Moonshine Grill, Swift’s Attic, & Merit Coffee!

Present day: Hey all! How is everyone? I accidentally used salt in my coffee this AM before realizing it wasn’t sugar- so that’s how my day’s going! 😆 That’s the real Catch-22 about coffee- how do you even function to make the coffee before you’ve had your coffee?! Yeah soo, anywho, October has not slowed down as I hoped it would. In fact, it’s busier than ever. Probably needless to say I’m counting down to the holidays at this point. I’m not one to wish days away, but this semester I am wishing away for all it’s worth, haha. I just want to get to clinicals!! Alrighty, let’s get to it!!!

Back when I wrote this: Alright, I have 15-minutes until DJ gets home, so let’s see how much of this I can get done before he arrives. I have a full Indian spread ready for us– Sambar, Veggie curry, idli & rice.. I’m quite excited!! I need this post to distract me so I don’t dig in early, lol.

On August 13th I ran in the morning, textbook free!!! I had been running with Smalls, and since I didn’t have any exams to study for I was free to just run on the treadmill or watch a sociologically and psychologically educational TV show (aka….. reality tv)… it was so nice!

For lunch I met up with Amy at Moonshine Bar and Grill. My goal for the day was to brainwash her to move to Austin with us, lol, and this place is supposed to be a local favorite. (I haven’t been able to convince her yet, but I’m happy she can hold down the fort in the Bay Area while we’re away- and it’s giving me extra incentive to go back and visit so I can see her!).

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Moonshine has a main restaurant, an outdoor bar, and an outdoor patio. Our wait was going to be about an hour unless we could scour out a spot that was first come, first serve at the outdoor bar (it still had full food service). We decided to go out and see if we could snag a few spots. We lucked out and snatched um’ up with no wait time at all! The service was excellent off the bat. We were off to a great start!

Here is a pic of their cute little patio too, which is right across from the outside bar.

157c0267-9491-466b-8cb8-d6f53c7a872dWe loaded up on food. We saw garlic bulbs on the menu and had to see what they were all about. Being from SF, where the food is absurdly expensive, we expected a single bulb. When the platter of garlic bulbs with goat cheese, roasted peppers and bruschetta were set down our eyes grew about three times their size. The cheaper food prices compared to the Bay area is easily one of my favorite parts of living in Austin.

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And 10/10 on flavor. I actually loved this so much I tried to make garlic bulbs again myself after this– they weren’t quite as good as these, but they were still so delicious & easy! I don’t have a specific recipe, but I doused mine in olive oil and pink Himalayan salt then roasted them at 375 for maybe 25 minutes? Maybe longer? I’ll need to do it again so I can remember exactly what I did and write it down.

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I also had to try their jalapeno grits… in the words of Billie Eilish- DUH!. These were dangerously good.

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Now, let’s talk their mac and cheese! This is unlike most mac and cheeses- it was placed emphasis on the sharp part of “sharp cheddar”, but I absolutely LOVED the bold flavor. It was unique, but I am all about it. And they topped it with breadcrumbs- they know what’s upppp!

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It was all reasonably priced, spectacularly delicious, great service with great convo… all around.. I totally see why this is a favorite, and no doubt I’ll have to take DJ back!

After our awesome meal, we went to Pennybacker Bridge (Thank you, Taylor for this rec too!!).

In order to get to the top for the views, we followed some people we saw go into the woods next to the parking lot, hiked up a little trail and then made it to the top!

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These views did not disappoint!

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Austin never ceases to amaze me with its unexpected beauty!

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After Pennybacker we decided to find somewhere we could go inside since it was getting a bit too hot to be outside much longer. Where better to go than a movie?

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We zipped over to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar.

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This place is so much fun! It has almost a Marvel meets a 50s/60s inspired vibe.

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We decided on Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark since we both read the stories when we were younger. There is such an 80s/90s resurgence right now with everything media, and I am here for it. Did you guys see even Lizzie McGuire is coming back in November?!

Anyway- When we sat down before the movie started I checked out their food menu just to take note for next time (we were still so stuffed from lunch). I was stoked to see they have an expansive vegan menu.. I can’t wait to go back with DJ too! The movie was a fun watch- it really got me in the mood for Halloween time.

After the movie we were starting to get a bit hungry again. We went to Rainey street and stopped at the food truck Gobble Gobble ATX. I got one of their veggie burgers with chili sauce (yum!) and Amy tried one of their legit chicken sandwiches.

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In the morning of August 14th, my mom arrived in town for business! She had a couple hours before she had to be at work, so we went to Snooze together, a brunch spot I’ve had my eye on since Jess mentioned it.

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It has such a cute retro vibe! I absolutely adored the decor. It felt like a scene from Austin Powers or something.

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Coffee first always! It was great coffee. (and this coffee was salt freee!)

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Whenever my mom and I go out we always order two dishes to split. We decided to first try the lox-n-latke benny with homemade crispy latkes topped with Lox style salmon, poached eggs, cream cheese hollandaise, fried capers, pickled red onions and pistou. Oh me, oh myyyyy this was SO good. The latke itself was such a unique alternative to a bagel, which is traditionally served with a lox. I highly recommend trying this out if you ever find yourself near a Snooze.

