Eldorado Café

You guys know that restaurants are a thing for me. Since becoming a more experienced food blogger in the past few years, I’ve learned how to wine and dine myself. I go to frequent food tastings. Basically, I eat a lot. So when I tell you I have a new restaurant to add to my Austin Top 10, you should know that this is pretty serious stuff. Eldorado Caf√© makes for some serious eats, y’all.

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This new Mexican Comfort Food eatery is located in a strip mall on Anderson Lane, but it feels more like walking into your best friend’s house. If your best friend is a tried and true Austinite who can make a mean Mai Tai and drool-worthy carnitas.

Truly.¬† I walked into Eldorado and one of the first things that happened was me being handed a slice of Mexican Pizza that the owners were taste-testing. I might have mumbled something about how good it looked. Next thing I know, “Here!” – and the tasty little Mexican Pizza slice is now in my possession.¬† So we were off to a good start.

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But, truth be told, I knew I would like owner Joanna before I even met her. She used the word “Yay” more than once in our email correspondence, and I was sold. After the tasting she titled an email with the word, “Awesomeness”, and I obviously knew from that point that she was just the best ever.

Joanna and her husband (fellow owner and head chef) Joel, longtime Austinites themselves, have created an atmosphere that embodies the goodness that Austin is made of. Kindness, for starters. Speaking with Joanna and Joel felt like chatting with long lost buddies. They were warm and funny and inviting and just the right amount of eccentric. My kind of humans. These two also know their way around the city, and have made friends with what seems like half of the ATX. In fact, Eldorado is up and running due to a slew of investors and backers in the area. On the ceiling you can note the name of many who helped make this foodie’s dream a reality.¬† The restaurant itself seems to tell its own special tale of Austin living and loving.

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The food has its own stories to tell as well.¬† Each dish and drink came with an anecdote of how exactly it came to be.¬† The Shiny Ribs, for instance. The name stems from the local band named, appropriately enough, the Shiny Ribs. Joanna and Joel both love said band and one member is even a backer of Eldorado. So the Shiny Ribs were lucky enough to have Shiny Ribs named after them. (Can we call the queso Christina’s Queso?! Pleaaaseeee?) The dish itself, inspired from many trips to visit Joanna’s step-dad in Hawaii, is slightly tangy and subtly sweet and a (non-vegetarians)¬† food-blogger’s dream come true. Joel noted that, while it seems to be a trend to keep ribs sauce-free as of late, he decided that, in modeling the Chinese sparerib, he would keep the sauce. Can I just tell you how much I highly agree with this decision? Because, guys. The sauce is pure divinity.

And divine is the word I would use for most of the Eldorado menu, Divine, but more importantly, unique. Esme’s Magic, for example. This is an enchilada stuffed with mashed potatoes and topped with ancho chile sauce. Mashed potatoes is a common theme for stuffing things with at Eldorado. I would be lying if I told you I thought I would love this from the get-go. I don’t love mashed potatoes, okay? I’m weird, ALRIGHT?! But I should be using past tense here. I didn’t love mashed potatoes. But Eldorado, in all their magical potato stuffing powers, changed my mind and my life here. I was blown away by how ingeniously they used their tots. Turns out, mashed potatoes inside enchiladas is a mind-blowingly magical experience. Thank you for carb-seducing me out of my ignorance, Eldorado.

If I HAD to pick a favorite dish (like if somebody was tickling me and told me to pick or they would keep tickling me forever which is my worst nightmare) I’d probably go with the Carnitas Cubanos. This is¬†Crispy Pork Roasted in a Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Mojo. It’s like it sounds, but somehow so much better. The pork is crispy on the outside but nearly melts in your mouth as you bite into it. Paired with one of their homemade corn or flour tortillas? It’s a mouth orgasm, guys.

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I know this is getting long, but I would be remiss to not mention the queso in detail. While I don’t consider myself a queso snob, I do have an intense obsession with good queso. So much so that I usually know if I will or will not like a place based on my first taste of their melted cheesy goodness. And y’all, I absolutely adored Eldorado’s queso.¬† It was creamy and smooth and mixed with just the right amount of veggies. Love from first bite. And until approximately my 150th bite because I basically licked that bowl clean. Oh, and if you want to spice up the chip you’re dipping, may I also recommend trying one of their FIVE amazing salsas? Avocado, salsa fresca, chileverde, salsa x, el scorpio. Yum, yum, yum, yum and more yum,

As I chatted and laughed with the owners and staff, sipped on tasty cocktails and indulged in dish after dish of bites that made me whisper-scream, “OH MY GOD.” about a million times, I realized I’d found something really, really special at Eldorado.

