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Posts tagged ‘Elizabeth Street Cafe’

Austin 3.0

When we returned from Austin we were left asking ourselves a question: What is it about Austin that everyone loves? After thinking about this question for some time we finally stumbled upon the obvious one word answer….Austin is FUN!

Whether you are a hipster peddling through town on a fixed gear bike, a triathlete training for the Ironman or a beer guzzling college kid looking for a memorable Saturday night, Austin is just the spot you are looking for. So, if you haven’t been, check it out (but you may want to wait until the Fall, it was already starting to get pretty hot down there). We checked out a lot of new places that we had yet to try on this trip. Here’s our take on what we saw, drank and ate. Check out the Austin City Page to see which places made the cut.

Gourmand’s Neighborhood Pub – new East Austin pub in an old Tejano night club featuring “Fat Sandwiches” and plenty of beers on tap – including a great variety of the many new Austin microbrews that have popped up in the last few years. The Second Deadly Sin with smoked turkey, bacon, swiss and fried avocado was tasty and enough sandwich to feed the hungriest Austinite.

Lucy’s Fried Chicken – perhaps our favorite new stop on our trip, this restaurant grew from the popularity of chef/owner James Holmes’ Sunday Brunch fried chicken served at his upscale restaurant, Olivia. This restaurant hits the right notes – cool, laid back vibe with predominantly patio seating (both covered and uncovered), good selection of beer and cocktails, nice side dishes and most of all – delicious fried chicken! The Bucket O’ Chicken easily serves 4-5 and we found the chicken tender and moist and the skin was light golden crisp and loved by children and adults alike. Their Corn on the Cob had a great jalapeno kick and left our mouths on fire. Don’t leave without the Lime Pie – a heavenly treat with lime custard and coriander-wafer crust topped with whipped cream.

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El Primo – small taco truck on S. 1st Street with tasty breakfast tacos. Right next to Once Over Coffee Bar – a Latte and Migas Breakfast Taco is a great Austin way to start the day.

Once Over Coffee Bar – nice little coffee shop on S. 1st with one of the better Americanos and Lattes we had all week. Brews with locally roasted Cuvee Coffeebeans.

Izzoz Tacos – creative and tasty breakfast and lunch taco truck on S. 1st.

Elizabeth Street Cafe – highly anticipated casual French-Vietnamese restaurant on S. 1st from restauranteer Larry Maguire and his team (Perla’s, Lambert’s). As usual for Maguire’s team – they nailed the decor – the spot is small but beautiful with indoor and outdoor seating featuring pink and light blue hues reminiscent of the Miami Vice logo. We stopped in both for breakfast and for lunch. We loved the breakfast pastries from La Boite and were thrilled to have a Vietnamese coffee featuring Stumptown Coffee Roasters beans. Unfortunately, we were lukewarm about the banh mi, unimpressed by the Vietnamese Fried Rice and highly disappointed by our Bun (Vermicelli bowl).  The prices are high for sure and would not be unreasonable if the food delivered, especially given the great decor. It seems to violate The twentyfive:thirtyfive Rule #16: If a restaurant is going to serve an “elevated” form of a cuisine it needs to be sure to elevate it to a level that warrants its elevated prices.

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Hillside Farmacy – new East Austin eatery and artisan grocery. They have done a tremendous job in converting an old drugstore while creating a retro chic vibe. They feature breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. They were definitely still working out some kinks when we were there and the sandwiches were a bit on the small side for the price but we’d like to return when they get the place fully up and running smoothly.

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La Boite Cafe – we loved both the sweet and savory patries from this eco friendly pastry shop. Two locations, one on S. Lamar and one on Congress downtown, both inside of repurposed shipping crates. Give the Ham and Cheese Croissant and the Almond Croissant a taste.

Patika Coffee – delicious little coffee trailer on Congress and 2nd. Friendly baristas serve up espresso drinks from Cuvee Coffee beans. Would be one of our go to coffee stops if we still lived in town, especially after cooling down from a run on Town Lake.

Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden – another one of our favorite spots from the weekend. Though it is located in the not-so-nice part of East 6th right by 35, the actual place is fantastic. Upstairs, breads and soft pretzels are made and you can stop in and grab one to go. Downstairs a low roofed interior with wood tables resembles a European pub. But, the best part is through the back side downstairs – a large beer garden with long wooden tables, faux rock walls and ping pong tables. The soft pretzels with salted whipped butter were excellent (though not quite up to our high standards ofBrave Horse Tavern in Seattle) as was the beer selection and smoked turkey breast sandwich. We plan to return to check out the house made sausage sandwiches and pastries.

