Exactly one month ago, I hopped in my car, picked up my friends, and we made our way to good ol' Austin, Texas.
Sometimes you just need a change of scenery. This short getaway was much needed, especially when you have to drive through miles and miles of Texas hill country to get there.
The thing about living in Texas is that if you're looking for a change of scene and you live in one of the four major metropolitan cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin- you just need to drive 3-4 hours, and you'll be feeling totally different vibes. While we are still all Texans, each city brings it's own charm.
Austin is one of my favorite places to escape to for a weekend. It has a much more calming vibe- probably because I don't work or live there. It's nice to go to a familiar place that's also unfamiliar, if that makes any sense.
I was watching the weather all day since we were in the midst of monsoon season in Texas. I deemed it safe enough to drive, and my friends and I packed up our weekend bags and headed out straight after work. It was a 3 hr drive full of 90's and 00's R&B classics and sing-a-longs. Of course we stopped at Buccee's.
For those who aren't aware of Buccee's, it's a massive general store/gas station of sorts- with tasty food, souviners, and best of all - clean restrooms. Dozens of them. It's a welcoming site on the road. And on the way to Austin, it tells us that the capital city of Texas is only 30 minutes away.
Our usual stop when we arrive in Austin was to eat at Sway. Absolutely delicious Thai food. Do get the thai tea (beware of the paper straw- it gets soggy). I love getting the crab fried rice and the mussels.
The next morning we made our way to the Farmer's Market on Guadalupe St in Downtown Austin. While the weather was cloudy, it did not stop anyone from coming to peruse the fresh, gorgeous produce and savor delicious food. We tried kolaches with brie and bacon, Brazilian cheese balls, drank a refreshing cold brew and fruit juices, and so much more. We gave in and purchased some ripe peaches (first picture) and some duck pate.
We explored downtown Austin for a little bit after our makeshift farmer's market breakfast. There were plenty of shops to suite any taste. Same goes for restuarants (of course).
After dropping off our treasures at our temporary home (we used AirBnb for accomodations), we drove to Sa-Ten, a Japanese cafe in a converted warehouse. There were also art galleries and shops in the same warehouse complex. it reminded me a little bit of the Warehouse district/Summer/Winter Streets in the Houston Heights Slightly peckish, we ordered a light lunch. At least my friends did. I was the glutton that day. One friend got the chicken teriyaki toast, the other got a chicken teriyaki bowl. I got the chicken katsu plate (pictured above). The chicken was juicy, tender, and very well seasoned. The outside was crispy. The plate included rice and curry which was equally as tasty as the chicken.
It was time for more shopping as we headed to the Domain - an outside mall, of sorts. Shopping does work up an appetite, which was good, because for dinner we were headed to Counter 3.FIVE.VII and we got the seven course option.
Counter 3.FIVE.VI is certainly one of the more interesting restaurants that I have been to. When making reservations, you choose either a three, five, or seven course dinner- all priced accordingly. The restaurant does have specials on weeknights for a 3 course dinner for $30, which is a pretty sweet deal for a fancy schmancy dinner, if you ask me.
Being so "go big or go home" I booked the seven course meal for everyone in our party. We waited for awhile before being escorted to our tabl-nope, counter. We were escorted to our seats at the counter. Of the kitchen.
This is another interesting concept about the restaurant. You get to watch the chef's at work and prepare/plate your food. I don't know about you, but as an avid fan of Mind of a Chef and Chef's Table, this got me pretty excited. To soak in the entire experience, I decided to "yolo" it even further and get the wine pairing. To which I did not regret, because it was one of the better wine pairings that I've had, if not one of the best. The sommelier chose wines that paired beautifully with each dish, and the selection was from around the world. I really appreciated him taking his time to explain the notes and flavors of each wine, and why it was chosen for that particular dish.
From beginning to end, we had crudo, a salmon tartare, sea urchin, sea bream, rabbit, lamb, and for dessert- a green tea chiffon cake with cream. It was a unique yet enjoyable experience. At 95 for the 7 course dinner, 150 with the wine pairings, this is a very good deal compared to other similar fine dining establishments. Still, a "special occasion" type of place (we were celebrating a birthday).
Thank you to all the wonderful chefs and sommelier-I had a great experience.
Ah. time to head back to reality. But not before breakfast! Breakfast taco, anyone?
The wait was about 40 minutes at Hillside Farmacy, our chosen breakfast/brunch spot. We grabbed a light snack at the Quickie Pickie accross the street, in the form of a delicious breakfast taco. I got the egg, bacon, cheese, and guac taco. Yum. There are also cute little boutiques and shops nearby to peruse through while you wait for that important call..
That your table is ready at Hillside Farmacy, or what I'd like to call- the restaurant that was made for instagram.
I mean, look at this place. Look at all that natural light.
There is even a wonderful patio area with ivy walls, colorful umbrellas, and strings of lights strung over customer's heads, waiting to be illuminated in the evening.
But back to breakfast.
Yes, that is oysters you see. An assortment of east coast ones, to be exact. For breakfast. Yep. I also had blueberry pancakes. My love for oysters knows no bounds, especially if I'm willing to eat them at breakfast.
I also had a refreshing punch to go along with my breakfast. All of the cocktails and mocktails looked very refreshing and delicious- it was so hard to choose. I ended up going for their house punch.
After our meal, it was time to head back to good ol' H-Town. Till next time, Austin! (Probably in a few weeks, haha)
Places we went to:
- SFC Farmers' Market
- The Domain
- Counter 3.FIVE.VI
- Quickie Pickie
- HIllside Farmacy