Sunday, March 1, 2020

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020 - Bar Food


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

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!

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020 - Best Downtown Business Lunches


Ever since working in downtown Austin, I've become quite accustomed to visiting coworkers and clients asking me "where should we go to lunch??" Eventually, I decided to turn my response into a blog post, because lunching in downtown Austin can be a gamble.

The rule of thumb here is to try not to be too close to the touristy places--restaurants near the convention center or music halls aren't going to be great. After all, foot traffic alone means they don't have to be stellar to make a living.

Visiting Austin and staying downtown? Need a place to wine and dine a client during your lunch break? Here are my suggestions for the best food you'll find within walking distance or a quick Uber/taxi!


  • Cooper's Old Time Pit - the best BBQ in downtown proper. Meat by the pound, incredible sides (rare for a BBQ place!) and you can get it dipped in their BBQ sauce.
  • Terry Black's - Not quite downtown, but worth a scooter ride or quick rideshare. Pick your meat by the pound in this counter-service restaurant. Grab a cold beer from the cooler and try their beef rib, what they're known for.
  • Lambert's - Fancy BBQ. Full disclosure: I've never been, but it seems to be the go-to place to take visiting clients. I hear they also have a good happy hour!

Mexican & Tex-Mex

  • Chispas - My favorite new place in town to get tacos. The queso, which is a barometer for a Tex-Mex's quality, is decent, but the taco menu is so unique and all are tasty. I love the butternut squash taco and the pork belly.
  • Taco Deli - An Austin favorite, though it's only open until about lunch time. Skip the line by ordering ahead and sit on their patio to people watch.
  • Chuy's - It's a chain now, but the original spot is on Barton Springs Road. The quirky decor, extensive menu, and friendly service make it the perfect first stop when you're looking to try Tex-Mex cuisine for the first time.
  • Gabriela's Downtown - A hidden gem that really shouldn't be hidden considering it's right at the beginning of East 7th Street with full view from the highway. Incredible, homemade Mexican food by a brother and sister duo. Everything from the snacks to the dinners to the drinks is incredible
  • Velvet Taco - The second Austin location of this Dallas joint has some of the most unique taco offerings I've ever seen. Their queso is a must-try!

Burgers, Sandwiches, and More
  • Easy Tiger - a Beer garden AND bakery with incredible snack boards, sandwiches, sausages, and more. Their $3 Old Fashioned is a happy hour staple.
  • Fareground - Want a little taste of everything? This food court serves up food from some of my FAVORITE restaurants that you may not get to experience without a drive outside the city. Try Kome, Dai-Due, and Contigo.
  • Casino El Camino - It's in the back of a bar (with the best bloody marys, btw) but if you love burgers it's the best in town. Open late, it's the perfect place to get your drunchies on as you make your way down Dirty 6.
  • Banger's - Bangers is Austin in a nutshell: unique food concept (everything on the menu is a sausage), vegan/vegetarian options, the most craft beers you'll find on tap in one place, and a wide open space for both live music and mini dog park. It's probably one of my favorite places in the city!
  • Stube - Another unique sausage place that is generous in their portions and incredibly tasty. They just expanded their food truck behind Star Bar, so you can grab a fancy drink to pair with your brats.


  • Graj Ma'hal - Some of the best Indian food I've ever had, in a cool, quirky space. One of the few restaurants on Rainey Street that is worth your money.
  • Clay Pit - Another great option for Indian food if you happen to be closer to campus. Their lunch options are awesome and word is that the building is haunted!
  • Papadom - One of the best lunch deals in town! $13 for all-you-can-eat. I've never had a bad meal here, and it's my go-to when I want a filling, tasty lunch.
  • Swift's Attic - Asian fusion with Southern comfort cooking. Really unique and tasty dishes and a great happy hour. I especially love the ice ball cocktails!
  • House of the Rising Tanuki-San - I've only been here for lunch, but everything has been so flavorful! The dishes are unique, the atmosphere is fun, and everything is super tasty.
  • Koriente - Not quite sushi, but other great option for some fresh and tasty Japanese cuisine! The focus here is on healthy food, and during lunch salad and soup is never-ending. 

