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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Archive for the ‘Austin’ Category

Monday, January 10, 2011 @ 09:01 AM

Well we are back from a wonderful weekend in Nashville celebrating my lil’ brother’s wedding.  Needless to say due to the business of all of that I apologize that this post is a little bit tardy.

Pop Culture Cuisine is officially a year old and we can hardly believe how fast time has flown!  Adam and I have loved incorporating all these wonderful culinary adventures into our travels, mostly because of the great memories it has made for us.  We have compiled a list of some of our favorite and not so favorite spots to share with you with links so you can read our reviews for yourself.  We love food and hope to continue to share lots of great finds with you all along the way.

SIGNATURE DISH

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1. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous’ “Ribs” – Memphis, TN

2. Round Rock Donuts’ “Round Rock Donut” – Round Rock, TX

3. Lucky’s Sandwich Co.’s “Stuffed Sandwich” – Chicago, IL

TASTE

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Louie’s – Dallas, TX

3. Twisted Root – Dallas, TX

AMBIANCE

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1. The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

SERVICE

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1. Blue Ash ChiliAnna – Blue Ash, OH

2. PinkberryChristine – Orlando, FL

3. Avila’s – Dallas, TX

PRICE

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

OVERALL TOP 5

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Manny’s Delicatessen – Chicago, IL

3. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

4. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

5. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous – Memphis, TN

TOP 5 BIGGEST LET DOWNS…NOT WORTH THE HYPE!

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1. Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q – Memphis, TN

2. Willie Mae’s Scotch House – New Orleans, LA

3. Acme Oyster House – New Orleans, LA

4. Drago’s Seafood – New Orleans, LA

5. Juan in a Million – Austin, TX

BEST OF THE REST…HONORABLE MENTION

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Best Burger – Twisted Root – Dallas, TX

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Best Pizza – Giordano’s – Chicago, IL

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Best Sandwich – Lucky’s Sandwich Co. – Chicago, IL

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Best BBQ – The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

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Best Bar Food – J. Gilligan’s “Irish Nachos” – Arlington, TX

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Best Cocktail – Pat O’Brien’s “Hurricane” – New Orleans, LA

Three Little Piggies

Most Outrageous Dish – The Silver Palm’s “Three Little Pigs Sandwich” Chicago, IL

Saturday, January 1, 2011 @ 08:01 AM

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Well it’s officially 2011 and I want to wish you all a very Happy New Years!  I hope everyone had a fabulous time celebrating with friends and family and that everyone stayed safe on one of the craziest nights of the year.  2010 was a very momentous and crazy year for Adam and I, and it brought lots of great memories.  PCC is coming up on a year old and really has become something we cherish as a journal of all our wonderful travels.  It’s amazing the wonderful adventures we’ve had and all the new cuisine we’ve tried in the name of Winking smile research.  Hopefully, the coming year will be another year of good changes and we are looking forward to whatever those might be, as well as finding new ways to branch out with Pop Culture Cuisine.

New Years is one of those holidays that typically has a lot of hype and lots of parties & events all in the name of celebration; and everyone who knows me knows I’m a person who loves a good excuse to celebrate.  And what better way to celebrate with others than with a festive drink?…of which we’ve encountered quite a few of along our travels, some famous, others just a part of the experience.  Still, I wanted to share a glimpse of some of the gems we have discovered and the places we found them at throughout this past year.  So with festive cheer and no further adieu, I give you the Year in Drinks for PCC…Cheers!

 

Pat O’Brien’s – Orlando, FL and New Orleans, LA

Drink: The Hurricane

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Created during WWII with a bunch of fruit juice and rum, this drink has been their most popular drink and a favorite place for many to hit up at any of their locations.  We have visited 2 locations and every time we are near one we have to stop in for at least 1 hurricane…and usually many more! Smile  These babies are potent, but delicious, and can be enjoyed on their beautiful patios during the day or hopping piano bars at night!

