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.
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.
Malaga is a Spanish tapas bar tucked away near the end of the 2nd Street district. I’ve been in there for dinner before, but it was years ago and checking back on my old Yelp reviews… I didn’t necessarily love it. (Nor did I hate it.) I was bored around lunchtime, wandering through the area a few weeks ago, and decided to try them out for lunch.
Their weekend lunch happy hour has discounted food and drinks. Day-drinking is a hobby habit of mine, and to grab some good $4.50 wine at 1:30 in the afternoon was a delight.
Weekend Lunch Happy Hour(s)
The $10 lunch special I had allowed me to pick a few of my own tapas, and start it all off with a soup or salad. I went with the soup, a gazpacho, and it did not disappoint. I’d show you pictures of it if it wasn’t just so damn unphotogenic. I know that’s not a word.
Two Tapas Lunch
The tapas I chose were peppers stuffed with a creamy blend of cheeses, and shrimp served with aioli and a side of plantains. It was worth it for the money, and people-watching on the patio made it spectacular.
Overall, I think Malaga has a very decent lunch, but it’s been too long for me since I had dinner there to comment further. Just today I overheard two friends discussing how much they enjoyed brunch at this place, but I haven’t tried that yet. All I can say is, if you’re downtown on a weekend between 11:30-2, give lunch a chance.
Nestled between Eddie V’s and Rivals Steakhouse downtown you’ll find one of Austin’s newest bars with a surprisingly decadent menu. Forget bar food, this is authentic Russian, comrades!
Cocktail with Champagne, Vodka, & Berries
The breakfast drinks were $5 a piece, with the full menu offered (food AND drink-wise!). Have you seen the list of crazy vodka infusions that they do? You can have insane mixtures late at night or with brunch at Russian House! I strongly recommend having a designated driver if you feel compelled to start that early.
Decorations at Russian House
The entrance to Russian House features a taxidermied bear, Russian soldier costumes for you to wear in photos, and more Soviet kitsch than you can shake a sickle at. The adorable patio has hand painted strawberries on the ceiling, and in the back there’s a beaded curtain leading to an even cuter dining room. The middle is a vacant dance floor (unless you’re there at night).
The blinis (shown above) run about $3.50 and up, and come stuffed with various meats, cheeses, and even caviar. My partner went with the ham and cheese version.
Mashed Potatoes The mashed potatoes were cheap as well, and very different from other mashed potatoes. They were somehow more dense and chewy.
The Virgin Mary?
The fish delicacy appetizer is about $15 and is more fish than one person can handle. Two of the fish types were hot smoked, and one was cold smoked. The quality was good.
They thew in a side of bread and sour cream that tasted more like creme fraiche, which I absolutely loved. My only complaint was that I wished they served more dill… and that the waitresses weren’t sort of dressed up like maids. That part was a bit weird for me. Overall, I like Russian house. It’s weird, it’s kitsch, and the prices are completely fair. Go at night, go if you feel like clubbing, go for Sunday brunch, or even just go for lunch. They somehow manage to do it all without failing at any particular part of it.
Let me try to think of something about Uchi that no one has ever blogged about before…
How about “social hour?” (their fancy name for happy hour.) Surely no one’s truly covered that before, right? Let’s do it! All things pictured in this post (so far we have the seared escolar and the shag roll, about $6 each), except for the nigiri, are part of the discount from 5-6:30 every day!
People in Austin say that Uchi is impossible to get into, and impossible to afford. Lies! Get there around 5, especially if it’s on “date night,” and cozy up at the sushi bar. You can get full for under $50. We did. And we each had hot sake for under $5.
Odds are, you live in Austin, and already know that everything served is going to be perfect and blow your mind. That is mostly true, with the exception of the crunchy/spicy tuna roll. We weren’t exactly dazzled.
The nigiri, chef’s choice, seemed to be one of the greatest deals. When you do the math of ordering piece by piece or letting the chefs pick out 7, you come out ahead.
The hama chili, which we often order in a slightly larger quantity and price at Uchiko, was possibly the highlight of our social hour adventure.
The takeaway is obvious: Uchi is an option, even if you’re not rolling in the dough! Have a nice date night, drink some $7 white wine, and keep it fancy.
Blue Dahlia Bistro is an east side gem with delicious offerings perfect for a weekend brunch.
Their famously delicious tartines (open-faced sandwiches) are truly divine. I had the salmon which was accented with lemon and dill, a very Swedish-like dish.
My partner had the meat and cheese plate, which alone would have been almost enough food for the both of us.
My favorite part of Blue Dahlia is the ambiance. I feel like I’m in a European cafe! The cheap mimosas on weekends, and weekday happy hours with $4 tartines, inexpensive beer, and wine as low as $3 a glass are close runner-ups.
Contigo is one of Austin’s favorite outdoor eating spots, and the lack of shade did not impair our enjoyment of the spot.
Appetizers and small plates reign supreme on the menu, while unusual cocktails (in the $10 range) pique the curiosity of the more adventurous drinker.
My partner had chicken wings accompanied by a thumb-sized piece of bleu cheese. Both of us dove into my blistered shishito peppers and coconut milk sauce.
He had previously tasted the crispy green beans, and insisted we have them despite my aversion to fried foods. Overall, I’d say they were okay. He’d say they were heaven.
If you’re vegetarian there are options, but not as many if you’re looking for more than just a few light bites.
The only things we weren’t thrilled about were the pickled vegetables and olives. The pickled vegetables were a little too briney, and while some of the olives were good, the orange zest overpowered the flavor.
The takeaway: I like Contigo. I’d go back. It’s not a cheap dinner, but for the quality it is well worth the price. I love shareable plates, and the misters helped the scorching summer heat to be a little bit more bearable.
If you haven’t had happy hour (or the even more famous, reverse happy hour) at Bar Chi, well… Now you know. Go!
They have a ton of rolls, which are the real way to go for value, and hot saké so cheap that you’re guaranteed to text your ex by the time you head out.
Is the fish quality to die for? No. It isn’t Uchi, and you aren’t paying Uchi pricing, but for the buck? It’s the best damn sushi you can afford.
The bar staff is incredibly kind, and I’m a huge fan of the spicy saké mary (extra spicy).
With nigiri prices as low as $1.50, enough pickled ginger for you to start channeling Ginger Spice (Girl power!), and so many cheap saké/cocktail options (avoid the wine) that you can easily land yourself in YouTube fame/shame history after a few?
Get thee to Bar Chi now! (or rather for happy hour, which is 3-7 Monday-Saturday, all day Sunday, and reverse from 10-12 Thursday-Saturday.)