Monday, May 25, 2020

The Battle of the Breads - "Easy" Sourdough vs "Simple Crusty Bread"

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Y'all, I am the basic bitch of Quarantine. If there is a stuck-inside-foodie-trend, I am ON IT. So far I've made that fancy coffee, endless cookies and breads, and even HOMEMADE BUTTER!

I'm feeling pretty accomplished.

But we all know the most popular trend going right now is SOURDOUGH BREAD. Why is sourdough so popular? Well, if you've been to the grocery store lately you may have noticed that yeast is one of those coveted, hard-to-find items. Sourdough requires no yeast, you literally grow your own in a jar!

I've never been much of a baker, so my go-to easy bread has always been this recipe, which I actually re-posted from my old blog since I thought people could benefit from a no-fail bread.

Two popular recipes I've seen floating around have been this Simple Crusty Bread from the New York Times, and the ONLY "Easy" Sourdough recipe I've EVER found called Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread from An Oregon Cottage. My first time attempting sourdough was that recipe and it was PERFECT. Both of these recipes are great, so I thought I'd compare the two, so y'all know what you're getting into!

Simple Crusty Bread


Is it truly easy?: Yes! It's a bit time consuming, but most of that time is simply waiting for the dough to rise. Everything comes together rather quickly and requires NO kneading. Simply mix the ingredients, let rise, shape, and bake! It even gives you the option to save some dough in the fridge for a future recipe.

Ingredients and equipment: Requires yeast, which is hard to come by right now, but other than a bowl, spoon, and oven, you truly don't need much else!

Crust: Wonderful! A bit floury, but that's probably moreso my fault than the recipe's. It crackled and cracked perfectly.

Crumb: A soft interior with a light crumb. I was really impressed with how it came out!

Taste: This is the one place it didn't thrill me. It tasted like NOTHING. I mean, bread is supposed to just be a vehicle for other things, but it really had no flavor at all.

Tips: While the recipe says to use a pizza stone, I used the Dutch oven method and it came out wonderfully--heat the Dutch oven (covered) in your oven for 20-40 minutes, then place the dough inside and bake, covered, for the first 20 minutes. Take the cover off for the remainder of the bake.

Easy Sourdough Artisan Bread
(I use this recipe for the starter)


Is it truly easy?: A bit more hands-on than the no-knead, but if you use a dough hook you really don't need to knead it at all. It takes more rising time, and during the rise you need to fold in the corners of the dough and turn it over. But it is pretty simple!

Ingredients and Equipment: No yeast! You will need a starter, but using the link above you should be able to grow one in a week or so. Takes some planning ahead but it's worth it! You'll also need a Dutch oven, or a covered baking dish, to bake this bread.

Crust: Softer than the no-knead but the moisture in the Dutch oven probably contributed. Still tasty!

Crumb: Denser than I would like, but not too bad. Still some good holes and fermentation.
Taste: SO GOOD! The slight sour taste that is typical of a sourdough really stands out. This is a bread I could really just eat plain with butter. It's also a bit more sturdy, so would work great for sandwiches.

OVERALL: I liked the crust on the "Easy Crusty Bread" better, but the FLAVOR of the sourdough just can't be beat.

What bread recipes have you baked while in quarantine? What should I try next?


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

EASY No-Knead Bread! - Crusty, Light, Delicious Bread

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Can you tell from this blog that I am NOT a baker? It might be hard to recognize, but my best recipes tend to be dinner recipes, or drinks. Because that's what I can do pretty well on a regular basis. Honestly, baking scares me.


Why? Because baking = chemistry. And guess what necessary high school class Ashley ended up not taking? Yep. Chem. Here's the short story: I went to a TINY school in New England. This meant we didn't have very many "fun" classes. When I decided I wanted to go to Art school, I decided I needed to take an extra year of art to build my portfolio. Unfortunately, the only art class was opposite chem. I was told I totally could take chem senior year... until senior year happened and chem was opposite gym. That's right, chem was not a graduation requirement, but gym class was.


