The coffees, sweets and treats of Italy at Lavazza Expression

Coffee cup and Texas State Capitol

What drew us in was the bright red decor. Well, that and the smell of chocolate and pastries and herbs. What they filled that little cup with made us stay.

The first sip of real European chocolate had me swooning!  No powdered cocoa mix in that cup…it was the real thing! And then there were the case of gelato. And Italian pastries.

Lavazza pastries

And there were sandwiches, too.

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Each sounded amazing…but they looked and smelled even better (we’ll be heading back to sample the sandwiches sometime soon!  I’ll update this section when we do.)

Inside, the space was a perfect mix of European modern and coffee house comfortable.

Expression Lavazza

Oh, and did I mention the coffee? Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I had someone along who was.

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And she prounouced it the best coffee she had ever had!

But that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the history of Lavazza. Since the 1895’s. Lavazza has been making fine Italian coffee from their headquarters in Turin, Italy.  And they’re still considered the leaders in Italian coffee for home, businesses, and now, their coffee shop/cafe in Austin.

This is a perfect place to stop in for a weekday lunch or drop by on a day of sight-seeing or shopping downtown. It’s just down the street from the Capitol, and near the museums.

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 The Specs

914 Congress
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 505-8784

Mon–Fri 7:00 AM–6:00 PM
Sat–Sun 9:00 AM–6:00 PM

https://plus.google.com/105946016824851638008/about?hl=en

Lavazza Espression on Urbanspoon

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Easy Tiger feels like Europe, right here in Austin

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Europeans know their bread. And pastries. And they know there’s no connection between the real thing and what passes for bread in grocery stores and big box discounters.

Thank goodness Austin isn’t condemed to live on mass produced bread. Nope. Because we have Easy Tiger.

But Easy Tiger isn’t easy to pin down.

Yes, it’s a bakery in the best tradition of bakeries in Germany, Italy, and France.

06-DSC04686Not only can you smell the wonderful breads, croissants and pastries baking as soon as you walk in, you can see it. A big glass window lets you peek at all the wonderful baking in process. And oh how wonderful it is.

Big, chewy loaves with real substance instead of air and chemicals.

10-DSC04693Flaky, sweet croissant and other treats baked with real butter.

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But turn around and head down the stairs, and Easy Tiger is something else entirely.

07-DSC04687Yes, you can order those luscious pastries downstairs with coffee and tea. But you can also order lunch or supper, or head to the beer garden just off the dining room/pub.

Like I said, Easy Tiger is hard to pin down. But as long as they keep making Pan au Chocolat, I’m a happy (and frequent) visitor.

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The Specs

709 East 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
(512) 332-1122

http://www.easytigeraustin.com/

Bakery
Sun-Sat 7 am – 2 am

Beer Garten
Sun-Sat 11am – 2 am

Easy Tiger on Urbanspoon

County Line delights with food…and turtles?

County Line
It’s bound to happen when you live in Austin. Company comes from out of town, and they want bar-b-que. As in piles of the ribs Austin is so famous for. But where can a vegetarian take someone for ribs…and still eat something beside a side salad and rolls?

The answer is County Line on the Lake. For our guest, the menu had an assortment of mouthwatering ribs, brisket and sausages. For me, a perfectly prepared vegetarian kabob. Add the housemade bread, plus a couple of sides and everyone at the table was happy and very full.

But as good as the food was, the high point of our County Line meal was the turtles. No, not on the menu! In the river!

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This location of County Line is on Bull Creek, a tributary to Lake Austin, which means the view from the patio seating is beautiful.

06-DSC04703My husband had been there before, so he knew there was something beside the view that I would love. A few steps down from the patio, to the edge of the river and I saw what. The water was FULL of turtles. Hundreds of turtles, of all different kinds. Big ones and tiny ones the size of silver dollar.

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And there was turtle food, too. For .25, you could fill a cup with turtle food and sit down at the water’s edge and feed the turtles!

07-DSC04706I’m such a little kid wihen it comes to things like this. And I loved every second of it. A beautiful setting, delicious food, and turtles!

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The County Line on the Lake also has an extensive children’s menu, so kids can enjoy lunch or dinner and feeding the turtles, too. The lovely patio on the river makes it a wonderful choice for a date night, too.

The Specs

5204 FM 2222
Austin, Texas 78731
(512) 346-3664

http://www.countyline.com/CountyLineLake.html

Sun-Mon 11 am – 9 pm
Tues-Thur 11 am – 9:30 pm
Fri-Sat 11 am – 10 pm

 

County Line on the Lake on Urbanspoon

Wild Wood Bakehouse does gluten free sweets, breads that taste like the real thing

Wild Wood BakehouseI have to confess. I LOVE bread. Crunchy loaves of French bread and rich tasty muffins. So when I was invited to meet some friends at the Wild Wood Bakehouse, a completely gluten-free bakery and cafe, I had my doubts.