 

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Mariano’s – Dallas, TX

Drink: “The Frozen Margarita”

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You may remember Mariano’s from our review earlier this year, but being the originator of the frozen margarita, it’s hard to not include them again in this drinks feature.  Sweet and tangy like any good margarita should be, this one definitely was tasty and stood out in our minds as one of the better ones we have ever had.  We are now glad to say we’ve tried the first ever created (more than once) and can from now on compare it to our hometown Hacienda margaritas.

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The Pump Room – Chicago, IL

Drink: Cosmopolitan, Chocolate Martini, and White Russian

We lucked out on on my birthday trip a couple weeks ago that our hotel was attached to the famous Pump Room.  Popularized by many celebrities of yester-year like Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack friends, this spot still has the old time feel of a great crooner bar.  We were glad we could enjoy a couple of cocktails their throughout the weekend.  Great atmosphere and really well made drinks.

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Tujague’s – New Orleans, LA

Drink: Shock Top, Abita Brand Beers

One of the oldest bars in the whole USA, this New Orleans’ landmark in the French Quarter is a must stop if you are into history, old bars, or just want to take a break and cool off.  On both of our trips to N’awlins we have enjoyed grabbing a beer and hearing some of the fun stories the bartender (who has been there all most as long as the bar and has become a New Orleans standard) has to tell.  Although I am sure you can get any New Orleans staple drink you want, we opted for a nice cold beer on a nice hot day, and it was a welcome withdraw.

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Cheers – Boston, MA

Drink: Blue Moon

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I am pretty sure everyone out there is familiar with good ol’ Cheers….yes, that sitcom bar from the 80’s with Sam Malone and NORM!  And if you didn’t know that the show was based off a bar in Boston, you must have been living under a rock or you are REALLY young. Smile  Nonetheless, I was lucky enough this past May to be able to pay a visit to the original location in Beacon Hill with my best friend Emily.  I probably could have been adventurous and tried a real Bostonian beer, but already knowing I don’t like Sam Adams, I stuck to something I know and love…Blue Moon!  It was fun to be in the atmosphere, although now pretty touristy, but still fun to look around and see all the old memorabilia.  However, be forewarned, this place is nothing like the “Hollywood” set bar that we all know from the TV show….it’s MUCH smaller.  So you may be in for a shock.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival – Orlando, FL

Drink: Leffe

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This next spot I will go into way more depth in a future post, but since drink was one of the components of the whole event, I wanted to touch on in briefly.  Each year, Epcot and Vanity Fair put on an International Food and Wine festival throughout the park where culinary dishes and drinks from around the world are matched and can be purchased.  Although we opted not to drink at most of the stops, when we saw an old favorite being featured in Belgium, we knew a small taste was in order.  It was deliciously refreshing on that hot day.

 

Jasper’s – Plano, TX

Drink: Jasper’s Triple Chocolate Martini

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Jasper’s is another restaurant we have already given our glowing review too, but this martini was so OUTSANDING I still compare every chocolate martini to it and often dream about it. Ok…not literally about the dreaming part, but ladies (and gentlemen too I suppose Winking smile) this drink is purely sinful!  Not only is it chocolately, it is also creamy and extremely rich.  They are sweet and probably a million calories, but who cares…this is what a sweet martini should taste like!

 

The Walnut Room – Chicago, IL

Drink: Poinsettia

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We had the pleasure of dining at the the famous Walnut Room inside Macy’s during my birthday weekend.  The food and experience are another whole post in and of themselves, but again with drinks being the theme, I must share my beautiful festive poinsettia that I REALLY enjoyed.  The perfect blend of champagne and cranberry juice, it is a drink I am certainly going to be making in years to come, and it was a perfect cap to a perfect birthday weekend.

Anheuser Busch Brewery – St. Louis, MO

Drink: Shock Top, Michelob Brands

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Growing up in St. Louis I was unfortunately never of an age where I could enjoy touring a landmark that was so close to home.  I was glad Adam and I were able to visit the brewery on a trip a few years back and really see the whole process at work.  He and I are Bud people in preference, but it was this trip where I first got to try a Shock Top for the first time and it has quickly become one of my favorite beers.  In fact, since that time, I’ve been seeing it in bars more and more.  We had a great time learning about the history, the beer making process, and most of all enjoying some brews.

