How to Spend An Epic Day on E. Cesar Chavez

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You may have visited E. 6th for the numerous restaurants and bars, but have you considered going a few streets down? This is my very walkable guide to having an epic, though possibly intoxicated day on a street near and dear to my heart. Take a bus there, and Uber back. Problem solved! Let’s start…

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Kick things off with a mimosa at Cenote. It’s at the far end of E. 1st, and near IH-35. You’ll grab some mimosas, maybe some snacks, and enjoy the patio. It gets packed though, so be competitive. If someone’s getting up, you better set up camp ASAP. Once you’ve got your morning buzz going (caffeine or booze), pack up and walk to the Blue Cat Cafe. You’ll get to snuggle adoptable buddies, who’ll probably be more interested in sleeping than touching you, and check out about a million cat toys. There’s a vegan food truck attached, so go nuts! You might want to pace yourself though…

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Is it lunch time? IT’S LUNCH TIME! Hike a few yards up, and you’ll be at the world-famous La Barbecue. If you’re not from Austin: go there. If you are from Austin: go there. Just go there. Trust me. You’ll enjoy it, or I’ll eat my hat. (Joke’s on you! I don’t own hats.) (Really though. It’s world famous. Jimmy Kimmel swears by it, and I think that counts for something? Maybe? Either way, it’s up there with Franklin, but with way better lines.) I should probably remind you to pace. yourself. Don’t be in no meat coma. You better keep your calm on that La Barbecue. Order about 1/4th of what you think you want.

Wait! Are you vegetarian, and didn’t eat at the cat cafe?! Fret not, my friend. Skip the flesh, and head to Counter Culture Cafe, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant, up the road. They’re amazing, and they also have beer.

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Walk it off! Now that lunch is over, take a stroll to some of the super cool shops down there. There’s a great South American art importer called Corocoro that’s close by, or you can hoof it all the way down to the Pleasant Valley side and hit up Friends & Neighbors. They’re famous for their teepee in the backyard, but I go for the wine. They also have coffee, vintage clothing, jewelry that I want but can’t afford, and hand-crafted condiments from other cities that actually are awesome. Pricey, but awesome. Tired of spending? See some art at grayDUCK Gallery. Or maybe do spend… I support local artists. Is it happy hour yet?

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If you’re laying a trap for me, just tell me there’s half-off bubbly somewhere. I’ll gladly walk into that cage, and this is true of Juniper. They have half-off sparkling, $7 wagyu skewers, and a few other delectables for their 4-6 p.m. happy hour (keep in mind they’re closed Sun-Mon). Not hungry yet? Stay Gold opens at 3! They’re a bar with an acceptable wine list, that also happens to be attached to a food truck specializing in toast/sandwiches. I’m noticing a food truck theme here… Don’t eat more yet! Okay, are you ready? Is it dinner time? Let’s cheat a little and walk a block away on a side street for Launderette. There’s no happy hour, but I don’t care. It’s delicious small plates with a ton of seafood. If you want to go full seafood though, you can head to Monger’s, a very popular more-than-oysters joint.

Are you stuffed yet?! Still sober?! Drinks Lounge and Craftsman have you covered! Craftsman even has Prosecco on tap! That should do the trick. I suspect that by now, you’ve had the best day ever.

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Mission Cute: A Box With A Conscience

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What could make a monthly subscription box filled with cute, useful goodies better? How about sourcing from small businesses and non-profits? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me!

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That’s exactly what Mission Cute is doing, and I love it.

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Each box contains items made from often local businesses, and artisans. Not only that, but they also partner with a non-profit for each box to help spread awareness a bout their mission, and give them half of the net proceeds!

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As you can see from my delightful first box, I received a gorgeous bracelet, shimmery hand-made necklace, print, body scrub, Apple scented candle, and I got to learn about the work they’re doing over at Karam. (I also got candy!) Celebrate the holidays by giving this gift, that truly gives back.

Cooking with Shef’s Kitchen at Patricia’s Table

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I’ve loved Indian food ever since I had my first taste of it in high school. The only Indian restaurant was a 45 minute drive away, and you can bet that I made that haul almost weekly, possibly more.

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When I was invited to an Indian street food cooking class by Shef’s Kitchen at Patricia’s Table, I was absolutely beside myself! And no, not just because the classes are BYO…

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First off, the space is gorgeous. It’s well-lit, well-stocked, and well-staffed. It’s so pristine, in fact, that a couple came in off the street wanting to to dine there thinking it was a restaurant. I learned that this is not uncommon.

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Shef herself was incredible. She was so at ease that it made it feel like we were family members learning how to cook in her own home, which I loved! The fact that she has a medical background, and focuses on healthy, flavorful eating were all bonuses. I’m a bit of a health fanatic, so for food to be good + taste good is very important to me.

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At the end, we all dined at a large communal table. I think I was the only one who smuggled in wine from my purse, but that’s to be expected from me (again, it was BYO!). I made some new friends, learned some new tricks, and feel a lot more comfortable with some ingredients I hadn’t been brave enough to work with before. If you’re looking for something new to try/do/learn then definitely take a class!

