Posts in Food
Summertime 101

Today is the official first day of summer, which means it’s only going to get hotter here in Austin. A lot of my clients that are moving to Austin from cooler states ask me how the summers are here, and I never sugar coat it. It’s hot. Very hot. You’re going to sweat a lot, and your’e going to need to cool down.

Luckily there are two very good solutions to both those problems. Swimming, and deliciously refreshing summer time drinks. Over the years I’ve shared a lot of my favorites on my newsletter so I’ve decided to do a big round up here of how to survive a summer in Austin.

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Barbecue confessionals

When it comes to barbecue Texas takes itself very seriously. Here barbecue is all about beef brisket and when it comes to brisket Franklins is king. I'm not here to dispute any of that, what I am here to do is to make a confession. I love ribs. Delicious, falling off the bone, smothered in barbecue sauce ribs. I'm not alone obviously and most of the well known barbecue places in town offer ribs as well, but if you are looking to avoid the lines and get some finger licking delicious smoked meats, there are some new kids in town to help you out. Meet J. Leonardi's Barbeque.

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Top 10 East Austin destinations not on a top 10 list

This week marks the beginning of SXSW 2016, also know to locals as "everybody please get the fuck out of my town". About this time every year I start to see a bunch of top 10 lists pop up about where to eat and drink in Austin. Most of them are pretty solid, and they definitely cover the basics but the reality is they barely scratch the surface of what Austin has to offer. This year I wanted to take a different approach and talk about some of my favorite places to eat and drink in east Austin that you will probably never find on a top 10 list, but absolutely deserve to be. 

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Burn Pizza + Bar

Someone asked me the other day what I do for fun, and the first thing that came to mind was "eat". I love food. I follow news of restaurant openings and chef changes like most people follow Hollywood celebrities. With that in mind recently opened Burn Pizza + Bar has been on my radar for a while, and to be honest, I wasn't super excited for yet another Italian restaurant. Italian seems to be the hot new thing in Austin, and several new ones are slated for east Austin alone. On top of that, while I love pizza, I tend to be more of an East Side Pies kind of guy. Lucky for me Burn has more than a few pleasant surprises up their sleeve. Hint; it's way more than just pizza and a bar.

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Qui : Good Food, Good People

Much has been written about the East Austin restaurant Qui, by food critics far more knowledgeable and talented than I. I have no intentions of waxing poetic about the perfect combinations of sweet, salty and umami (though I would love to) or the creative use of platting or the brilliant interior decorating. As we slowly get ready to transition towards spring, one of my favorite months in Austin, I wanted to touch on what it's like to have a great restaurant like Qui right in your neighborhood.

When Qui was just getting ready to open. I was super excited to have such a top notch restaurant right in my neighborhood, but guess what. When it finally did open, I found myself walking right past the door and into the Liberty to grab a beer and some Chicken Karaage from East Side King. I'm not sure if I was intimidated by the big white building or what, but it almost felt too nice for the east side. 

The first time I ate there was many months later when some friends were in town. A group of us managed to make our way through the entire menu (this is before they were prix fixe) and quite a few cocktails. Though the menu was full. . .

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El Sapo

We all get in our routines. I remember when I first moved to East Austin all I wanted to eat was East Side Kings. I still miss the Grackle and Shangri La locations, but even without them we certainly don't have any lack of great food on the east side. In fact there is so much great food over here that I don't branch out enough and try new things. Last week I finally broke the mold and hit up El Sapo. I had no idea what to expect, and I have to say I was. . . 

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Figure 8 Coffee Purveyors

The north/south corridor of Chicon street in East Austin has had it's ups and downs. Businesses like the now shuttered Rosewood Community Market and East Village Cafe looked like they would bring a new vibrancy to the area. While it's unfortunate to see they weren't able to make it, its refreshing to see a new group of business owners having their go at it.

Figure 8 coffee purveyors has now moved into the old East Village Cafe, and besides a complete interior renovation of the space, they've also brought with them some serious coffee expertise. The shop is run by Ryan Hall and Kathleen Carmichael formerly of Houndstooth and Cenote and features the ever so delicious Tweed Coffee roasted right here in Texas. 

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No Churn Ice Cream

As summer wears on I've been doing more and more cooking at home. There is one recipe that has gotten the heaviest rotation however, and it's homemade ice-cream. I remember as a kid sitting around the ice cream maker in the summer making a fresh batch of homemade ice-cream. Now that I'm all grown up, I haven't been able to commit the time or energy, until now, mostly because this recipe takes almost zero time or energy. Don't be fooled though, it's incredibly delicious, versatile and addictive.

The basic recipe is from Nigella Law and goes like this.

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Welcome to the Neighborhood Cuvée

It's hard to keep up with all the new coffee shops, restaurants and bars opening up on the east side. Luckily that's a problem I don't mind having. This weeks opening was Cuvée coffee on 6th.

I had Cuvée coffee on my first visit to Austin, and it's seen regular rotation in my house ever since. With that in mind I'm quite excited for them to have a great space in East Austin. The space itself has quite masculine build out with lots of dark steel in the space. It's capped of by a few rows of Tom Dixon inspired hammered pendants. Speaking of hammered, like any good coffee shop in Austin, they've applied for an an alcohol permit and will have a nice row of beers on tap too. 

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4th Friday, Meatballs and more

Ok, let me just get this out there, Bill Murray is the best. Ever.

Also, I like meatballs. So you can imagine that when one of my favorite local BBQ joints has a screening of Bill Murray's 1979 classic Meatballs and an epic dinner that includes; Gouda Stuffed Smoked Meatballs, chili-garlic rapini, with roasted tomato vodka cream sauce and rigatoni for $12, I'll be there. The party starts at 8:30, and to make things even sweeter it's 4th Friday today and there happen to be a slew of other great things to do in the neighborhood before the show. 

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East Side King @ Cheer Up Charlies

One of the first food trailer experiences I had in Austin was eating at East Side King at the Shangri-La. It was love at first bite. Since then East Austin has dropped from 3 East Side King trailers to just two. There was even a horrible moment where the trailer at the Liberty was the only one. Luckily shortly after Thai Kun opened up at the old Cheer Up Charlies location. When I heard that ESK was opening a trailer at the new Cheer Up Charlies location I was excited. Sure it's not the East side any more, but it's still walking distance. 


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J & J Spirits : Know your neighborhood liquor store

So much about East Austin is changing these days, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. I still miss the mustard green fried rice from ESK at Shangri La, but I'm happy to see new food trailers like Kyoten on sixth. One thing that long time East Austin residents probably never thought would change was J&J Drug on 11th street. From 1968 to 2013 Harold and Howard ran the store. The shotgun behind showed that they weren't there to take any shit, but the zip lock bag of free samples they gave to locals who shopped there revealed their true friendly spirit. 

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East Side King

The name East Side King should be familiar to you already. Paul Qui has built up quite a reputation for himself, and it's a reputation that is well defended. I've gone ahead and taken one for the team and eaten at all the East Side King locations, many of them on multiple occasions. Verdict? Some of the best food in Austin.  

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