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Next Stop: Chavez & Trio

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The New Year brought exciting revamps to two downtown Austin spaces – Shawn Cirkiel’s latest endeavor Chavez at The Radisson and a refresh to the well established TRIO at the Four Seasons.

CHAVEZ

There aren’t  many restaurants in Austin that boast a lakeside view but Chavez is one of them. It has a lovely, open layout with expansive windows, and even better Mexican-inspired eats. The raw bar and appetizers are fantastic and we can’t wait to explore the torta and entree offerings.  The bar offers an adventurous cocktail list and a truly impressive collection of tequilas, as well as other libations. Chavez is definitely worth a visit the next time you are downtown.

chavez drink

Chavez smoked cherry margarita.

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Chavez interior

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Beautiful lights and architectural features at Chavez.

TRIO

TRIO  at the Four Seasons is already one of the happy hour kings of Austin, with excellent wine and food offerings for a bargain price ($5 off the bar menu appetizers plus half-off wine by the glass). The restaurant has updated their happy hour menu and extended the good deal to seven days a week and included. If you are trying to impress someone or just want to spoil yourself a bit, head to TRIO.

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Shrimp Nicoise from TRIO Bar Menu

Trio

Fois gras terrine with bosc pear chutney.

trio drink

New signature TRIO cocktail spritzer featuring St. Germain, Cava, and Aperol.

 

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Austin City Guide: Noble Sandwiches Indeed

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To classify Noble Sandwich Co. as a sandwich shop doesn’t do it justice. Yes, they serve sandwiches, but the dishes are so lovingly made that they are, well, more noble than a mere sandwich.

Chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez opened their shop in 2010 and have had a packed house ever since. They recently moved to a new location off of 620 and Lake Creek Parkway and are hard at work on a second spot on Burnet.  Noble serves breakfast and lunch daily, and the occasional dinner.  

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Smoked duck pastrami sandwich

The chorizo and egg breakfast sandwich is by far one of my favorite breakfast bites in Austin and the biscuits with country sausage gravy are worth every sinful calorie. For lunch, the smoked duck pastrami sandwich  has a delicious crunchy slaw piled on top of the smoky pastrami, all wedged between two thick slices of bread. Roll up your sleeves, dig in and don’t give a second thought to  the Russian dressing dripping down your chin.

If you are craving something meat-laden, try The Noble Pig, stacked high with spicy ham, pulled pork, provolone and bacon.  And, if you prefer meatless, the pimento cheese sandwich is an excellent choice.

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Pates, rillettes and other to-go goodies

You can’t make a bad pick at Noble Sandwiches and, if all else fails, take friends and share. Don’t forget to pick up some goodies to take home with you. After all, you’ll need something noble for dinner.

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Austin City Guide: Loving every moment at Lenoir

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I fell in love with the idea of Lenoir before it even opened. I was already an unabashed fan of husband and wife chef team Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher at their respective previous gigs at TRIO at the Four Seasons and Dai Due. When they told me they were opening their own place, I knew it would become a favorite – that ideal combination of excellent food, lovely service and a welcoming atmosphere.

Dining at Lenoir feels like having dinner at Todd and Jessica’s home. It has a casual  intimacy, even at the communal tables, that invites you to relax and savor the meal while sipping one of the expertly selected wines selected by Sommelier Mark Sayre.  The servers are friendly, helpful and engaging, encouraging you to explore the menu.

snapper ceviche

Snapper Ceviche, photo by Jody Horton

They call the cuisine “hot weather” food, flavors from around the world with a similar climate to Austin. You might find a soup inspired by Vietnamese pho or a distinctly Italian pasta on the same night and yet,  Chef Duplechan makes the diversity work without feeling discordance.  I particularly love any dish that features  Chef Duplechan’s housemade sour sausage or pho style broth.