Luckily, my college didn't require I take chem. Even more luckily, one of my best friends, John, was a baking fanatic and was able to teach me the basics. For a while John and I met weekly for Foodie Friends Night where he'd make the baking portion of the meal--everything from bread to cakes to cookies--and I'd make the rest. One day I got a call from John at 4am with a serious plan to open our own bakery/restaurant. If we both weren't drowning in student debt, I may have joined.

Our baking nights are one of the things I miss most about New England. John's bread skills are way more advanced than this super easy recipe, but it does the trick.


With a little planning ahead I can whip this up for dinner. The slices are narrow, so they make excellent dinner bread slathered with butter, or great cafe sandwiches.

If I can make this, so can you!

Easy, No-Knead Crusty Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 package)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Herbs or mix-ins (I like using roasted garlic!)
  • cornmeal for dusting stone

-In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (or just a bowl + spoon + elbow grease) combine water, yeast, and salt and stir until combined. Wait about 10 minutes, until mixture has begun to froth. This is how you'll know the yeast is "proofed" and ready to go!

-Add the flour and gently stir until incorporated. Add in any herbs or mix-ins you'd like. Mix on low speed until dough is smooth and elastic.

-Place a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap over the bowl and set in a warm spot for 2 hours. I like to set the oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off and put the bowl in there.

-Pre-heat oven to 450 F. Place your bread cooking pan of choice (pizza stone is preferred, but I do fine with a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet.  

-Add 2 cups of water in an oven-safe dish and position in the bottom rack of the oven. The steam from the water will help ensure a crispy, crusty crust!

-Gently form dough into a ball (or any other shape you desire!) and brush with the egg if you'd like a shiny crust. Make two or three shallow slices on top of the bread.

-Sprinkle your baking sheet with corn meal and set the dough ball on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Cheap and Easy Pantry Meals - Recipes for Quarantine

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"Our motorized grocery scooter" by beancounter is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

Wow, guys. 2020 is definitely throwing us for a loop, isn't it? I've been mandatory work from home at my job for a week, and been seriously social distancing since the weekend. Grocery stores are empty, bars and restaurants are closed.

In these times, I feel like home cooking is a necessary skill that not all of us have. While this blog has gone closer to reviews recently, or more advanced recipes, I thought I'd share a different sort with y'all today.

These are all meals I've made using mostly pantry staples, with inexpensive fresh ingredients as well. They're tasty, moderately healthy, easy, and cheap. Feel free to substitute fresh for frozen foods where needed.

You won't see the usual pictures here (using Creative Commons to break up the text), because this is kind of a last-minute post. I wanted to put these recipes out there for people who are looking to go beyond boxed mac and cheese or pasta with sauce in their pantry staples as we hunker down for however long.

"Massa" by c.alberto is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Pasta Carbonara
  • 1 package pasta
  • 3 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped
  • 3 large eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp parsley
-Boil pasta according to directions.

-Whisk together the egg, milk, cheese, and season with salt, pepper, and parsley.

-While pasta is cooking, cook the bacon over medium high heat in a large skillet until desired crispness is reached. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent.

-Drain the pasta and add to the skillet. Take skillet off the heat and slowly mix in the egg mixture, stirring constantly. The sauce should thicken due to the heat of the pasta, without scrambling the egg.

-Serve hot, with extra cheese.

Tips
  • You can make this as cheap or as expensive as you'd like--in a pinch, I've used shelf stable Parmesan cheese, parsley, and bacon.
  • If you do go the cheap route, you can still heat up the bacon in the skillet and it should release some fat.
  • I use milk in this recipe. Purists will tell you this is a big ol' NO, but in my opinion it helps the sauce spread and doesn't impact the taste at all.
  • Use any pasta you'd like--spaghetti is traditional, but I like any sort of curly pasta that holds the sauce.

"MOE_0016" by gangnam of solace is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 

Fried Rice
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
  • 1/2 to 1 cup protein, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup petite peas
  • 1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 egg, whisked
-In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil and butter. If using meat as your protein,  brown it in the skillet. Add the carrot and cook for three minutes, then add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent. If using mushrooms or tofu for your protein, add it now.

-Add the rice and mix well. Pour over the soy sauce (adding more for color and flavor, if needed).

-Add the peas and cook until warmed through. Pour the egg over the rice and mix until the egg has cooked. Serve hot.

