Weekend Field Trip: Jester King Brewery + Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza

Having been a fan of Jester King’s high-end craft beers since they hit the market a few years ago, visiting the brewery has been on my Austin bucket list for sometime now. Jester King specializes in making food-friendly, farmhouse ales in large format bottles. Their brewing process is inspired by techniques commonly used at small, rustic breweries found throughout southern Belgium and northern France. (Read more about their unique process here.

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Jester King Brewery

As for the beer tastings, no two weekends are the same at Jester King Brewery. The brewery’s focus on small production means the tasting menu is consistently changing. While guests will find staples like Jester King’s popular La Petit Prince, they will also get the opportunity to sample seasonal beers as well. Continue reading Weekend Field Trip: Jester King Brewery + Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza

Via 313 Pizza

After hearing rave reviews of Via 313 for months on months now, I finally made a long overdo visit to the pizza trailer during a recent visit night out. To be honest, as a Neapolitan pizza girl at heart, thick, deep dish style pies don’t normally call my name. However, maybe it was the crunchy cheese crisped along the edges of its pizza, but I must admit Via 313’s Detroit-style pie lived up to the hype.

The Herbivore - $12

The Herbivore – $12

Not unlike a Sicilian-style pizza slice, Detroit-style is a rectangular pizza with a thick crust oven cooked in a metal pan and cut into squares. Toppings are layered in reverse order, starting with meat or veggies and finished with a thick layer of red sauce painted across the top. In this case, Via 313’s freshly crushed red sauce is robust and hearty, with plenty of flavor to stand up to the pie’s thick crust. Though the pizza’s crust is about an inch or two thick, it is surprisingly lighter than expected and manages to garner a slight toasted crunch while cooking. Continue reading Via 313 Pizza

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

Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part I: Burgers, BBQ, and Comfort 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…

UPDATE: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken – Now Open as of January 6, 2014
Memphis-based southern eatery Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is set to open its 5th location downtown in January 2014. The finger lickin’ good franchise will be located at 117 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701.
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Austin Restuarant Openings

Austin Restuarant Openings

East Side Kings – Open in South Austin December 2013
It’s a Boxing Day miracle! East Side Kings’ newest location on South Lamar officially opened today (12/26). Menu items include ESK favorites such as Liberty Rice, fried Brussels sprouts, and Chicken Kara-age and Asian-fusion tacos such as the ‘Ebi Ebi’ shrimp tempura, Spicy chicken thigh, and mocha vegetarian taco. East Side Kings is open daily for lunch and dinner at 2310 South Lamar, Austin TX 78704.
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P. Terry’s – Opened in North Austin December 2013
The end of 2013 also marked the beginning of the battle of the burger in Austin. Local favorite P. Terry’s opened its 8th location at 183 & Oak Knoll Road this December. The ‘anti-fast food’ chain also announced plans to open 12 area locations by the end of 2015, including a 9th spot on Burnet Road in early 2014.
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In-N-Out – Opened in North Austin December 2013
Meanwhile, California cult favorite In-N-Out opened its much-anticipated drive through windows early December. Known for its wallet friendly prices and a not-so-secret menu featuring the famed ‘Animal Style’ burger, In-N-Out’s new Airport & I-35 location has quickly become a local hotspot. Must be all those Californians headed to Texas we keep hearing about…
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Shake Shack – Opens South Austin Late 2014
Only further adding to Austin’s Burger Battle Royale was the announcement that East Coast transplant Shake Shack will be setting up shop in the South Lamar shopping center anchored by Alamo Drafthouse, which is currently undergoing extensive renovations. Shake Shack is expected to open late 2014.
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Schmidt Family Barbecue – Opened in West Austin Fall 2013
Lockhart BBQ fans now can enjoy the legendary eats from Smitty’s and Kreuz Market by way of Bee Caves with the recent opening of Schmidt Family Barbecue. Now under third generation leadership of Keith Schmidt, the family has granted the wishes of many by bringing its famed meats to Austin.  Sticking with family tradition, the Schmidt’s new restaurant employs the same cooking methods that have been passed down from generation to generation. Schmidt Family Barbecue is located near the Hill Country Galleria at 3812 Market Street, Bee Cave, TX 78738.
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Continue reading Austin Restaurant Openings Forecast, Part I: Burgers, BBQ, and Comfort 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

