Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, Downtown, Austin

Happy Birthday to all the leap year babies out there and a special happy birthday to our little brother who is turning ofiicially 4 today!

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q has great bbq and also is a venue for live music and gospel brunches. Instead of traveling outside of Downtown Austin for bbq, which was just our own laziness, but s a definite must do for our next visit, we checked out Stubb’s. The antlers, Texas cattle landscapes and music posters were a nice touch to put us in a Southern bbq eating kind of mood.

There is a specific process to ordering and eating at Stubb’s. Get in line, order at the bar area and then chose a seat in the outdoor patio area or main dining room. The choices of Stubb’s meat include beef brisket, smoked chicken, pork spare ribs, sausage, turkey breast, chopped beef and pulled pork.

The sides include- fried okra, cole slaw, pinto beans, fries, sweet potato fries, potato salad, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and serrano cheese spinach. We asked what were the best and our cashier suggested the serrano pepper cheese spinach and potato salad. We had the option to substitute one side for onion rings or small salad for just $1.00 and add homemade cornbread for $.75.

Colorful posters

My Bar-B-Q Plate had pork ribs, sweet potato fries and serrano cheese spinach and a slice of white bread for $11.95. The fries were perfectly crispy on the outside and tender yet slightly sweet on the inside. I thought the pork ribs were good, tender, but the serrano cheese spinach was phenomenal. The flavor of the spinach, pepper and cheese were mouthwatering. I wish I only ordered serrano cheese spinach and is the best spinach we have ever eaten. I would go back to Stubb’s specifically for this side.

The Minor Plate had smoked chicken and beef brisket with serrano cheese spinach and potato salad for $13.95. The spinach and potato salad were suggestions by the staff and the potato salad had a nice flavor.

Both the smoked chicken and brisket were amazing. The beef brisket was super tender, flavorful, juicy and was positively delectable. The smoked chicken had a nice smokey flavor and we gobbled the meats right up. We would be back for to eat the brisket time and time again.

The banana pudding is exactly as claimed, like grandma would make ($3.95). Slices of banana, a few whole Nilla wafers and smooth homemade banana pudding. We still prefer the 1886 Cafe & Bakery’s banana cream cake. This is granny’s version, simple and an old standard.

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Hut’s Hamburgers, Downtown, Austin

Hut’s Hamburgers (adjacent to Frank & Angie’s Pizza) was a must visit for me. We heard it won Best Burger in Texas in 2011 and had a lively divey atmosphere and fun memorabilia, such sports gear and pennants.

Hut’s patrons are families, college students and tourists all mixing under the same roof. There are special nights (Hut’s 2 for 1′s Mondays and Wednesdays), as well and blue plate specials (chicken fried steak and meatloaf). Our server was sweet, very thorough and had a definite hint of a hustler with their good food sales pitches.

We had to try the hand cut, housemade peppered onion rings. We also split a classic burger. The burger meat was super fresh, sourced locally in South Austin. For an additional $1, we went with the Longhorn Grassfed Beef. It was a terrific burger.

We also ordered the mini-corn dog basket and fries. They were made fresh, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The little dogs were truly special. The fries were so-so, minimal seasoning and lukewarm.

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Caffe Medici, Austin

Caffe Medici has multiple locations throughout Austin and we stopped by the Congress location. Caffe Medici’s friendly staff serves espresso, coffees and teas. What makes the coffee shop extremely alluring is its clean design.

The cafe is quite spacious, complete with a great bar and side seating area, outdoor seating and two levels.

The sleek lines, red espresso machine, wood ceilings and flooring are a perfect place to study, ready or have a meeting with friends.

We sat in the upstairs area, with the green seats and wood walls. The jasmine spring tea and macchiato was a great start to the day.

Hotels: Driskill Hotel and 1886 Cafe and Bakery, Downtown, Austin

The Downtown Austin and 6th Street area was paramount to our visit to Austin. Our cab driver, who had roots in Cambridge, Ma, said we were located in the thick of it- the late night music and shenanigans, that is! We wanted to be near the Capital and the Bourbon Street-like atmosphere for one evening.

The Driskill Hotel has 189 rooms and is located in a building which is over 200 years old and has old Texas grandeur- including high ceilings, marble and antique artifacts.

The lobby’s ceilings are quite high, adorned with gold, columns and chandeliers.

On every floor has art every few inches. It was fun to walk through the hallways and discover new paintings.

Bank vault and antique mini-furniture near the elevator bank.

The bed with a fur throw and signature D for Driskill pillow.

Old-school photos, post cards and memorabilia in the bathroom.

The 1886 Cafe and Bakery is adorable and allows patrons to see into the kitchen. The cafe serves chicken fried steak, chili corn bread, meatloaf and brisket.

Baked goods such as cream cheese danishes, croissants and banana cream cake.

We had to have some of the banana cream cake. It had banana cream and nilla wafer crust, warm caramelized bananas and custard and whip cream was unbelievable and worth the $9.00.

