The hot dog reaches its glory at Frank

Frank Hot Dog Austin Texas from Ais4Austin.com

Tips on great places to go in Austin can come from all kinds of places.  My daughter was watching videos on Google Chrome and spotted the story of this downtown Austin restaurant.  We checked the Frank website for vegetarian options (plenty of them!) and whether it was kid-friendly (yes!)— and within minutes, we were out the door and headed for a late lunch.

High fives to our daughter for finding this place!  Quirky atmosphere, super-friendly service, and delicious food all in one place?  Oh yeah!

I ordered the special veggie sausage, my daughter opted for a veggie Chicago-style dog and my husband (the non-veggie among us) chose the classic chili dog. We added an order of waffle fries, and settle back to watch the end of the soccer match (Chelsea won!) and wait for our food.  Sodas, ice water and tea came in chilled Mason jars and our food came quickly after.  More high fives for our daughter…the hot dogs and sausages were delicious, vegetarian and meat alike. The waffle fries were light and crisp and hot.

Before we knew it, this was all that was left…Empty hog dog basket at Frank Hot Dog Austin from Ais4Austin

Frank’s has a large menu, including their own freshly made sausages, all the hot dog toppings and varieties you could imagine, and a great selection of sides.  You can even turn any hot dog or sausage into a corn-battered treat for about a dollar more.  A full beer menu is available, and Frank’s also has a full bar.

At night, Frank’s becomes a music venue, with everything from rock to gospel to comedy. A limited food menu during performances keeps hot-dog craving fans well fed.  We’ll be heading back there for a date night next week, so I’ll up date this post with info on that experience after we go.

Word is that outdoor seating is also in the works, making it easy to enjoy their great food al fresco. I can’t wait!

Oh, and by the way, here’s the video that started our incredible lunch….so happy it was out there!

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The East Side Cafe Takes Fresh to a Whole New Level

East Side Cafe Austin

Lots of restaurants say that their food is fresh.  But I doubt most of them can hold a candle to the East Side Cafe.  Here the salad you’re served might have been still attached to the plant an hour before and the eggs may well have been warm from a nesting hen when the sun came up.

What that means is that Seasonal Garden plate you order today might be very different from the one you get next month.  That’s because owners Elaine Martin and Dorsey Barger are committed to only serving the freshest and tastiest choices from their organic gardens. And that means you’ll never get bored with the fare!

The setting itself is something special, too.  Instead of dining in a bland restaurant-esque room, you’ll be seated at tables in a restored Craftsman home, creating a feeling of being a guest rather than just a customer.

After your eat, be sure to allow time to wander the gardens, with their unique twist on “flower beds” (the reason this places earns a “Keeping Austin Weird” place on my list), and the Pitchforks and Tablespoons gift shop where you can buy anything from organic seeds to unique gifts and cards.

I bought some of the seeds — after eating that super-fresh fare, I was inspired to try the same thing at home!  Now if only the Texas weather will cooperate…..

Sweet Treets from the Better Bites Bakery

Better Bites Healthy Austin Texas Bakery

It’s not often you’ll see me put something into both “Ice Cream, Sweets and Treats” and “Healthy”, but when I tasted the treats at Better Bites Bakery, there was no doubt that they deserved double billing.

First, there’s the taste.  I sampled two of their choices.  The first one was dark and rich.  Chocolatey.  The second was bursting with pumpkin flavor. Both were without question sweet treats.

The twist comes in the way bakers Leah and Crystal bake these scrumptious treats. Much to the surprise of my dairy-and-wheat-loving taste buds, all of their baked goods are made without a trace of dairy or a smidgen of gluten!

WHAT?????  How could it be?  These were not the saw-dust textured, oddly flavored pseudo-baked goods I associate with gluten-free.  They were tasty (in fact, they still are…I bought two brownies to bring home, and I’m eating one now…trust me, my keyboard is well crumbed at the moment!) Clearly, these two women know something the rest of the “healthy” baking world has missed!

The great thing is you can have their cupcakes, brownies, cakes and more delivered almost anywhere in Austin. And they are more than willing to create exactly what you need, from cupcakes for a meeting to a cake for a birthday party.  They’ll even do healthy, yummy cupcake trees for weddings.

The bad news is that for the most part, you need to plan ahead.  Better Bites Bakery doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location (although you can get their treats at a few locations around town, like the People’s RX.)  But that’s okay…once you order once, odds are you’ll want to order again and again.

Ribs and Blues at Artz Rib House

Artz Rib House

Cool blues (and bluegrass), hot ribs and a down-home welcoming feeling that encourages conversation among tables — that’s what you’ll find at Artz Rib House in Austin.

This is not the place to go if you want a sophisticated ambiance…you won’t find any of that here.  But you will find big plates of home-style bar-b-que, tangy baked beans and a slice of white bread to sop up every drop of the sauce that dares to drip off your ribs.

If you have a vegetarian or two among your party, don’t worry.  Artz also offers a delicious grilled vegetable kabob and a tasty veggie burger amid their meatier menu offerings.

The night we visited, the Sieker Band, a local bluegrass group was playing. The small venue meant everyone had a clear view of the band — a big plus in my book. Check the website for schedules…the live music sometimes ends earlier than you might expect.