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We also split their Goldilock’s Porridge with ancient grain mix of steel cut oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth simmered in almond milk….topped with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, toasted almonds and hemp seeds. This is something I could eat every single day for breakfast. Oh so satisfying.

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During the day I had a ton of errands/appointments/etc. I was overdue for getting my oil changed, and the jiffy lube guys were so friendly and helpful. They even left me a smile on my next oil change sticker. There’s that Texas kindness coming through again!

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In the evening, the whole family reconvened to go to dinner together after DJ finished school for the day! We went to Swift’s Attic in downtown.

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While we all had certain menu items we wanted to try, but we basically ate the items family style. There was a lazy susan in the center of the table that made it easy (and fun) to share everything! We agreed all dinner tables should probably just have a lazy susan. The only times I have used them is at dim sum restaurants; I had never thought of them existing outside of that context!

To begin we tried their “squid fries” with  roasted garlic aioli, charred lemon, herbs. These were fantastic! The whole fam was sweet to encourage my photo taking- they weren’t even embarrassed when I pulled out my food light. LOL. They’re so supportive <3

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Next up were the corn fritters with rum raisin butter. I think this may have been my favorite appetizer. They were sooo tasty.

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Now for a side: The “sweet pots” with sweet potato, tomato curry, coconut curry, brussels leaves, spicy peanuts, and fried onion. This was another favorite. I could have ate this as my meal alone- mmmm mmmm! What inspired flavors.

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Pictured below is the pork cheeks with fig jam, spicy mustard, and sourdough toast. We all thought it was pork butt, but turns out pork cheeks are actually the jowl of pig. This was DJ’s favorite!

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Another main was the “fire from the attic” with grilled salmon, broccolini, charred zucchini & shishito puree, Fresno chile, and parsnip chips. My mouth is watering again just typing this up!

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Aaaand maybe the most photogenic of all the items: The seared scallops with sweet corn puree, miso pesto, charred corn, asparagus, and fried mushrooms. I think the photo speaks for itself! Corn and scallops isn’t something you see together often, but it really works.

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And we aren’t done just yet… below is the Mole y Elotes with sweet corn puree, miso pesto, charred corn, asparagus, and fried mushrooms. I did not try this dish, but DJ loved it!

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Dessert time!! Wow oh WOW these desserts were good… so very unique, but absolutely jam-packed with all the flavor you could imagine.

First: The Banana Pudding Empanadas with burnt banana caramel, milk froth chips, banana & bourbon “lasagna”. This was my favorite of the two– I think I would go back one evening after dinner for this dessert alone (but then we may as well just get dinner there too 😉 ).

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And still soooo dang good was the Mexican Ice Cream sammich with cake batter marshmallow and braised almonds. I loved the little marshmallows! And how adorably plated is it?!

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It was such a treat that we were all able to get together this evening, and one of my favorite memories, easily, since living here. With our parents in town for business, me being between semesters, DJ not toooo crazy bogged down by school yet and Amy having time to come for a few days, it all worked out nearly serendipitously! (We did miss Pete though !)

We said our goodbyes and as I was walking my mom back to the car, we caught a lightening store in the distance. I love that Austin has thunderstorms. We never got them in CA, so I’ve missed them! My mom and I took some time to watch the electric streaks light up the sky and city below.

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On August 15th I met with a friend from church for coffee in the morning at Merit Coffee. I walked there from my apartment since it was only about a mile away.

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It’s such a modern little coffee shop. I’m going to definitely come back here to study sometime!

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I was burnin’ up after that walk, so I decided a watermelon sparkling water sounded absolutely refreshing to go along with my hot coffee for when I actually cooled down from the air conditioning.

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It was a yummy coffee & great chat! In the evening we had another event for DJ’s class. This time we all met at The Salt Lick, a pretty far drive, but well worth it! We mingled and chatted with his classmates and then had some awesome BBQ once again. Although we both agreed it’s not even in the same ballpark as Terry Black’s BBQ.

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We spent some time enjoying the gorgeous views outside & chatted with classmates.

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Then we found a spot on these steps and enjoyed some mouth-wateringly, I-could-cry-it’s-so-good peach cobbler. Now that the salt lick takes the cake on.

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It was a great evening. I had a blast chatting with DJ’s colleagues. One of them is from southern India where I did a nursing trip. He said he’d bring me some sambar (a staple of southern India I haven’t had since visiting there!!) I was beyond excited! (And to bring it full circle.. it’s the sambar we’re about to eat RIGHT now since DJ is home). See ya later!! I hope all is well <3

Question for you:

  • Do you like breadcrumbs on your mac and cheese?

xo <3

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Austin, TX!

Happy Thursday! And welcome to a travel post! This is a short & sweet one, as we were in Austin for only about 24 hours. BUT we did our best to make the most of it 🙂

So, as many of you know, DJ is checking out different schools/campuses for grad school (MBA). We decided to give UT Austin an in-person visit since he’d never been, but it’s one of the schools he is considering. On Saturday November 3rd I spent the day packing, tying up loose ends around the house, trying to get as much school work done as possible, cleaning, etc.

