austin

Food Find: Searsucker

searsucker-cocktail

Searsucker serves some of the best tasting, often locally sourced dishes downtown.

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I’ve had them for brunch in the past, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I went there for dinner service.

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I popped in at 5:30 to make it in time for happy hour drinks, and loved that the selection ranged from select wines to various, creative vodka and gin infusions. The infusion-based cocktails were tasty enough to make my partner exceed his usual limit of “just one.”

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If you didn’t know already, the decor is absolutely spot on. They even have skylights to let just the right amount of sun in for the perfect romantic setting.

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Chef Louis came out to see what we were in the mood for, and made suggestions that fit in with my low-carb ways. Everything that was set in front of us made our eyes widen, and stomachs growl. (Who can resist tuna tartare wrapped in prosciutto, or perfectly cooked scallops?!) We had some of the prettiest, tastiest food that one could imagine, and our server never let my glass go empty.

searsucker-dessert

My partner finished it off with a beautiful dessert, and I snuck a piece despite all that diet-stuff I normally adhere to. Do yourself a favor and pop in to Searsucker for happy hour, and see if you want to stick around for a full meal; I guarantee they’ll entice you.

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Urban Betty Salon: A Series of Selfies

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My hair was growing out, and as the roots got browner, the ends got brassier. I was looking slightly ragged, and had long since lamented that the last time I colored my hair, it didn’t turn out Targaryen White. I needed help, and decided to turn to Jami at Urban Betty Salon.

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I dragged my poor boyfriend along, and thankfully we were both greeted with drinks. (I went with wine; he went with Shiner.) My stylist was almost immediately ready to take me, which can be rare, and she was beyond patient with my waffling back and forth on, “Should I go violet or platinum? Kelly Osbourne has violet, so maybe I should avoid that.” She brilliantly came up with the idea to put on a slightly violet toner that would appear lilac in certain lighting, and silvery-blonde in the dark.

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I’m pretty chatty, and Jami kindly engaged with me as she worked. She took the time to explain what she was doing, and how long things would take. I, unsurprisingly, got a refill on my wine, and laid back comfortably as the chemicals worked their magic. When all was said and done, my hair looked exactly how I wanted (minus that fact that my @$%!%ing bangs won’t grow out fast enough!).

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If you’re looking for a new salon, one that will make you post way too many selfies to Instagram during and after (*cough cough*), then I highly recommend UB. The place is spacious, stylish, and brimming with talented people that truly care about making you look and feel like, well, like I felt. Which is hot enough to post way too many selfies to Instagram when they’re done!

All Night Long: Monday’s Best Happy Hours

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If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being swanky on a budget. Here’s a list of some of my favorite happy hours that last well after the usual 7 o’clock cut-off:

Hillside Farmacy: Enjoy half price east coast oysters, and $5 cava.

East Side Show Room: Fancy cocktails for $5, and discounted snacks (such as pork ribs).

Olive + June: Half off piccoli piatti and wines by the glass.

The W: $6 wines and local spirits, $5 bites, and $4 beers.

Jeffrey’s: Half price bar food, and $2 off drinks.

Peche: $5 cocktails, and half off select menu items.

Eddie V’s: $1 Louisiana oysters, $6 wine and cocktails, and a lot of delicious, discounted food.

Winebelly: Select bottles are half off.

Olivia: 30% off appetizers and bottles. $1 off drinks.

 

Mellizoz: Let’s Taco Bout It

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Mellizoz makes some of the best tacos in Austin, and there’s absolutely no argument against that. See that fish taco? You can’t argue.

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How about the ‘Escobar’ filled with carne guisada?

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See that little face drawn on the fresh avocado? You aren’t going to tell him to his adorable, little face that he’s not delicious.

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Oh, maybe you’re vegetarian, and you think Mellizoz doesn’t have your back? Think again: Shroom. Tacos.

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Have you had one of the greatest green salsas town? Okay, we know Taco Deli has a magical one too, but just look at that stuff up there.

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Argument = won. Mellizoz makes some of my favorite tacos, and often has $5 off PayPal deals. You must try them!

Lunch at Kyoten

Mazu at Kyoten
Austin doesn’t just “do” food trucks; Austin does food trucks. A couple of chefs with Nobu, Ramen Tatsu-ya (I still haven’t been there!), and Uchi on their resumes have opened an upscale sushi food truck called Kyoten.

During the drunken stupor that out-of-towners refer to as SXSW, I passed by this place and convinced my harem of equally inebriated friends to try it with me. Having lived on free Kind bars, Tito’s vodka, and somehow cheese, I was ready for some real food. I wanted something nice, fresh, unpackaged, and containing vegetables (if you’ve been to SXSW you know what I mean). My hopes for Kyoten were so high that I was afraid they might not meet expectations. Spoiler alert: They did.