Tips
  • This is a great "kitchen sink" dish, as you can use whatever leftovers you have on hand.
  • I also love to add kimchi to this, towards the end, cooking it just enough to get hot.
  • Depending on how much protein you use, you can use this as either a main dish or a side.
  • Add more soy sauce, as needed.



Souped Up Ramen Soup
  • 1 package ramen noodle soup
  • 1 boullion cube plus 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, OR the included flavor packet
  • 1/4 cup protein of choice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 stalk green onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 egg, soft boiled
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Other toppings: corn, peas, parsley, cilantro, kimchi, nori
-Prepare the broth: add one and a half cups of water plus the boullion mix and bring to a boil. Add the ramen noodles and cook until desired done-ness (check package for preferred cooking times).

-Add the rest of the ingredients, and serve!

Tips
  • Another good "kitchen sink" recipe, since you can use whatever veggies or protein you have as leftovers.
  • Cooking the noodles in the broth makes for a more flavorful noodle.
  • The included flavor packet is very high in sodium, but if you like the flavor feel free to use it!

Souped Up Ramen Noodle Salad
  • 1 package ramen noodle soup
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 carrot, sliced into toothpicks
  • 1 stalk green onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 lime wedge
-Cook the noodles according to the package, but do not use the flavor packet. Drain.

-In a microwave safe bowl, microwave peanut butter, butter, sriracha, juice from the lime, and honey. Microwave for 30 seconds, and mix well.

-Toss the noodles, sauce, and all remaining ingredients. Chill overnight.

Tips
  • Can be served hot or cold.
  • The peanut sauce is a great dip for chicken or drizzled on tofu.



Lazy Golumkis
This is the version I grew up with--not necessarily authentic, but tasty and inexpensive!
  • 1 lb ground beef (these days I use a plant-based substitute as well as mushrooms)
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup (10.75oz cans)
  • 1 can diced tomato (12 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups white rice, cooked
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the meat. Drain the fat, and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent.

Add the soup, ketchup, and herbs and spices and stir to combine.

Once the mixture begins to bubble, add the cabbage. Stir and cook until the lettuce has wilted. Add the rice and heat until dish is warmed all the way through.

Serve hot, I like to top it with Parmesan cheese!

Tips
I omit the salt because the tomato soup and ketchup are salty enough as-is, but feel free to add some if it needs it!



What do you cook when you are working with limited resources? Share in the comments!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Guinness Pot Au Creme - Saint Patrick's Day Dessert

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Happy Sant Patrick's Day! Looking for a delicious dessert for your corned beef and cabbage boiled dinner? Look no further than these delicious Guinness Pot Au Cremes!

These are thick, creamy, dreamy little puddings. I topped them with a dollop of Bailey's whipped cream for an extra boozy punch. My puddings didn't set as much as I wanted them to, but they were still delicious.


I love the stupid craziness that is St. Patrick's Day, and this is the first year I know for sure my family IS indeed Irish! These freckles and curly hair came from somewhere, hurrah! When I lived in Boston I somehow had to work every single year, so I never REALLY got to participate in the festivities. Sad, I would have loved to experience it in Boston.

This year will probably be spent inside, due to recent events, but who knows, maybe we'll experience a Saint Paddy's Day miracle! Either way, I'll be enjoying these.

What are your St. Paddy's Day plans?

Guinness Pot de Creme

1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Guinness
2 cups (12oz) semisweet chocolate chips
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Bailey's Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbs Bailey's

Directions
Combine heavy cream, Guinness, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over low heat and let simmer just barely. Remove from heat.

In a food processor, combine the chocolate chips, eggs, and salt and blend for 1 minute until the chocolate is completely chopped. Pour in the Guinness mixture, and blend again until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is thick.

Divide mixture into ramekins (it made 4 large for me), cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Before serving, prepare whipped cream: Whip in a hand mixer until cream is thick, fold in Bailey's and whip until desired texture is reached. Serve pots cold with dollop of cream on top.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Dublin Special: Beer Bread Pudding

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Once you've made that tasty, delicious load of Guinness beer bread... you'll probably want to make another batch, and turn it into this ^^


Last year, St. Patrick's Day came and went in Austin with nothing but a few local bars serving a corned beef special. Since it usually occurs in the middle of SXSW, Boston's favorite holiday (where the streets run green with dyed PBR) goes relatively unnoticed.



