Happenings: Fall 2015 Austin Restaurant Openings, Part I

2015 has already proved to be a banner year for new restaurants, having already welcomed a slew of hotspots such as Launderette, Shake Shack, Dai Due, and more. And with new spots continuing to pop up everywhere you turn, Austin’s restaurant scene shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, which makes keeping track of where to eat no easy feat.

To help guide you along your eat, drink, and be merry little way, here’s a list of new restaurants opening in Fall 2015. I’ve already given you the lowdown on one new spot, Juniper (mentioned here), with more . . . → Read More: Happenings: Fall 2015 Austin Restaurant Openings, Part I

Thanksgiving 2014: Where to Feast

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and whether you are headed to Austin for the Horns game or just want someone else to do the heavy lifting this Turkey Day, chances are you are looking for a place to dine. Here is a preliminary list of what restaurants are open around town. Stay tuned for updates and game watching spots to come! If you know of a few places not listed, feel free to email me at ginnysaustin@yahoo.com or leave a comment below! Gobble, gobble.

Gibson’s Texas Orphan Thanksgiving – Can’t make it home for the holiday? Gibson’s & Luke’s Inside Out have you covered with a special Texas Orphans Thanksgiving feast. From 5pm-2am, $20 will get you a full force traditional feast with turkey and all the fixings. In addition, Gibson’s will be offering a special menu of winter hot toddys priced at $7 a pop.

Bob’s Steak & Chop House – Bob’s Steak & Chop House will be open all afternoon on Thanksgiving, but as of now, there is no specific T-Day menu posted online. Reservations recommended.

Chavez – Chavez will be serving a special Southwestern infused Thanksgiving feast from 11am-4pm. The expansive holiday menu includes traditional turkey, chorizo cornbread stuffing, oysters on the half shell, and much, much more. Lunch is $49/adults and $19/children. Reservations are recommended and can be made here. 

24 Diner – 24 Diner will be hosting a special Thanksgiving Day lunch in addition to its full menu beginning at 10:30 AM. The cost is $24/pp with no reservations required. Full menu here.

Trio: Thanksgiving Buffett Special $85 for adults and $27 for children between 11am to 8pm in Trio and 11am-3pm in the Four Seasons Ballroom. Full Menu can be found here. Open from 11am-6pm. Reservations call 512.685.6300.

The Carillon: Thanksgiving Buffett from 10:30am-1:30pm; $65 adults/$19.95 children. Menu here. For reservations call 512.404.3655 or Email thecarillon@attconf.utexas.edu or book online here.

Trace at the W– Trace will offer both lunch and dinner menus priced at $55 and $75 per person, respectively. Lunch will be served from 10:30am – 4pm and dinner runs from 4:00pm-9:00pm. Both menus (found here and here) include a special multicourse, family-style. Reservations recommended: 512.542.3660.

III Fork’s – A special Thanksgiving four course menu will be served from 12-8pm. The dinner costs $45.95 for adults and $16.95 for children. Details can be found here. Call (512) 474-1776 for reservations.

Urban an American Grill – Open from for Thanksgiving from 11am to 5pm with a 5 course dinner priced at $40 pp and $32 for seniors. Full menu details can be found here. Call 512.490.1511 for reservations.

Carmelo’s – Carmelo’s will be serving a special Thanksgiving buffet from 11am-3pm on Turkey Day. Cost is $39.95/adults and $20/children under 12. Reservations can be made by calling 512477.7497. Full details can be found here. 

Hoover’s Cooking – Open with a special Thanksgiving plated dinner at $18.95/per person with plenty of a la carte options available as well. Dinner will be served from 11am-7pm. More info, call (512) 479-5006 or visit here. 

Hyde Park Grille – All locations will be serving a special Thanksgiving feast from 11am-7pm; Cost is $18.95 adults/$10.95 children; Additionally, you can preorder a bird from Hyde Park to feed the family at home without any heavy lifting. Cost is $65/turkey. Details here.

Truluck’s (both locations) – In addition to the regular menu, Truluck’s will be offering a special Thanksgiving menu priced at $38/adults and $19/children. Full menu can be found here. Make reservations online here or by calling (512) 482-9000 (downtown) or (512) 794-8300 (Great Hills Trail).

Finn and Porter – Finn & Porter will be serving a special prix fixe menu from noon to 8pm on Thanksgiving Day. The multi-course, traditional feast is priced at $45 for adults and $20 for children. Call 512.493.4300 for reservations.

Threadgill’s (all locations) – Open serving a special Thanksgiving a la carte menu from 10:30am-10pm. Menu details can be found here.

Travaasa Spa – Travaasa’s Preserve Kitchen + Bar will be offering a Thanksgiving Day menu from 3-9pm. The family style meal runs $55 per person with an optional wine pairing available for $45 a person. Details can be found here. Reservations required: call (877) 261-7792 or go to http://www.travaasa.com/austin/dining.