The food isn’t cheap, and I’d avoid the painfully salty miso soup, but everything else is diviiiiiine. It was clear to me upon asking a few questions about the menu that the staff was truly passionate about the product, and I love that they chimed in with which fish dish was going to be the best. I completely ignored their advice because I had salmon on the brain, but I still appreciated the knowledge.

I’m a known sushi enthusiast, but not everyone in the group was. The beef tongue braised in red wine (not shown) did the trick for them.


If you’re jonesing for an Uchi excursion, but don’t want the hassle, or maybe even want to dine in the soon-to-be-boiling-hot outdoors, then this is for you. They have a ton of Japanese lanterns, a fenced in zen garden, and more than enough picnic tables. Grab a bottle of wine, or sake, and prepare to be amazed.

Adventures in Apps: PayPal Edition

I’m pretty famous for my shameless abuse of happy hours, deal apps, and open bar parties. You really have no idea. It’s bad. (It’s good!) Recently, I was told about the PayPal app, and that you could simply use the app and get anywhere from $5 to $20 off your bill, regardless of the amount you spent. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Let me walk you through a day of me wreaking havoc on (just a small fraction of) these specials, and to clarify: PayPal did not contact me, and is not paying me for this post. I just wanted to share the good with you, and make you aware of the promotion while it lasts!

Macarons at La Patisserie

 Life is short, so we’re going to talk about dessert first. In addition to $9 off at Sugar Mama’s, $5 off at Holy Cacao, and another $9 at Hey Cupcake – PayPal has a discount at La Patisserie. Combine this with a sweet Yelp check-in offer for free mini-macarons with qualifying purchase, and you’re set. Did I mention that you don’t have to spend the full amount at any of these places? That’s right. You can spend, say, $6 and tip at Sugar Mama’s and still have some change left to use there for next time. Another full disclosure: I don’t think my boyfriend was aware that you didn’t have to use the full amount in one go, and came home with 3 cupcakes. I am not complaining.


Iced Coffee at Caffe Medici

 In addition to desserts, this deal also works at restaurants and coffee shops. All 3 Caffe Medici locations have it, and it’s $8. 8-freaking-dollars! That’s a lot of iced coffee! If you didn’t know already, Medici is famous for their mind-blowingly delicious coffee. They don’t serve alcohol (sad face), but the coffee drinks are top notch.

Blackened Tilapia Salad

I hate when my pictures turn out blurry! Too bad. I’m still posting this, because Turf N’ Surf Po Boy is freaking magical. Sure, the term “po boy” is a buzzkill for me, but for those out there who also avoid po boys, you can get an enormous salad. Look at that salad! It’s huge! The prices aren’t cheap, but the quality makes them worth every penny. You can even upgrade to fancy things like Chilean sea bass. Turf has a 4.5 star Yelp rating, and that’s not easy to come by, especially for a former food truck tucked into a sports bar. I can’t remember if the deal was $8 off or $9, but regardless, download the PayPal app, be sure to save the deals before you use them, and go nuts. It’s completely worth it.

If you need more pro-tips and discounts, hit me up on twitter: @amberdemure.

Drinks at The Gatsby


Old Sport
The Gatsby is 1920’s flair meets expansive patio, laid-back Austin meets upscale drinks, and “Dirty 6th” meets a great happy hour spot for locals. This new, relatively under the radar joint is nestled just west of 35, and offers an ambiance worthy of F. Scott himself.


McMaster
 We started off with the Old Sport, which was much like an Old Fashioned made with lemon oil and Templeton Rye. The next drink we tried was hands down my favorite drink (ever?) of the evening, The McMaster. It combined grapefruit, green chartreuse, Deep Eddy Ruby Red, and basil. 

My drinking companion was admittedly apprehensive about trying a sweet looking drink, but both of us were pleasantly surprised with the balance of flavors. If you head out to The Gatsby, this is the one I recommend.


Lemon Delight
 As a lover of the classic French 75, the Lemon Delight was truly delightful. One of the most interesting surprises in this cocktail is that they start it off with a habanero rinse. It’s not enough to make the drink spicy, which may be in part because the drink is quite sweet, but I appreciated that like everything else, they took a classic drink and did their own take on it.


Moto Antigua
The irony of it all was that I was out with a Frenchman, and the Moto Antigua was his favorite of them all. He’d never had nor heard of Mezcal, but it swiftly won him over. In fact, he pretty much instantly claimed that drink as his own. Just imagine Vida Mezcal and fresh juices with old fashioned bitters. Mmm…

When you go, try to make it in for happy hour or Whoopee Wednesday which boasts $3 vodka specials, $4 house wines, and $5 martinis. The specials are usually for Deep Eddy drinks, and I love the quality of juice that was used in my Deep Eddy + grapefruit. (It even came with a grapefruit slice!)

