Tag Archives: south austin

The Highball: Karaoke Rooms, With Room For Dessert

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If you’re a fan of The Alamo Drafthouse, you’ve undoubtedly visited their sister space, The Highball. Perhaps you came in to see Dale Watson play? Maybe it was to attend a hilarious Action Pack Bingo game? Did you go for the absolutely insane karaoke rooms?

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Today, I’m talking about none of those things. If you haven’t guessed already, this is all about the food.

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They’ve got items from as little as $4 (mixed nuts) all the way up to $16 (Antonelli’s cheese plate), and everything in between. Is it just bar food? It’s more than elevated bar food.

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I came by with some other bloggers, and tried everything from roasted poblano dip with fresh, crunchy crudité to tender baby back pork ribs.  I thought we’d grab just a few small courses, but we wound up eating everything but the kitchen sink. Their herbed fries with garlic aioli was the hit of the table, and everyone raved about those ribs. Personally, I was all about that cheese plate.

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If you’re heading to The Highball for any of their always entertaining events, be sure to grab a cocktail or 3, and a snack. You won’t be disappointed.

Food Find: Terry Black’s Barbecue

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We made a quick stop in to Terry Black’s to try Austin’s most talked about, new barbecue stand. The weather was nice, and their patio offered plenty of seating with a beautiful view of the Long Center.

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It was late in the afternoon, but we still managed to grab some of their last brisket. Given that I can’t have beer lately (blame it on the low-carb diet), I was happy to see wine offered by both  the bottle and half-bottle ($12-$18). There were no lines, despite the restaurant being moderately busy.

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We thought what we had was above-average, and even better when you factor in that there wasn’t a 2 hour wait, or a 3 hour drive to acquire it. I should also mention that given you don’t have to jump through hoops to get their food, it’s not necessarily an insane, melt-in-your-mouth, Franklin-esque experience. It’s still good though, and definitely worth a try on a lazy Saturday afternoon after a dip in Barton Springs.

Austin Eats Food Tour: South Congress Avenue

La Patisserie Pastry

Have you ever thought about visiting Austin? Better yet, Austinites, have you considered becoming a tourist in your own town? Perhaps you’re just hungry? Whatever the reason, you should definitely check out Austin Eats Food Tours. Recently, I dragged my boyfriend out of the house, and along with me on their South Congress walking tour.

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Now, I consider myself a bit of an “expert” (heavy accent on those quotation marks) on food in Austin, and even I, Amber (Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, King of the Andals and the First Men), found myself genuinely enlightened. South Congress is a touristy street that most locals have found themselves on half a million times, and even though a few of the stops were pretty famous, each one offered something that I hadn’t really tried before. To kick off the tour, we met up by Jo’s to sample iced coffee with pastries from La Patisserie.

Snack Bar South Congress

After introducing ourselves to the group, we strolled down to Snack Bar, where the owner gave us a thorough history lesson regarding South Congress’s seedy past, and the relation her restaurant held to the iconic Austin Motel next door. (tl;dr: If you wanted hookers and crack back in the 80’s, SoCo was the place to be.)

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We were served her take on onomiyaki, which is a savory Japanese pancake, and learned about Snack Bar’s dedication to local, organic food. All the while I was pitifully trying to remove the shrimp from inside the pancake in a last ditch effort to “sort of maintain my low carb diet.”

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Speaking of diets, if you’re on one whilst taking this tour, then count it as your totally-worth-it-awesome-cheat-day-that-you-will-never-regret. NEVER REGRET! Our next restaurant was Guero’s, which had been around for much longer than I ever would have thought. A waiter told us about how the restaurant was once a feed store while we sipped small margaritas, enjoyed pork tacos, and watched tortillas being made right before our eyes.

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We left to hit the next place, and received rockstar treatment at Hopdoddy.

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Hopdoddy is known for having massively long lines, and worth-it-waits, but we arrived to a table set just for our group. Zero wait. Immediate samples.

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Drinks weren’t included at this stop, but I still took advantage of the bar using my own cash, as did a few others in the group.

Croque Madame

We ate quickly, and later learned that our group holds some sort of record for being the fastest eaters, then crossed the street to Burro Cheese Kitchen. Burro is a local food truck specializing in deluxe grilled cheese sandwiches.

Croque Madame

They even do sandwiches with brisket, and offer free beer once a week! Despite feeling a bit full, we devoured the unctuous croque madames, and cooled off with complimentary water bottles. The croque madames contained everything but the kitchen sink: sour dough, smoked ham, fried egg, fontina, pesto aioli, dulce de leche…

Homeslice Pizza

It’s at this point in the tour that we started to feel the fullness hitting us, but when we heard that Homeslice Pizza was going to be our next and final stop, we decided to soldier on.

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Homeslice has consistently been a local darling amongst New York style pizza fans, and pizza fans in general. They have that “quirky, South Austin vibe” and nothing exemplifies that more than their bizarre coloring books, which I always ask for.

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With our day coming to a close, we chatted with our tour guide and enjoyed the pitchers of beer he brought to our table (well, I got wine, I actually did pretty much maintain my low carb thing, believe it or not). My boyfriend moaned that he was in a happy state of food coma as I demolished the toppings from his pizza. It was a fun, filling day that made me see an all-too-familiar neighborhood in a new, mouthwatering light. Which place would you try?

Food + Wine: Bridlewood Estate Meets Odd Duck

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There are few things I love more in this life than great food, and great wine. Those of you who’ve experienced the two together, know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Given that this is where my passion lies, imagine how excited I was to see an email from Bridlewood Estate Winery inviting me to dinner at Odd Duck. A great California winery at Austin’s most beloved new Bryce Gilmore incarnation… I couldn’t wait!

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My partner and I arrived at Odd Duck a little after everyone else. When I saw a large table filled with wine, and people holding fancy-looking cameras, I knew this was my group. The other guests were an impressive list of who’s who in local newspapers, magazines, and food blogs. I always feel a tad bit inadequate at these events, because I don’t own a digital SLR (yet). Let me demonstrate:

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I put my embarrassment aside, and dove head first into the wine. (What did you expect me to do?)

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We sipped complex, delicious Chardonnay as a dazzling series of appetizers came out. We had lardo (rice cracker, lard, radish), crab cornmeal pancakes with grapefruit, and red shrimp with hazelnuts and lemon verbana. I asked the winemaker if the wine had just a kiss of oak, and he said I was spot on. (Finally! All those dashed attempts at becoming a sommelier redeemed!) I hate when Chardonnays turn into the dreaded “butter bombs,” and this one had just enough oak without pushing it over the edge.

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Dish after mouthwatering dish came by, and eventually we sat down to sip and discuss their luscious Monterey County Pinot Noir. By now we’d had masa roasted beets with mole and charred olive, heirloom chicken with pistachio and strawberries, and were moving on to grilled venison loin with sweet potato, vanilla, and juniper. The Pinot paired well with the strawberry-laced heirloom chicken, and the Cab stood up to the smoky, grilled venison. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of Bridlewood Estate before this event! (Also of note, it was my first time at Odd Duck, making me the last of my friends to try it.)

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We finished the night with polite conversation, warm nighttime air, and more than our fair share of Cab. If you run across Bridlewood Estate on a restaurant menu, or perhaps in a supermarket, be sure to give them a try. I don’t think I need to remind you to visit Odd Duck, I think those pictures speak for themselves.