Category Archives: local grub

some of our very favorite spots.

the importance of date night

August 27, 2015

now that lil’ bug has arrived and we’re all learning what it looks like to be a family, the importance of date night is quite clear. during pregnancy, we had several discussions about being intentional in our love for one another, and how to continue to be husband and wife, while balancing the new roles of mama and papa. we believe that caring for our marriage is the cornerstone of what makes this family work, and although we love ruby with all of our beings, we choose to not have her be the epicenter of our existence. as she grows, we know that we’re the first example of what a loving relationship looks like, and in how we love one another, we’re helping her set her own expectations of how she’ll want to be loved in her own relationships.

i’m sure most new parents can relate to those first few weeks where it’s sort of unavoidable for your little bundle not to be the center of everything – what with the constant feedings, diaper changes, soothing, and googling of “is this normal” ten times a day, but we still found moments to choose one another – whether it was twenty minutes of exhaustion-induced laughter in bed in the wee hours of the night, or scampering away for a quick sushi date in between feedings. our goal from the start was for date nights to occur early and often. and now that we’re about a month in, lil’ bug is starting to sleep a little better, and handles the occasional bottle like a true champion we are planning out our first real date night.

so for the rest of you new parents out there, we’re sharing some of our favorite date night spots for that first adventure away from your little one. we didn’t pick these spots on a whim, in fact, they meet a very specific criteria:

  • incredible cocktails… yes, i’ve been out of the drinking game for 9 months, and if i’m going to have a cocktail, i want it to be spectacular. rest assured that every spot on this list has a craft cocktail menu worthy of your first drink back.
  • easy parking – you mamas know when you’re on the nursing clock, the last way you want to spend your time is looking for parking. each of these locations have either complementary /affordable valet or ample parking available.
  • accepts reservations – this is sort of a no-brainer… you won’t catch me waiting for a table anytime in the near future because mama just simply don’t have time for that nonsense. we swear by opentable, because they have access to most of our favorite places, and it’s a good way to discover new spots as well. not to mention, we earn points towards restaurant vouchers by making free reservations…it’s basically a win-win. most importantly, i can just hop on the app on my phone, and don’t have to wait on hold for a hostess who can barely hear me.

so without further ado, here’s our list of the perfect spots for your first date night away from your little one, and a couple of our favorite dishes of course:

vox table

the importance of date night // forage + fodder

offering small sharable plates and friendly service in an atmosphere that lends itself to good conversation,  vox table is a new favorite. oh and i can’t forget to mention their out of this world cocktail menu (including several variations on the old fashioned). with a free parking garage and complementary valet service, you can zip in and get down to the business of treating your taste buds to some serious flavor.

sip: irish goodbye

chow: smoked hamachi pipette + calamari noodles

sweet: sazerac sundae

uchiko

the importance of date night // forage + fodder

for those desperate to be back on the sushi wagon, may we suggest going to uchiko’s sake social hour (5:00 – 6:30) for $5 house sake and some delicious small plates (ahem, the brussels sprouts). we like to add on a few rolls or hot tastings off of their regular menu as well. uchiko is only open for dinner service, and there’s usually a crowd waiting when they open their doors, so make a reservation for 5:00 so you can take full advantage of the social hour menu.

sip: house sake, takara nigori

chow: brussels sprouts, yokai berry, + pork ribs

sweet: fried milk

olive & june

the importance of date night // forage + fodder

olive + june is one of our favorite spots in town. they have an amazing wine selection, a beautiful patio, valet parking (although we’ve always found a spot on the street), and some serious coastal italian fare which includes pastas and ricotta made in house. if the weather is right, snag a spot on their patio and dine under their gigantic oak tree. again, a happy hour reservation is the way to go as they offer discounted small plates and cocktails…and save room for their incredible seasonal dessert menu.

sip: basil di limone

chow: farm egg, house mozzarella, + any of the piccoli piatti

sweet: seasonal menu, but it’s all delicious

fixe

the importance of date night // forage + fodder

the menu at fixe offers a creative twist on louisiana southern cuisine (think upscale comfort food) and the interior is pretty spectacular in my opinion. although it’s located downtown, there is ample street parking, and we had no problem finding a spot right next to the front door.

sip: manhattan

chow: fixe biscuits, fried chicken  + carnivore grits

sweet: sticky toffee cake

this post was created in collaboration with opentable.com, but all opinions and suggestions are my own. 

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lunch with mama // mettle

December 6, 2013

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stumbling upon this place was a random happy accident, but i’m glad we landed here.  austin’s east side is on my list of places to venture into more because there are so many undiscovered neighborhood gems. bridget dunlap, aka the mastermind behind the wildly popular rainey street staples such as lustre pearl and clive bar, is also the brains behind mettle, bringing chef andrew francisco from olivia on board.