Southern Food
  • Moonshine Grill - Fancy Southern Comfort Food. Super tasty but a bit pricey. It's great for date night, as it's cozy and dark. I love their shrimp and grits!
  • Cannon & Belle - if you want fancy Southern food, this is a great option. It’s my new favorite in town and worth the price. Their bone in ribeye and pork chop rival steak houses in the area, for a much better price.
  • Fixe - This place is worth a stop for their biscuits alone. Holy wow these are little buttery bits of perfection. Pro tip: Get a side of biscuits with their excellent fried chicken and make a sandwich. you won't be sorry.
Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2020!

Where do you like to eat in Austin? Have you ever visited? Let me know!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020 - Austin's Best Bloody Marys


Bloody Marys have quickly become my favorite drink. What's better than a spicy counterpart to a delicious Austin brunch? I always snag this guide because I love this cocktail so much!

Casino el Camino - One of the heftiest bloodies in regards to accouterments: the beast includes taquito, chicken slider, pig in a blanket, meatball, various pickled items, and more... You pick your spice level on a scale of 1-10, with 5 being the start of the habanero spice. Note: I have a fair heat tolerance and a 5 is almost too much for me, so beware.
517 E 6th St, Austin, TX 

Lucy's Fried Chicken - While I have mixed feelings about the chicken, I was extremely impressed with Lucy's bloody mary. Anywhere that makes their own mix is significantly cooler than a bottled-juice joint, that's a no-brainer. Spicy house made bloody mix with Clamato, horseradish, and hot sauce with homemade pickled veggies make this a slightly spicy bloody worth pairing with your chicken and waffles.

Photo courtesy of Kenny Braun Photography

Salt Trader’s Coastal Cooking – If you find yourself in Round Rock for brunch, stop into Salt Trader's for a bite of coastal Texas cuisine and pair it with their Scratch Bloody Mary. This powerhouse bloody boasts Tito’s  Vodka, horseradish, barrel-aged Worcestershire, garlic, clam juice and celery salt - and served with a beer chaser.
2850 IH-35 N, Round Rock, TX

Photo courtesy of Ashley Davis Photography

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery - Snooze is worth the long wait for brunch, but try to go on a weekday if you're not into passing the time with yard games while you wait. In addition to their excellent pancakes and brunch servings, their bloody marys are bomb--especially the Boss Hog with bacon-infused Cyrus Noble Bourbon & house bloody mix.
3800 N Lamar Blvd #120/1700 S Lamar Blvd #301 Austin, TX

Star Bar -  If legend is to be believed, this epic bloody contains the following: an hot dog, lil’ smokies, bacon, shrimp, onion rings, hamburger slider, chicken nuggets, deviled egg, crab, pickled okra, tomatoes, pepperoni, pepper jack cheese, and a cinnamon roll. It's been a whole year since my last bloody mary roundup, and I still haven't ventured to Star Bar to try it. Let me know if you do!
600 W 6th St, Austin, TX

Swift's Attic - Swift's weekend brunch displays the best do-it-yourself bloody mary bar in town. Swift's goes a step beyond with high quality ingredients and house-cured meats. No shelf-stable bacon here! While they offer a few different bloody mixes, the homemade mix is clearly the best.
315 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 

Runners Up: Cheap Sunday Kickbutt Coffee special, a simple bloody--just a shot and some mix, maybe some olives if the bartender is feeling generous--but it's only $3 on Sundays! Another great deal is the $2 bloodies at La Condesa, but those require a sit down meal and a bit of a wait during brunch hours.

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2020 - Mexican Martinis


Trudy's (multiple locations throughout Austin) When I polled my friends about the best Mexican Martini in town, this was the resounding answer. Not only are they on happy hour special, but it's the classic Mexican Martini with a generous shaker of extra goodness on the side. Limit of two, and don't try the "Trudy's Mexican Martini Crawl" (where ambitious drinkers try to go the limit at each location) because you definitely will die.