Austin Dining Guide: Best Pizzas 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 detailing the best of the best Austin has to offer. Is there really anything better than pizza? Any genre of food which combines cheese, bread, and tomatoes is worth celebrating in my world. Building a perfect pizza is all about the crust, whether that be thin and crisp or thick and pillowy. No matter your personal preference, Austin’s pizza purveyors have the bases covered.

Bola Pizza – Austinites have had a reason to get up early on Saturday mornings ever since Bola Pizza set up shop at the downtown Sustainable Food Center farmer’s market. From the dough to the toppings, Bola Pizza puts TLC into each and every pie. The dough undergoes a special three day fermentation process before being layered with inventive combinations of the freshest ingredients. Cooked to perfection on wood fire oven imported from the Motherland, Bola’s trademark crust is chewy on the inside with a crispy char on the outside. Whether it’s a simple pizza like the ‘Polka Dot’ topped with mozzarella, fried sage, and tomatoes or the fancier Bolognese, Bola Pizzas are hard to beat. As for those earlier risers, they get first bite at one of Bola’s famed breakfast pies generously topped with seasonal produce, meats, and farm fresh eggs. Bola Pizza is available by private event catering or at the SFC Farmer’s Market at Republic Square Park every Saturday from 9am-1pm. Additionally, Bola Pizza recently released a line of frozen pies available at various locations around Austin.

Bola Pizza

 

Homeslice Pizza – Homeslice serves the very best New York City style pizza in Austin. Hand tossed dough is sauced and topped before baking to perfection. The crust has a nice outer crunch yet still chewy inside. Their large custom pies are always brimming with a plentiful amount of toppings. The Margarita is a bit lackluster but the sausage, red pepper, and ricotta pie ($18) is outstanding. Aside from pizza, Homeslice also features one of the best Greek salads in Austin, especially when served with a few extra garlic knots.  The owners ensure the highest quality pies by taking the team on yearly trips to the Big Apple to learn new techniques and make sure the Homeslice pizza is as authentic as possible. Homeslice is one of those places that no matter when you go there is always a wait, but it’s worth it every time.

Homeslice Pizza. 1415 S Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78704-2434. (512) 444-7437.

Homeslice

 

Backspace – Nestled on a corner of 6th Street known more for bars than fine dining, Backspace is a refreshing escape from downtown’s hustle and bustle. Its quaint dining space is both comfortable and romantic making it a perfect spot for a date or place to regroup before a night on the town. Candlelight tables surround a cozy open kitchen where Backspace’s team carefully creates one glorious pizza after another. Like the space, Backspace’s menu is wonderfully simple and approachable, consisting primarily of antipasti, salads, and Neopalitian pizzas. Despite the downtown location and upscale feel, Backspace’s price points are surprisingly reasonable as well, with most pies priced between $9-$15. In fact, the only thing absurdly fancy about Backspace is its amazingly authentic pizza oven. The restaurant’s crown jewel was custom built in Naples and is the only of its kind in Austin. Needless to say, it’s one investment paying off quite nicely.

Backspace. 507 San Jacinto Austin Texas 78701 phone:512-474-9899.

Backspace

 

House Pizzeria – Somehow Formica booths feel cozy at House Pizzeria, thanks in part to exceptional service and a killer jukebox. The daily menu features ten pizzas, each topped with no more than five topping combinations. House Pizzeria’s ingredients are almost exclusively sourced locally, and the freshness of toppings shines through in the pizza.

House Pizzeria. 5111 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751. 512.600.4999.