The Fleming’s 100

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A good steak becomes great once it’s paired with the right wine, and nobody knows this better than Fleming’s. They’ve spent the past year putting together their Fleming’s 100 wine list to provide excellent wines you can enjoy in tastes, customized flights, by the glass, and bottle.

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I recently popped in to sample just about the entire list (almost! I tried!), and had a fantastic time. Don’t think that because they’re a steakhouse that you’ll only get big reds; this expertly curated list also contains crisp whites, lighter reds, and refreshing bubbles. If you’re a oenophile like me, you’re going to be delighted with their picks! Next time you’re popping in for the lobster lettuce cups on their fantastic happy hour (as I so often do), give the list a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Flaviar: A New Way To Taste Premium Sprits

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Forget flowers. If you want to send me something that will give you the everlasting key to my heart: send whisky. That said, any potential suitors should definitely check out Flaviar.

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This brilliant monthly box sends a premium tasting of 5 spirits. The box I had was delicious, delicious whisky from all around the world!  I was so excited upon receiving this thing that I even put up a terrifically unflattering (to me, not them) Youtube video about it! I was that jazzed about this box!  Just imagine: Japanese whisky with floral notes and peach. A whisky all the way from India that smells sweet, and of almonds. There was whisky from Switzerland, Ireland, and of course Scotland.

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The idea is that you invite 2 other friends over, and make it a tasting party. I cheated and just had 1 other person, so it was really a party, and we had plenty to taste! Going back and forth about what we noticed in each was honestly a lot of fun! They’ve even got an app! To buy all of these bottles at a liquor store would have been well over $300, and this subscription is currently just $24.99. Tis the season… And I can’t imagine a better gift than this.

Raw Spice Bar: Cooking Outside the Box

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As an avid watcher of travel shows, I’ve always been deeply curious about laksa. I’ve Googled how to make it, searched for local restaurants carrying it, and have always come up short. It wasn’t until Raw Spice Bar, a monthly subscription service for spices, came along that I finally had the motivation I needed to make the dish I’d been wondering about for years.

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I was sent 3 packets chock full of the freshly ground spices needed to make: Malaysian laksa, sambal oelek (which can be used to give your curry a kick), and zingy kaffir lime salad. They included recipes for all, which I interpreted loosely. For example: they advised using noodles, and I used spiraled zucchini to make a more low-carb friendly version. Also, they suggested green beans in the salad, but I went straight cucumber. Everything still came out amazing!

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I love how they’re priced at just $6/month, and they provide not only spices, but recipes for inspiration to cook dishes way outside of your comfort zone! If you’re looking to start cooking outside the box, then this is the subscription ‘box’ for you.

Prelog’s: A Modern European Restaurant

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I’ve always considered myself an honorary European. I was mostly raised by a German, briefly lived in England, and have dated more Swedish people that I’d care to admit. (Nobody knows why! It just keeps happening!) Having said that, I’d say it’s safe to assume that upon hearing about about Prelog’s, and their European-inspired menu, I had to go!

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Now, I admit I had been putting it off due to a busy schedule, but once I caught wind of an Instagram meet-up being held there, it was official. My overdue trip to Prelog’s was officially going to happen.

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The staff graciously greeted our groups with refreshing cocktails, and delicious food bites. I particularly loved their Hail Mary, which is a bright, lively take on the traditional ‘brunch drink’ that can be enjoyed at any time of day. In addition to that we tasted brussels sprouts with crispy capers, thick fries, char thoughtfully prepared with green apple and beets, and of course, more.

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We ended with good conversation, envy-inducing Instagram photos, smoky drinks (with actual smoke!) and a solid understanding of the passion put into the plates by the couple who both owns and runs the business. I should mention that they’re Austrian, so naturally I liked them ;). There aren’t a lot of places like this in Austin, and given the slow, slow descent into fall we have, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy their beautiful patio one day soon. (You should go today.)

Scentbird: A Subscription for Fragrance Lovers

 

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I’ve always been a huge fan of designer fragrances, and often walk out of department stores smelling like some strong potpourri, because of course I have to sample every single perfume they have! That’s what they’re there for, right? Well, there’s a better way for those of us that like to smell amazing, and may not be ready to a commit to single scent for the rest of our lives. Meet Scentbird, an amazing subscription service that sends you about 30 days worth of an authentic, designer fragrance at a time, and helps you find new scents to love.

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The design is rather ingenious: You get a chic, refillable vial, and each month you insert your new fragrance cartridge when you’re ready to use it! I’m currently on Dior Addict, which has been a favorite of mine for years. I love the compact tube that slips right into my purse, and makes toting fancy fragrances a breeze! If you’ve ever bought a full size, elaborate glass bottle of expensive perfume in the past, then you know what I’m talking about. Give ’em a whiff! You’re sure to enjoy some old favorites, and find some new signature scents to swear by.