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Lenoir – new creative small plate 3 course prix fixe restaurant with a cute tiny dining room. Choose any 3 dishes from their field, land, sea, and dessert menu for $35. We enjoyed our meal and found it to be a great value to get such high quality and unique ingredients creatively prepared.

Asti Trattoria – although this Hyde Park restaurant has been around for 10 years, we had not been there until this trip. We are pleased to say we enjoyed our entire meal. The Frisee & Fontina salad with poached farm egg and truffle was absolutely delicious. We also loved our Duck Confit Ravioli, Braised Lamb Sugo with papardelle, and wood oven pizza with house made sausage. Topping the meal off were two fantastic desserts – ricotta creme brulee and affogato with beignets. Despite the number of new restaurants in Austin, Asti is tried and true and remains at the top of their game.

A few microbrews sampled this trip:

Thirsty Planet Brewing – Thirsty Goat Amber (hoppy but not overly caramel-y)

Austin Beerworks – Pearl Snap Pilsner (clean crisp, hint of citrus)

South Austin Brewing Company – Golden Ale (belgian ale, rich, smooth)

Now, 10 random thoughts about Austin and our trip:

1. Topo Chico mineral water with a lime is delicious and refreshing on a hot day.

2. There are literally 300 places to get a breakfast taco in Austin.

3. The infiltration of Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters coffee in Austin (Juan Pelota, Hillside Farmacy, Elizabeth St. Cafe) is not good for local roasters but it is great for coffee lovers. Stumptown, please make your next destination Nashville.

4. Austin restauranteurs have done an amazing job in the aesthetic and design of many of the new restaurants. Places like Easy Tiger, Elizabeth St. Cafe, Hillside Farmacy, and Haddingtons look and feel fantastic.

5. Maybe it is our weakness for great donuts, but Gourdough’s is officially our favorite food truck in Austin. The Miss Shortcake with strawberries and whipped cream is always so good and the Flying Pig  with bacon and maple syrup glaze tasted like a great brunch meal with every sweet/savory bite.

6. Next time back we’re staying at Hotel St. Cecilia. The grounds and pool were gorgeous and remarkably there was a wonderful laid back quiet vibe despite it’s location just off of South Congress.

7. Although you may be tempted to try, do NOT eat barbecue or Mexican food at every meal in Austin. Trust us.

8. Running on Town Lake Trail (Lady Bird Lake) is one of the truly great things aboutAustin.

9. That being said, we can’t guarantee that your seasonal allergies won’t flare if you do choose to run on Town Lake.

10. When in Austin, do what the Austinites do – get your workout in early then go get yourself a drink outside somewhere.

Updates: Austin, Atlanta and Nashville

We have been so busy here in Nashville, that we have not traveled very much in the past two months! However, that does not mean that we haven’t been eating! Nashville has a couple new restaurants that we can’t wait to share as well as some that we have just now experienced ourselves. We got around to visiting Atlanta again in October and came back with some great recommendations. Our post from Austin and ACL is long overdue, but we are still happy to report on a few of the great places we tried!

Austin

The Mighty Cone – “We Don’t Say Fried… We Say Deep Saute” is the slogan on the side of this food trailer started as a way for the Hudson on the Bend team to bring their flavors to the crowds of the Austin City Limits Festival. The specialty of this trailer is crunchy chicken wrapped in a tortilla and served in a cone. Try the tasty Chicken-Avocado cone.

Contigo Austin – outdoor beer garden in East Austin featuring charcuterie and creative small plates (think oxtail sliders).

Walton’s Fancy and Staple – wonderful new endeavor on West 6th from Sandra Bullock and her team that is a combo coffee/sandwich/flower shop. The decor is beautifully rustic industrial and the sandwiches were quite good as well.

Juan Pelota – tiny coffee bar located within Lance Armstrong’s Downtown/Warehouse District bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, now pulling espressos with coffee beans from Portland’s fantastic Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Royal Blue Grocery – new concept of the hip modern grocery/corner store with 3 locations in Downtown Austin with a small but well chosen selection of sandwiches, beer/wine, as well as bare necessities.

uncommon OBJECTS – large selection of “antiques.oddities.curious goods” in this great unique spot on South Congress. Definitely worth a walk around inside if you are hanging out on South Congress.

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer – food truck from Chef Bryce Gilmore with a rotating menu of critically acclaimed unique bites. The pork belly slider is fantastic and a constant on the menu. Open for dinner only.

Opa! – fun coffee and wine bar on South Lamar with nice outdoor seating and Mediterranean small plates.

Star Bar – newly and nicely remodeled cocktail bar on West 6th with food from taco/slider truck The Peached Tortilla.