House Pizzeria

Continue reading Austin Dining Guide: Best Pizzas in Austin

Second Bar + Kitchen

Second Bar + Kitchen ‘s well priced and diverse menu and casual trendy atmosphere make it an ideal spot for a group dinner downtown. With visiting friends in town and a birthday to celebrate it was the perfect Saturday night dinner spot. We started with an order of chicken fried olives and a cheese board along with a round of Moscow Mules. The olives were salty, unusual, and begged to be eaten while sipping a martini. Second’s cheese board features a lovely rustic presentation of five different cheeses served with housemade crostini. While it’s no secret there is nothing I fancy more than a cheese plate, I would advise sampling some of Second’s other small plate offerings because it is there the menu really shines, as showcased in our second round of appetizers.

Chicken Fried Green Olives - $6

Arriving next were blue crab and corn fritters and veal meatballs. The fritters’ spicy glaze and decadent filling were tasty, but almost overlooked when unfairly served next to the amazing veal meatballs. The delicate meatballs were moist, tender, and full of earthy Italian flavors. A warm marinara sauce topping brought out a subtle fennel flavor to create a little bite of heaven. A last round of appetizers included goat cheese and ricotta fondue and a few bowls of Second’s famous pepperoni soup, which were both delicious as always.

Veal Meatballs - $8

  Continue reading Second Bar + Kitchen

Red House Pizzeria

A recent visit to Red House Pizzeria proved Manor’s top pizza place is still worth the trip, but not without a few ups and downs. Red House Pizzeria is located on the East Side’s strip of restaurants along Manor Road, which is one of my favorite areas of town. Since Red House is good for groups and serves pizza alongside a full bar, it is somewhat of a go to spot for a relaxing weekend night.  However a recent foray was a bit of a disappointment compared to past experiences.

Continue Reading [expand title=Here] While Red House’s outside patio is relaxing, laid back and the perfect place to drink a glass of wine, the inside is quite a different scenario. The bright lights and nondescript space lack the charm of the outside and doesn’t leave diners with a hankering to come back for more. The stiffness of the interior juxtaposed against the tranquility of the outside is almost disconcerting. Like the ying and yang of the eating areas, my experiences at Red House have seemingly been varied as well.

 The service was lackluster to say the least. I am fully sympathetic to the fact waiting on a large group is no easy task, and certainly a good amount of leeway is allotted because a table of 15 is not going to get the same service as a table of two. That being said, our group was the only table in the room where we were sitting, and yet we had a challenge in even placing our order. Dinner started on the wrong foot when part of our group’s initial drink order failed to make it to the table. After waiting 30 minutes, we finally took matters in our own hands and ordered at the bar, something that became a trend throughout dinner. Once we received our food, we did not see our waiter again until finally asking a few people for the bill.

 With the recent revamp of appetizers, I was excited to try a few. I ordered the bruschetta featuring balsamic tomatoes and lemon ricotta, which was a solid combination of flavors. However, topped with shredded parmesan cheese and parsley and served on cold, previously toasted bread, the whole dish felt a little thrown together. I understand it is a simple dish and doesn’t take much to create, but without a little attention, it was a generic and forgettable dish. Similarly, the salads we ordered suffered the same fate; the flavor combinations were there, but execution was not. The pizzas, thankfully, had better results than the precursors. The tomato sauce was sweet and a nice base for the salty mozzarella. The meatballs on one order were full of good Italian flavor. While the Margarita could have used a bit more tomatoes on top, it was still a nice representation of the simple classic.

 After we finished dinner, a few of our group stayed on to enjoy a glass or two more of wine on the patio. While sitting there, I realized the things I love about Red House normally, the atmosphere and attitude found outside. Red House is still a great place to meet a few friends for a casual night of pizza and a couple drinks outside, but for food, décor and service there are a couple other similar places to think about. While my dinner experience this time around was not the best at Red House Pizzeria, I hope on my next venture I will be reminded of ventures like this. [/expand] Or check out the food below…

 Red House Pizzeria. 1917 Manor Road, Austin TX. 512.391.9500. http://www.redhousepizza.com/

Large Meatball Pizza - 12.50

Continue reading Red House Pizzeria