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just one of many businesses finding their home in a gigantic warehouse, the restaurant is essentially split down the middle in terms of decor. the bar side is far more industrial while the other half has more of a lounge appeal. the space as a whole seems to be lacking in cohesiveness in my opinion, but where they lose me in decor, they win my heart with their music (think sam cooke radio) and their service – frank our waiter, made me feel like we were old friends. all that said, mettle is still in its infancy, having only been open for about 3 months, and they’ve definitely got some good things going for them.

mettle drinks

for starters, their herbs 75 cocktail was fantastic. it’s a slight twist on the classic that starts with an herb infused gin that’s not too overbearing, with just the right hints of rosemary and bay leaf. coupled with grapefruit and cava, this drink goes down easy without being too sweet, and each sip is a delight.

mettle escargot

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we kicked off the meal with the escargot. seeing as though this was both mama and i’s first escargot experience, and really the only knowledge we had going in was what julia roberts taught us in pretty woman, we were thrilled when these little guys arrived ready to devour in a chipotle-kaffir lime butter. no tongs required.

mettle caesar

we sampled a variety of things from there, starting with the walnut caesar salad, and moving to the fish & chips. both were topped with crispy fried parsley which i’ll be trying at home very soon because i couldn’t get enough of it. we finished off the meal with a creme de violette ice cream topped with english toffee, it was a nice palate cleansing finish to a very tasty meal. honestly it’s a bit more than i would pay for lunch, but i’ll be back to try their dinner menu, and more importantly a few more of those signature cocktails.

it’s cold here! our weekend plans involve a fireplace, a hot toddy or two, putting up christmas, and lots of projects in the workshop. hope everyone is feeling festive because i’ve got some swell gift guides coming next week. happy friday!

lunch with mama // searsucker

September 6, 2013

lunch took us to the warehouse district this week, which is rare, seeing as i usually avoid downtown like the plague. i’m not a fan of the parking-spot hunt or paying to park for that matter.  but i must say that searsucker is most definitely worth the few minutes you’ll spend scouring the blocks for open spaces and trying to remember which streets are one-way.

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for starters, it’s a gigantic space. with its edison bulbs, exposed brick walls, and draping rope chandeliers it has a certain industrial comfort. yet the music and staff make you feel like you’re in a beach town. they still hold that laid back and humble demeanor of a new restaurant eager to put their best foot forward and call you a friend.

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we started off with the shishito peppers which were rockin’. i was a little skeptical because this dish usually comes with a dipping sauce, but these little guys had enough flavor to roll solo, and they were delicious. eating shishitos is known as pepper roulette because about one in twenty peppers are hot as hell, while the rest are simply just flavorful. i’ve devoured these bad boys on several occasions and never had to bite the proverbial bullet until yesterday. sheesh that baby was hot. but not hot enough for me not to risk it again and again in the future.

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from there mama got the red quinoa salad which was fantastic. i debated the menu for awhile because their burger was recently named one of the top in the country, and the pulled pork sammy sounded too good to be true. ultimately i opted for their take on a french dip – aged white cheddar, horseradish creme fraiche, crispy onion strings and braised beef on ciabatta (i should add that their ciabatta was perfect. soft with crisp edges, not the kind you cut your mouth on because it’s hard as a rock).

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needless to say lunch was swell, but their evening menu really seems to be the shining star. so naturally the moms and i will be back next week for happy hour because let’s be honest, that cocktail menu needs some testing out and we are just the ladies to do it. all in all i was extremely impressed with searsucker, especially considering it’s only in its infancy (they just opened 3 months ago). stay tuned for part deux and have a spectacular weekend.

lunch with mama // elizabeth st. cafe

August 19, 2013

elizabeth st. cafe continues to be one of my favorite spots in town (as evidenced by my ravings of it here and here).  the interior is beautiful and the food is one of a kind. i usually eat outside on their patio, but it’s been a continuous 100 degrees here lately, so i gladly welcomed the air conditioned atmosphere engulfed in natural light and flecked with bright colors. i usually come here for breakfast, but as we learned this week, the lunch & dinner menu is as equally impressive as their morning offerings.

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before we were even two bites into our delicious poached shrimp and avocado spring rolls we’d befriended the couple at the table next to us. i am definitely my mother’s daughter when it comes to a habit of striking up conversations with strangers. they simply asked us if it was our first time there, and no less than five minutes later i had pen and paper out writing all of my favorite restaurants down for them. note to all of you out there: if you’re looking for privacy, don’t sit at the table next to me – especially if i’m with my mom. moving on, moms got the grilled tofu vermicelli bowl and i got the keffir lime fried chicken banh mi. both were fantastic. we followed it all up with a peach galette with chai ice cream. all of their pastries and breads are made in house so save room for a few macarons or eclairs for the road. they are not to be missed.

