Category Archives: tx

Dinner at Corzaon



Enchiladas Suizas

 Corazon at Castle Hill is a place that I live relatively close to, but have unwittingly avoided for quite some time. The large sign outside their door begging for potential patrons to try their happy hour, and even the Groupon deals I’ve seen them advertise weren’t enough to bring me in. One slightly rainy day, I decided to venture in.  What I found inside greatly resembled an episode of Kitchen Nightmares.

Guacamole
 The place was mostly empty, save for one or two tables of elderly couples. Upon first entering the few chairs available at the bar dead in front of the door. I almost always like to sit at bars, and this was one bar I felt was set a little too close to the entrance. We started with guacamole and the queso fundido. It was an accident that I started with the guacamole (I requested a side order, received the large appetizer portion). The queso fundido was just watery, sub-par queso with nothing else done to it, and a stack of mixed tortillas. The salsa that came before was smokey, almost vinegary. It was one of few salsas I’ve declined to practically drink.

Tuna Tartare

We put all of our order in at once, and I’m wondering why they declined to inform me that the tuna tartare would have come with the side of guacamole I requested. Could’ve saved me a few bucks, and also made me reconsider ordering the tuna tartare as my main course in the first place. It was tuna covered with guacamole. I never thought I’d say this, but at this point I was so sick of tasting avocados I thought I’d never want to see another. Tuna tartare should normally be light, relatively unadulterated, and taste like tuna. This was a sad additional order of guacamole, that had a few chunks of fish beneath. Perhaps the fish didn’t taste so fresh, and this was a tactic to cover it up? I couldn’t taste it, so I can only assume.

Adventure Time! (You may not get that reference.)
My partner did enjoy the chicken enchiladas, so I suppose it wasn’t all a loss. We both admitted that they looked more like Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and less like something appetizing, but in the end he said they, “tasted much better than they looked.” Admittedly, the drinks were relatively inexpensive.

It should come as no surprise to you that my overall stance is that I don’t really like Corazon. Their menu had everything from duck breast to Mexican food to a cheese and fruit plate on the menu. It was very unfocused, and I suppose with so many different styles and options, they couldn’t really master any one type of food. I still respect their happy hour drink prices, and hope that the menu gets a revamp soon.





Dinner at Michi Ramen


Vegetarian Ramen at Michi
 You can’t escape Austin’s current ramen fetish, and the craze doesn’t seem to be losing momentum. In fact, by the time I finish this post I suspect at least two new ramen restaurants well pop up (not really, but in coming weeks… really).  If you don’t mind leaving the safety of downtown Austin, journey just a few minutes north to Michi. Besides, it’s the only ramen joint that currently has a permanent veggie option.

And that veggie option is good.

Burnt Ends
My partner ordered the first ramen on the list, “Michi.” You can choose to have your ramen light or stout, and the general consensus is that stout is the way to go. His friends ordered Meat Lover’s, and all four of us paid extra to make it “extra spicy.” The consensus overall was, “That wasn’t spicy AT ALL.” Said disappointment aside, I returned another day for lunch and requested that they make it “Extra, extra spicy,” and that time they delivered. I suppose if you hope for spice you’d better really stress it to them, otherwise it’ll be a bit lackluster. 

There are a lot of different things you can add on to the ramen. Green onions are free, but everything else will cost about $0.50-1 extra. I prefer the less expensive onsen (lightly boiled egg) to the ajitama (marinated soft-boiled egg). As far as sides go, the burnt ends (chashu, or rather pork) were a hit amongst the carnivores. I think they preferred it to the ramen, but these were the types to find ramen a bit exotic for their tastes.

Pistchio & Cherry Blossom Mochi




I thought the veggie ramen was fantastic, filling, and richer than expected, but what meal is complete without dessert? I’ve had my fair share of Asian desserts, and then some. No one else at the table knew what mochi was, but I was quick to insist that everybody have one! We weren’t as thrilled with the cherry blossom flavored mochi as we were the pistachio, but come on… nothing beats pistachio ice cream. 

Main complaint? That iPad ordering system gets awkard when you pay the bill, but it isn’t enough to keep me from coming back. If you haven’t had ramen at Michi yet, go!






Lunch at Roll On Sushi Diner


Pork Dumplings
We recently ventured just a hair north of our usual “downtown bubble” to grab a late lunch at Roll On Sushi Diner. With quick service, inventive rolls, and a slight obsession with social media (hey! I can relate!) they won us over.