Diners choose three dishes for $38 from a menu with four sections: Field, Sea, Land and Dream, with the option to add a fourth course for an additional $10. The prix-fixe style lets you follow your whimsy. If the three seafood dishes strike your fancy, you are welcome to order from that section alone.   The dishes change often because Lenoir sources locally, so you are guaranteed to never get bored.

pork balchao side

Pork Balchao, photo by Jody Horton

Though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I  always enjoy Chef Maher’s desserts which are inventive and well-balanced. Her dish with midibleu spanish roquefort, caramelized pound cake, grapefruit and ras el hanout is the perfect balance of savory and sweet for someone who usually skips the dessert course.

mitibleu and grapefruit cake

Midibleu and grapefruit cake, photo by Jody Horton

For a more casual evening or to ease into dinner, enjoy drinks and snacks in the backyard wine garden, listening to tunes from the record player or local musicians.  Happy hour in the wine garden is a particularly good deal with half off small plates and $6 house wines from 5:00-7:00 pm Tuesday through Friday. 

Lenoir is the perfect spot for those nights when you want to indulge the palette without breaking the bank and be treated with tender loving care. Todd and Jessica are very special people and its no surprise that their restaurant reflects who they are in every detail.

Lenoir
1807 South First
Austin, Texas
lenoir.restaurant@gmail.com
512.215.9778

Hours: Tues – Sat, Seating from 5 pm – 10:30 pm
Sunday, Seating from 6 pm – 8:30 pm 

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Dining Out Sustainably: Austin Restaurant Round-up 2013

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Austin’s local food scene is so robust now that you can enjoy farm fresh fare from diverse cuisines in almost every part of town. And, eating locally doesn’t have to break the bank. Whether you are enjoying a sandwich at Easy Tiger, dinner at the Seedling Truck or breakfast from Dai Due at the farmers market, you can eat well on a budget while you support local farmers, ranchers and food artisans.

There have been some exciting new developments on the locally sourcing front this last year. Swift’s Attic moved into the renovated space that used to be Kyoto at on 3rd and Congress and brought us the culinary dream team of Executive Chef Mat Clouser, Sous Chef Zack Northcutt and Pastry Chef Callie Speer. These three are clearly having a good time in the kitchen as they put their playful spin on more traditional dishes.  The BLT becomes a CLT with candied chicken skin instead of bacon, while the Popcorn & a Movie dessert melds the flavors from the movie concession stand into a sophisticated dessert with salty popcorn ice cream, a root beer glee and a chocolate candy.  The food may be fun, but it’s composed from a serious foundation that makes it worth a visit.

Lunch at Swift's

CLT sandwich at Swift’s Attic

Salt & Time, who you may know as a vendor from the farmers markets, has opened their butcher shop in East Austin.  I love watching them butcher and they always have new salumi and treats in the case. Their sandwiches and hot food are terrific and you can enjoy them at the bar with an ice cold beer, soda or some Cuvee coffee.

The Backspace, Shawn Cirkiel’s pizza joint behind Parkside off of 6th St., is now open for weekday lunch, a real boon for folks who work downtown. Cafe Josie is under new ownership with Chef Brandon Fuller, previously of Wink, at the helm bringing his thoughtful to a West Austin standard.

Most recently, Chef Larry Kocurek has made his way back to Austin proper from the Hyatt at Lost Pines and is the new head chef at TRACE at the W.  I feel confident that we’ll some of his charcuterie artistry, he and his wife Lee Ann used to own Kocurek Family Charcuterie, emerge from the TRACE kitchen.

Soup of the day at Trace

Soup of the day at Trace

Inevitably someone will ask me which are my favorite spots, an almost impossible task. We have so many amazing chefs in town now, it’s hard to play favorites. Having said that, I have a standing monthly dinner date at Lenoir and am always delighted to see what  husband and wife team Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher have cooked up that month.  I’m also a regular at Swift’s Attic as I have friends in the kitchen and love digging in to their latest creation – these guys are crazy in the tastiest of ways.

