I intend on doing some serious coffee shop exploration this summer. Finding and investigating new artsy spots with good java and good design sounds like an exceptional plan for lonely Friday afternoons off. In fact, what might make an even better plan is to bring coffee-related books on these journeys as well, to begin my education on yet another category of liquids.
Anyway, here are a few moments captured at the newest old-house-turned-cofffee-shop on the East Side.
To wrap up our delightful 24 hour feasting spree in Houston, we visited Catalina Coffee to grab some java on the way out of town. Good friend Grady Wright recommended the place, and it couldn’t have been better. The coffee was eye-bulge-ing-y strong and my almond croissant delightfully flaky and fresh. It was a cute little chill cafe with laid back hipster baristas. Would definitely re-visit next time.
There isn’t much I need to say about Anvil. Always top notch drinks and quality service. Austin needs to take a leaf out of their book in mixing cocktails quickly and with precision. If it didn’t cost so much to hook up a hotel in Houston for a night, I’d be out there all the time sipping the nights away.
Our second stop in the Houston whirlwind trip was wine bar and restaurant Underbelly.
Chris Frankel, bartender at Anvil and Underbelly suggested we try his version of an Americano (above), which was staggeringly delicious. Apparently it’s more of a “spiced cocchi americano imitation” instead of the campari-based americano. Whew! So damn tasty.
Yep, that’s the meat locker you can see from the main dining hall. So many delightful meats. I had the butcher’s cut — a part of pork neck cooked like a steak. It tasted like a steak. Juicy and thick. Z’s fish was also to die for. Win and win.
Made it out to Houston for my pre-birthday celebration earlier this month. In good food/drink hound fashion, Z and I decided to hit up the Bobby Heugel team trifecta Hay Merchant, Underbelly and Anvil Bar and Refuge. As expected, all three were designed and executed so perfectly. When a restaurant or bar has excellent food, carefully selected drinks and jaw-droppingly beautiful design, it simply can’t be beat. Here are some glimpses of Hay Merchant, the craft beer bar.
Addie Broyles wrote up a great First Look at the new Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden, which opened late January. I hit up the media preview night as well, to check out their drinks program.
I suppose I should have expected that it would be a lovely space (based on the upscale diner chic look that it’s sister restaurant, 24 Diner brought to the previous Waterloo Icehouse space on West Sixth), but I will admit I was taken back by exactly how delightful the interior design was.
The interior was designed by local (via Los Angeles) decorator and designer Veronica Koltuniak. Koltuniak also did 24 Diner. I won’t get into too much detail on why everything works so well, because you can read Nicole Villapando’s story on the design on Statesman.com.
The San Antonio Cocktail Conference took place over the last weekend of January, giving me the perfect occasion to finally make the (short) trip down south to check out their cocktail scene. You can read my full critique of the event on Austin360.
In the article, you’ll discover that the gem of the San Antonio cocktail scene is the gorgeous Esquire Tavern, which re-opened this year after a four year hiatus. I could spend days shooting photos in there (the interior design is just so drool-worthy), but due to time restraints, I just had enough time to snap some iphone pics for your viewing pleasure.
What a sassy fox!
I love the vintage saloon feel the bar boasts, with tattered taxidermy perched in most corners, vintage light fixtures jutting out from weary wallpapered walls, and rich wooden booths adding weight and structure to the room.
The cocktails are nothing to laugh at, either. bartender Jesse (above) deftly mixed me up a Piloto Borracho — the drunk pilot — which is a play on the classic Aviation cocktail. Instead of gin, Esquire uses tequila and mezcal. One might think the combination of agave spirits would be overpowering in an otherwise traditionally delicate blend, but I thought the balance was impeccable. A true delight to drink, and perfect to kick off my long drinking streak while in the city.
“We held hands on the last night on earth. Our mouths filled with dust, we kissed in the fields and under trees, screaming like dogs, bleeding dark into the leaves. It was empty on the edge of town but we knew everyone floated along the bottom of the river. So we walked through the waste where the road curved into the sea and the shattered seasons lay, and the bitter smell of burning was on you like a disease. In our cancer of passion you said, ‘Death is a midnight runner.’ “
“The sky had come crashing down like the news of an intimate suicide. We picked up the shards and formed them into shapes of stars that wore like an antique wedding dress. The echoes of the past broke the hearts of the unborn as the ferris wheel silently slowed to a stop. The few insects skittered away in hopes of a better pastime. I kissed you at the apex of the maelstrom and asked if you would accompany me in a quick fall, but you made me realize that my ticket wasn’t good for two. I rode alone.”
“You said, “The cinders are falling like snow.” There is poetry in despair, and we sang with unrivaled beauty, bitter elegies of savagery and eloquence. Of blue and grey. Strange, we ran down desperate streets and carved our names in the flesh of the city. The sun has stagnated somewhere beyond the rim of the horizon and the darkness is a mystery of curves and lines.”
“Still, we lay under the emptiness and drifted slowly outward, and somewhere in the wilderness we found salvation scratched into the earth like a message.”
–A.F.I, Sing the Sorrow.
–Photos taken at the St. Louis #1 Cemetery in New Orleans. One of the most beautiful and dilapidated sanctuaries I’ve ever seen. Legit photos to follow, just the Instagrams for now.
Doorbells are like faces. As varied as a crowd of people, each with their own idiosyncratic design and quirks. The more wear and tear the better, in my opinion. They have character and soul. We don’t have these in Austin, do we? I haven’t seen any. Walking through the French Quarter, I could have stopped at every other doorway to shoot their doorbells (maybe someday I will).