Dinner at Michi Ramen


Vegetarian Ramen at Michi
 You can’t escape Austin’s current ramen fetish, and the craze doesn’t seem to be losing momentum. In fact, by the time I finish this post I suspect at least two new ramen restaurants well pop up (not really, but in coming weeks… really).  If you don’t mind leaving the safety of downtown Austin, journey just a few minutes north to Michi. Besides, it’s the only ramen joint that currently has a permanent veggie option.

And that veggie option is good.

Burnt Ends
My partner ordered the first ramen on the list, “Michi.” You can choose to have your ramen light or stout, and the general consensus is that stout is the way to go. His friends ordered Meat Lover’s, and all four of us paid extra to make it “extra spicy.” The consensus overall was, “That wasn’t spicy AT ALL.” Said disappointment aside, I returned another day for lunch and requested that they make it “Extra, extra spicy,” and that time they delivered. I suppose if you hope for spice you’d better really stress it to them, otherwise it’ll be a bit lackluster. 

There are a lot of different things you can add on to the ramen. Green onions are free, but everything else will cost about $0.50-1 extra. I prefer the less expensive onsen (lightly boiled egg) to the ajitama (marinated soft-boiled egg). As far as sides go, the burnt ends (chashu, or rather pork) were a hit amongst the carnivores. I think they preferred it to the ramen, but these were the types to find ramen a bit exotic for their tastes.

Pistchio & Cherry Blossom Mochi




I thought the veggie ramen was fantastic, filling, and richer than expected, but what meal is complete without dessert? I’ve had my fair share of Asian desserts, and then some. No one else at the table knew what mochi was, but I was quick to insist that everybody have one! We weren’t as thrilled with the cherry blossom flavored mochi as we were the pistachio, but come on… nothing beats pistachio ice cream. 

Main complaint? That iPad ordering system gets awkard when you pay the bill, but it isn’t enough to keep me from coming back. If you haven’t had ramen at Michi yet, go!






Brunch at Hillside Farmacy

I admit to being less than dazzled by Hillside Farmacy the first time I ate there, but a follow-up visit about a month later really won me over. Fresh seafood? Yes, please.


The cost of a cocktail is a bit on the pricey side, and the same goes for mimosas. If you have to have a drink with your breakfast (I know I do!) I think the carafe is the most affordable way to go. The orange juice is super pulpy, which I view as a mega-plus.


The croque monsieur (shown above) was a big hit with my partner. He had a pretty bad experience with a grilled cheese-like sandwich, the “dough well done,” on our first visit so I’d steer clear of that one. 


The smoked salmon was a hit with both of us, except for the cole slaw, which is a matter of personal preference. I HATE COLE SLAW!


As pretty as those boiled shrimp look, they weren’t really worth it. Don’t get me wrong, they taste fine. I just can’t justify what you get for the cost on that one. It’s extremely plain, but maybe you’ll be into it; who knows?


As adorable as the food and space are at this hip, little gem… I must confess that the seating is extremely uncomfortable and tables are painfully small. 

Pro-tip: They have half-off all oysters every Monday!

All in all, do I like Hillside? I love it! Grab that citrusy delicious crab salad and a carafe, and go have brunch!

Blogger Happy Hour at Hugo’s

Hugo’s graciously hosted a happy hour for food bloggers to come in and sample their offerings. I’ve been to dinner and brunch there previously, so I knew what I was in for.


We started with the shrimp cocktail shooter, which had just the right amount of spice, and moved onto shrimp and grits.


There weren’t many vegetarian items, but the Mexican street corn wraps proved to be a rabbit-safe option. I loved that the fact that they were wrapped up in lettuce!


The next course that came around was Hugo’s famous “duck cigars,” which paired duck confit with balsamic blackberry ancho jam.


By the time the chorizo spiced pork ribeye came out, everyone was stuffed. I made room for the green onion mashed potatoes anyway despite the fact that I knew dessert was coming.


The cuatro leches boasted 4 types of milk, and the chocolate bread pudding won our table over as the crowd favorite.


Overall, Hugo’s is fairly priced Southwestern food with pretty good daily drink specials from 4-7. They have an enormous patio, free garage parking, and some the most mind-blowingly inventive house-infused tequilas around.




Dinner At Contigo

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.

Dinner at Marker 10

Marker 10 at The Hyatt offers a gorgeous view of Town Lake, happy hour 4-7, and a surprisingly delightful sushi bar Tuesday through Saturday.


Their signature rolls are enormous, and to die for. If you want to order off of their Southwest Bistro menu, you can do that as well.


Clearly, we ordered off of both.


My only complaint is the price of cocktails. They’re around $11 a pop, but they are the kind of quality drinks you see at bars that charge around $10 anyway. 

The takeaway: Go to Marker 10! Run, don’t walk! And be sure to enjoy that patio before the blistering heat sets in!

Happy Hour at Bar-Chi

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.)



Lunch at Hopdoddy

Hopdoddy Burger Bar promises innovative hamburgers, quality ingredients, and bread that’s baked in house twice daily. Trust me, they deliver.


They have plenty of sauces to choose from and a menu ranging from vegetarian items like, “The Janis Joplin,” all the way up to something that can best be described as “a carnivore’s wet dream.”


I had the sushi-grade tuna burger, and immediately tasted why so many Yelp reviews insisted that it be ordered.


The boyfriend had something more traditional, and I decided to draw fangs on it, but they didn’t turn out as nicely as the fangs I drew on mine did.


They’ve got a full bar so you can have anything from a Paloma to a 512 Double Pecan Porter (which I recommend).


The restaurant is almost always packed, and it’s a bit clusterf@!*ky to sort out where your table is once it’s been assigned.

All in all, it’s pricey, but I liked it. 



Lunch at 1st Chinese BBQ

1st Chinese BBQ is one of those places where you find a string of cooked ducks hanging behind glass, and staff with a slight language barrier. We were some of the only white people in there, and that’s generally a good sign.

This is not by any stretch of the imagination, a vegetarian’s paradise. In fact, it’s probably their worst nightmare. In an effort to avoid both pork broth and cute, dead things, I chose vegetables and soup. The boyfriend, on the other hand, had tender pork with rice.


The prices are right, the meat is perfect, but the location is in the nether regions of North Austin. If you’re wanting to cruise the nearby Asian markets, then stop for a tasty lunch, it’s well worth it.


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