I recommend Uchi and Uchiko as well as Second Bar and Kitchen, Congress and Foreign and Domestic without hesitation to all who I ask. And, I may love nothing better than relaxing at Contigo or Easy Tiger over a lovely cocktail or beer while visiting with friends.  I’ve been to Salt & Time often since they opened earlier this year, enjoying their sandwiches and fried chicken while stocking up on perfectly marbled meats. I love dinner under the trees at Olive & June and was seriously wowed by a recent Sunday night family dinner there.

See, I’m terrible at picking a favorite. There are just too many great places in Austin to narrow it down, so here’s my big  list of recommendations organized by area of the city. You tell me your favorites.

If you are interested in other facets of Austin dining, be sure to check out the full Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide.

 

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Downtown

The Backspace, 507 San Jacinto, Antipasto and Neopolitan style pizza cooked in a brick oven imported from Italy, average pizza price $12.

Bess Bistro on Pecan, 500 W 6th St., standard bistro fare on the edge of downtown and a great place to satisfy your craving for Steak Frites, average dinner entree price, $20.

Chez Nous, 510 Neches, French Bistro, lunch and dinner, 3 course prix fixe menu $28.50, average dinner entree $25.

Congress, 200 Congress Ave., New American,  Dinner only with 3 courses ($75) or chef tasting menu ($125.) Austin Woman profile

Easy Tiger, 709 E. Sixth St.,  Bakery and beer garden open breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night with artisan breads and meats available to go or in the beer garden, average entree $12.

La Condesa, 400 W. 2nd St., Interior Mexican and Mexican street fare, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, average dinner entree $26.  Austin Woman profile

Lambert’s, 401 West 2nd Street, fancy barbecue, game and Southern dishes in a historic building across from city hall, average dinner entree $25. The Sunday brunch is a meat-lover’s paradise.

Manuel’s, 310 Congress Ave., Mexican, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch, average dinner entree $20.

Parkside, 301 E. 6th, New American with an emphasis on oysters and seafood crudo, dinner, average dinner entree $23. Austin Farm to Table profile

Second Bar and Kitchen , 200 Congress Ave., New American.  Lunch, dinner and late night, average dinner entree $22.

SFC Downtown Austin Farmers Market, 4th and Guadalupe at Republic Square, various vendors with prepared food, fresh produce, meats, cheeses and artisan food products, Dai Due butcher shop serves hot breakfast Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Swift’s Attic, 315 Congress Ave., New American small plates with a playful, sometimes irreverent style, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch on the 1st Sunday of the month, average dish $15. Austin Woman profile

Trio, at the Four Seasons, 98 San Jacinto, New American, breakfast, lunch, dinner, average dinner entree $25.  One of the best Happy Hour deals in town. Austin Farm to Table profile

Trace at the W Hotel, 200 Lavaca St., New American, breakfast, lunch, dinner, prices vary widely between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Austin Woman profile

 

6th & Lamar/Clarksville

24 Diner, 600 N. Lamar, American diner fare, 24 hours, average dish $11.

Cafe Josie, 1200 W 6th, Neighborhood bistro featuring fresh, local ingredients, lunch and dinner, average entree $15.

Cipollina, 1213 West Lynn, Bistro menu, specializing in pizza, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $15. Austin Farm to Table profile

Clark’s Oyster Bar, 1200 W 6th St, Seafood, lunch, dinner and brunch, average dinner entree $25.

Counter Cafe, 626 N. Lamar, American, breakfast and lunch, average entree $10. Austin Farm to Table profile

Fabi & Rosi, 509 Hearn St., New American, dinner and Sunday brunch, average entree $20.

Fresa’s, 915 North Lamar Blvd., grilled chicken with sides, sandwiches and tacos, breakfast, lunch and dinner – all to go. Whole chicken meal is $26 and serves 4; tortas and salads average $8.

Wink, 1014 N. Lamar, New American, dinner, average entree $25 (the wine bar has a separate less expensive menu). Austin Farm to Table profile

 

South Austin

Barley Swine, 2024 S. Lamar Blvd., New American, dinner, average dish $14.