Chuy's (multiple locations in Austin and beyond) Chuy's has a special place in my heart because it was my first taste of Tex-Mex in all its glory. Tex-Mex is its own unique, amazing thing and Chuy's is a solid, if not THE most authentic version. Their Mexican Martini is classic and straightforward: heavy on the tequila with a refreshing kick of citrus and a balanced bit of olive.

Polvo's (Two locations: 2004 S 1st St and 360 Nueces, Ste. #10 Austin, TX ) I'm embarrassed it took this long to try out this Austin institution. Authentic Mexican food and a decent Mexican Martini. What else could you need? A salsa bar? You got it. Reasonably priced and perfectly made.

La Condesa (400 W 2nd St A, Austin, TX) Need a solid after work Happy Hour that hits all the bases? Classic Austin restaurant. Mexican food that's deliciously shareable. Great HH deals. And magicians at the bar. Pro-tip: This drink isn't on the menu, but they make a damn good Mexican Martini anyway.

Cedar Door (201 Brazos St, Austin, TX) Cedar Door prides itself in being the location where the Mexican Martini was created. No, it's not from Mexico--it's from a gorgeous little bar on Brazos Street, where a bartender in the 80s was inspired after a recent trip to Mexico. You can choose between three options: classic, spicy, and Austin (made from 100% Austin local liquors). I prefer the classic, and a few shots and selfies outside next to these massive olives.

Casa Chapala (9041 Research Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX) Fun fact: I accidentally spilled my drink all over the bar. D'oh. Apparently, the shakers don't snap shut here, so be CAREFUL! But Chapala's is amazing, and has one of the most extensive Tequila collections in town. Make it your way with top shelf or below and you'll definitely be satisfied.

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 - Fried Chicken


Tumble 22 - Austin's Most authentic tasting Nashville-style hot chicken hit the scene a few years ago and I couldn't be more excited about it! Their brick and mortar on Burnet offers multiple levels of heat and a ton of flavor in every piece. I typically split a four piece with my husband, which is more than enough tasty food for us both, in the medium level--which is still mighty spicy! Their brick and mortar is opening soon on Burnet, be sure to check it out.
7211 Burnet Rd, Austin TX

Culinary Dropout - Located in the new Rock Rose area of the Domain, Culinary Dropout offers a wide array of delicious fresh items, but you don't want to miss the chicken. This is another plate I end up splitting most of the time, it's a lot of chicken! Perfectly seasoned breading, juicy chicken--it's the best thing on the menu. Paired with a honey biscuit and delicious sides, this dish is a must for anyone taking a quick break from a Domain shopping day.
11721 Rock Rose Ave #100, Austin, TX 78758

Hoover's -- If you enjoy a heavy hand on the breading, the homestyle feel and traditional sides make this a satisfying meal. The Happy Hour specials are some of the best in the city, with a chicken basket for $6 among many other snacks and drinks from 3-7pm Monday-Friday.
2002 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken --  While Gus's is actually a chain that began in Memphis, they have spicy fried chicken down to an art. There are no heat levels, just classically spicy, so be comfortable with a strong "medium" amount of spice if you check them out.
117 San Jacinto Austin, TX 

Lucy's -- Lucy's they deserve a spot on this list because it's a totally "Austin" spot and the view from the Lucy's on the Lake patio is breathtaking. The desserts and sides are delicious. Try the deep fried deviled eggs before you dig into the main course.
Multiple Locations:

Photo courtesy of The Peached Tortilla

The Peached Tortilla – For an Asian twist on the southern favorite, stop by Peached for their Fried chicken night every Wednesday. The special includes Asian fried chicken, dashi bacon braised kale, grilled corn and biscuits. Not to mention, this night also boasts whiskey specials!
5520 Burnet Rd #100, Austin, TX

Black Star Coop -- This locally sourced, sustainably produced fried chicken never disappoints!Order by the dinner or snack size and enjoy the subtly spicy breading and accompanying homemade ranch dip.

