pizza

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.

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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!

Lucky’s Puccias Opens Brick & Mortar

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Lucky’s Puccias, that locally famous wood-fired Italian sandwich truck, has now moved up the street, and into their own at their first brick and mortar.

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My partner has been a fan of theirs for a while, and even donated to the kickstarter they launched to help them get the restaurant going! That’s dedication, and should tell you just how delicious their hot, crisp bread is; there’s nothing else in town like it.

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With delicious pizzas, bountiful salads, wine, and even gelato from Dolce Neve, this place is ideal for a decadent lunch, or casual dinner just outside of the hustle and bustle downtown.

Austin Eats Food Tour: South Congress Avenue

La Patisserie Pastry

Have you ever thought about visiting Austin? Better yet, Austinites, have you considered becoming a tourist in your own town? Perhaps you’re just hungry? Whatever the reason, you should definitely check out Austin Eats Food Tours. Recently, I dragged my boyfriend out of the house, and along with me on their South Congress walking tour.

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Now, I consider myself a bit of an “expert” (heavy accent on those quotation marks) on food in Austin, and even I, Amber (Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, King of the Andals and the First Men), found myself genuinely enlightened. South Congress is a touristy street that most locals have found themselves on half a million times, and even though a few of the stops were pretty famous, each one offered something that I hadn’t really tried before. To kick off the tour, we met up by Jo’s to sample iced coffee with pastries from La Patisserie.

Snack Bar South Congress

After introducing ourselves to the group, we strolled down to Snack Bar, where the owner gave us a thorough history lesson regarding South Congress’s seedy past, and the relation her restaurant held to the iconic Austin Motel next door. (tl;dr: If you wanted hookers and crack back in the 80’s, SoCo was the place to be.)

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We were served her take on onomiyaki, which is a savory Japanese pancake, and learned about Snack Bar’s dedication to local, organic food. All the while I was pitifully trying to remove the shrimp from inside the pancake in a last ditch effort to “sort of maintain my low carb diet.”

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Speaking of diets, if you’re on one whilst taking this tour, then count it as your totally-worth-it-awesome-cheat-day-that-you-will-never-regret. NEVER REGRET! Our next restaurant was Guero’s, which had been around for much longer than I ever would have thought. A waiter told us about how the restaurant was once a feed store while we sipped small margaritas, enjoyed pork tacos, and watched tortillas being made right before our eyes.

Hopdoddy

We left to hit the next place, and received rockstar treatment at Hopdoddy.

Hopdoddy Milkshake

Hopdoddy is known for having massively long lines, and worth-it-waits, but we arrived to a table set just for our group. Zero wait. Immediate samples.

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Drinks weren’t included at this stop, but I still took advantage of the bar using my own cash, as did a few others in the group.

Croque Madame

We ate quickly, and later learned that our group holds some sort of record for being the fastest eaters, then crossed the street to Burro Cheese Kitchen. Burro is a local food truck specializing in deluxe grilled cheese sandwiches.

Croque Madame

They even do sandwiches with brisket, and offer free beer once a week! Despite feeling a bit full, we devoured the unctuous croque madames, and cooled off with complimentary water bottles. The croque madames contained everything but the kitchen sink: sour dough, smoked ham, fried egg, fontina, pesto aioli, dulce de leche…

Homeslice Pizza

It’s at this point in the tour that we started to feel the fullness hitting us, but when we heard that Homeslice Pizza was going to be our next and final stop, we decided to soldier on.

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Homeslice has consistently been a local darling amongst New York style pizza fans, and pizza fans in general. They have that “quirky, South Austin vibe” and nothing exemplifies that more than their bizarre coloring books, which I always ask for.

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With our day coming to a close, we chatted with our tour guide and enjoyed the pitchers of beer he brought to our table (well, I got wine, I actually did pretty much maintain my low carb thing, believe it or not). My boyfriend moaned that he was in a happy state of food coma as I demolished the toppings from his pizza. It was a fun, filling day that made me see an all-too-familiar neighborhood in a new, mouthwatering light. Which place would you try?