I’ve tried some gluten free versions of baked goods and well, I was underimpressed. Very.

I was wrong. This place must have some kind of magic because everything I tasted, tasted like it belonged in a regular bakery.

cupcakesThese cupcakes? I couldn’t tell the difference. My toast? It was toast…made of bread. I swear. But they managed to do it without wheat. And for many products, without dairy either.

1-20140413_133114And not only was it delicious, it was affordable. No $7.00 cupcakes like I saw recently at a popular natural foods store. No $5.00 brownies. Even the prices were like a regular bakery!

3-20140413_133141The cafe is small but adorable, with regular seating in one section and a few high-tops towards to the front. The small space means there’s a line during peak cafe times like Sunday brunch but the wait wasn’t too bad.

4-20140413_133153I do need to warn my fellow vegetarians and especially vegans. The pickings for us on the buffet are slim. In place of the typical pastries, cereals and quiches we can usually find for brunch, there were lots of meat items. A vegetarian could probably do okay, but a vegan might leave hungry. This isn’t a criticism…just an observation. What the Wild Wood does, it does exceptionally well.

There’s a children’s buffet price, which makes this a good choice for families, too.

The Specs

3016 Guadalupe St., Ste. 200
Austin, Texas 78705
(512) 327-9660

http://www.wildwoodbakehouse.com/

Mon-Sat 10 am – 9 pm
Sun 9 am – 3 pm (Brunch menu all day)

 

Wild Wood Bake House on Urbanspoon

Food, films and fun at Top Notch old fashioned drive in

classic car

You know the old fashioned drive in burger places you see in 1950’s movies? The ones with trays and great big burgers and piles of fries on trays? I always wondered what it would be like to go to one of those places with a date on a Saturday night. Guess what?  My partner-in-crime and I got to do exactly that — and it was here in Austin!

Tucked in among the businesses on a busy stretch of Burnett Road we found Top Notch.

Top Notch sign

This is the real thing, classic cars and all. Burgers, chicken and veggie burgers cooked over an open flame.

Open flame cookingShakes and fries, too, from 11 am to 10 pm every day of the week.

Top Notch menuAnd once a month, they add another classic touch. Drive in movies on their very own classic-television-screen on the side of the building. Local car enthusiasts come out with their classic cars and trucks. Families come out with lawn chairs. There’s live music until it’s dark enough for the movie to start, but no one is checking their watch. It’s too much fun sitting out there eating and checking out the cars. There’s even a photo op!

7-20140516_202913Oh, and the food. My veggie burger was cooked perfectly, and the fries were crisp and super hot. Lance’s fried chicken was the kind you usually find in a favorite grandmother’s kitchen, and his order of fried okra was crisp and tasty without a bit of mushiness.

This is a great choice for a date night or a family night out. Upcoming car and movie nights are listed on their Facebook page, so you can add them to your calendar.

The Specs

7525 Burnett Road
Austin TX 78757
512-452-2181

http://topnotchaustin.com/

Mon-Fri 11 am -10 pm
Sat-Sun 11 am – 10 pm

 

Top Notch on Urbanspoon

It’s a Mobile Food Throwdown on Taste of Austin Tuesday!

Austin Mobile Food Throwdown

You’ve watched them on the Food Channel. You’ve seen it on the Cooking Channel. Now it’s time for the gloves to come off here in Austin.

That’s right. We’re pitting food truck against food truck. Acknowledged food truck masters The Peached Tortilla and Chi’Lantro BBQ will go head to head in a no-holds-barred competition right here in Austin on February 22, 2014 at Draught House Pub & Brewery to determine the king of Asian fusion street food in Austin.

The event starts at 2 pm, and runs until 5. You’ll be able to watch the cookoff, and rock out to the sounds of Jambulance ERuptionAdvance tickets are available online, and include tasting and other goodies to make the event super-special. You can also check out the event Facebook page for more info.

Of course, you’ll have to be 21 plus to indulge in the beer offerings, and yes, they will be checking IDs.

This awesome foodie knockdown is a production of FoodTrailersAustin.com, a food trailer owners and food trailer fans group started back in 2010 to “provide a hub for Austin’s burgeoning mobile food scene.” The group is promising even more events for foodie fans in the coming year, so keep an eye out and I’ll share them as they’re announced.

See you at the Throwdown!