Dish of the Day: Voodoo Doughnuts

Because every Friday the 13th should involve a little voodoo magic, today’s dish of the day is a box of goodness from the newly opened Voodoo Doughnuts.

Voodoo Doughnut Austin

Voodoo Doughnut Austin

Prior to opening on 6th Street in downtown Austin, the Portland, OR-based doughnut purveyors garnered a cult following, thanks to their extensive menu of doughnuts flavors and surprisingly fair prices. While there are plenty of choices for doughnut traditionalists, Voodoo’s eclectic, offbeat options are what really put the shop on the map. Truly, with toppings ranging from mango to CoCo Puffs, Butterfingers to bacon, Voodoo leaves no flavor combo unturned in crafting its doughnuts.

Sprinkle Cake Doughnut

Sprinkle Cake Doughnut

In the name of research, I have made a couple of trips by the shop to do a little field-testing on some of these said flavors to overall solid results. Voodoo’s traditional cake style doughnut, such as the maple glazed Old Fashioned and double chocolate, are the clear favorites of the bunch. Continue reading Dish of the Day: Voodoo Doughnuts

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

First Look: Juniper Austin

Long awaited Italian restaurant Juniper officially opens its East Austin doors this week. Originally slated to open this past summer, permitting headaches and construction delays kept our mouths watering for the highly anticipated restaurant. Despite this red tape, the Juniper team, led by longtime Austin chef Nicholas Yanes, turned lemons into lemoncello by hosting a series of pop up dinners throughout the spring and summer. During one such dinner at Barley Swine, the former Uchi chef gave a preview of Juniper’s northern Italy meets Texas cuisine over six delicious courses.

Our dinner started with Juniper’s take on one of my favorite Italian summer dishes, crispy zucchini blossoms stuffed with fontina and ricotta. Served with a flavorful sweet pepper sauce, it made for a fortuitous start to our preview dinner.

Juniper Austin Preview Course 1

Juniper Austin Preview Course 1

Arriving next was a beautifully composed plate of figs, San Daniele ham, and Brunet goat cheese drizzled with local honey vinegar. The rustic, classic dish was designed to let the ingredients shine, which was a consistent theme throughout the meal.

Juniper Austin Preview Course 2

Juniper Austin Preview Course 2

Next came one of the most surprising dishes of the evening featuring squid with grapes and smoked tomato served on top of a celery root puree. In lesser hands, this combination of ingredients could have easily been a bit of a mess, but instead the dish represented a subtle, harmonious balance of smoky and sweet flavors that married well the textures of the meaty squid and creamy celery root. Continue reading First Look: Juniper Austin

Summer Drinks: Happy Hour at The Hightower

Looking to mix up your happy hour routine? I recommend venturing a stone’s throw east of I-35 to check out The Hightower. With its sleek interior and casual covered patio, it’s got the right atmosphere for a post-work spot well into the hot summer months.

The Hightower has a solid list of (very good) craft cocktails – it is a new spot in Austin, after all – but it’s also a place one can order a vodka soda without fear of a side eye. There is also a nice selection of wines by the glass, though the beer selection could use some work.

Corpse Reviver #2

Corpse Reviver #2

As for menu options, The Hightower offers a number of shareable small plates in addition to a handful of larger entrées. I recommend starting with at least one order of the fried chickpeas coated in a spicy-sweet blend of seasonings. Served on top of an orange peel aioli, the sauce acts as a citrusy glaze when tossed with the warm chickpeas.

 

Fried Chickpeas - $4.00 reg/$2.50 at HH

Fried Chickpeas – $4.00 reg/$2.50 at HH

The blistered green beans ranked a close second to the chickpeas. The dish’s creamy honey mustard sauce and crispy leeks was reminiscent of a green bean casserole in the best kind of way. Thanks to the addition of farro and candied pecans, it’s a hearty than expected small plate offering, especially under $7.

Blistered Green Beans - $6.50

Blistered Green Beans – $6.50

 

Though I am suffering from a case of fried Brussels sprouts fatigue (#firstworldproblems), Continue reading Summer Drinks: Happy Hour at The Hightower

Summer Guide, Part II: Where to Drink This Weekend

Ready, set, start your weekend! Because four day weeks always feel the longest, here are some top picks wash away your worries!

Weekend Happenings 5/30-6/1

Weekend Happenings 5/30-6/1

Make a Mezcal

One of my favorite bars, Whisler’s, has expanded its offerings to include a new Mexcal Bar. Tucked in an upstairs space above the main bar, Mezcalería Tobalá promises an array of different types of mezcal served straight up or with a traditional set up of oranges dusted with sal de gusano. The new concept is a natural fit; prior to opening Whisler’s, owner Scranton Twohey had previously opened Bar Illegal, a Mezcal bar formerly located at Clive Bar. Visit the new bar (and Whisler’s) at 1816 East 6tth Street, Austin TX 78702. http://www.whislersatx.com

Crawfish + Beer  = A Nice Little Saturday

The Rattle Inn and Brooklyn Brewery are teaming up for Crawfish Boil this Saturday from noon to 4pm. In addition to $2 Brooklyn Brewert Sixpoint Crisp beer, guests will enjoy live music and plenty of crawfish and fixings with the price of entry. Tickets, available here, are $10 in advance and $20 at the door.  610 Nueces, Austin, TX 78701.