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Cheap Foodie's Guide to SXSW - SXSW 2020 Free Stuff!


It's February, and we all know what that means... brace yourselves, SXSW is coming!

For those who are new to the area or have no idea what I'm talking about, SXSW, or South by Southwest, is our biggest festival of the year in Austin, Texas. The festival and conference lasts about two weeks in mid-March. During this time, Austin is overrun with tourists, brands, and most of all PARTIES.

I've lived in Austin for six years, and have attended SXSW in some capacity nearly every year. From working for a brand, to having a full badge, to getting a press pass, and NEVER having much of a budget, I've gotten the full experience. And mostly, it's been a free SXSW experience.

Read on for my suggestions on how to have the best SXSW experience on a budget! Or even FREE!

Pick Your Experience
There are four tracks to SXSW: Education, Interactive, Film, and Music. The majority of the first two are filled with teachers or business people who were sent by their employers, and the other two are filled with people looking to see the best new films or their favorite up-and-coming recording artist.

You can purchase and individual badge, or a platinum that gives you access to everything. What not everyone realizes is that ANY badge will give you secondary access to any of the branded events. So, for example if I have a Music Badge I get first priority for Music events, but I can still get into any Interactive or Film event before it's opened to the general public. Considering the steep cost of the badges, pick the track you're most interested in and don't get Platinum if you're paying your own way.

My REAL tip? DON'T buy ANY badge. There is plenty to do without needing to drop over $1000 on a badge alone (after all, flights to Austin nearly triple during March). Read on for my tips on what you can do for FREE!

Know What's Free
There is more than enough to do during the festival that doesn't require a badge, but each track seems to have its own benefits for what is free. Here's what I've found to be true of the free SXSW experience:

Innovation: Brands take over the city and provide free swag, food, and open bars to those partying during the festival. There's also often tons of local music playing. You can literally keep your food and drink budget to pennies a day if you know how to sniff out the brand parties!

Music and Film: The freebies during these tracks will mostly be free shows and screenings. Most of Austin takes advantage of the influx of people to showcase local music in smaller venues across town. Occasionally you can find free swag or food/drinks, but for the most part the show IS the prize, and the venues want to charge for what they can.

Education: Nothing, really. Sorry. This track seems to be purely business, and since it's the first track in the festival, things haven't really started up yet. There might be included parties, but not much outside the actual festival.

Sometimes you run into your favorite YouTube celebrities!

But how do you FIND the free stuff? People often underestimate how truly overwhelming SXSW can be. Make sure you've downloaded the following apps to make your way around and hit up all the free spaces.

  • The SXSW App: Even if you don't have a badge, you can use the app to sign up for official events that are badgeless. The app lets you build your schedule and reminds you when events are coming up.
  • Do512: If you're not from around here, you may not know about Do512. Basically, it's our go-to resource for all events! Simply download the app, create an account, search "Free SXSW" and RSVP for any events that look interesting.
  • RSVPster For a small fee, you can get RSVP'd to all free events and unofficial SXSW parties via this service.
  • Twitter: Follow the following hashtags:  #sxlines #sxdrinks #sxnoms #sxfree #sxswag. This is the BEST way, throughout the fest, to see where the free food, drinks, and swag are, but also where the lines are shortest! Posters will also often tag if a badge is required.

Other Tips and Tricks

Stay Near the Action - As much as you can afford, anyway. Austin's public transport is nowhere near sustainable for us on a normal day, so you'll be relying on peak-pricing Ubers and Lyfts if you don't choose a spot within walking distance. And if you need to stay outside of downtown, factor in time for traffic. Again, it's bad on a normal day, during our biggest event it'll be even worse.