Goodall’s Kitchen at Hotel Ella – Goodall’s will be serving a full Thanksgiving Day buffet from 11am-5pm on T-Day. Cost is $65/adults and $25/children. Reservations required and can be made by visiting here.  Continue reading Thanksgiving 2014: Where to Feast

Austin Dining Guide: Where to Eat Seafood in Austin

As a member of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance, I am joining a team of fellow foodies in creating a City Wide Dining Guide for 2013 detailing the best of the best Austin has to offer. This post is all about the best places for seafood with favorites discovered through personal research (eating). Please let me know what places I left off as this list will continue to evolve and grow as I check out more spots. After some back and forth, I made the executive decision to leave out sushi places. However, for my money, I am going to Uchi, Uchiko or Kome.


Quality Seafood – Value, consistency, and, well, quality, are just a few reasons Quality Seafood is arguably the best seafood restaurant in Austin. Quality Seafood, Austin’s premier seafood market and restaurant, dates back to 1938 and seems only getting better with age. While the decades have marked changes in ownership and location, the heart and soul of Quality Seafood Market has remained unaffected, if not stronger than ever. Despite its consistently high ratings, it is easy to underestimate Quality Seafood after pulling into the parking lot and walking inside. This is a seafood market, after all, complete with bright florescent lights and linoleum floors. Most tables are counter service with the exception of bar seating. However, this laidback atmosphere is all part of the restaurant’s uniqueness.

There are a good number of reasons for Quality Seafood Market storied longevity. Casual in feel and price, the restaurant’s food is on par with fancier establishments, many whom source from the business’ wholesale arm. Take, for example, an order of sea scallops wrapped in Applewood smoked bacon. The scallops are flash fried to perfection, resulting in a finished product that has a crisp caramelized crust outside yet remains tender and juicy on the inside. Other menu specialties include oysters on the half shell, fried seafood baskets, chowders and gumbo, and fish plates. Of course, no review of Quality Seafood is complete without mentioning the special that hooked us in the first place: Taco Tuesdays. For $2 every Tuesday evening, customers get a choice of shrimp, mahi mahi, or catfish served blackened, grilled or fried and topped with one of Quality Seafood’s delicious housemade sauces. A steal at $2, these tacos, stuffed with fresh seafood, are a bargain any day of the week at $4.39 a taco.

Fish Taco at Quality Seafood

Fish Taco at Quality Seafood

Quality Seafood. 5621 Airport Blvd. Austin, TX. 512.454.5827. http://www.qualityseafoodmarket.com/

Shoal Creek Saloon – Shoal Creek Saloon is Austin’s answer to Louisiana-style dining.  Long time favorite Shoal Creek is well known for its Cajun infused menu, creekside outdoor seating, and lively crowd, especially when LSU or the Saints are playing. The kitchen is famous for fried catfish, but the po boys, peel and eat shrimp and nachos are also solid choices. If too many hurricanes and hand grenades have you singing the blues, there is nothing that will cure all that ails you like a bowl of garlic soup. Naturally, Shoal Creek is THE place to go for a spicy pile of mudbugs during crawfish season. Shoal Creek Saloon is one of those tried and true Austin places that is now well on its way to becoming an institution.

Dish of the Day: Shoal Creek Saloon

Shoal Creek Saloon

Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78703. 512.474.0805. http://www.shoalcreeksaloon.com/

Continue reading Austin Dining Guide: Where to Eat Seafood in Austin

Enoteca Vespaio

This weekend’s brisk temperatures marked the first true feeling of fall, inspiring me to unearth my stash of sweaters and cozy up to warm comfort dishes. As luck would have it, a previously planned lunch engagement at Enoteca Vespaio gave me the perfect opportunity to welcome fall’s cooler days while enjoying decadent classic Italian food.

Enoteca Vespaio is the casual, less expensive little sister restaurant to neighboring longtime local favorite Vespaio. Both South Congress spots are regularly busting at the seams with folks attracted to their comforting renditions of classic Italian favorites such as risotto and housemade pastas.

Gnocchi – $13

Previous to this visit, my most recent trips to Enoteca were marred by a few missteps. Continue reading Enoteca Vespaio

Tour de Thai: Thai Thani

After recently tapping into an unrealized infatuation with the flavors of Thailand beyond Pad Thai, I have initiated a quest to uncover Austin’s best Thai spots. This Tour de Thai comes at an ideal time since Austin’s dining scene has scene a surge of new Thai and other Asian-inspired spots popping up around town.

Today’s featured stop is Thai Thani.  Owned by a mother/daughter team, Thai Thani specializes in casual Thai street food dishes such as curries and stir-fries. Located in the parking lot of a stop ‘n go on Manor Road, the lone trailer would almost be easy to overlook if not for its bright yellow exterior and swarm of neighborhood regulars waiting for their orders.