1886 Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Memories and Food: Austin, TX

How would I characterize Austin? Austin is keeping it weird, funky, cool and delicious. The New York Times they provides a great photo Slideshow and corresponding article entitled 36 Hours in Austin.  The music scene, Austin Food Carts, barbeque, antiques and Southern hospitality makes me want to return as soon as I can, every time.

Our taxi driver mentioned how Austin City Limits and SXSW (South By Southwest) has brought tremendous commerce to the city and these two events have drawn a global audience. She mentioned about the all the musicians and attendees’ various late night partying, her run- ins with famous artists and interesting celebrities such as Bill Murray.

Lady Bird Lake

Urban Bat Colony

Black Grackle’s throughout the city.

State Capital

The green area in front of the Capital was perfect for photo shoots. A young teenager posing for her sweet 15 and a chicken costume?

6th Street, Blue Moon Rock and Roll and the late night street meat

The cover band at Blue Moon were solid and very talented. They killed it with renditions of some blue grass, oldies, classic rock and then it went a bit downhill when they sang Gravity by John Mayer. Maybe I’m just not a much of a John Mayer fan?!

Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge, Financial District, Boston

While we were at Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge, I heard the comments “We love the space.” “The photos on the website do not do it justice.” Scholars is located in the Financial District, nestled on School Street, across from the now defunct Borders. The space was filled with leather lounge and club chairs, sconces, sleek bars, booths and on the opposite end has pool tables.

Manager Kati and her gracious team were warm and accommodating. The Scholars servers were constantly checking in on our needs and refills on cocktail orders.

I wish we took photos of all the carefully crafted beverages consumed from Scholar’s extensive cocktail menu. Favorite drinks of the night included Tremontaine, Gail Force Nantucket Gin, St. Germain, English cucumber, fresh spearmint, fresh lime juice for $11, The Strawberry Miller, Myer’s White Rum, mint, strawberry, lemon, sugar, ginger beer for $9 and the Scholars Gin and Tonic, Pennsylvania Blue Coat Gin, house cinchona syrup, soda, fresh lime for $9. We will definitely be back for more drinks and dancing.

Select evenings, Friday and Saturdays, there is a $5 cover. DJ Golden Touch spun a great mixes of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and We Found Love by Rihanna. Several friends went to Scholars around midnight and there was a line of 20 people out the door. The bouncers were firm and they were not allowed to skip the line and ended up waiting over 30 minutes.

View from the balcony

We had Fried Pickles served with Garlic Aioli sauce. The tang of the Southern fried pickles and texture of the batter was delicious. Very few places in Boston serve fried pickles, so they were gone in very little time.

All the flatbreads were fantastic. We had the Prosciutto Pizza with caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese, red onion for $13, Margherita Flatbread with sliced tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, red sauce for $10, Tuscan Flatbread with sundried tomato, pesto, goat cheese and red sauce for $13. The super crispy Fried Chicken Tenders were served with Shanghai Sauce, Fried Wonton and Ranch. The Ranch sauce was our favorite.

We had some amazing dessert trays, pastries, cheesecake that evening. Additionally, there were sweet and salty treats including Oreo BrowniesSamoas Cupcakes and Salted Caramel Bars. I’m going to have to copy my baking buddy and try making all of these bars and cupcakes sometime.

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Woodward at the Ames, Boston

I have heard about the Ames Hotel and Woodward for approximately a year now. A few friends who visited Boston for work said it is a nice boutique hotel to stay at. It is situated right across Bank of NY Mellon building and right near from the State Street T stop. My friends and I noticed the location of the hotel because there was a doorman. Otherwise, this former office building, does not scream a hotel.

The silver studded entry way and ceiling lights

Hotel lobby Woodward restaurant sign

We arrived around 5:30 pm for an early Restaurant Week dinner. There was a mixed crowd.  There was the typical after work drink crowd, including suits, casually dressed business women and some tourists. Over time, well dressed dinner parties and groups of women filled the dining room.

There is outdoor seating and the main bar and dining area with black booths. The restroom was up a flight of stairs in the hotel, versus the restaurant itself.The server had great black vests on and was super friendly. For those diners in our party who are gluten-free, the waitress checked with the chef for us to separate the gluten-free aspect, the chocolate brownie from the ice cream.

Chilled cantaloupe soup with shrimp and jalapeno was a play on hot and cold, the fresh soup had a great a nice sea flavor and heat.

The corn soup with native lobster had little bits of lobster.

The salmon, salad and meyer lemon was well made, bright hints of acid with the crusted salmon.

The seared scallops with summer corn succotash were prepared perfectly and I liked the combination of vegetables from the succotash.

Dense warm brownie sundae with peanut butter ice cream and chocolate sauce

I would definitely come back for a cocktail at the Woodward versus a full meal.  Multiple servers were constantly filling out water glasses and overall, the timing of the courses were well done. However, despite great service, the food was good, but not overly memorable compared to other hotel restaurants. I still prefer Sel at the Mandarin for both cocktails and their bar menu.

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