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peach galette

i surely don’t mind reliving this meal on a busy monday. yes, i day dream about food, doesn’t everybody? below is yet another unsuccessful attempt for my mom and i to not pose exactly the same for a picture. at least i made her move her hands and i recrossed my legs opposite hers this time. it’s a work in progress people. enjoy the week!

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lunch with mama // blue dahlia bistro

July 12, 2013

it’s been a while party people. mama’s been working hard and i’ve been stuck under the hell-storm that are midterms. but yesterday we both resurfaced for a good ol’ fashioned lunch date at blue dahlia bistro. this place is perfect for lunch. the staff are extremely down to earth and friendly, and they offer flavorful, but light fare that won’t put you in a coma once you’re back at work. we were so busy catching up that i only snapped a few pics, plus i was famished and couldn’t postpone the feast a second longer.

blue dahlia 2

blue dahlia 1

we shared the salade nicoise with seared ahi tuna and the bri & homemade jam tartine. both were tasty, but the bragging rights of blue dahlia come from their desserts. our waiter sold us quite quickly on the peach cobbler which is arguably their best dessert, and the cheesecake which ranks with some of the best i’ve had in my day. honestly the cheesecake was divine, but that cobbler was criminal. served a la mode with fresh blackberries. shut your mouth that’s good.

hope everyone has a rockin’ weekend. you deserve it.

(stay)cation in austin

June 10, 2013

teepee

let me preface with the fact that i sort of detest the word ‘staycation’ however i use it on the regular for sake of time. i hate to start this off on a negative note, but it annoys me.  moving on. we spent two nights in what i dubbed our ‘funky lil’ love shack’ right in the heart of south congress and it was pretty perfect. if you’re looking for an affordable, not at all fancy spot in a good location, i’d highly recommend it. we were sandwiched in between this groovy little teepee and an airstream trailer. not to mention the goats for neighbors, which i made a point to feed a little hay every chance i got. our host was awesome too. he got us a gift certificate to elizabeth st. cafe and gave us this fantastic deer from off the wall just because mr. said he liked it.

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goats

gifted

honestly this was the most consecutively delicious mealtime adventure of my life. in less than 48 hours we ate at some fantastic spots all located within a few miles of our shack. we started off by walking over to lenoir’s backyard bar for a rose punch and then headed inside for their one of kind three course dinner experience. husband and wife owners make this place feel like an intimate living room dinner party. the highlights were the steelhead crudo (amazing!), heirloom tomato salad, and crispy goat terrine. we couldn’t get enough. seriously. when we finished our courses, without hesitation we ordered two desserts and more wine. though it was too cozy to spoil by whipping out my camera. sometimes you just need to pocket your devices and enjoy the good food and the dapper guy sitting across the table from you.

lenior

friday consisted coffee and an array of pastries at la patisserie, followed by some fun errands around town after which we landed at perla’s for some lunch and cocktails. honestly i don’t love the indoor experience of perla’s but their patio is a blast. a little more casual with bright pops of color everywhere, and it just seems a lot less stuffy out there. it’s a laid back yacht club sort of experience and the weather was perfect.

perlas

gin yummy

flag kisses

a few cocktails later we hit a the shops nearby and apparently felt loose enough to do something i never thought i would… his and her hats. yikes. it wasn’t on purpose but we both just happen to fall for the same style. now we just need fanny packs and it’s officially a vacation. donned with matching lids, we spent a few hours at barton springs which felt amazing. it had been way too long since i’d swam in those cool waters. although the kelp situation is getting a little out of hand. i guess they are really running with the whole salamander habitat agenda these days.

ready for dinner

olivia

we opted for a nice long dinner at olivia because they always allow us to take our time with it. our waiter was swell, letting us stay as long as we wanted and order one dish at a time. also, i had the best pork chop of my life. i never order the pork chop, but after i spotted it walking by to some lucky table outside, i was sold. the in-house prosciutto was also delicious (apparently the chef had waited 12 months to serve it) and so was the buttermilk blue crab appetizer. saving room for dessert (aka my life mantra) we headed over to lick for some ice cream.

vietnamese coffee

steamed buns

breakfast bahn mi

our final meal was breakfast at elizabeth st. cafe, which mr. proudly boasts as his favorite breakfast in town. the vietnamese coffee alone is worth a visit. but everything i’ve ever had on this menu is spectacular. i got the pork belly breakfast bahn mi and he got his go to, the pork belly steamed buns & poached eggs. it was a splendid conclusion to a perfect couple of days.

*book the love shack here.

lunch with mama // winflo

May 24, 2013

patio

yesterday we opted for a happy hour instead of lunch because my mama is leaving for barbados for 10 days and we didn’t want to rush it. it’s always my preference to stretch meals out for 2-3 hours anyways. i like to enjoy a dish before ordering the next, and have wine and cocktails in between. and that’s exactly what we did. winflo has a great patio, and although it’s located right on west 6th, you don’t notice the traffic as much as you’d expect.