Elizabeth St. Cafe, 1501 South First St., Bakery and Vietnamese cafe, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average entree $15.

Jack Allen’s Kitchen, 7720 W. Hwy 71 (this place is a jaunt from downtown, but worth the drive), casual Texas cuisine, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, average entree $13. Austin Farm to Table profile

Lenoir, 1807 South First St., New American, dinner, prix fixe only with 3 dishes for $35, extra dish for $10.Olivia, 2043 S. Lamar, New American, lunch (Friday & Saturday only), dinner and Sunday brunch, average dinner entree $30. Austin Farm to Table profile

Perla’s, 1400 S. Congress, Seafood, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, average dinner entree $25.

Snack Bar, 1224 S. Congress Ave., diner and lounge, daily brunch, lunch, dinner and late night, average dish price $9. Austin Farm to Table profile

Taco Deli, 1500 Spyglass, Tex Mex, breakfast and lunch, average taco price is $3.

Thai Fresh, 909 W. Mary, Thai, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $10. Austin Farm to Table profile

Uchi, 801 S. Lamar, Contemporary Japanese cuisine + sushi, dinner, average small plate $15, average roll price $12.

Whip-In Parlour Cafe & Market, 1950 S. IH-35, Indian, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $11.

 

Campus/Central Austin

ASTI Trattoria, 408-C E. 43rd St., Italian, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $20. Starting March 1st, ASTI is offering a happy hour from 4-6 pm, Monday-Friday featuring a $5 selection of wines and small bites.

Black Star Coop, 7020 Easy Wind Dr, Brewpub with “Texas Pub Fare” featuring beer-friendly sandwiches and entrees, average item $8.

FINO, 2905 San Gabriel, Mediterranean/Spanish, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch, average dinner entree $22. Austin Farm to Table profile

Foreign+Domestic, 306 E. 53rd St., New American, dinner, average entree $19.  Austin Farm to Table profile

Kome, 4917 Airport Blvd., Japanese, lunch and dinner, average dish $9.

Olive & June, 3411 Glenview Ave., Italian, dinner, average pasta dish $16,  average entree $27.

Taco Deli, 4200 N. Lamar, Tex Mex, breakfast and lunch, average taco price is $3.

Uchiko, 4200 N. Lamar, Japanese farmhouse dishes and sushi, dinner, average small plate $15, average roll $13. Austin Farm to Table profile

Vino Vino, 4119 Guadalupe, New American, dinner, average dinner entree $18.

 

East Austin

Blue Dahlia Bistro, 1115 E. 11th St., French Bistro, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $11. Austin Farm to Table profile

Contigo, 2027 Anchor Ln., New American, dinner and Sunday brunch, average entree, $15.

East Side Show Room, 1100 E. 6th St., Bistro, dinner, average dinner entree $20. Austin Farm to Table profile

Eastside Pies, 1401B Rosewood Ave., Pizza, lunch and dinner, large pizza averages $20.  Try a slice of their Farm to Table pizza – it’s my favorite (naturally).  Also at 1809 – 1 W Anderson Lane and 5312 Airport Blvd., Suite G.

Hillside Farmacy, 1209 E 11th St, Cafe/Bistro in a renovated pharmacy building, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $15.

Salt & Time Butcher Shop, 1912 E 7th St, Butcher shop serving daily selection of sandwiches and/or hot food that can be enjoyed at their bar, lunch and early dinner (closes at 7:00 pm), average price $8.

 

Trailers

Regal Ravioli, 504 W Oltorf St, handmade ravioli and sauces often featuring local ingredients, average dish $9.

The Seedling Truck, roving food truck, New American, check their schedule online for brunch, lunch, dinner locations, average dish $6.

Thunderheart Bison Trailer, 201 W. 5th Street, American/Southern, dinner and late night, average dish $6.

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