Who knows, maybe this year there will be more celebrations, in the wake of our big festival being cancelled...

This little holiday reminds me of Massachusetts, or my two trips to Ireland. It reminds me that I need to return to Europe someday...




This year, I have corned beef and potatoes waiting in the fridge, some Guinness at the ready, and this dessert on the table. Also, fun fact: Thanks to 23 and Me, I discovered my family IS actually a significant amount of Irish! So cool.


I love bread pudding. It's the nemesis of low carb diets for sure, but if you happen to make this for your St. Paddy's Day table and take a bite, I won't tell. It's so easy to make, and is so editable to whatever you want it to do. This pudding has all the flavors of Ireland's famous liquors: Guinness, Bailey's, and Jameson.

PS. Check out this awesome Buzzfeed list I made a few years back of the best St. Paddy's Day recipes that are NOT green! :)




For the Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf Guinness Beer Bread
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Irish Cream
  • For topping
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x9 baking dish, set aside.

-Cube the beer bread and set out to dry out a bit while you mix together the rest of the ingredients. Or, you can put them on a single layer and pop them in the oven while you prep.

-In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, cream, and Irish cream until well combined. Once beer bread is slightly hard to the touch, toss in the mixture until well-coated. Let sit 5 minutes.

-Prepare topping by mixing together until at a crumbly consistency. If the mixture is too wet, add more oats or a bit of flour. You want big crumbles of slightly moist crumbs.

-Pour bread mixture into baking dish, top with crumbles. Bake for 45 minutes, or until pudding is set. Finished pudding should be springy, not wet, when pressed with your finger or a spoon.

Whiskey Salted Caramel
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Irish whiskey
-In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the sugar over high heat until caramel in color. Be careful not to burn!

-Carefully drop in cubes of butter, whisking until well combined. Once melted, SLOWLY pour in the cream.

-Reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to foam.

-Remove from heat and stir in salt and whiskey. Let come to room temperature and pour into jar.

Guinness Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from AllRecipes.com)
  • 1 12oz bottle of Guinness
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla

-In a medium saucepan, heat the Guinness over medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half, about 40 minutes, watching it carefully to prevent bubbling over.

-Add sugar, cocoa powder, water, and vanilla. Let come to a simmer, and stir frequently until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, and pour into jar.

Irish Cream Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp Irish Cream


-In a stand or hand mixer, whip cream and powdered sugar on high until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed to low, and mix in the Irish Cream until just blended.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Guinness Beer Bread & Cinnamon Browned Butter - Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

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Looking for a quick and tasty Saint Patrick's Day recipe? Well look no further than Guinness Beer Bread! Beer bread is a magical thing. It's basically flour, salt, baking powder, and beer. The combinations of how you can make it truly are endless. You can edit it to work with any beer or flavor, be sweet or savory, be a side dish or a breakfast or bread pudding (hint, hint).

Take this Guinness beer bread, for example. Just a few extras, and you have a unique and seriously delicious, quick bread. No yeast, no rising, just deliciousness.

If anyone is remembering my "low carb diet" right now... shut up.




The highlight of this bread is really the cinnamon browned butter BUT I forgot to photograph it. Ugh. Trust me though, it's the perfect thing to spread on a toasty piece of Guinness beer bread. I can't NOT tell you about it.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Browned butter
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar
-In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat until golden brown. Pay close attention that the butter does not burn!

-Let sit for 5 minutes, then add cinnamon and sugar. Mix well, and pour into a small jar.

-Let butter get to room temperature, shaking jar regularly so sediment does not sink to the bottom. To speed up the process, you can put the jar in the fridge or freezer, but the shaking will be more frequent.



Guinness Beer Bread
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 bottle Guinness Stout (12 oz)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread pan with butter.

Sift together all dry ingredients into a stand mixer.

Set the mixer on low speed and slowly pour in the Guinness, being careful it doesn't bubble over. Mix until just wet, do not over-mix.

Spoon batter into loaf pan. Pour melted butter on top, and sprinkle with oats.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.