 

The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

Drink: Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon

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Although the wine brand and restaurant name are just a happy accident, the wine was every bit as enjoyable as the meal itself.  We gave our rave reviews of the restaurant this year and one of the great features was the great atmosphere, especially where we enjoyed a few drinks after our meal.  I highly recommend this bar (and the tiny Matchbox next door) for a sort of a little unknown jewel for a night out in Chicago.

 

Hula Hut – Austin, TX

Drink: Pink Lemonade

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Unfortunately I can’t remember or find the name of this drink I ordered at the Hula Hut, but suffice it to say, it was their version of a pink lemonade with a kick.  It was very sweet and refreshing from what I remember, but also tasted too much like juice so it went down way to easy. Smile

 

Louie’s – Dallas, TX

Drink: Lindeman’s Framboise

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This was a spot in Dallas that we were so happy to stumble upon when we lived there.  Louie’s not only had great food, but their ambiance truly made us feel at home as former Chicagoans.  Because it was Valentine’s Day that weekend, I was looking for a little something special to drink so I was very happy to discover they have one of my all time favorite items on their menu…Lindemans’ Framboise.  Although they are super sweet, I love the berry flavor and how they a just a fun change up from a typical beer.

 

Well, I hope you have enjoyed our brief recap of some of the wonderful beverages we enjoyed in 2010.  I’m sure there were others along the way, but these were certainly the most tasty, most famous, or most memorable.  I am going to forgo a traditional review of each, but know this…each of these drinks stood out to me or Adam either because of the drink themselves, the experience that went along with them, or both.  We truly love every minute of our culinary adventures and the life journal that Pop Culture Cuisine has become for us.  I hope you all continue to follow our crazy foodie adventures each week…and hey…maybe tell a friend or two. Winking smile  So “For Auld Lang Syne”…HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Thursday, November 18, 2010 @ 06:11 PM

087We have a back log of restaurants that we still need to feature and I was shocked when I realized a couple of weeks ago that I still had not talked about this next joint.  You all know by now how much we love barbeque, and since we moved back up North, we unfortunately are lacking in that department.  This next spot was so memorable that we couldn’t stop talking or thinking about it long after…even now; and this is why we were so shocked when I realized it has been almost six months and we still had not filled all you PCC-ers in on the awesomeness of The Salt Lick. So here we go…

In the small town of Driftwood, Texas (just outside Austin), Scott Thurman and his wife Hisako opened this pit barbecue spot in 1967.  Starting off small, he and his sons built a huge pit, where Thurman would stay and cook, and stay with that pit until all the meat sold.  Eventually, they built a screened in porch around the pit and The Salt Lick has only grown from there, becoming so popular that they now serve their barbeque to thousands each and every week (actually, the full story of how The Salt Lick and its open pit method came to be is quite interesting, which you can read about here).

So, although we lived in Texas, we were not really familiar with this spot until we saw in on an episode of Travel Channel’s "Man vs. Food"; and we have since seen it on previous Travel Channel shows like "Chowdown Countdown" (#1 for BBQ and #7 OVERALL) and "BBQ Paradise." But after that first feature on "Mav v. Food," we knew it was only a matter of time before we made a road trip to visit our friends in Austin and The Salt Lick.  See for yourself…

Source

Dang…it just looks so amazing every time!  Now we’ve had plenty of barbeque; and especially when we lived in Dallas, barbeque seemed to be a staple in our diet.  However, after seeing that clip, we knew this place had to be tried to see if it would overtake some of the other great ‘Que we’ve had.  Lucky for us, it was not long after we watched that episode that we were planning a trip to Austin to visit our friends Dario and Jaclyn; and because the Salt Lick is located a little bit outside of the city, we decided we would hit it up on our way out of town after the visit. 

So it was lunchtime on Sunday when we pulled in, and it is pretty breathtaking right from the start.  This is no small operation anymore. In fact, they have two large buildings set up…one is a large scale dining/banquet hall for parties (complete with country store), with the other serving as the main restaurant.  It truly is an amazing bbq complex…

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We put our name in and had a little bit of a wait, but the surroundings are so beautiful and it was such a nice day that we didn’t mind.  But I’ll tell you what…it is well worth the wait, because it made us all the more hungry!  So when our name was finally called, I was so excited I could hardly contain myself!

