Austin is a very health conscious town. People are always biking throughout the city, walking their dogs or jogging around town lake. It seems that every restaurant has vegetarian options, gluten free options, vegan options...you name the cleanse or diet, and you're covered. Yoga studios seem to be more plentiful than pizza joints. There's so much great food here, but it's also a very health conscious city. One of the places that encapsulates this lifestyle just so happens to be located right next door to us on 2nd Street.
I'm kind of biased, but I really like Leaf. They really seem to have something for everyone. My personal favorite is the El Jefe. The corn salsa and steak strips just work well. In order to keep from getting burned out on that deliciousness, I will often get the Abbi's Asian Chicken Salad. The organic sesame-ginger vinaigrette (which is made in house, by the way) in amazing, but I could say that about any and all of their home made vinaigrettes.
The only negative about Leaf is their hours. They are open 11-4 Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday. Their salads are huge so there have been many nights that I wanted to take one home and split it for dinner. And (like Chick fil-A) I seem to always crave them on Sundays.
The Bonneville is quickly becoming one of Austin's best restaurants and it's really easy to see why. I made my first trip to the Bonneville before we opened Gameday Cloth's Austin location. It was the moment that I knew that I was making the right choice. The food and drinks that day were amazing and they've gotten better each time I've visited.
Located on Cesar Chavez, their dog friendly patio overlooks Town Lake and is only a block away from Congress Bridge. The views are amazing and it offers great people watching potential. Their happy hour has been named one of the best in Austin (I agree 100%) and even offers great prices on food. I've been very guilty of enjoying one pepino fresco too many, but they are beyond delicious. It's the perfect atmosphere before viewing the bats or heading to ACL Live.
Austin seems to have perfected brunch and the Bonneville is among the best. Personally, I'm a big fan of the bananas foster French toast with a side of the bacon tater tots and house-made pecan sticky buns, but you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. My fiancee swears that the chipotle-lime chicken hash has changed her life.
Brunch and happy hour are great, but the Bonneville's dinner service is even better. Chef Jennifer Costello and Chef Chris Hurley has created a menu that has something for everyone. I would tell you what I've enjoyed, but I would simply be reciting the menu. From their appetizers to their pizzas and entrees...just make sure that you save room for dessert. You won't regret it.
I've had the pleasure of visiting 2nd Bar and Kitchen a handful of times, but with all of these restaurant posts, I wanted to visit it once more before I wrote about it. Before I get to the food though, I want to mention Congress Bar which is adjacent to 2nd. It's simply my favorite bar to watch the bartenders perform their craft. Eye droppers, test tubes, zesting...it's really a show when they are concocting their drinks. Even if you aren't drinking anything stronger than Austin tap water, it's worth going just to watch the show.
Back to 2nd...the food is fantastic. As I've said, I've had the chance to visit a handful of times before and since I've moved to Austin and they've always exceeded expectations. This time I went the safe route and ordered the Bar Congress Burger. I enjoyed it but the Pork Belly Bahn Mi that my sister ordered was so delicious that nothing else on the table could match it. You can't really go wrong with either of those. Nor can you go wrong with the Short Rib Sliders that my brother in law ordered. We started the whole thing off with fried buffalo pickles and each ended with a dessert (I had the peanut butter cookies...wow). It's was a great meal from start to finish.
The item that I would recommend above all others at 2nd is easily the Black and Bleu Pizza. Normally I'm not a big fan of red onions, but in this case, don't alter a thing on your first try. Everyone will get to experience what a true foodie (which I am definitely not) gets to experience with this pizza. Without fail you get how the blue cheese and black truffle mix perfectly with each other to make this beautifully sweet taste that easily balances out the onions. The pork belly confit melts in your mouth and the medjool dates complete the experience. It is an eye opening culinary experience that speaks to every palate. It is amazing.
If I can't convince you to try the black and bleu, seemingly everything else on the menu will be the best thing you've eaten that day. Enjoy!
With Father's Day fast approaching we've been discussing how to celebrate at Gameday Cloth. (And for those of you that may not have realized it, Father's Day is this Sunday. You're welcome).
