The Highball: Karaoke Rooms, With Room For Dessert

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If you’re a fan of The Alamo Drafthouse, you’ve undoubtedly visited their sister space, The Highball. Perhaps you came in to see Dale Watson play? Maybe it was to attend a hilarious Action Pack Bingo game? Did you go for the absolutely insane karaoke rooms?

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Today, I’m talking about none of those things. If you haven’t guessed already, this is all about the food.

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They’ve got items from as little as $4 (mixed nuts) all the way up to $16 (Antonelli’s cheese plate), and everything in between. Is it just bar food? It’s more than elevated bar food.

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I came by with some other bloggers, and tried everything from roasted poblano dip with fresh, crunchy crudité to tender baby back pork ribs.  I thought we’d grab just a few small courses, but we wound up eating everything but the kitchen sink. Their herbed fries with garlic aioli was the hit of the table, and everyone raved about those ribs. Personally, I was all about that cheese plate.

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If you’re heading to The Highball for any of their always entertaining events, be sure to grab a cocktail or 3, and a snack. You won’t be disappointed.

Oyster Fever: Liberty Kitchen

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You know that one song in Sound of Music where Julie Andrews is listing off ‘raindrops and roses, and whiskers on kittens’ as her favorite things? Yeah, I sing that song to myself anytime I think of oysters, and martinis on happy hour. These are a few of my favorite things!

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I recently popped in around 5 to catch a few of the HH deals (as well as the fantastic regular menu), and boy was I impressed.

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There were discounted drinks, and a few reduced food items. Everything served was spectacular! I couldn’t get over how fresh, clean, and flavorful all of their seafood was! My main issue with local places serving oysters is that a lot only do Gulf. I was delighted to find that they have theirs coming from PEI, and all over!

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What’s that shown above? Oh, just in-house smoked salmon with bacon jelly. That’s all. (It’s insanely good!)

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When I looked at the specials, I saw their Friday offering, and knew immediately it was what I was going to have. That was Marseille Bouillabaisse, served in 2 parts. They start you off with arguably the best seafood-saffron broth known to man, then follow it with a fantastic plate of lobster, clams, potatoes, and more!

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I went nuts on the wine list, because hey, I’m me! Of course, I did! But it is worth a mention that their cocktails are insane.

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My favorite involved grapefruit skins, herbs, and a slight effervescence. It looked a little like the rose-in-the-glass from Beauty and the Beast to me, so I guess this place just fills me with movie references all around.

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It’s hard to get a low-carber like me to crumble, but they did it. Luckily, I had a dining partner with me that did most of the damage, but I was extremely happy to taste their fantastic chocolate cake. It was worth the ‘cheat.’ Apart from the food, I’m a huge fan of their decor, staff, and even the sounds of their brunch menu, which I have yet to try! If you’re a seafood nut like I am, this is definitely a place to taste.

Glamping: Austin Alfresco

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There are few things that get me quite as excited as the prospect of ‘glamping’ under the stars with Austin-famous (arguably famous-famous) chefs. That’s why when I heard about Austin Alfresco, I completely lost my mind.

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Apart from eating and learning from the likes of Jack Gilmore and David Bull, just imagine staying in tents made famous by Project Runway on a functioning 60 acre ranch; complete with yoga lessons, and even butchery classes.

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What more could you want? Actually, if there’s something more that you could want, they probably have that too.

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Can it get any better? Actually, it can! Proceeds benefit the Sustainable Food Center, and they’re running a fantastic scavenger hunt where you, yes you, can win this weekend gourmand experience!

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If you enjoy local businesses like I do, then this is going to be CAKE. You can read all the details here. What are you waiting for?! Buy your tickets, or get ready for that scavenger hunt!

Top Celebrity Chefs In An Airport Near You

With celebrity chefs opening eateries and introducing new dining concepts around the world, it seemed more than fitting for a handful of them to take things international and open new restaurants at some of the world’s biggest airports. Let’s take a look at some of the best airport celebrity chef-run restaurants across the globe.

