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Contigo – Austin TX

Austin, Burgers, Texas By November 14, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

The Vitals:
the spot: Contigo 2027 Anchor Ln, Austin, TX 78723
the eats: Burger w/ cheese and fries
the bucks: $16
the full nelson: one of the best burgers in Austin

An article came out in Bon Appétit magazine last year describing Contigo as a restaurant “locals bring out of towners in order to convince them to move here”. I would go a step further and say it is a place to bring your friends visiting from Brooklyn, Silver Lake or San Francisco and say “hey Austin has food as good as you do plus we are as laid back as the patio you are eating and drinking in”. Austin of course has food worthy making a trip for, especially if you hail from the latest and greatest corners of gentrification. Contigo isn’t so much a meal you see on an episode of Chef’s Table but they are as timely and relevant as chef driven, farm to table burgers get. It’s among my top two burgers in Austin and proof that the best Bang for your Burger Buck in this town sits in the mid teen range(Odd Duck is right up there too). But wait, did I say the best burger value is in fact closer to an Andrew Jackson then a Abraham Lincoln? Yeah, I really did. As much as P. Terry’s and Hopdoddy will absolutely sate your burger fix for under $10, whats happening around the $15 mark at Contigo and Odd Duck, well that’s good enough to convince your East and West Coast friends that Austin’s food scene is as relevant as LA, SF or NYC. Need more convincing? Well that’s what I’m here to do.

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Launderette – Austin TX

Austin, Burgers, Texas By October 10, 2017 Tags: , , , No Comments

The Vitals:
the spot: Launderette 2115 Holly St. Austin TX 78702
the eats: Plancha Burger
the bucks: $9
the full nelson:  A chef driven take on a classic comfort food burger

I have been living in Austin for a little over two years now and while I feel comfortable waxing poetic on some obvious edible essentials like La Barbecue, P. Terry’s or Taco Deli; the fine dining scene eludes me. Part of it is because since having a kid, my wife and I eat out at these types of establishments far less. The other part is that you don’t need to eat at a fine dining establishment to get a taste of the chef driven, farm to table food experience that is the cornerstone of our contemporary fine dining movement. Which brings me to my visit at Launderette for the Plancha burger. First off Launderette is far more than a mere burger spot, their menu is a mix of shared plates and a few entrées, with a heavy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influence. The chef behind the savory side of the menu, Rene Ortiz, is an accomplished one, with a resumé that rattles off names like Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse like a teaser for an upcoming episode of Top Chef Masters. And the burger costs $9, so this should be a perfect storm for Bang for your Burger Buck right? That depends on what you expect out of your burgers. The Plancha is a chef driven version of a classic American Diner cheeseburger, a burger genre whose entries make the lists of the best burgers around. And if you need support that a diner cheeseburger can draw the admiration of top tier critics, just ask Jonathan Gold, George Motz or Nick Solares. How does the Plancha stack up? Let’s find out.

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Bang for your BRISKET Buck: 5 Austin BBQ Picks

Austin, Barbecue, BBQ, Brisket, Cheap Eats, Texas By May 18, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

It often starts in a backyard where a Dad dumps lighter fluid over a pyramid of charcoal briquettes. Hotdogs stand at the ready to be charred. You inevitably eat outside. For a moment, the modern suburban American is somehow a little more connected to nature and the primal beginnings of human civilization. Eating around the fire is both ancient ritual and modern day American food tradition. In either case, while the scenario is fun, eating well from fire is often an art best left to the experts. Enter American Barbecue, the Central Texas smoked meat tradition, and our current food renaissance’s obsession with the pit master obsessed with brisket.  There is just nothing quite like it. Sure, Memphis fanatics will talk up the supremacy of sugar rubbed ribs and Carolina pulled pork enthusiasts will mock anything that isn’t porcine focused but man who doesn’t love beef in America? Further, who doesn’t love the pure satisfaction of beef kissed with smoke, salt and pepper? There is plenty of room on my table for all kinds of Barbecue and not just our domestic fare either, but I happily now count myself among the ranks of the brisket obsessed and I can thank living in Austin for that. There has been a renaissance, wait I used that word already, well F*** it, it is what it is, there has been a Renaissance in Central Texas Barbecue that has stretched out as far west as Compton CA and as far east as the Big Apple. But today we will focus on Central Texas Brisket found right here in Central Texas. So here we go – 5 Austin picks where you will find some Bang for your Brisket Buck.

