Tag Archives: travel

So, you’re visiting my town: The Food Edition

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Launderette

I meet a lot of tourists on Tinder. I know that’s a weird thing to admit, but I find it entertaining. I can’t open that ridiculous app without seeing 200 new messages from: Australians on road trips, British businessmen, touring musicians, or software engineers from out of town throwing a bachelor party. For a while, I would share my nightlife guide of where to go out (which I still recommend), but more often than not I get asked about where to eat. Well, guy-likely-holding-up-some-animal-he-killed-in-his-profile-photo, here’s your guide:

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Torchy’s Tacos

Everyone wants to know where they ‘have to’ go. That’s subjective, since you may have a certain price range, or food style that you want. I am seasoned enough to know that everyone wants tacos, and barbecue when they come. Fair enough! I get it. Tacos are amazing.

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Mellizoz

I would definitely start at Torchy’s Tacos. Get the queso. Don’t question me. Just get it. President Obama ate there, and he didn’t get the queso. It broke my heart. Also, it’s best to go to the truck on South 1st. BYO? You know it. I’d say Mellizoz, and Taco Deli are also great in their own right, but Torchy’s is special. Ask for some diablo sauce, and if you ask for anything to be made ‘trashy’ they remove the lettuce, and add queso. Another great stop is Veracruz All Natural which is just up the road from La Barbecue.

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Torchy’s Tacos

I will not name names, but I cringe when tourists consistently tell me they have been to _________ Barbecue, and loved it. No! That is not good barbecue. Why do you all go there?! Who is spreading lies that you should go to this place?! WHY!? Again, I’ll never tell you which place it is, but if you feel compelled to go there, and it’s not Franklin or La Barbecue, then definitely reconsider what you’re about to do. Yes, the rumors about the Franklin line are true, but it’s part of the charm. You bring a bunch of booze, show up around 8 in the morning, and proceed to get hammered for the next 3 hours. La Barbecue is going to be a lot easier to get into, and there’s a lot of debate about which one is best.

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Brunch at Odd Duck

In my last guide, I talked a lot about the food trucks you can find on East 6th. There’s some incredible Asian food, and a very famous pizza truck connected to one of my go-to dive bars. If that appeals to you, and it should, refer back to that.

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Thai-Kun

Now, onto my favorite part: FANCY FOOD. Don’t get scared yet! I know the touring musicians just clicked away from this page, but the British businessmen with company cards know what I’m talking about. (Also, I totally will tell you when the happy hour is, so don’t panic – if I can afford it, you can too).

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Uchiko

Austin is home to the number one sushi restaurant in the country. That’s right. Yes, I know we’re not near water, and you’re not the first person to inform me of that. I get it. You’re surprised. Uchiko has got to be my favorite place on earth, and their daily happy hour is 5-6:30. Sit at the bar, and prepare to be blown away. They’re fresh, inventive, and worth it. If you’re reading this, and want to take me there? You should. #rly #yarly #srsly

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Odd Duck

Another incredible spot is Odd Duck, and if you’re looking for a life-changing brunch, this is the spot for you. They also have a happy hour, and happen to be next to Uchi, the sister restaurant to my beloved Uchiko. If you’re situated on the east side (like me!) then I highly recommend Launderette.

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Mellizoz

Now, keep in mind that there are hundreds and hundreds of other restaurants around, but these are the ones that I like, and for good reason. I would say Uchiko is my ‘must,’ but this is your trip, and you do you! There are many other wonderful restaurants that specialize in specific food types such as: Barlata for tapas, Clark’s Oyster Bar/Perla’s for incredible seafood, and the renowned Ramen Tatsu-Ya for, well… that’s obvious. I’m sure that I left a lot out, but this is a good guide to get you started. I hope it helped out, and yes, you can buy me a drink.

Oyster Fever: Liberty Kitchen

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You know that one song in Sound of Music where Julie Andrews is listing off ‘raindrops and roses, and whiskers on kittens’ as her favorite things? Yeah, I sing that song to myself anytime I think of oysters, and martinis on happy hour. These are a few of my favorite things!

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I recently popped in around 5 to catch a few of the HH deals (as well as the fantastic regular menu), and boy was I impressed.

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There were discounted drinks, and a few reduced food items. Everything served was spectacular! I couldn’t get over how fresh, clean, and flavorful all of their seafood was! My main issue with local places serving oysters is that a lot only do Gulf. I was delighted to find that they have theirs coming from PEI, and all over!

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What’s that shown above? Oh, just in-house smoked salmon with bacon jelly. That’s all. (It’s insanely good!)

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When I looked at the specials, I saw their Friday offering, and knew immediately it was what I was going to have. That was Marseille Bouillabaisse, served in 2 parts. They start you off with arguably the best seafood-saffron broth known to man, then follow it with a fantastic plate of lobster, clams, potatoes, and more!

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I went nuts on the wine list, because hey, I’m me! Of course, I did! But it is worth a mention that their cocktails are insane.

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My favorite involved grapefruit skins, herbs, and a slight effervescence. It looked a little like the rose-in-the-glass from Beauty and the Beast to me, so I guess this place just fills me with movie references all around.