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Heston Blumenthal’s Perfectionist’s Café
In the summer of 2014, Heathrow’s Queen’s Terminal (Terminal 2) opened their doors and gave passengers two unique experiences that reflected on British culture, one of them being Heston Blumenthal’s establishment known as The Perfectionist’s Café. According to Parking4Less, Blumenthal and his innovative team were very eager to present a menu that showcased British eccentricity – high quality classic dishes with the chef’s usual creative twists.

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Wolfgang Puck Express
The Austrian chef is making a huge statement in the travel world with his Express restaurants, located in hubs such as Indianapolis International Airport, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and Denver International Airport. At each branch, you’ll find many of his signature dishes, from Japanese favorites to Rosemary chicken. To-go options are also available for those who wish to upgrade their onboard meals.

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Cat Cora’s Kitchen
The first and only female Iron Chef on the Food Network is currently running several branches of airport restaurants across the United States. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients for her cocktail and tapas lounges, travelers can expect the healthiest and sustainable dishes for all meals throughout the day. At Cat Cora’s Kitchen, they also like to emphasize their dedication to the environment by using eco-friendly and biodegradable materials for the to-go plates and boxes. The restaurants are open at 5 am for breakfast.

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Michael Symon’s Bar Symon
Sometimes all you need to relax before your flight is some good old comfort food, which is exactly what Michael Symon offers at his eateries in Washington Dulles International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport. Choose from any of his savory signature meals like the Fat Doug and Pulled Pork sandwiches. Every table is equipped with power outlets and flight status screens so that you can keep tabs on your flight.

 

This is a guest post.

Dining Downtown: Stella San Jac

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I live a pretty good life, and as a blogger I’ve been to some very amazing events.

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Though all places I have visited have been incredibly kind, I do have to tip my hat to the wonderful folks at Stella San Jac for the super-cool night they gave me last night.

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The newly opened restaurant, housed in the Westin, brought a ton of local bloggers in for a happy hour with some complimentary appetizers, and even a cooking demo! (More on that later. Actually, seriously, the straight up video for you below.)

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The space was gorgeous, and the food was delish! (Who says ‘delish?’ Oh god, did I just say ‘delish?’ Sign me up for pink sweaters, and tennis lessons STAT.)

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Naturally, I ventured to the bar. (Me?!?!? BAAAAAAAAR????) I asked if there were any happy hour specials, and the bartender replied, “Every hour is a happy hour.” I like it! He poured me a glass of rosé that I was convinced would cost $2508582094821, but it was only $8.66, so you know what? He was right! Every hour is happy hour when good wine is fairly priced.

Now, for the biscuits! If you check out my amazing-super-awesome-cinematography (sarcasm) video above (it was Periscope) you’ll see a demonstration from the chef on how to make his famous #16 Biscuits. He calls them ’16’ because it took that many tries to perfect the recipe, and they’re reportedly good enough to make low-carbers crumble. Fret not, dear reader, I crumbled not (“Not today, Satan!”), but I plan to soon. I spent most of my night eating his delicious salmon spread, and put all of my carbs in through pink wine.

The Burger Challenge

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I probably had you at the sheer mention of burgers, but this challenge is so much more awesome than that! The folks behind Mcguire Moorman Hospitality have made a multi-tiered challenge, where all you need to do is eat burgers at their restaurants, and their restaurants are arguably some of the best in town: Elizabeth Street Cafe, Jeffrey’s, Josephine House, Lambert’s, Perla’s, and Clark’s Oyster Bar.

What’s in it for you? (Aside from awesome burgers.) Well, there’s a few options, but I believe the $250 gift card to the restaurant of your choosing is pretty much the best prize. For that one, you have to hit all 6 restaurants in 7 days. We’re on day 4, and my Instagram feed looks like Bob Belcher’s.

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They have other prizes too, and I appreciate that they include a free Juiceland juice cleanse with the ultimate prize, which will go to whomever eats the most burgers. I assume they’ll be needing it. Our favorite experience so far was a tie between Elizabeth Street and Perla’s. Both were excellent burgers, and included the usual things I expect from Mcguire Moorman restaurants: incredible ambiance and service. Pro-tip: Clark’s, Lambert’s, and Jeffrey’s all have happy hours featuring burgers. You’re welcome. Read the full details here, and may god have mercy on your arteries.

