Irish pub food and a punk band? Why not? It’s Austin!

Fado Irish Pub Austin TexasWe’re starting to explore some of the downtown restaurants (getting out of our North Austin world!), and the other night that meant a light dinner at Fado Irish Pub on 4th Street.

As we walked nearby, we heard the band…The Video Stars, a punk rock-clad group performing an excellent rendition of “Sweet Child of Mine”. Then we looked at the menu which promised traditional pub fare in their courtyard.

For me, the fact that they offered “boxty“, a tasty potato concoction I seldom see on menus, and the song the band was playing were enough. For Lance, the promise of a corned beef sandwich was enough to draw him in.

And we were not disappointed by any of it. The boxty I chose were crisp and hot, and were accompanied by a red pepper humus dip. Lance’s sandwich came stuffed high with corned beef, with a big pile of chips on the side (that’s fries, not potato chips.) We’ll have to return again to try a full dinner sometime soon…our light meal was a good introduction to their offerings!

The band played a variety of music, although the punk/KISS look was kind of funny when they launched into a Lady Gaga set! The courtyard was breezy, the crowd was a perfect mix of ages, and the service was excellent.

Although we don’t drink, we did see that Fado has an extensive selection of beers, ales, wines, whiskeys and single-malt Scotches, which makes it a good place to head for a few drinks, too.

Fado also has inside dining, although the music is outdoors only. The courtyard/patio is pet friendly, so our pup will probably join us the next time around.

Sure it’s Tex-Mex…but Chuy’s does it so well!

Chuys original location

Okay, before I get a bevy of comments telling me it’s not authentic Mexican food, let me say up front “I know it’s Tex-Mex…but love Tex-Mex!”

I generally don’t write about chain restaurants, but Chuy’s is an exception. Why? Because Chuy’s is a chain that started right here in Austin. And since 1982, they’ve been serving up great big platters of hot, tasty food to Austin and beyond (they even have a location in Florida now!)

I’ve been to three Chuy’s locations so far, but I like the original on Barton Springs Road the best. How could you not love the quirky decor, especially when you read about the $20 decorating budget that inspired the kitschy combination of hub caps and mismatched tiles and velvet paintings!

And then there’s the food. I keep saying I’m going to try something different, but those veggie enchiladas end up in front of me almost every time. Our daughter almost always opts for the custom enchiladas with extra cheese and tangy tomatillo sauce. Lance has been more adventurous, trying the Hatch Chili Chicken, Fajita Beef Burritos and Tortilla Soup, and pronounced it all delicious.

The menu is big enough for most tastes, and the kitchen is more than willing to switch out ingredients to make things vegetarian, pork free or as spicy as your tastes will allow.

When you visit, make sure to find the Elvis Shrine (there’s one at every single location!), and add one or two of their unique t-shirts to your order. Someone at Chuy’s is having way too much fun using the designs to poke fun at popular movies, TV shows and celebrities to pass up the chance to own at least one.

Chuy’s are generally open late and are family friendly. Sadly most locations are not pet friendly.

Hot, hot, and even hotter in Austin!

Tears of joy hot sauce shop in Austin TexasDuring the Pecan Street Festival, we stumbled on a little shop that offers one of the things I love best — spiciness! Serious, hot, mouth-burning spiciness, all neatly packaged into little bottles and jars on the shelves at Tears of Joy.

It’s all here. Local tongue and mouth burning creations, some made in their very own kitchen. And national and international concoctions designed to make everything you eat an experience in heat. And they have tasting tables, too, where you can scoop, dip, and pour to your heart’s content. I was in heaven!

This shop at 618 E. 6th Street in downtown Austin is clearly designed for hot-sauce daredevils like me, but they also have a great selection for less spice-daring souls among us, include (gasp!) mild hot sauces.

Tears of Joy is a great place to find a new hot sauce or paste for your next party or a new recipe. But it would also be a great place to find some gifts for people live far away but need a taste of Texas.