downtown

Food Find: Searsucker

searsucker-cocktail

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

shishitos-searsucker-austin

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.

tuna-tartare-searsucker

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.”

searsucker-art

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.

searsucker-surf-n-turf

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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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.

East Side King at Hole in the Wall


Squid Ink Ramen at East Side King
I’ll bet good money that you’ve heard of East Side King more than once. I’ll double it to say that you’ve heard the word, “ramen” thrown around more than twice in any food review you’ve read lately about Austin. Too bad. I’m about to tackle both, fancy-style. This is my take on East Side King’s only ramen-serving joint which just so happens to be at my early-20’s stomping ground, a dive bar called Hole in the Wall.

Sapporo Beer Bacon Miso Ramen
 My favorite part about this whole get-up is that I get to have drinks, wonderful, dirty bar drinks while I wait for my food (or gaggle of friends who are running severely late!).

Poor Qui’s Buns
 We ordered the world-famous crispy beets which technically aren’t that crispy, but ultimately delicious beyond my expectations. In fact, I didn’t think much of mayo before trying them, but damn that Kewpie mayonnaise. It was something else. Something delicious. The brussels sprouts, equally famous, were every bit as magical as they claimed. I think it was the fresh herbs included that really did me over. A mouthful of fresh basil leaves is all it takes to push me over the edge of tasty orgasmic-ness. It did just that. Happy hour at HITW (Hole in the Wall) goes until about 8 or 9, and that includes things like Shiner for $2.50. I’m disappointed to report that Live Oak Hefeweizen is listed for $5 a pop (normally $3, or at most $4 at other places) but at least they have it, right?

Ramen with Vital Farms Egg

 How does the ramen compare to the recent crop of ramen places in town? Simple. It’s less simple. They’re more innovative and risk-taking, abandoning tradition for something that might be tastier than the predecessors of yester-years. The richness of the broth, speaking of the squid ink ramen in particular, is nothing short of legendary. I love the fresh tomatoes, and fried tofu sinking into the tar-like liquid abyss. It’s one of my favorites! The $1 extra Vital Farms egg is a must. 

The overall take on East Side King’s Hole in the Wall location is that you should go for a nice bowl of ramen, maybe some crispy beets with a tall, cold beer, or maybe just to try something new one night after work.


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Brunch at Micheladas


Riptide Oysters

I bet that you’ve never had oysters for brunch before. I’m also pretty sure that you don’t think a restaurant near The Austin Convention Center can be different from the many other chains that dot hotel-filled areas.

If the answer is yes to either of those questions, chances are that you haven’t been to Micheladas yet.


Shrimp Taco
The brunch menu is pretty standard for a Texan: migas, biscuits, breakfast tacos, chilaquiles, and more! We were excited to explore the full menu in addition to the brunch specialties. Who knew that you could find Riptide oysters on a downtown menu? Usually, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to get stuck with Gulf oysters (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing) anytime you’re craving the shelled stuff at other local restaurants. 

Dom Estable
My partner, the ultra-carnivore, chose the Dom Estable. It was a filling dish of steak fajita enchiladas, rice, and borracho beans. He claims that he downed a ridiculous amount of mimosas to combat the spiciness of his dish, but I think the fact that mimosas were only $2 each was the real reason. Did I mention that they squeeze their own juice daily? The juice makes a huge difference in mimosas, and the prices on bloodies and beer made great alternatives for when I needed to try something else. We explored the frozen margaritas, which are only $3 during their happy hour, and they were tart!

Patio at Micheladas
 Apart from their sunlit, spacious dining rooms, Micheladas has both a street-level and rooftop patio. Not only does it make it a perfect spot for a large group, you can also bring your four-legged friends along. 

The bottom line: I just had a healthy, delicious shrimp taco with copious amounts of salsa. I am full. I am happy, and I had enough mimosas to work up a nice afternoon buzz. If you like Tex-Mex, then you’ll love Micheladas.





Lunch at Malaga

Shrimp Tapas

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.

Cheese-Stuffed Peppers

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.


Brunch at Russian House

Fish Delicacies at Russian House
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.


Sour Cream
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.





Dinner At Swift’s Attic


Swift’s Attic hasn’t “officially” opened yet, but if you make a reservation fast you can score half-off some pretty amazing food during their current soft opening.


The menu goes in order from lightest to heaviest, and the seafood listed all sounded mind-blowing. They had everything from slow-cooked octopus to diver scallops and onto heavier fare.


My partner is a bit like Anthony Bourdain when it comes to eating adorable
animals, and I think he went with, “The cuter, the tastier,” when he chose to order duck wings.


Continuing his war on birds, for dessert he had a peanut butter and jelly dish with foie mousse. It was rich, but he liked it.


The food was so good I didn’t even remember to mention the ambiance in this review: it’s dark and charming with just enough elegance. We were very impressed by the renovations they did to Kyoto’s old space.

Sure, Swift’s Attic has some kinks to work out, for instance our servers were pretty lost when it came to what drinks they served, but it was all minor and just part of the growing process. We were so happy with our meals and overall experience, I can guarantee that we will be back for more.