Sunday, March 1, 2020

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020 - North Central Austin Restaurants

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Every year, I do the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide. Typically, I snag "best ____ in town" categories, rather than the neighborhoods, which span a wide area (North, South, etc.). But what about the restaurants in my own backyard?

I polled the residents of my own neighborhood via the Nextdoor app and came up with the following hyper-local favorites. Though I don't live in the more touristy parts of town, if you happen to be at an air bnb nearby or have a car and want to get some grub that's a bit more off the beaten path, be sure to check out these Highland Neighborhood spots!

Note: I was a bit liberal with the area, some of these may be slightly outside, but still worth a mention!


Kome - I adore sushi, and consider myself very somewhat of an expert. In that, I can tell fresh from not-so-fresh, and close-to-the-sea to definitely-not. And since arriving in Austin, Kome has been my hands-down favorite. Their happy hour specials are incredible, their sake is delicious, and my fish-hating-fisherman-husband (figure that one out) has multiple things on the menu he'll consume. Their house rolls are my favorite, but the best deal on the menu is the sushi lunch. This was the place that truly won me over with nigiri, and I will be forever grateful.


Kura - So, I know I just said Kome was my fave BUT Kura is a very very very close second. I was all ready for the level of quality that you expect from a sort of gimmicky concept--conveyor belt sushi--but was blown away by the freshness of the sushi for how inexpensive and fun the entire experience was. Definitely a solid place to go for an inexpensive meal, and yes they do have more than just sushi here.

Photo cred: Feed This House

Quality Seafood - I'm a New England girl, born and raised, and one thing I sorely miss from my home state is... well, quality level seafood. And thankfully, Quality Seafood lives up to the name. Though I haven't been able to visit for a lobster bake, the chowder makes my heart happy, and the fish dishes are a wonderful option if you want a non-sushi seafood in town.

Photo cred: Foodie is the New Forty

HEO - Not sure if it was simply a rebrand or a total pivot but I swear this place started as a BBQ joint. Either way, I hear amazing things about their Asian Street Food menu! Tucked away into an unassuming storefront, HEO is one of those somewhat hidden treasures of the neighborhood despite being right on Lamar.

Arpeggio - The jury's out on the overall experience of the restaurant itself but one thing everyone can agree on is that the food is top notch. I feel like we keep losing the small, family-owned Mediterranean restaurants in town, so I do hope Arpeggio sticks around. I love a good gyro and Arpeggio does it right. It's also the best place in town to get a good Greek pizza! If you don't know the difference between NY/Chicago/Greek style, you need to educate yourself. And relish in the crispy, thick crust. Yum.

Photo cred: Foodie is the New Forty

Ramen Tatsu-ya - There's a line out the door for a reason. While it's not nearly as long as it's South Lamar counterpart, it's still a wait--but one worth waiting for. This was my first introduction to Ramen and it still holds a special place in my heart. They have a few different broths to choose from, but the standout for me is the tonkasu, a thick dipping broth with noodles. Also one of the best brussels sprouts offerings in town!



Michi Ramen - Don't tell Tatsu-ya, but this is my favorite ramen in town. Also, don't tell the people in line at Tatsu-ya because I like being sat immediately ;) Their broths are mostly pork, and the stout broth is the clear standout in my opinion. The sides are perfectly complimentary to the large, savory bowls. And don't miss their Wednesday sake deals! Each month a different flavor is highlighted and they are certainly unique--and tasty!



Ola Poke - This was one of the first dedicated Poke spots in Austin but it's held its place as one of the best ever since. Fresh fish, tasty accouterments, and decent spicy wings for those weirdos among us who, for whatever reason, don't like raw fish. Snag a bowl and do karaoke next door for the perfect out of the box date or fun Saturday afternoon.


Brentwood Social - Their coffee is awesome but their pastries are where it's AT. Delicious, delicate, and both savory and sweet. I don't know what else to say other than it's the perfect place to meet up with a friend for crumpets and tea, or sip wine on the patio while your kids play in the backyard area.


T22 - Lucy's may have the heart of most Austinite's but T22 has my taste buds. It hits the spot for anyone who is craving the tongue-burning deliciousness of Nashville Hot Chicken. You can choose your level of heat, or go with a straight up "wimpy" with none, and the enormous pieces of juicy chicken will come out perfectly seasoned with your choice of dipping sauce on the side to cool the heat. And where most chicken joints seem to forget their sides, T22 does each one perfectly. This is hands down my favorite fried chicken in town!



