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

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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

Buc-ees is a driving to or from Austin must-stop

Buc-ee's sign

The first time we stopped at Buc-ee’s, I wasn’t sure if I thought it was adorable or kind of weird. I mean, there are pictures of Buc-ee the Beaver on everything you can imagine: t-shirts, cups, bags of snack food and home decor items.

buc-ees sncksAnd the place is big…really big.

Buc-ees interiorThey serve hot food and cold. They have a produce section and the biggest self-serve soda fountain area I have ever seen. There are talking characters on the way into the giant (and spotless) restrooms (they’ve won awards for their clean bathrooms! Really!)

So in one place, you can get themed shirts, hats and shorts for the whole family, lunch or dinner, the food you forgot to bring for cooking over the campfire, candy and snacks for every taste, fresh baked goods, a new phone charger, wall decor for your house, oh and more unique canned jams, jellies and pickles that I knew existed. They even have a whole rack of flavored Buc-ee’s brand garlic! (You HAVE to try the habanero garlic! Seriously!)

1-20131117_182840And did I mention gas for your car? This is not a truck stop…in fact 18-wheelers aren’t allowed at Buc-ee’s. That space is ALL for cars and pick-ups.

1-20131117_181608So what separates Buc-ee’s from a convenience store? I think it’s the Beaver. Seeing that Buc-ee face on almost everything makes it feel more like an odd theme park than a road-side store . People pose with the Buc-ee’s statue for pictures!

4-20140316_101141So yeah, it’s kind of weird. But after a couple of stops, that silly beaver kind of grows on you.

The Specs

There are Buc-ee’s locations all over Texas. Here’s the one I visited:

2760 IH 35 North
New Braunfels, TX 78130

http://www.buc-ees.com

Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

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

Dogs run free at Cedar Bark Park

06-DSC04608Austin is one of the most dog friendly cities in the country. We bring our pup to patio restaurants, festivals, parks and on hikes. But sometimes, a dog just needs to run around with other dogs and leave the leashes behind.

dog in lakeBut letting her run off-leash in an unfenced area is just a little to scary for my taste especially with her favorite distraction, squirrels, everywhere!

So I was so happy when we found the Cedar Bark Park, just north of Austin in Veterans Memorial Park. This is a BIG dog park! Five entire acres of fenced in, off-leash fun.

Cedar Bark ParkComplete with separate play sections for big and little dogs…

Large dog section Cedar Bark ParkAnd a lake for swimming and ball-chasing…

04-DSC04602There’s even a bathing area to clean up muddy pups before they go back in the car. (Trust me, we NEED this part! My dog loves to get wet and then roll!)

The park is free to use, and doesn’t require membership or registration. Everyone is great about keep their dogs under control and heading out if their pet gets grumpy or nervous.

Dogs playing at parkThe space is really big, so there’s plenty of room for games of fetch or puppy Frisbee. Benches provide seating for those of us who aren’t four-legged and a few are covered for shade. But they can get muddy, so come dressed to get dirty.

Owners are responsible for cleaning up pet waste, and bags are provided. Puppies under age four months aren’t allowed in the park.

The Specs

Cedar Bark Park
Veteran’s Memorial Park
2525 W. New Hope Drive
Cedar Park, TX  78613

Dawn to dusk except Tuesday (closed 7 am to 4 pm Tuesday)

An abundance of Bluebonnets on Wordfree Wednesday

It’s that time of year. Every field, highway divider and roadside is covered with Texas’ favorite flower, the Bluebonnet.

I’ve headed out myself this year, camera in hand, and I found some great blooms. So here, with no need for more words, are the Bluebonnets of 2014

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