Drunken Noodles w/Beef at Thai Thani – $6.95

My newfound taste for Thai was kickstarted by yellow curry, making my choice of entrée an easy one. The yellow curry was well balanced with just the right amount of heat and sweet. Continue reading Tour de Thai: Thai Thani

Austin Restaurant Week Announcement + Recipe of the Day

Put away those take out menus, forget about cooking, and starting making some plans because the ever-popular biannual Austin Restaurant Weekreturns this Sunday, September 23-26 through September 30-October 6. Whether looking for a dining deal or a reason to try a new hotspot, Austin Restaurant Week provides the perfect inspiration to for an evening out on the town.

Austin Restaurant Week provides a wonderful opportunity to sample some of the best local restaurants at discounted prices while giving back to an area nonprofit at the same time. Over the course of two weeks, participating restaurants will offer specialty priced, multi course menus during lunch and dinner. Prices will range from $10-$15 for lunch and $27-$37 for dinner, with wine pairings offered at select restaurants for an additional fee. Once again, the list of participating restaurants includes some of the most highly regarded places in town such as Uchi, Uchiko, Swift’s Attic, Foreign & Domestic, and many more.

There is one notable change to this installment of ARW, however. Though past ARW’s have always included a charitable component, it was generally a fairly nominal amount per plate. This time around, however, event organizers and participating restaurants are fully embracing the “Dine Out, Do Good” theme of the week by donating one meal to Meals on Wheels and More for every meal purchased throughout the event on reservations made through OpenTable. Top picks to come, but for now warm up for the upcoming Austin Restaurant Week by trying your hand at a recipe from ARW participating restaurant.

Visit the ARW website hereto check out the full list of restaurants, menus, and more. Happy eating!

TRACE Stuffed Quail (image via TRACE Austin)

Continue reading Austin Restaurant Week Announcement + Recipe of the Day

Hillside Farmacy

Hillside Farmacy, which opened last spring, is a charming mid-priced eatery and grocery located in East Austin headed by Homegrown Revival and former East Side Showroom Chef Sonya Cote. A leader of Austin’s locavore movement, using local and sustainable ingredients is more than just the latest foodie trend for Chef Cote; it is at the foundation of her values system as a chef. Not only does she sources her produce locally and uses regional vendors for other ingredients and market items, but she further demonstrates this commitment by hand selecting vendors who share her same values towards food.

Chef Cote, along with her Hillside Farmacy co-owners, applied this same thoughtful, detail-oriented approach in developing the design concept for Hillside Farmacy. Prior to opening, co-owner and interior designer Mickie Spencer (East Side Showroom, Swan Dive) overhauled the space, using the building’s storied beginnings as inspiration for the concept. Formerly home to Austin’s first African-American owned pharmacy, Hillside Pharmacy, nostalgic adornments such as refurbished antique pharmacy cabinets and medicine bottle salt-and-pepper shakers play tribute to the iconic 1950s apothecary. The drink list even includes soda fountain-inspired drinks, with shots of booze for a modern spin.


Hillside Farmacy Pickpocket – $4

The menu has its own story to tell as many items, such as oysters, are inspired by Chef Cote’s childhood on the Carolina coast. The weekday menu offers sandwiches, sharing plates, and salads, with the addition of larger entrées at dinner. Weekend brunch selections, detailed below, include decadent favorites such as French toast, biscuits and gravy, and lox and bagels. Hillside also offers daily happy hour selections and a traditional ‘afternoon tea’ set up including finger sandwiches and sweets.

Most recently, my visiting mother and I popped in during Saturday brunch, as captured below. Slightly bruised from the prior evening’s misbehaviors, I immediately ordered a Pickpocket soda (sans booze) while waiting for a table. The blend of strawberry, basil, and balsamic was so refreshing and reinvigorating I immediately ordered a second following my last sip. The balsamic balanced the sweetness of the fruit perfectly, and I am fairly certain the drink channeled the healing properties of its original tenant.

We began our meal with a shared watermelon salad. The blend of tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, onions, and mint was perfection on this particularly warm August day. Continue reading Hillside Farmacy

First Look: Salty Sow

Manor Road continues its foodie transformation with the addition of Salty Sow. Housed in the former home of Red House Pizza, the swine & wine themed restaurant menu focuses on Southern-inspired small plates, ‘things in a jar’, and larger entrees. The newly revamped space further capitalizes on the outdoor patio area while with an interior that captures a contemporary yet casual farmhouse vibe.


Charcuterie & Cheese Plate

We started with the charcuterie and cheese plate, which represented the restaurant’s meat focus well. The plate featured several daily selections of charcuterie ranging from traditional to out-of-the-box. As a person who loves cheese over charcuterie, personal preference would love to see more of a cheese to meat balance on the plate. If you are someone who is more ‘in like’ than ‘in love’ with charcuterie, I would recommend glancing elsewhere on the menu. Continue reading First Look: Salty Sow