Black Star Coop - I came here originally for three reasons: 1. close to my improv rehearsal spot, 2. they pay their workers a living wage, 3. beer. At that point, the food being amazing was a great surprise! I love the fish and chips, which come out perfectly battered and crispy with thick-cut fries, or the chicken snack and homemade ranch. Their beer selection is just as good, and the patio with board games makes for a very fun night.


Vigilante - A gamer and a foodie walk into a bar. Both are happy at Vigilante. Their slider menu allows you to taste a whole bunch of tasty bites while you challenge other bar patrons to a round of Super Smash Brothers. $14 gets you your choice of nearly four items on the menu which is an awesome deal, letting you get a taste of everything they have to offer!

Hank's - Frose brings me in, the food makes me stay. Hank's has had a few growing pains as they've rolled out but I know they'll soon be a neighborhood favorite! Great happy hour, delicious food, extensive drink menu, and perfectly crafted cocktails. Plus the decor is clean and bright with a lovely patio. A definite win!



BIG thank you to some of my food blogger friends for providing pictures!

Do you live in the Highland area? What is your favorite local restaurant?


Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2020!

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020 - Bar Food

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Austin is a foodie city, there's no denying it. So, when you end up at a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes all you can hope for is a seat at the bar. But did you know that Austin has more than a few watering holes that also offer amazing food? These are just a few that I've found in my journey through Austin's food and drink scene... Check it out!


Austin's Best Bar Bites


East Side Tavern - This bar is so much fun, with a rooftop patio and amazing drink options (obviously, that's what Taverns do best) but you'd be missing out if you left without having one of these brisket and cheddar tater tots. Let me say that again. BRISKET AND CHEDDAR TATER TOTS. So freaking amazing. Runners up are the pickled deviled eggs and the corndog bites but really, anything here is awesome.
1510 E Cesar Chavez | Austin, TX 78702

The Hideout Pub–Their slogan is "we're cheap so you don't have to be," AND their kitchen is open until midnight, so you know I'm all about this place.  Not to mention they're a mere 5 minutes from my apartment in way north Austin. They mean it about being cheap--they boast more than a handful of drinks under $5! I've had the burgers and the fish and chips here and both were great. Their wing nights are an awesome excuse to chow down on multiple chicken wings for under $1 apiece (60 cents per wing). They're known for their burgers, but all pub food is present and accounted for here. Plus the laid back vibe and huge patio are awesome for hanging out with friends on a weekend or happy hour. The Hideout Pub is located at 12164 N Mopac Expressway in Austin and is open Mon-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 5pm-2am.



Ski Shores Cafe
Austin is a year-round patio type of city. That's one of the many reasons why Ski Shores is the place to be when the weather is pleasant--their location right on Lake Travis makes for some incredible sunsets. Not only that, but their food is pretty damn good. Try one of the many burgers, or (my preference) get some fresh fried seafood to enjoy while you drink a cocktail and watch the sunset.
2905 Pearce Rd, Austin TX

Jackalope
It's on Dirty 6, which doesn't necessarily work in its favor, since it's also known as a party spot with insanely huge punch bowls. But what you may not know is that they are constantly on Austin's Best lists for their burgers! Soak up some of that 6th Street booze with the Mac and Cheese Burger--complete with a deep fried queso mac patty, or get fancy with their Bacon and Brie burger. And if you snap a pic on the Jackalope statue after, I won't judge.
304 East 6th Street, Austin TX




The Dogwood
The day I saw their steak fingers were no longer on the menu was a sad day (please bring them back!) as they were the best I'd found in the city. I can get my fix of flavorful fried meat with the chicken fingers, but if I'm going that route I'd opt for the chicken and waffles sliders. Thankfully, I have a new love in their Armadillo Eggs which are bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with shrimp, crab, and goat cheese, with a peach dipping sauce. The happy hour menu is decent for the price (get the bacon wrapped BBQ shrimp or the sweet potato tots), so get here early and enjoy a meal and a drink on their patio before the West 6th Street crowd rolls in. It's unique southern cuisine, and the bar itself is a good time. The Dogwood is located at 715 West 6th Street and is open Mon-Fri 4pm-2:00am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am.

