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

Recipe File: National Nacho Day Edition

How about a really slow golf clap for very long overdue Recipe File post? Don’t get too excited as this is not going to be any Top Chef-esque masterpiece but instead a simple ode to my favorite Tex-Mex appa-teaser in honor of National Nacho Day. Sure, I could go the distance and fry my own beans and chips, but frankly when these crowd pleasers show up on one of my menus, its because I am usually searching for a simple starter to warm up for a more complicated main course. And, since it is also Election Day, I will confess if I were casting my ballot for the best nacho in town, it would be the bean and cheese nachos from Matt’s El Rancho. Enjoy!


Bean and Cheese Nachos w/Peppers & Onions Continue reading Recipe File: National Nacho Day Edition

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

Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon

In late spring, Larry McGuire, Tommy Moorman, and their busy team added to their ever growing portfolio of restaurants to include Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon. Unlike their other well known upmarket establishments Lambert’s, Perla’s, and Elizabeth Street Cafe, Fresa’s is a casual drive-thru/walk-up spot catering to those looking for a quick and delicious meal on the go.

The focal point of Fresa’s is, you guessed it, the traditional Mexican street food Pollo asado de Carbon. Austinites are hardly unfamiliar with this South of the border staple; restaurants such as El Pollo Rico and El Pollo Regio are well known for their pollo asado de carbon, or chicken al carbon, served with quick convenience and at budget friendly prices. Known for putting a ‘fancy’ spin on down home dishes, McGuire and his team focused their attention on revamping this classic chicken dinner. Like its predecessors, Fresa’s adopted the same ‘feed the whole family on the fly’ model by offering walkup and drive-thru service only, but defines itself by prioritizing the quality of ingredients used.

Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon – $24

Those expecting the same cheap chicken dinner as other spots might have a bit of sticker shock at Fresa’s prices since better ingredients does mean higher costs. Fresa’s offers two meal sizes, either whole or half chicken, priced at $24 and $14, respectively. Because Fresa’s uses all natural, hormone free Peeler Farms chickens, these birds are smaller than the plumped up versions found elsewhere, but also tastier and healthier as well. Each chicken is prepared either with an achiote citrus or oregano pepper rub (we chose the former for this meal). Along with a chicken, a meal comes with rice, beans, salsas, grilled onions and jalapenos, and corn tortillas. Depending on appetite size, a whole meal could serve 2-3 people heartily, possibly four thanks to the rice and beans, meaning the price per person really is actually fairly budget friendly. Continue reading Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon

Whip In

From the outset, Whip In may appear to be your average stop ‘n go shop alongside I-35 but take care in judging this book by its cover. The shop’s door adorned with the motto ‘Nameste Ya’ll’ should be the first indicator that looks can be deceiving as far as the Whip In is concerned. Those in need of a bit more convincing only need to take a look around the uniquely South Austin restaurant, bar, and retail mart. Known as a longstanding Travis Heights favorite, the Whip In offers a little something for everyone. Whether picking up a quick bottle of wine or meeting a friend for dinner, the Whip In has personally always been a favorite post work spot due to its casual convenience.

Chana Masala - $7

The Indian-influenced menu features a large assortment of sharing plates, specialty sandwiches, rice bowls, and daily specials create from locally sourced and organic ingredients. Each dish is generously portioned and well-priced. Personal favorites include chana masala rice bowl or seasonal ratatouille. Continue reading Whip In

JMueller’s BBQ

A recent trip to JMueller’s BBQ on South First proved the long anticipated return of John Mueller to Austin’s BBQ scene was well worth the wait. With my visiting Texan-turned-New Yorker younger brother Jerry in tow, I was given a tall order to provide him with a last taste of real Texas BBQ before he returned to the Big Apple. I took a small gamble on JMueller’s, having never been, but packed lines and solid word of mouth assured me it was a lock.

Mueller’s approach to barbecue is classic and straightforward. His brisket, for example, is seasoned . . . → Read More: JMueller’s BBQ

Dish/Deal of the Day: Taco Tuesday @ Quality Seafood

A new year has officially begun, which means one thing: resolutions. Today’s Dish of the Day is a perfect solution to abiding by all those promises to eat healthy, save money, and so on. As mentioned here, Taco Tuesdays at Quality Seafood are a college student’s dream, but after rediscovering this steal of a deal, my stomach and bank account gladly can’t get enough. As part of their weekly specials menu, Quality Seafood serves $2 seafood tacos alongside $2 domestic beers every Tuesday night from 6-9pm. Each taco comes with a choice of shrimp, mahi-mahi, or catfish served grilled, . . . → Read More: Dish/Deal of the Day: Taco Tuesday @ Quality Seafood

Recipe File: Baked Brie and Apple Raisin Compote Crostinis

The holiday season is in full swing, which means festivities galore. One of my favorite winter appetizer recipes to utilize for holiday entertaining is Cooking Light’s Baked Brie and Apple Raisin Compote. These little morsels of goodness are simple to make and always a crowd favorite. As an added bonus, the compote’s spices smell fantastic while cooking. Any leftover apple-raisin mixture pairs nicely with pork or even pureed with butternut squash. The recipe calls for golden raisins, but if you can’t locate any, regular raisins work as well. I have also substituted pears for apples in this recipe with solid results. A good tip for making these more budget friendly is to buy bulk spices since the recipe calls for quite a few.  Enjoy!


Continue reading Recipe File: Baked Brie and Apple Raisin Compote Crostinis