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It’s hard to get a low-carber like me to crumble, but they did it. Luckily, I had a dining partner with me that did most of the damage, but I was extremely happy to taste their fantastic chocolate cake. It was worth the ‘cheat.’ Apart from the food, I’m a huge fan of their decor, staff, and even the sounds of their brunch menu, which I have yet to try! If you’re a seafood nut like I am, this is definitely a place to taste.

Top Celebrity Chefs In An Airport Near You

With celebrity chefs opening eateries and introducing new dining concepts around the world, it seemed more than fitting for a handful of them to take things international and open new restaurants at some of the world’s biggest airports. Let’s take a look at some of the best airport celebrity chef-run restaurants across the globe.

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Heston Blumenthal’s Perfectionist’s Café
In the summer of 2014, Heathrow’s Queen’s Terminal (Terminal 2) opened their doors and gave passengers two unique experiences that reflected on British culture, one of them being Heston Blumenthal’s establishment known as The Perfectionist’s Café. According to Parking4Less, Blumenthal and his innovative team were very eager to present a menu that showcased British eccentricity – high quality classic dishes with the chef’s usual creative twists.

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Wolfgang Puck Express
The Austrian chef is making a huge statement in the travel world with his Express restaurants, located in hubs such as Indianapolis International Airport, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and Denver International Airport. At each branch, you’ll find many of his signature dishes, from Japanese favorites to Rosemary chicken. To-go options are also available for those who wish to upgrade their onboard meals.

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Cat Cora’s Kitchen
The first and only female Iron Chef on the Food Network is currently running several branches of airport restaurants across the United States. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients for her cocktail and tapas lounges, travelers can expect the healthiest and sustainable dishes for all meals throughout the day. At Cat Cora’s Kitchen, they also like to emphasize their dedication to the environment by using eco-friendly and biodegradable materials for the to-go plates and boxes. The restaurants are open at 5 am for breakfast.

Marketplace Development

Michael Symon’s Bar Symon
Sometimes all you need to relax before your flight is some good old comfort food, which is exactly what Michael Symon offers at his eateries in Washington Dulles International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport. Choose from any of his savory signature meals like the Fat Doug and Pulled Pork sandwiches. Every table is equipped with power outlets and flight status screens so that you can keep tabs on your flight.

 

This is a guest post.

Dining Downtown: Stella San Jac

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I live a pretty good life, and as a blogger I’ve been to some very amazing events.

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Though all places I have visited have been incredibly kind, I do have to tip my hat to the wonderful folks at Stella San Jac for the super-cool night they gave me last night.

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The newly opened restaurant, housed in the Westin, brought a ton of local bloggers in for a happy hour with some complimentary appetizers, and even a cooking demo! (More on that later. Actually, seriously, the straight up video for you below.)

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The space was gorgeous, and the food was delish! (Who says ‘delish?’ Oh god, did I just say ‘delish?’ Sign me up for pink sweaters, and tennis lessons STAT.)

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Naturally, I ventured to the bar. (Me?!?!? BAAAAAAAAR????) I asked if there were any happy hour specials, and the bartender replied, “Every hour is a happy hour.” I like it! He poured me a glass of rosé that I was convinced would cost $2508582094821, but it was only $8.66, so you know what? He was right! Every hour is happy hour when good wine is fairly priced.

 

Now, for the biscuits! If you check out my amazing-super-awesome-cinematography (sarcasm) video above (it was Periscope) you’ll see a demonstration from the chef on how to make his famous #16 Biscuits. He calls them ’16’ because it took that many tries to perfect the recipe, and they’re reportedly good enough to make low-carbers crumble. Fret not, dear reader, I crumbled not (“Not today, Satan!”), but I plan to soon. I spent most of my night eating his delicious salmon spread, and put all of my carbs in through pink wine.

Sound & Beauty: Barton Creek Live

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I rarely get to venture out to the picturesque hills of west Austin, but when I do, I seldom regret it. My most recent journey was to check out the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa’s  live music series. I started my day touring their beautiful golf course, then went straight into a 50 minute body scrub. When I say body scrub, I mean: they rubbed me for almost an hour in honey, lavender, and brown sugar. I felt like a queen!

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I slipped out, and had a perfectly made martini at the downstairs bar whilst waiting for my guest to join me for a pre-concert buffet.

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The food was upscale, and perfectly priced. I tend to eat more healthfully, and was able to stockpile on veggies for my first plate.

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The menu boasted: beef tenderloin, shrimp and grits, steamed mussels, and so much more!

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The jalapeño brined chicken was moist, and the tenderloin was the perfect amount of rare. My dining partner doubled-up on the watermelon feta salad, and I loved knowing that the produce was locally sourced.

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We even forced room for dessert. The horchata panna cota and Mexican chocolate pots de creme were the stars of the show.

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As we left the dining room to the outside area to see the night’s main attraction, Sammy Kershaw, we were welcomed with even more food choices! There were tacos, snacks, and even a well-stocked beer and wine bar. We found that we could swap four drink tickets for one bottle of wine, and enjoy the concert without having to get up for re-fills.

