Machine
People have been talking about this crazily decorated new place on SoCo, and we decided to investigate. It’s called Lucky Robot, and they’re definitely something different.

Green Machine (again!)
The moment that you’re seated you’ll hear a long spiel about how to use the “iPad ordering system.” It’s pretty easy if you’re used to a tablet, so don’t feel intimidated. You put things in at the same time if you want them to come out together, and put them in later if you want them later (helloooo deciding I want another roll!).



Japanese Pizza?
We absolutely loved our first dish, ‘The Green Machine,’ which was a sashimi dish comprised of albacore, avocado, serrano, and cilantro. I loved it, and enjoyed checking the nutritional info on each item using their ordering system. 
That means the pizza (shown above) didn’t make the cut for healthiest dishes, but it was a delicious, cabbage-based mess that totaled in at only 560 calories. It was easily shareable, and we couldn’t even fathom finishing it. Have a group? This is the dish to pick.


We didn’t just have the ‘Green Machine’ and ‘Japanese Pizza’ (which is nothing like pizza, BTW, it’s more like a vegetable pancake mixed with delicious seafood — tastes great with sriracha). We also had the salmon kimchi. It neither looked nor tasted as good as we wanted it to be. For someone that loves both kimchi and salmon sashimi, this was the disappointment of the meal. Stick to the other sashimis, and avoid this one (unless, you REALLY love kimchi, which I thought I did, but really…).
iPad ordering at Lucky Robot
At the end of the day, we want to go back. I loved the first sashimi specialty (the green one, not the kimchi one), and enjoyed a decent $5 cold sake. My partner loved the specialty items, such as the “Japanese pizza,” and we both got to pretend like we’re going to get skinny in the ‘New Year’ by checking up on the calories on each. There is a table with a swing-set for a chair in the back, and I really hoped to sit there, but not everything goes my way. Just most things.

Here’s my overall comments on the ordering system:

 Need a server? Use the iPad.
Need a drink? Use the iPad.
Need to add something to your order? Use the iPad.
Need your check? Use the iPad.
Want to see nutritional information? Use the iPad.
Want to split checks? …hit the server button on the iPad.

Oh, and we’re totally up to try new places. Feel free to tell us which to try next! We recently started a Facebook page. Please feel free to like us.




Brunch at Russell’s Bistro

Poached Egg at Russell’s Bistro
 Russel’s Bistro is nestled just shy of 38th Street, near the original Kerbey Lane Cafe. We were on our way to Kerbey, but the massive line (and rather annoying drum circle at the shop next door) made us stop to see just what Russell’s had to offer. 

When I learned that they give you complimentary mimosas and coffee while you wait for a seat, my mind was made up.

House Breakfast $10 at Russell’s Bistro
 The menu was overwhelmingly focused on eggs, but that’s pretty standard for most brunch spots. The mimosas, cheaper than the advertised price if you don’t spring for the Prima Perla Prosecco, were lukewarm and dismal. The wait between each one on their otherwise enjoyable patio became unbearable. At one point I had to leave my seat to seek service.

Crab Cake Benedict $15 at Russell’s Bistro
 Dishes run from $9 all the way up to $17. The crab cake benedict was disappointing. The potatoes were fine, the poached eggs were good, but the crab cake was all cake and no crab.

My partner enjoyed the complimentary fruit served with our meal, and even the coffee. We thought the ambiance, particularly the patio, was pleasant, but I don’t think the food dazzled us. If they upped their game on the mimosas (such as serving them cold and fizzy), and if service had been even a little attentive… I’d have loved it.

Dinner at Barley Swine

Barley Swine is the greatest f@$&!*ing food I have ever had in my life. Just ask anyone that has ever been there. In fact, I’m here for the second time and live-ish blogging it right now.


Defintely sit at the bar. Do not question me on this. Just do it, and preferably on a Wednesday (we’re here right now and there’s zero wait, last Wednesday was just 30 minutes!).


There are more photos that I’m taking even now that I just don’t have time to edit and draw on. Just take my word for it: their menu listings don’t sound phenomenal, but they are in fact, better than Uchi. I said it.


I clearly showed up with a dessert fiend (not naming names *cough, cough “Errol!”*). I loved the locally sourced, fresh-focused menu, and despite being pescatarian, I was able to enjoy everything we ordered. The daily specials are not to be missed!


I know that I don’t have flowery words to describe the incredibly balanced blend of favors and textures in each dish, but nor do my friends that come here. They often say,”If I had to choose between Barley Swine and sex, I’d choose Barley.” If I eat here enough, that just might be the choice I have to make (goodbye, skinny jeans).


Overall, the plates are small, the food is more affordable than you think (though still up there), and the staff is phenomenal. I couldn’t decide if the chocolate ganache dessert worked better as a kitteh or a dragon do I’ll let you, the readers, decide for yourselves.