Around 4:45 am on November 4th I woke up to run, then around 6:30 am we grabbed an Uber to the airport!

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The only thing that made standing through security and the long lines bearable was the promise of Peet’s at the end. *Big deep sigh of bliss* Nothing like Peet’s and reading about reformed Medicare at 7:30 am.

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I studied majority of the plane trip, so I hardly even remember it. I do know the turbulence was awful, and I don’t do well at all with that. But we still arrived, safe and sound 🙂 The Uber driver was very informative and we learned a ton about Austin on our way just to the hotel. Gosh, everyone is soo dern friendly in TX!

We stayed at The Hampton Inn that was closest to right off campus. It was super convenient, cheap, and easily the nicest Hampton Inn we have ever stayed.

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Highly recommend if you are ever in Austin. Those hotels downtown can be pricy- this one was a real bang for the buck!

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And in light of keeping Austin weird they had an intentionally spray painted wall & a photo booth, lol.

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This was on the inside of the elevator… Austin and I will get along just fine!

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We were greeted by a cute little Armadillo & a coffee maker first step into the room, so we were happy as a couple clams! <3

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After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we walked across the street to UT Austin to check out the grounds!

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It is a stunning campus!

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After walking around for a while, we realized we were quite hungry (‘magine that!). We went back to the hotel, grabbed some water at their cute little water stand in the lobby, and then changed out of our frumpy travel clothes.

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If you know me, you know before big trips I can spend an absurd amount of time researching restaurants. I came to the conclusion that The Salty Sow was a must!

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It was such a warm little space!

img_1523Luckily we came in time for the tail end of Happy Hour, so we tried a few apps at only $5. *In voice of Dorothy: We aren’t in California anymore*.

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First, we had to try the “duck fat” fries. Not even sure what that means, but goodness gracious, they were crispy, delicious perfection. And how fun that they were served with a fry-d egg!

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Next, we had to try the Brussel Sprouts. These were hands down, the BEST Brussel sprouts we have ever had. DJ isn’t even a huge fan of brussels usually, but he kept saying over and over he couldn’t believe how tasty they were.

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For main entrees, DJ ordered the slow cooked beef shoulder with yukon gold mashed potatoes, glazed root vegetables, and a fried egg. It was served in a literal pan.

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DJ loved it.

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For my main, I had the chef’s veggie antipasto platter. It didn’t give a large description of everything that would be on it, but I’ve never met a veggie I haven’t  liked. The platter was massive! I thought “there is no way I can finish all that!”.. but whaddya know, everything was so delicious I couldn’t leave a scrap.

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We were pretty tired and somewhat disoriented from traveling/time change/daylight savings, so we just went back to the hotel to get a nice night slumber & watch Haunting of Hill House. In the morning of November 5th, DJ met with a student from the school of business while I cranked out a six-miler on the treadmill while reading for school. After…. brekky time! At home I usually have breakfast before working out, but when traveling I usually like to work out first thing and work up a massive appetite before chowing down. It makes all the food taste sooo guuuuud.

Look how pretty this buffet area is!!! I just love a good hotel breakfasts.

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The coffee was soo yummy too.

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I grabbed a chocolate scone, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, a hard boiled egg, and studied for my research course while fueling up for the day.

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While waiting for DJ to return, I watched some lectures in the hotel room and then somehow dozed back to sleep.

When he came back it was around 11:30/12 and we still had some time before our flight. We decided spur of the moment to squeeze in a few more eats before heading back. First stop: Tumble 22! I actually had a Austin food blogger (AustinEater) reach out with the suggestion.

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They claimed it was the best chicken sandwich ever, and DJ confirmed.

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Right next door was a fun little spot called Ranch 616 that had pescatarian- friendly eats for ya girl, so we decided to swing in.

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The atmosphere was wonderful- nice &  relaxing, buzzing with character!

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First, we had to try their Southern Kitchen Living award winning “best oysters in the South” oysters! I am not a big fan of fried food because often I feel like all you taste is the “fried” flavor and nothing else (plus sometimes thereafter tummy troubles)… but these were jam packed with spectacular flavor. And the aioli they served with it was just the best, creamiest compliment. DJ swore he wasn’t hungry after having that massive sandwich, but after having one bite of these he had his share 😉

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I also tried their shrimp tacos which were Mmmmmm mmmmm mmmmm! My mouth also waters just thinking about the jalapeño onion rings. I may never be able to enjoy standard onion rings the same way again.

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Time to head back to the hotel. Luckily, where we stayed we were able to walk to everything except the airport while we were there. This saved on getting a rental car and also allowed us to see more of the city on foot.

I loved this mural we spotted on the way back!

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The rest of the day was a full travel day with a layover in Denver. It all went pretty smoothly. I just studied the entire time and actually knocked out a decent amount of school work for the week!

Questions for you:

  • Have you been to Austin? If so, do you have any favorite restaurants/ things to do?
  • If you could visit a city for 24 hours where would it be?

xo <3

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