What is so great about this place is although it has grown in notoriety, it still has the same feeling of a small down home joint.  When you walk inside, you literally walk right by the pit and they even let you back by it to take pictures…I mean how cool is that?  And all the tables are simple picnic tables…nothing fancy. You feel like you are right where you should be eating barbecue, in a backyard!  So after we were seated and quickly perused the menu, we knew right away we would be ordering the “family style” option.  This give you the chance to try all their barbecue specialties and as much as you can stomach…which for us is often a lot; and luckily it was not long before the wonderfulness showed up…

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106 We were definitely sufficiently stuffed after we had our waiter bring us a few different platefuls, but it was well worth it; and although I don’t usually condone over-eating, this was definitely one of those meals that it is hard to stop enjoying the flavors!  So let’s just say that we kept on enjoying long after we probably should….those faces below describe exactly how we felt….stuffed!

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So I guess it’s safe to assume that we really like Salt Lick’s take on BBQ, and a unique take at that. What makes this barbeque so unique isn’t just how the meat is cooked, but their sauce is nothing like any I have ever had before.  This sauce has a very distinct Asian influence, which I guess would make sense since seeing as Thurman’s wife is from Japan, who I’m sure played a large role in Thurman’s famous take on barbecue dishes.  So although sauce is sort of a "no-no" in Texas, the sauce is so unique and flavorful, you definitely want it in every bite…which you get from all the basting that goes on! In fact, we liked it so much, we even bought a bottle to take home. 😉

SIGNATURE DISH: Even if you only checked out the pictures on this post, I think you would have a grasp at what the Salt Lick is known for!  Still, this is not just any backyard barbeque. The Salt Lick is PIT BARBECUE.  And like any good Texas barbeque joint they have it all…sausage, brisket, and best of all ribs!

TASTE: This barbecue is….AWESOME!!!!  It is cooked perfectly over the pit and gets those lovely charred burnt ends (which I LOVE!).  But, along with the meat is their signature sauce that is out of this world tasty and like nothing you have ever had before.  The Asian sauce perfectly complements the fatty crusty meat.  Even their sides are great…but just make sure you save room because the meat is truly where it’s at.

AMBIANCE: I mentioned above that this spot is everything you want a barbeque restaurant to be.  Not stuffy, not fancy…simply just a roof over your head where you can enjoy your barbeque at a picnic table…inside.  Surrounded by hundreds of others enjoying the experience, it really feels like you are all there together enjoying the best "family barbeque” you can imagine.

PRICE: As far as barbeque goes, this spot is a little pricier than others. However, no one seems to bat an eye, cause this place was packed with a line to boot! So, obviously they have realized that their customers will pay for a better product and good quality, which I’m starting to find is a trend at some of these places…gotta love capitalism ;).  On the other hand, it is really reasonable if you go for the "family dining" option and have a good appetite. We paid $18.95 per person for our all you can eat feast, and we definitely got our money’s worth. I mean, for all the meat you can possibly stomach, it really isn’t a bad deal. 

SERVICE: Just like their ambiance, this place is built to be hospitable.  From the hostesses to the cooks (who you can chat with while standing by the pit) to our waiter, everyone treats you as if you are in their home.  Our waiter, especially, was quick, helpful, and promptly kept bringing us more meat. He did a great job of helping us to gorge ourselves….and we are thankful.

Almost immediately, this barbeque spot moved to the top of the list as one of our most favorites; and since dining there we haven’t had anything near as good (and unfortunately likely won’t for awhile).  Still, we know it will be around for a long time to come; and just like Thurman hoped, we will plan to hopefully bring our generations back.  So although we don’t give out a lot of perfect scores on PCC…when we do, you know it is worth it (and it also seems to be somewhat related to barbecue…hmmmm. 😉 So since we loved The Salt Lick so much, we are giving it 5 ‘Little Piggies’!

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