The Hippie

It would have been nice if we had made it in time for happy hour, which is the usual Monday-Friday 5-7 business with a nice lunchtime edition available on Saturday from 11-1. Then we could’ve gotten dumplings and nigiri for under $3, and washed it all down with $1 off beer and wine. Regardless of not having perfect timing, the prices were still completely fair.

The Grouch

My hippie roll tasted as healthy as it was, and that’s not a bad thing. Roll On is pretty famous for their less healthy items, like the Cholesta Roll which involves mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak, and green beans. My partner, who has absolutely no qualms about putting things like chicken into sushi, loved “The Grouch.” It was roasted chicken, green chile, jack cheese, onions, arugula, and aioli. He won’t admit it, but I think he secretly loves mayo/aioli, so it was a double-win for him. As soon as this is published, he will be mad at me, but I’m not the one with a jar of remoulade, mayo, and sour cream in my refrigerator YOU DAIRY LOVER!

Seaweed Salad

Roll On has a real 50’s diner feel, hospitable owners, and even a flat screen displaying all the tweets people make about them, which of course is what I was doing while eating because you know, if a tree falls in a forest and no one tweets about it…

Blogger Tasting at Soleil

Scallop at Soleil
Recently, as the last few streaks of sunset spread across the sky, we were treated to a blogger tasting at Soleil

View of Lake Travis at Soleil
Soleil is on the lake, practically connected to The Oasis, and promises a breathtaking view with your meal.

Watermelon Radish at Soleil
We started off with light bites, champagne, and various other dazzling finger foods brought out on trays by excited waitstaff. It appeared that the people working there were as hyped about what we were about to eat as we were.

Foie Gras at Soleil
Given that I often lean vegan/vegetarian/pescatarian while my partner leans towards, well, everything – I was pleased to find that they were graciously accommodating with my dietary preferences.

Edamame-Filled Ravioli at Soleil

The “Amber-friendly” items turned out to be even better than my partner’s; I assume that they were, because I liked them so much. They were a little heavy on the cheese, but I wasn’t complaining.

Fried Goat Cheese at Soleil
I’m not usually one for fried food, but the carnivores around me swiftly descended upon my fried goat cheese dish. I was pretty distracted by all of the truly perfect wine pairings they had lined up with each course.

Scallop at Soleil
Everyone else got bacon on their scallops, but mine was just fine without it.

Apples, Caramel, and Cheese at Soleil
The dessert courses (that’s right, more than one!) were phenomenal. Most of the other bloggers at our table admitted to normally passing on dessert, but we all happily dove in again and again as the plates came out. We were apparently competing to see who could stuff themselves the most throughout the night.

Soleil
Given that we were at a blogger event, it’s hard to not walk away having had the absolute greatest time, but I am hesitant to say that this event was lovely only because I was in the company of local food writers. I believe that the ambiance, view, food, service, and wonderful little touches such as the live jazz band all equaled a difficult-to-match dining experience.

In fact, almost everyone that was there has already made plans to go back. After all, the partner said it was his favorite food event we’ve ever attended to date.

Lunch at Franklin Barbecue

Moist Brisket, Sausage, and Peppers

I’d be hard pressed to find someone that has never heard of Franklin Barbecue, the place that Anthony Bourdain claims has the best barbecue in America. If you live in Austin, chances are that you’ve been before, or at least seen the lines of hungry would-be patrons wrapped around the block in hopes of getting in before Franklin runs out.
Moist Brisket
 I don’t eat red meat, but my partner and his friends are pretty much anti-vegetarians. I think cookies are the only non-meat thing they’ll consume. We woke up early, stocked up on booze, and set up camp in line hours before Franklin opened. I recommend getting there as early as 9 a.m. and bringing a chair. Bringing your own alcohol helps make the time pass rather quickly.

Once inside, the seating gets competitive. Expect to have to sit outside for the most part, and to see Aaron Franklin himself serving you from behind the counter. He complimented my partner’s glasses and I’ve never heard the end of it. “Aaron Franklin likes my glasses!”

Out of the ribs, sausage, and brisket that was had, it appears that brisket was the star (and most photogenic). I admit to taking a tiny piece of the meat just to say I did, and despite what everyone on Twitter said, which was mostly, “You’re going to be a carnivore after trying Franklin!” I must confess that I am still not into meat, but could see how people who enjoyed meat would especially enjoy Franklin’s creations.
Was it the best barbecue my partner and his friends ever had? Yes.
Will they wait in line for it again any time soon? Probably not. The hassle of getting in makes it more of a special occasion sort of thing, and not a weekly excursion.