The Happiest Hour: Juliet

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I’ve been referred to as ‘The Happy Hour Queen’ by more than one source, and I take that as a huge compliment! I pride myself on being the first (or almost first) to try any new spot, and conquer appetizers and bar menus with gusto.

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It should come as no surprise that the moment I had a free day, I ran to Juliet’s happy hour (Mon-Sun, 3-7) to try everything.

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All rosé wines were half off, and yes, that included sparklers. House wine was available for a mere $5, beer for $4, and there were some amazing sounding $7 cocktails. I was particularly interested in the Mezcal Negroni, but I’ll be saving that for my next trip there.

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I fell in love with just about everything on the wine list, and I’m still salivating over that delicious crudo. You can view the full happy hour menu here, and I can assure that it’s all delicious.

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You’ll be surprised at how beautiful the space is, and just how welcoming the staff are. If you went to this place back in the days it was Romeo’s location, you will absolutely be astonished with how different it truly is. Both the inside and outside are completely renovated, and it makes for the ideal place to meet for an early date.

Sound & Beauty: Barton Creek Live

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I rarely get to venture out to the picturesque hills of west Austin, but when I do, I seldom regret it. My most recent journey was to check out the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa’s  live music series. I started my day touring their beautiful golf course, then went straight into a 50 minute body scrub. When I say body scrub, I mean: they rubbed me for almost an hour in honey, lavender, and brown sugar. I felt like a queen!

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I slipped out, and had a perfectly made martini at the downstairs bar whilst waiting for my guest to join me for a pre-concert buffet.

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The food was upscale, and perfectly priced. I tend to eat more healthfully, and was able to stockpile on veggies for my first plate.

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The menu boasted: beef tenderloin, shrimp and grits, steamed mussels, and so much more!

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The jalapeño brined chicken was moist, and the tenderloin was the perfect amount of rare. My dining partner doubled-up on the watermelon feta salad, and I loved knowing that the produce was locally sourced.

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We even forced room for dessert. The horchata panna cota and Mexican chocolate pots de creme were the stars of the show.

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As we left the dining room to the outside area to see the night’s main attraction, Sammy Kershaw, we were welcomed with even more food choices! There were tacos, snacks, and even a well-stocked beer and wine bar. We found that we could swap four drink tickets for one bottle of wine, and enjoy the concert without having to get up for re-fills.

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I hadn’t heard a Sammy Kershaw song in years, but the man could still sing. It only took a few moments before the entire floor erupted into dancing.

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It was a beautiful night, with over-the-top service, and all set upon beautiful grounds. Be sure to check out their schedule, and make a point to visit this gorgeous resort. Want a chance to win free entry for you and a friend?

Just tweet for a chance at 2 wristbands to the show of your choice!
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Disclosure: I did enjoy complimentary food and services for review purposes, but opinions are 100% my own.

Sagra: I Now Love Italian

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I’ve admittedly had an Italian-aversion in the past. I don’t know if it was the string of low-carb diets, or having less-than-flavorful experiences at other places. Regardless, Sagra has converted me into a true fan of food inspired by the stylish, leather boot-shaped country.

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The salads were fresh, and all of the appetizers were flavorful. We had everything from lightly breaded calamari to polenta with brussels sprouts.

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The pizzas were equally amazing. My favorite was the Calabrese with: olives, spicy salami, and even capers. I’m a nut for anything briny.

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I was with several other bloggers, but greedily stole the slice that had the egg on top of it. (Sorry, guys.)

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Their perfectly spiced risotto was definitely one of the stars of the night. Even though I still try to hold back on the carbohydrates, I let this little beauty take me down for the night diet-wise. Worth it.

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They had things on the menu that I don’t normally associate Italian food with (in my admittedly limited knowledge). I was having succulent  chicken, and even slow-cooked lamb.

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You may not think of Sagra as a craft cocktail bar, but maybe you should. I enjoyed expertly made, and perfectly balanced vieux carres, and more than my fair share of wine. I loved the enormous windows, which allowed just the right amount of light to pour into every space. If you haven’t tried their new space, I highly recommend it. There’s even an all-you-can-eat mussels night!

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