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the cocktails were mighty tasty. although i love whiskey, warm weather takes me more in a gin direction. we started off with two gin martinis. mine featured st. germain, prosecco, grapefruit and rosemary, and mama’s had lillet blanc, contreau, and an absinthe rinse. yep. delish.

winflo salad

winflo fritti

winflo pesto

winflo table

from there it was an out of this world artichoke fritti (that used fresh artichoke hearts, not marinated!) an arugula salad with candied walnuts, apples and a cintronette dressing that was just the right amount of bitter, and a pretty stellar pesto fettuccine with toasted walnuts and portabellinis. all while sipping on a crisp glass of rose. and can we pause to talk about those little bowls for the accompaniments? love them.

winflo spumoni

for dessert we shared their spin on spumoni which consisted of cherry, chocolate and pistachio gelato. all were nice, but the real winner was that pistachio. things got pretty serious when it came down to who got the last bite of it. and the added surprise of a brandied cherry was the perfect last flavor to hold on to.

after 2 1/2 hours of of sipping, sharing and laughing hysterically we parted ways. next time we’ll need to show up later in the evening because they have a gigantic oak that’s covered with twinkle lights down to the tips of its tiniest branches. and that is something that i need to see. happy hour may have replaced our weekly lunches for good.

local grub // tyson’s tacos

May 22, 2013

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a few weeks ago was my man’s first saturday off in six months. it was fantastic. we slept in… like got 11 hours of sleep slept in. and then ventured out to a neighborhood jem called tyson’s tacos. this place is amazing. and honestly, i considered not even posting about it because i don’t want to share it with anyone. selfish, but true. this is also the first place that i’ve eaten at twice in one day. that’s right, lunch was so good that we went back for dinner.

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tysons tacos 1

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tysons1simply put, everything is delicious. and the menu is absurd. cornish game hen? yes, they have that. we devoured the pork belly tacos (yes, apparently that’s an actual thing), the baby back ribs tacos, carnitas tacos, homemade guacamole, chips and queso, and the pork belly flautas. it was all incredibly delicious and shockingly affordable. oh and the byob factor is just about makes this my favorite place in the hood. the real treat was closing the place down and getting to meet tyson and his entire family. they rule. and were quite hilarious. this may just have to be a new saturday tradition.

lunch with mama // lick ice cream

May 17, 2013

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this week the moms and i went to lick ice cream. this place has only been around for a year or so, but they sure know what they’re doing. i may be shunned for saying this, but lick is the best ice cream in austin. sorry amy’s, you’re still tasty, and you’ve been my go to since i was a kid, but when a girl grows up, so do her standards, and lick is where it’s at.

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lick interior

they specialize in small batch locally sourced flavors and they are basically killing it with their combinations. after roughly 7 samples (but who’s counting) i settled on a scoop of the roasted beet & mint and a scoop of the goat cheese, thyme & honey. normally i fall on the chocolate side of the fence, but their flavors are so unique and refreshing that getting chocolate almost seems boring (unless you get the dark chocolate, olive oil & sea salt flavor because it’s amazing). mama also got the thyme & honey along with a scoop of the tart toasted coconut.

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what i also love about this place is how many delicious vegan and dairy free flavors they have. i gave up dairy for a year (long story) and i remember being so disappointed when places would just throw a crappy mango sorbet at you as if you had no taste buds. but lick offers delightful vegan options without sacrificing flavor (or creaminess) which makes ice cream such a treat.

p.s. that is not a posed photo. my mom and i are just basically twins in everything we do apparently.

lunch with mama // la patisserie

April 19, 2013

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well not actually lunch this time, because our wallets are still upset with us from last week’s lunch. so we decided to go out for ice cream. but then the temperature dropped thirty degrees in a matter of hours and it started raining, so we switched it up yet again. they say it’s a woman’s right to change her mind. and they’d be correct. we ended up at la patisserie. an oldie but a goodie.

this place isn’t new to either of us, but we both felt like we needed a little comfort and decadence, so we broke the rules. it’s situated in a quaint little house, with a small porch, and they give you blankets when it’s cold outside. hence the instant comfy effect i spoke of. they serve one of my favorite local teas (sweet desert delight tea by zhi tea) plus all of the pastries are made fresh daily by luxe sweets. and the macarons, oh the macarons. they are heavenly. we tried the lavender, cardamom honey orange (a personal fave), balsamic strawberry, and mint chocolate chip.  the vanilla bean cream puff was also quite delightful. if you haven’t realized yet, my mother and i share a sweet tooth that can’t be rivaled.

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cream puff

zhi tea

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it’s almost the weekend. i can barely stand it! we’ve got some fun things planned for the next few days. here’s hoping you do too. happy friday.