Brunch at Hillside Farmacy

I admit to being less than dazzled by Hillside Farmacy the first time I ate there, but a follow-up visit about a month later really won me over. Fresh seafood? Yes, please.


The cost of a cocktail is a bit on the pricey side, and the same goes for mimosas. If you have to have a drink with your breakfast (I know I do!) I think the carafe is the most affordable way to go. The orange juice is super pulpy, which I view as a mega-plus.


The croque monsieur (shown above) was a big hit with my partner. He had a pretty bad experience with a grilled cheese-like sandwich, the “dough well done,” on our first visit so I’d steer clear of that one. 


The smoked salmon was a hit with both of us, except for the cole slaw, which is a matter of personal preference. I HATE COLE SLAW!


As pretty as those boiled shrimp look, they weren’t really worth it. Don’t get me wrong, they taste fine. I just can’t justify what you get for the cost on that one. It’s extremely plain, but maybe you’ll be into it; who knows?


As adorable as the food and space are at this hip, little gem… I must confess that the seating is extremely uncomfortable and tables are painfully small. 

Pro-tip: They have half-off all oysters every Monday!

All in all, do I like Hillside? I love it! Grab that citrusy delicious crab salad and a carafe, and go have brunch!

Happy Hour at Uchi

Let me try to think of something about Uchi that no one has ever blogged about before…


How about “social hour?” (their fancy name for happy hour.) Surely no one’s truly covered that before, right? Let’s do it! All things pictured in this post (so far we have the seared escolar and the shag roll, about $6 each), except for the nigiri, are part of the discount from 5-6:30 every day!


People in Austin say that Uchi is impossible to get into, and impossible to afford. Lies! Get there around 5, especially if it’s on “date night,” and cozy up at the sushi bar. You can get full for under $50. We did. And we each had hot sake for under $5.


Odds are, you live in Austin, and already know that everything served is going to be perfect and blow your mind. That is mostly true, with the exception of the crunchy/spicy tuna roll. We weren’t exactly dazzled.


The nigiri, chef’s choice, seemed to be one of the greatest deals. When you do the math of ordering piece by piece or letting the chefs pick out 7, you come out ahead.


The hama chili, which we often order in a slightly larger quantity and price at Uchiko, was possibly the highlight of our social hour adventure.

The takeaway is obvious: Uchi is an option, even if you’re not rolling in the dough! Have a nice date night, drink some $7 white wine, and keep it fancy. 

Brunch at Sagra

Sagra is best known for their half-off pizza happy hour (5-6:30), but we decided to stop in for Sunday brunch. I think it’s safe to say that it’s now one of my partner’s favorite brunch spots in town.

They started us off with a massive basket of delicious breads. In search of slightly healthy fare, I decided to order smoked fish (shown above).


Most of the menu was egg-centric, but some truly Italian dishes were also offered. Wood-fired pizza for breakfast? They have it.

Same goes for carbonara.


The biggest draw to Sagra for brunch would have to be the $1 mimosas and bellinis. 

If you’re looking for a nice meal in a cozy house off the beaten path of downtown Austin, go to Sagra.


Blogger Happy Hour at Hugo’s

Hugo’s graciously hosted a happy hour for food bloggers to come in and sample their offerings. I’ve been to dinner and brunch there previously, so I knew what I was in for.


We started with the shrimp cocktail shooter, which had just the right amount of spice, and moved onto shrimp and grits.


There weren’t many vegetarian items, but the Mexican street corn wraps proved to be a rabbit-safe option. I loved that the fact that they were wrapped up in lettuce!


The next course that came around was Hugo’s famous “duck cigars,” which paired duck confit with balsamic blackberry ancho jam.


By the time the chorizo spiced pork ribeye came out, everyone was stuffed. I made room for the green onion mashed potatoes anyway despite the fact that I knew dessert was coming.


The cuatro leches boasted 4 types of milk, and the chocolate bread pudding won our table over as the crowd favorite.


Overall, Hugo’s is fairly priced Southwestern food with pretty good daily drink specials from 4-7. They have an enormous patio, free garage parking, and some the most mind-blowingly inventive house-infused tequilas around.




Lunch at TacoDeli

TacoDeli is known for their award-winning tacos and sauces, so we decided to hop in and see what all the fuss was about.


The doña salsa was well worth the buzz, as were almost all of the options, which I mixed together into a “suicide.” 


I don’t recommend doing that.


My partner raved about the meat on his taco, calling the dish as a whole, “Simple and slow-cooked.” I had a fish taco that was good, but not mind-blowing.

All in all, it’s a good place that I would return to for lunch. It’s not life-changing, unless you’re into pork.