Austin, I Love You So Much

Blue cheese and fig ice cream is awesome, and part of what makes Austin wonderfully weird, and one of my new favorite places to spend a couple of days. From our bearded, truck-driver hat wearing waiter at Odd Duck to the beautifully-spoken Spanish waitress at Barlata, to the heavenly handsome hipster at Salt & Time, we found Austin’s hospitality to be a welcoming trait of the city.

Austin Hotel Congress StreetOdd Duck was a great place for a leisurely lunch. What started as a food truck in 2009, has grown into two restaurants run by Bryce and Dylan Gilmore. We shared their kale, smoked chicken, sweet potato and grapefruit salad to start. Then moved on to pulled pork torta, all mushy and messy with red chile, avocado and pickled corn. And, the equally messy, but delicious fried fish sandwich. For dessert, we shared Odd Duck’s pear butter cake, with bits of pecans and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. And, on the side, we ordered and devoured a scoop of sour cream ice cream too. It was surprisingly sweet, with just a hint of sour cream after taste.

Barlata is to blame for us never making it to Saxon Pub for more live Austin music, during our most recent trip. Our post on Austin’s music scene, shares how to spend a perfect, music-infused day on S. Congress St. The reason we never made it to Saxon Pub is Barlata’s all day happy hour on Mondays. We found a tall table in the bar, ordered a round of drinks and tapas; four hours later we decided the next best place was a good night’s sleep.

When looking up the menu to write this post, I found this quote on their site.

“They made tapas a verb because it’s an action. It’s more than just eating. It’s a way of life.”

Among our favorite tapas: braised oxtail, patatas bravas – fried potatoes with allioli and salsa, and brisket stuffed canelones with manchego/béchamel sauce. But the reason we will be talking about this restaurant for years to come is the blue cheese and fig ice cream. Creamy, pungent, sweet and overly decadent, I will always think of Barlata when I think of Austin eating.

Rounding out the Austin experience, we also dined at butcher shop: Salt & Time. It in a gentrifying neighborhood that has a mix of new and run-down. Our waiter, David, shared that the butcher shop’s success has lead to expansion and a handful of tables for dinner service.  Let the staff select your appetizers, as everything is sourced locally. We shared a salumi board, brussels sprouts and odd bits that included pork wrists and pig ear ribbons. Dinner from the butcher is the way to go. They have a varying selection of steaks, pork, veal, lamb. The hanger steak I ordered melted with each bite.

Gueros Garden GateAs wonderful as the food is, the people of Austin are even more wonderful. Next Austin visit: Rainey Street, chicken-shit bingo and food trucks. I can’t wait.

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