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I hadn’t heard a Sammy Kershaw song in years, but the man could still sing. It only took a few moments before the entire floor erupted into dancing.

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It was a beautiful night, with over-the-top service, and all set upon beautiful grounds. Be sure to check out their schedule, and make a point to visit this gorgeous resort. Want a chance to win free entry for you and a friend?

Just tweet for a chance at 2 wristbands to the show of your choice!

Disclosure: I did enjoy complimentary food and services for review purposes, but opinions are 100% my own.

We Accidentally Went to Jazz Fest

 

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We learned that we were getting a Chevy Impala to test drive for a week, and did what any sane, reasonable people would do: We took it on a last minute excursion to New Orleans, during what turned out to be Jazz Fest. (We seriously didn’t realize that Jazz Fest, the SXSW of New Orleans, was going on.) We originally thought we could get away with using Hotel Tonight to book something last-minute, but with the festival weekend in full swing, that just wasn’t an option. We sent a few panicked messages to AirBnB hosts located in the Crescent City, and set off praying that we’d get a response before we arrived.

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I have to say, I was impressed with the car. With safety sensors alerting my partner every time he veered too close to another lane, I was relieved of what I consider to be my sworn duty to bicker at him when his driving is less than perfect. (Thanks, Impala! You do all the backseat driving for me!)

ImageOur last-minute host, an Irish artist that lived near the cemeteries on a street car line, was wonderful. We did fork over a fortune for the room, but the convenient location and “from another time” charm of the aging house made it worth it. Let’s be honest though, I came to the city to eat (and freely drink in the streets), and wasted no time between throwing my bags down and sprinting to the nearest French Quarter-bound transportation.

ImageAfter a few “go cups” of vodka, and about an hour of wandering tourist-strewn streets, we stopped for oysters, oysters, and then more oysters. The Quarter was in some ways smaller than I expected (easily navigated within a few hours), but also larger than I expected (far more massive and interesting than 6th Street). We did spot the famous Acme Oyster House, and beat the lines by hopping in just after 4:30. At that particular stop we went with raw oysters, but after spotting someone else’s melty-cheesy-buttery spread of grilled oysters, I made sure that the next stop would include an order of those instead.

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ImageI’m always a sucker for deals, and saw that the Yelp app offered a free appetizer at a nearby place called Royal House. We climbed the steps to sit on the edge of their balcony, and ate the most incredible crab claw dish whilst watching people in wedding dresses pose for photographers on the street below. I don’t know what was in their sauce, but I drank it.

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…And I drank more than my fair share of wine too. We left the Quarter for the Bywater area. I’m friends with quite a few food writers, and I was threatened within an inch of my life to, “Eat in the Bywater area or else! Doesn’t matter where. All restaurants are amazing there!” I found a place called Bacchanal that had wine, cheese, food, a massive patio, and live music. The selections were perfect, the restaurant had the most pleasant vibe, and I almost felt like I was home in Austin with the band playing. Be warned though, it is cash only for the most part. It was there that I met some locals that shared their cheese plate with us, and invited us to a nude bar. You read that last sentence right.

ImageSo we went. (You read that sentence correctly as well.) The Country Club was more than a bar, it was a clothing-optional pool, hot tub, and restaurant. My partner and I are far from wild and crazy, well at least he’s far from it, and there we were… Getting naked under the stars with every shape, size, age, and variety of stranger to go swimming in the middle of the night in New Orleans. I hear the brunch there is fantastic, but I can’t imagine that much nudity in broad daylight over pancakes. It was certainly an out of the ordinary experience, and I’m glad we met the people that invited us, because that experience would have never happened in a million years otherwise.

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They brought us home wet and drunk. We slept for a few hours, and packed our things so that we could catch a quick brunch or two before heading off. I also had a secret pit stop in mind for my British partner: I wanted him to try boudin, because I grew up Cajun (little known fact), and if he wasn’t eating crawfish or frog legs on this trip, he was going to get at least one, “weird” Cajun food. I took him to Cochon Butcher, in the Central Business district. I had seen the reviews, and heard the praise for this place, so I knew we would be in good hands. In our typical fashion, he ate the meat, and I ordered Champagne. (Or was it Cava? It was probably Cava.)

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Knowing that our “24 hours in New Orleans” trip was soon ending, we decided to venture to a new neighborhood, and find another place loved by Crescent City locals: Atchafalaya. We parked a few blocks away, and wandered through sidewalks that wrapped around cute houses with booming flower gardens.

ImageAs expected, the place was packed. We decided to wait outside for our table with mimosas in hand. The food passing us by on plates in the hands of busy waiters looked incredible, but we didn’t get to sit down. The wait simply became too much with our last minutes in New Orleans remaining, so we left. We walked through the neighborhood; my partner calmly taking in the sites while I weaved in and out of businesses for more of those wonderful vodka “go cups.”

ImageWith the 7 and a half hour journey stretched before us, my partner began the drive home, as I slept off my “go cup” indulgences (almost the entire way!) back to Austin.