Don't Just Visit on the Weekend - Weekdays are your best bet for the shortest lines and best experience. On the weekend, the crowd doubles with working locals who want to get in on the fun. If you're local, try to take at least a day off to get the full experience before the lines get insane.

Pace Yourself - It's a large festival that spans the entire city, and Austin can get HOT in the Spring. Even outside of downtown, the rest of Austin wants to enjoy the influx of tourists, or the influx of locals wanting to get out of downtown. Especially if you're hopping from free event to free event, you may be covering ten city blocks between each spot. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a backpack for freebies, and try to plot out your schedule so that you don't have to rush long distances in a short timeframe. Oh, and water is your friend. Luckily, if you've forgotten one, it's a popular swag item you can snag pretty easily.

Have a Back Up Plan - Even with a badge, popular events fill up quickly. I once got in line for an Assscat show two hours ahead of time and still didn't get in. SXSW isn't really about just seeing your favorite bands, films, etc. It's about discovering new things. Do your research and have a backup plan in case your favorite event fills up before you get there.

Create a dummy email - Most free things require you selling your soul--err, I mean your email address--as an entry fee. If you don't want to be flooded with marketing emails after the festival, create a specific email just for the event RSVPs. You'll thank me later.

Take Time to Explore - Austin is so much more than just downtown. If you can, take time to get outside of the tall buildings and see the rest of the city! Check out the breweries on Metric, take a Fredericksburg wine tour, jump in Barton Springs or Deep Eddy, explore the Cathedral of Junk, or rent a car and try the world-famous Salt Lick in Dripping Springs!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Keep It Weird Austin Winters - French Onion Soup Recipe with Vegetarian Option


Happy February, everyone! I suddenly had a craving for a warm bowl of soup and thought I'd share my favorite recipe (now updated with vegetarian substitutions!) for one of my favorite soups.

As a New Englander, I thought that up North we had the most haphazard weather; freezing one minute, hot the next, rain, sun, thunderstorms in the same day, winter too long and summer too short. But Austin is definitely giving it a run for its money.

The sun makes me happy,
and so does my favorite dress.

In the past week in Austin I've been able to wear a winter coat and a sun dress. IT EVEN FRIGGIN SNOWED! It's been 30s and it's been near 70. I went from living in an endless winter to enjoying a sort-of winter with bits of summer in between.

Hey, I'm not complaining. That's why I moved here! I need the sun, I like it popping in to say hello like this. The days of the week I can bask in the sun like a cat are worth the days I have to turn up the heat and curl up WITH my cats (and dog) instead.

And if I have this soup, all the better.

Just look. at. that. CHEESE!

This recipe is a combination of what my mother-in-law showed me over one Christmas, and Alton Brown's dummy-proof recipe. Plus my own little flair, as always, and some substitutions to make it meat-free. The result was pretty fantastic, and I highly recommend you make this the next time a chill comes through. Bursting with flavor, paired with toasty bread and gooey cheese. Delicious.

French Onion Soup
(Loosely based on Alton Brown's recipe)
  • 5 yellow onions (or a combination of yellow and red), sliced to 1/4" thick
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups mild red wine
  • 5 cups beef broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or use a vegetarian version or soy sauce)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh chopped parsley
  • 4 slices baguette, toasted and brushed with butter
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
-In a large dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add a layer of onions and sprinkle with salt. Continue until all onions are in the Dutch oven.

-Cover the dutch oven and let onions sweat for at least 15 minutes. After the onions look shiny and wet, gently stir. Add the pepper and sugar. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep caramel in color.

-Once onions have reduced to about two cups, pour in the wine. Turn heat to high. Let the wine reduce until thick, about 7 minutes or so.

-Add the broth, stock cubes, sherry vinegar, Worcestershire or soy sauce, thyme, bay leaves, and parsley. Simmer for 20 minutes.

-Remove thyme and bay leaves. Heat oven to broil.

-Pour into four croques or heat-save bowls set on a cookie sheet. Place bread and a slice of provalone over each. Broil until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.