Media Tasting at Kenichi

Hamachi with Kung Pao Chili Oil
 You know who’s a big, fat jerk? I am. I enjoyed this beautiful media tasting at Kenichi over a month ago, and just now got around to writing about it. (I promise I live-tweeted the whole thing though.) My crazy life, which includes seeking a new day job right now, may have put blogging on a temporary hold, but no longer! Let’s talk about the amazing food I got to try.
Escolar
 The hamachi was the clear hit of the evening for me. If you make anything even slightly spicy I’ll be turned on by it. The escolar, and delicious pre-meal bites (they even had shishitos!!) were all top-notch. Zero complaints here, and I’m rather picky.
Seared Tuna
 The caramelized onions added a sweet element to the proscuitto-wrapped tuna.
Sea Bass
 I normally love sea bass, but my only hesitation on this was the sauce. I still enjoyed it immensely, but would’ve preferred to have the fish’s flavor shine through more than the sauce.
New York Strip?
Dessert was the perfect wrap-up to a perfect meal, that featured more courses than I have decent photos of. That’s right, there was more!! I loved that the dessert was served like a flight with many different tastes and textures. The ice cream egg in the nest was my favorite, my dining partner loved the chocolate, and the rest of the table went nuts for the cheesecake. There was truly something for everyone, and everything went beautifully – without ever being cloyingly over-the-top sweet. Each course had a sake or wine pairing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better dinner. 
Get thee to Kenichi tout de suite!

Dinner at Corzaon



Enchiladas Suizas

 Corazon at Castle Hill is a place that I live relatively close to, but have unwittingly avoided for quite some time. The large sign outside their door begging for potential patrons to try their happy hour, and even the Groupon deals I’ve seen them advertise weren’t enough to bring me in. One slightly rainy day, I decided to venture in.  What I found inside greatly resembled an episode of Kitchen Nightmares.

Guacamole
 The place was mostly empty, save for one or two tables of elderly couples. Upon first entering the few chairs available at the bar dead in front of the door. I almost always like to sit at bars, and this was one bar I felt was set a little too close to the entrance. We started with guacamole and the queso fundido. It was an accident that I started with the guacamole (I requested a side order, received the large appetizer portion). The queso fundido was just watery, sub-par queso with nothing else done to it, and a stack of mixed tortillas. The salsa that came before was smokey, almost vinegary. It was one of few salsas I’ve declined to practically drink.

Tuna Tartare

We put all of our order in at once, and I’m wondering why they declined to inform me that the tuna tartare would have come with the side of guacamole I requested. Could’ve saved me a few bucks, and also made me reconsider ordering the tuna tartare as my main course in the first place. It was tuna covered with guacamole. I never thought I’d say this, but at this point I was so sick of tasting avocados I thought I’d never want to see another. Tuna tartare should normally be light, relatively unadulterated, and taste like tuna. This was a sad additional order of guacamole, that had a few chunks of fish beneath. Perhaps the fish didn’t taste so fresh, and this was a tactic to cover it up? I couldn’t taste it, so I can only assume.

Adventure Time! (You may not get that reference.)
My partner did enjoy the chicken enchiladas, so I suppose it wasn’t all a loss. We both admitted that they looked more like Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and less like something appetizing, but in the end he said they, “tasted much better than they looked.” Admittedly, the drinks were relatively inexpensive.

It should come as no surprise to you that my overall stance is that I don’t really like Corazon. Their menu had everything from duck breast to Mexican food to a cheese and fruit plate on the menu. It was very unfocused, and I suppose with so many different styles and options, they couldn’t really master any one type of food. I still respect their happy hour drink prices, and hope that the menu gets a revamp soon.





Oysters at Clark’s Oyster Bar

Martini + Hamster at Clark’s
Clark’s Oyster Bar is dangerously close to my house, and appeals to my need for nice atmospheres, over the top service, potent martinis, and fresh seafood.  The ambiance is perfect, despite the small space, and everything about the experience is pleasant. It’s simple luxury, nothing too seemingly flashy… Only the price.
Peanut Butter Jelly Time
 I like coming here during the day. Lots of windows means basking in the sunlight, while servers in deck shoes pass out bread with sea salt to freshly seated patrons. The partner and I are a bit obsessed with trying all kinds of oysters, and chose to mix and match several. (They have 12 different varieties!) The prices range from $2.75 to $3.25 each. They definitely were some of the best oysters we’ve had in town, despite putting a (fake) mortgage on our (non-existent) house to pay for them.

Oysters!
The drinks were fair in price at about $10 per martini. If oysters aren’t your thing, but seafood still is, you can have their ever-so-popular red snapper ceviche, clam chowder, catch of the day, or even their $24 crab cake. In defense of that crab cake, it’s all crab, and very little “cake.”

The only thing stopping me from a weekly jaunt is the price. Maybe they’re worth it? Maybe it’s a tad too much? I’ll let you decide for yourself.