I heard recently of something called a ManMosa. Upon further research I realized that there are quite a few recipes for ManMosa's. Is this something you've tried? Do any of our fans order these? Would a bartender even know what you were asking for? These questions have lead me to select a few recipe options to share and see if I can garner a response, or vote, if you will, for the best ManMosa recipe.
The first recipe is Vodka, Orange Juice & Beer. Plain, simple & to the point. And can I just get 3 cheers for the Absolut ad? Stellar!
Another is a more traditional Champagne, Orange Juice & Beer. I personally wouldn't want the beer ruining my Mimosa. And I am also a girl that loves to drink bubbles. So there's that.
Based on the above picture, another option is Beer, Orange Juice and Disaronno, which goes along with the Beer, Orange Juice & Triple Sec recipe I read about.
We've read, pondered, taste-tested and landed on one. Our "Gameday ManMosa" has its own unique spin to it. We use a traditional amount of Champagne and Orange Juice ... wait for it ... & serve it in a red solo cup. And we'll be doing so ALL WEEKEND in store in both The Shops at Legacy & The 2nd Street District.
PS - Did you know the markings on a red solo cup were for your drinks?
The phrase "food coma" gets thrown around a lot these days and I've can't say I've ever really experienced what I think that means. Until today. Today I had the pleasure of trying Franklin BBQ. If you aren't familiar with Franklin, its considered one of, if not the, best barbeque restaurants in the world. Celebrity chef and food critic Anthony Bourdain has said that the brisket is the best he's ever had. Texas Monthly named it the best barbeque in the state. There's usually a three hour wait and people swear it's worth it. On their website, they state that they have run out of brisket every day they have been open (think about that...that blows my mind). What I'm saying is that it's pretty highly regarded.
There's a line. There seems to always be a line. The doors open at 11 and people are there before 9. When I first drove by it was around 9:45 and there were about 50 people waiting. Even with a long wait, you aren't promised anything. When they run out of meat, they are done for the day, There's a way to skip the line, but if you have the time and the patience (which I lack) it looks like quite the scene. People line up for hours. They bring iPads and magazines. They bring coolers and folding chairs. They mingle with their neighbors in line and there seems to be a real sense of camaraderie. I am impatient and lazy so I found a way to skip waiting in line. I won't bore you with the details but it involves pre-ordering, a minimum of two weeks and the entire process can be spelled out with an email to Franklin.
I had the turkey (moist and delicious), pulled pork (also moist and delicious) and the brisket (um...also, also moist and delicious) with a side of potato salad and some key lime pie. If you are on a diet, avoid this place at all costs. There doesn't seem to be anything "lean" or "skinny" within blocks of this place and you'll just be mad at your diet.. Everything was tender and seasoned perfectly. The potato salad was the only thing that wasn't amazing, but it was still good enough that there weren't any leftovers. The sauce (vinegar based) was superb and I'm glad I have extra. Having lived in Texas 90% of my life, I've had plenty of BBQ. This is easily on my list of favorite BBQ places. Go and don't let the line scare you away.
I am constantly amazed by how much great food there is in Austin. Our store is lucky enough to be on the same block as Lamberts, La Condesa and Leaf. We are fortunate to be on the same street as Jo's Coffee Shop, Taverna, Austin Java, Cru, and Coal Vines. And if you venture further down there's 2nd Bar and Kitchen and Berry Austin. This is all on our street. You could be full and happy at any and all of these places. If you venture off in any direction you could end up at Bob's Steak and Chophouse, the Bonneville (a personal favorite), III Forks, and I could go on and on and on.
My problem is that I live and work in this area. Why is that a problem? Because there's no need to venture more than a block or two for an amazing meal. And I haven't even scratched the surface of all of the culinary hotspots, Top Chef winners and James Beard recipients or renowned food trucks that are all throughout the city. I told myself that when I moved here, I would constantly try new places and I've failed in that. That changes now.
I'm going to start hitting some of these places up and I'll report back. I'm no food critic, but I know what I like. I know when service is good and when it isn't. I know what places I would recommend to anyone who walks in the store and I know what places never seem to be on that list. Take my advice, listen to my recommendations or ignore me completely...that's your choice. But if you're interested in some Austin dining information, I'll try my best to provide it. These will be my likes and dislikes and mine alone, and I'll try to be fair. I'll have more tomorrow...because it starts then.