Buenos Aires: An Argentinean Asado

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An asado is a coming together of friends over deliciously cooked meats, and other delicacies. In honor of Buenos Aires Cafe’s 10th anniversary, I got to experience my first asado at the Argentinean chef’s beautiful, countryside home.

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Not only did I learn the authentic way to make hearty, buttery empanadas; I also learned that Fernet is the drink of choice for Argentineans, and that Argentina is the only place outside of Italy that Fernet is made!

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In fact, I quickly realized that Argentina and Italy don’t just share a love of slightly bitter aperitifs, they also value the coming together of family over food.

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After spending a lazy afternoon gorging myself on cheese and wine, it was time for the ‘real’ asado to begin. We sat outdoors near their expansive grill as plate after plate of blood sausages (insanely tasty!), sweetbreads, and other smoky meats appeared, and disappeared, before us.

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We ended the day with the lightest of cookies, great conversation, and more-than-full bellies. As a longtime fan of Buenos Aires, I can safely say that the warmth you feel in their restaurant is very much an extension of what I experienced in their home.

Top 10 Places To Get Oysters In Austin (And Their Corresponding Happy Hours)

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My obsession with oysters  is no secret. I’ve tried just about every oyster-slinging joint in town, and I’m hungry for more. Now that we’re getting into ‘Oyster Season,’ I’d like to share my top picks, and of course their discounted happy hours with you. After all, any local worth their salt and brine, should know where to get the good stuff.

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Clark’s Oyster Bar: A huge spread of oysters, in a small, yet fancy place. Enjoy the patio, fantastic service, and overall seafood spread. It’s going to cost you, but if you have the cash to spare it’s well worth it. Happy Hour: 50 cents off oysters from 3-6 daily, with 1/2 off burgers, and $5 beer/martinis on weekdays. 50 cents off oysters, and 1/2 off bottles of wine on weekends.

Liberty Kitchen: I hit this new hot spot recently, and had a great time! I like the space, food, and wine a lot. Their menu is expansive, and good. They even have brunch! Happy Hour: 50 cents off oysters, 1/2 off burgers/queso/wings, 1/2 select bottles of wine, and $5 liquor/beer from 3-6 on weekdays.

Parkside: A surprising diamond in the rough on 6th Street.  This spot has a wide variety, rooftop patio, and busy-yet-good service. Happy Hour: 1/2 off beer, liquor, and all bar food until 6:30 on weekdays.

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Eddie V’s: I don’t normally like Gulf oysters, but I do like theirs! I’m not sure if they’re sourcing them from a premium supplier, or if they’re just conning me with the ambiance, and staff. I used to be there practically every Sunday for the live jazz. Do you like giant, delicious vodka martinis? You’re in luck here. I really do love this place, despite my constant jokes that they make their staff dress like Bond villains (which they do). Happy Hour: All night Sunday-Monday, and 4-7 otherwise. You can enjoy 1/2 off oysters/select appetizers (I go for the tuna tartare), and $5 martini/wine selections.

Monger’s: This happening, new E. Cesar Chavez spot focuses on east coast oysters at $3/pop, and various other fresh seafood dishes. Happy Hour: 1/2 off oysters on Wednesday.

Perla’s: Sister to Clark’s Oyster, and made famous by their own food, as well as a visit from Anthony Bourdain. Expect great wait-staff, and a great wait. The South Congress Avenue people watching is glorious, and I’m a huge fan of their wine list.  Happy Hour: $2 off drinks, and 50 cents off oysters on weekdays.

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Hillside Farmacy: Cute space, and fantastic seafood. I do whine about the small tables, but that’s because I order so much food! I highly recommend this trendy spot for brunch. Happy Hour: 1/2 off east coast oysters, and $5 bubbles all night on Monday.

Quality Seafood: Famous for their amazingly fresh Ocean offerings, this spot is wonderful for the stomach, but not exactly candlelit. (There’s a slight, to-be-expected aroma from the fish, but you get over it fast.) On a regular night you can expect Gulf oysters at 8.99/15.99 and east coast at just 9.99/17.99 for a half/dozen. Happy Hour: Thursdays $1 Gulf oysters

Deckhand: If you’re up north, and have a penchant for grilled oysters then this is your spot! This is admittedly the only place I haven’t tried, but friends and Yelpers alike do rave about it. The menu is Southern, with a slight twist. Expect everything from gumbo to tom yum. Happy Hour: None.

Whole Foods Market at The Domain: Who would have though that a grocery store would offer some of the most amazing grilled oysters? Well, they do. At their in-store beer (and wine) bar, you’ll find a selection of cheesy, buttery shelled delights to enjoy as you take a break from your shop. I’ve been to New Orleans, and these babies are in close competition.  Happy Hour: $1.75 charbroiled oysters (regularly $2.75) daily from 3-5.

As a bonus, I would like to add that Foreign & Domestic does oysters on Mondays. Expect $1 per east coast oyster, and a delightful fried chicken meal. You can have the chicken and sides, oysters, and even specially discounted sparkling rosé once a week.