Speaking of crawfish boils, the Buzz Mill is throwing their 2nd ‘boil of the season this weekend. Head to the Buzz Mill beginning at 4pm for $10 all you can eat mudbugs and zydeco music.  1505 Town Creek Dr, Austin, TX 78741
Sunday Funday Brunch Moves

 

Continue reading Summer Guide, Part II: Where to Drink This Weekend

Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part II: Bold-Faced Names and Upscale Eats

As 2013 winds down and we look forward to 2014, it’s time once again for a round up of the latest and greatest new additions to the Austin dining scene as well as a few newcomers to look forward to in the coming months. Go ahead and scratch any future New Year’s resolutions to go on that diet because we’ve got a lot of eating to do…

Part I available here.

Get your chicken fried egg on at Odd Duck

Get your chicken fried egg on at Odd Duck

The Bold Faced Names
Odd Duck – Opened in South Austin December 2013
Almost three years to the date of beginning service at his much-lauded Barley Swine restaurant, Chef Bryce Gilmore has opened his second brick and mortar restaurant in South Austin. Inspired by the food truck that started it all, Odd Duck will feature a rotating menu of inventive comfort dishes created from strictly local, seasonal ingredients. Lower in price and bigger in size, Odd Duck should serve as the slightly more approachable brother to Barley Swine. The ah-mazing menu includes the return of such favorites as the Chicken Fried Chicken Egg pictured above (and described here). Odd Duck, located at 1201 South Lamar, is now serving dinner 7 nights a week.

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Noble Sandwich Co. – North Central in Early 2014
After announcing its expansion plans earlier this year, the hotly anticipated central location of Noble Sandwich Co. will open on 49th and Burnet in early 2014. Known for ridiculously good sandwiches crafted from fresh breads, house cured meats, and from-scratch spreads and vegetables, the second outpost will also feature beer, wine, charcuterie and more.

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Chavez – Opens Downtown in Winter 2014
Chef Shawn Cirkiel & co. (parkside/backspace/Olive & June) will be opening the southwestern inspired Chavez restaurant at the completely revamped Radisson Hotel in January 2014. Chavez’s future space, formerly home to TGIFriday’s, is currently being overhauled to reflect the Radisson’s new direction as well as to capitalize on the location’s exceptional views of Lady Bird Lake.

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Laundrette/Angry Bear – Opens South Austin Summer 2014
After Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki abruptly departed La Condesa and Sway Thai earlier this fall, the rumor mill was churning with buzz that the duo was cooking up something amazing for Austin. Since that time, it has been announced that the James Beard nominated chefs have teamed up with Fresa’s owners Margaret Vera and Tracy Overath to launch a pair of eateries off South Lamar in summer 2014. As detailed in an interview with Texas Monthly, plans include Laundrette, an upscale café and grocery, and Angry Bear, a Szechaun takeout spot.

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Wu Chow – Opens Downtown Late 2014
The team behind downtown favorite Swift’s Attic recently announced plans for a second concept to open in late 2014. The new restaurant, called Wu Chow, will serve ‘authentic, modern Chinese cuisine’ from its space located in the forthcoming IBC building near Republic Square Park. In developing the concept, Wu Chow GM and co-owner C.K. Chin drew inspiration from his own Chinese roots and plans to feature dishes that blend his traditional family recipes with the modern face of Chinese cuisine today. Mouthwatering already…

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Best of the Rest/Upscale Eats Continue reading Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part II: Bold-Faced Names and Upscale Eats

First Look: Bufalina Pizza

Walking into Bufalina, its hard not to have a good feeling about what’s about to transpire. The bustling Neapolitan pizza restaurant is both warm and inviting, thanks in no small part to Bufalina’s staff. We were welcomed immediately by soft-spoken, attentive host/manager holding drink menus. While we waited for our table, he consistently kept us updated on its status and made sure our drinks were full. This thoughtful, gracious style of service seemed to be a universal quality shared by everyone we encountered throughout the evening, which helps account for the welcoming atmosphere at the restaurant.

Mushroom and Onion Pizza - $11

Mushroom and Onion Pizza – $11

We started our meal with the daily cheese board featuring three wedges of cheese, Easy Tiger baguette, and a bowl of almonds. Continue reading First Look: Bufalina Pizza

First Look: Daruma Ramen

That slurping you hear is the sound of pure happiness coming from the newly opened Daruma Ramen. After a soft launch last week, Daruma Ramen officially opened its doors on this past Tuesday. The latest project from the owners of popular Kome Sushi, Daruma Ramen joins Ramen Tatsuya and Michi Ramen as the latest restaurant celebrating the humble yet addictive Japanese noodle dish.

 

Shoyu Ramen - $9

Shoyu Ramen – $9

Though it might be the new kid on the block, Daruma’s bowls of ramen taste anything but amateur. The Shoyu Ramen, for example, features a chewy, tender noodles swimming in a dashi seafood stock and chicken broth topped with chicken and vegetables. The warm broth, brimming with subtle, comforting umami flavor, is hard to quit eating, despite long past entering a full on food coma. Continue reading First Look: Daruma Ramen