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Bang for your TACO buck: 4 Austin taco spots

Taco Spotting, Taco Trucks, Tacos, Texas By April 6, 2017 No Comments

Ask someone about Texas BBQ and they will respond with something to the effect of “it’s all about the beef“. True, but also true is the Bovine Supremacy of the Tejano Taquero. The best beef tacos I have ever had, have been in Texas, and as of now that means Austin, Texas. And I ain’t just talking fajita platters and skirt steak tacos either. My time in Austin has been a revelation in what can be accomplished with a $2+ taco in the categories of fajita(skirt steak), lengua(beef tongue) and barbacoa(beef cheeks braised slowly, referred to as cabeza outside of Texas). But beef isn’t the only pick in this list. Tejanos love goat as much as folks down in Guadalajara and I threw in one elusive goat barbacoa joint that you will have to set your alarm clocks for, because she runs out usually before noon. As always the bucks are accounted, for so feel free to hit up more than on, grab some napkins and let’s get our taco on.

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Hopdoddy Burger Bar Edition

Arizona, Austin, Burgers, California, Chain, Colorado, Gourmet, Los Angeles, Texas, West Coast By August 6, 2016 No Comments

I’m really scratching my head on this one. As I struggle to tickle the keys on my beat to hell 2007 Macbook, I face the stark truth that I am about to give props to the one burger joint in Austin that seems like it came out of the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix trilogy: Hopdoddy Burger Bar. The customers don’t wear nearly the same amount of leather as Carrie Anne Moss, and I’m pretty sure open carry in Austin’s City Limits doesn’t include Matrix level hardware, but the almost too perfect polished feel of the place seems jarring enough for me to take the red pill. In this case, the “red pill” meant taking on three(actually 4) burgers to see how deep Bang for your Burger Buck can go here. And how deep does the rabbit hole go at Hopdoddy? Let’s just say by the end I was waxing poetic on these burgers with the Mad Hatter and Alice.

On paper, places like Hopdoddy are why I began the search for Bang for your Burger Buck. The $10 and up burger trend was shifting burger discourse away from beautifully imperfect burger stands to chef driven concepts dripping with start up cash from dudes in Teslas who just started saying the word “dude” again after a 5 year hiatus post college/grad school. With a full bar, boozy milkshakes and several well positioned monitors blasting ESPN, the temptation to stay awhile and get loose at Hopdoddy is great. $50 later you may find yourself asking how a burger and beer experience bordered on a light sushi dinner. Well, it’s not really a conspiracy on the part of joints like Hopdoddy. They figured out awhile back that people will spend money in all kinds of settings, whether they be quiet white table cloth lined dining rooms or a burger joint with kobe on the menu and kobe highlight reels on the TV. So why should you spend your hard earned buck here? Because in this instance, the crowds indeed gather for good reason: their burgers rock. Their burgers are also all over the map. In fact, it kind of irks me when a burger joint can’t pick one burger version and run with it. In Hopdoddy’s case, they have 12 burgers that showcase extreme topping creations versus that one single interpretation of what they believe a great burger truly is. After an initial dud, I honed in on three burgers that struck me as compelling on their own and fine to compare and contrast. Like shopping for a car or a Mac(hint hint), budget will drive your journey. So here are three great Hopdoddy burgers, in ascending order of Bang for your Burger Buck, that are indeed worthy of your hard earned buck. And I freaking enjoyed eating every one of ’em too.

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Taco Spotting: N. Lamar Corridor ~ Austin, TX

Austin, Mexican, Taco Spotting, Taco Trucks, Tacos, Texas By July 2, 2016 No Comments

Late Night Tacos.

It’s a beautiful sight to come across. A random carwash that has been closed for hours, taken over by a string of work lights, and a crowd of people happily staring at large piles of sizzling meats. You dream of your impending taco order while being mesmerized by a spatula that is oh so carefully herding those sizzling morsels, ensuring that each one has a perfectly crisped edge, a juicy interior, and is worthy of a salsa that could launch a thousand ships. Also, did I mention this meal is about as cheap as it get?

Unlike some of you fortunate souls, I didn’t grow up on Authentic Mexican food. I do like to think that I made up for my 18 years of Taco Bell and Naugles with my 20 years roaming the streets of LA after dark, in search of a master taquero. With that being said, I’m new to the Austin taco scene and there has been an adjustment period. Tacos are more expensive. And where is all that Al Pastor that seems to be omnipresent in LA? Oh, and where can I get my Late Night Taco fix? Which brings me to this piece of taco spotting I’m sharing today. Starting just north of Anderson Lane running through Rundberg Lane and beyond, lies a glorious stretch of Lamar Boulevard that looks plain jane in the daylight hours, but come night fall, I see the familiar markings of Late Night Taco spots. And there be Al Pastor out there too.

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