Gibson's/Luke's Inside Out
I remember exclaiming to everyone that would listen one night that the food truck at Gibson's, Luke's Inside Out, was some of the best food I'd ever had in my life. Granted, I'd had more than my share of libations at Gibson's prior, but when I asked friends about best bar food there were a handful of enthusiastic suggestions for this place. It looks like Guy agrees with me, because it was featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives!
1109 South Lamar, Austin TX




Banger's Sausage and Beer Garden
It's a good thing they're expanding this year--the 100 or so tables are regularly packed! The glorious, enormous beer selection aside, they're one of my favorite spots to take out-of-towners because you just need to experience their unique cuisine at least once. All the sausages are made on-site, as are the pickled ingredients. The dishes are anywhere from basic but delicious (hot dog, brat) to out of this world unique (fried chicken, beet and goat cheese). Do not let yourself visit Austin without stopping here!
79 & 81 Rainey St. Austin, TX 78701

Whip In
What kind of cuisine do you think a craft beer bar would serve? Did you guess Indian? I bet you didn't. Did you guess some of the best Indian food in town? At a BAR? This in and of itself is a feat, but Whip In also peppers in some typical bar food into the mix. Try one of their curries, their extensive vegetarian options, or just enjoy some loaded fries. Whichever you choose, you'll be more than satisfied. You can even buy a six pack of beer to take home from their marketplace area!
1950 S IH 35 Frontage Rd, Austin, TX



Black Star Coop–It's hard to say what's the best part of Black Star Coop. The wide selection of local beer? The fact that all staff is paid a living wage? Or the incredible food? It's a tough call, but I'd say while all those things rock, the food is my favorite. I could eat their thick-cut french fries every day, and their one-time fig-stuffed quail was my first ever foray into quail (I still am not quite sure how one goes about consuming a quail). Plus, it's the best fish and chips I've had in the city so far. And you know me, as a New Englander, I have high standards when it comes to fish. Added to the feel-good well-paid staff thing and the beers, this place definitely wins a spot on my Best Bar Bites list.
7020 Easy Wind Drive, Austin TX 



Photo courtesy of A Cup of Joey

Easy Tiger
Every so often, I see another Easy Tiger beer garden open up. And I do a jump for joy, because this is a place that should be shared with the world. Somewhat recently, one opened right near my apartment, so I am a frequent guest of theirs now. The freshly baked bread is the heart of their menu, weaving its way through incredible cheese boards, sandwiches, and sides on their menu. The beer may be the star, but their bakery is incredible. Definitely try their massive bavarian pretzel, you won't be sorry!
(Multiple Locations, see website)

Roosevelt Room
Fancy drinks and fancy snacks make Roosevelt Room one of my favorite places to grab a classy cocktail and snack after work downtown. Their cheese boards are some of the best in town, and the perfect classy eccoutrement. Bonus: the Elenor next door is home to some fun pop up bars throughout the year. My favorite being Miracle on 5th Street, a fun and funky Christmas bar during the holidays!
 307 W 5th St. - Unit B Austin, TX


Image courtesy of Waller Creek Pub House


Waller Creek Pub House
 
Established in 2015, Waller Creek Pub House is known for its craft draft beer, original pub fare and laid-back vibe. Specials Monday’s Wing Deal, featuring 6 house made buffalo wings and a pint of Community Beer Company’s Helles Lager for only $10, or the rotating “Taco of the Day” selection for $10 or less are affordable options for those on a budget.
 603 Sabine St, Austin, TX

Drink.Well–The drinks are amazing, the food is as gorgeous as it is tasty, and 5 out of 5 foodies I asked highly recommend it, so this here is a win. The menu is upscale American pub fare, which pairs well with their 25 whiskeys and the aforementioned amazing cocktails. There aren't many places in town you can get a Scotch egg, or a HOMEMADE TWINKIE... yeah, this place pretty much rocks. Drink.Well is located at 207 East 53rd Street in Austin and is open Tues-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sun 11am-11pm.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2020!