Progress Coffee – coffee shop and coffee roaster on the East Side with a warehouse vibe that was named one of Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Best Boutique Coffee Shops

Bows + Arrows – clothing boutique (with sister-store Spartan) on South Lamar featuring brands like Band of Outsiders, BillyKirk, and Woolrich.

Spartan – eclectic and unique small selection of home decor items, local art and knickknacks on South Lamar attached to Bows + Arrows.

Coming Soon/Places to Try:

Elizabeth Street Cafe – French street cafe serving Vietnamese food from the team that brought Perla’s and Lambert’s that due to open before 2012.  Look forward to giving their banh mi and Vietnamese drip coffee (with beans from Stumptown) a try.

Easy Tiger – this bake shop and beer garden on East 6th from 24Diner’s team should be opening by the end of 2011 and be open from morning to late night.

Lick Ice Creams – new ice cream shop on South Lamar that’s attempting to put a dent in the Amy’s Ice Cream’s stronghold on the Austin ice cream scene with more creative offerings – think Cilantro Lime, Breakfast Bacon, and Goat Cheese with Thyme & Honey.

Atlanta

Holeman & Finch Public House – named by GQ as one of the Best Cocktail Bars in America. Famous for their burger which they only serve 24 a night at 10pm. If you want one you have to get there early and put your order in. May want to get a table seat if you can rather than squeeze into the crowded bar area.

Star Provisions – great market and sandwich shop by the Bacchanalia team with separate markets inside for cheese, meats, seafood, coffee, sandwiches and kitchen wares.

Taqueria del Sol – popular casual Mexican joint with a small selection of tasty tacos several sites in the Atlanta area. Give the Brisket and Carnitas tacos a try.

Antico Pizza – bring a bottle of wine (BYOB), step in, step up and order one of these fantastic pizzas and then head back and find a seat in the fun free-for all dining room and watch your pies getting made in several large ovens. The San Gennaro with salsiccia and sweet red peppers was amazing.

Octane Coffee – this award winning coffee shop in Midtown brews Counter Culture beans in an exposed brick warehouse vibe  – now with a new location in Grant Park.

Sid Mashburn – excellent men’s clothing store (with a women’s store, Ann Mashburn next door) with it’s own line of high quality dress shirts, shoes and suits as well as a nice selection of clothes and goods from companies like Barbour and Filson.

Nashville

The Catbird Seat:  Instantly one of the best restaurants in Nashville, if not the entire South. There are just 30 seats in this small restaurant atop of The Patterson House where you interact with and watch the amazingly skilled Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson prepare your food around a U-shaped bar. The restaurant is owned by brothers Benjamin and Max Goldberg, who also own The Patterson House downstairs. There is no menu and the chefs prepare 7-8 courses often sourcing local ingredients in preparing their truly unique and delicious meals (one appetizer is dubbed “faux-reo” – dehydrated porcini mushrooms around a parmesan cream resembling an Oreo). Though it is not cheap ($100/person with $30 for drink pairing) – it is well worth it for the experience and truly award winning quality food. We’d be surprised if they aren’t nominated for James Beard awards in 2012. Reservations must be obtained from their website and plan ahead, we hear that they can be booked up for several months.

Mitchell Delicatessen – the only thing we didn’t like about this fantastic sandwich shop in the Riverside Village area was how long it took to get there (think East Nashville and then keep going). They use local ingredients like Benton’s Bacon and Silke’s Old World Breads to make one of the best B.L.T.’s we’ve tasted.  Their take on the Banh Mi was also great as were the prices (most sandwiches around $6).

Chuy’s – an Austin original known for it’s fun and unique take on Tex-Mex now has 2 spots in Nashville – one in Cool Springs and spot in Midtown that opened October 2011.  Eclectic decor is the rule with one room with hubcaps on the ceiling and another dedicated to cheesy Elvis memorabilia. Great food value with unlimited free chips and salsa. The creamy jalapeno is downright addictive. Their tortilla soup and chile relleno are some of their best dishes and the New Mexican Martini is their take on a margarita with a jalapeno infused tequila kick.

Tavern – upscale gastropub/sports bar in Midtown area with creative takes on bar food and cocktails. Though their drink list is notably short on both quality and quantity of beers, they have a good list of seasonally changing cocktails. The train station meets library decor (all with a hint of Restoration Hardware vibe) works well and makes it stand out from other sports bars in the area. Most everything they make is good but we’ve particulary enjoyed their nachos, Belgian fries, Hack of Chicken, Tavern burger and the Brown Bag Special (grilled bologna on white bread with yellow cheese). They also have a good weekend brunch menu.

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