Joanna and Joel met at the late Electric Lounge, where they both bartended. They were just friends at the time, but met again years later. And now here they are. Owning a business and making people happy and full together. That is an Austin love story if I ever did hear one. I’m just feeling lucky that the rest of us get to be a part of that.

 

Tasting at PS 35

Let’s talk pizza, y’all.

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More specifically, let’s talk pizza at PS 35.

This is new the spot in my neck of the woods that is creating quite the buzz.

After visiting, I completely understand said buzz.

PS 35 is located in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. But there is nothing suburban about the vibes of this joint. PS35 explodes with personality and pizazz, from the graffiti-laden walls to the classic video games inside and the patio foosball. Walking inside is an experience all its own, both a throwback to the 70’s and a tribute to New York public spaces.

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The beers on tap are a-plenty, and I found myself getting happily lost¬†with the chalkboard menus. I’m one of the few and far between that absolutely loves sour beers, and they had not one but two choices for me here. So, before a bite had ever entered my mouth, I was sold on this place.

But then food did enter my mouth and TRUFFLE TOTS and HOT HONEY PIZZA. Excuse the word vomit. PS 35 has been the word on the street lately and those two things alone could justify this joint being the talk of the town.

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The truffle tots boasted just the right amount of crunch and seasoning, and the truffle salt complimented this combination in the most toothsome of ways.

The Hot Honey pizza is like crack for honey addicts. My friends, I have a confession to make. I AM¬†A HONEY ADDICT.¬†I shriek and run every time a bee gets near me (Don’t ask me how I ever took beekeeping classes. This is still¬†a mystery to me.), but I love those terrifying little creatures for the miraculous substance that¬†they create. Okay, I digress. The point here is that the sweet and salty combo of Mike’s hot honey, ricotta, pepperoni, sausage and tomato sauce was joy delivered straight to my taste buds.

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Another favorite was the Harlem Chopped Cheese. I was a little hesitant to try this one as it reminded me just ever so slightly of a Philadelphia Cheese Steak, which I have a strong aversion to.  In my undergrad years, I performed in a short play in which I was required to eat a microwaveable Philly Cheese Steak for all rehearsals and performance nights. By the end of this experience, just hearing the word Philly Cheese Steak made me want to vomit. It takes a strong sandwich to reverse this feeling, but the Harlem Chopped Cheese did just this. It was juicy and cheesy and filled with fresh veggies and just the right amount of hot sauce, mayo and oil and vinegar. Is your mouth watering?! Because mine is. The sesame seed bun simply perfected this work of sandwich art.

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I cannot forget the New York Sour. This frozen drink stars bourbon, lemon and a red wine float. It was strong but smooth, just a little fruity and absolutely ideal for pairing with pizza or tots. I would go back just for this cocktail. But I could say that about most things on the menu.

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One of the owner’s and head chef of PS 35 Clint¬†Elmore¬†has a story that adds to the uniqueness of this pizza joint. After attending law school and practicing law for a bit, he decided it wasn’t the life for him. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to New York to pursue his dreams of creating art through food. From there, he travelled to Italy for a month to become a culinary expert. Fast forward years later, and Austin is blessed with PS35.

It’s a beautiful and delicious story, but the ending is definitely my favorite part.

Welcome to Austin, PS 35! I will be seeing lots of you. And your honey pizza. And those truffle tots. And your… Okay, y’all get it. I’m obsessed.

Tasting at Coffee Shark

I have a new favorite coffee shop in Austin. Maybe even new favorite coffee shop ever.¬† It’s called Coffee Shark, and it will change your life in the best, most caffeinated¬†way possible.

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Don’t let the name fool you. Coffee Shark serves far more than just coffee (also there’s no sharks), my friends. They’ve also got an amazing array of beer, sandwiches, (may I suggest the Pesto Mozzarella Tomato? Because I’m daydreaming about that cheese and pesto filled ciabatta bun right about now.)¬†soups, pizza (from East¬†Side Pies!),¬†and so much more. I’m going to make a suggestion. Order the soft pretzels and the cheese plate and proceed to immediately dip the soft pretzels into the brie. GUYS. I am salivating thinking about this right now.

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The inside dons the open,¬†industrial vibes that¬†I am learning is¬†something¬†that I like a lot in my coffee shops. Games like cornhole and giant Jenga grace the back patio, which is perfect for drinking a cold beer on a hot, summer’s day. As far as beer goes, the¬†flirty and¬†fruity Hye-Biscus had me hooked from first sip.

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The best part?¬†All is¬†served with a heaping side of LOVE, y’all. Okay, I know that sounds super cheesy, (Speaking of cheese –¬†Coffee Shark’s all¬†comes from the local Antonelli’s Cheese Shop) but it’s true.¬†Both the staff and clientele at Coffee Shark made me feel like family. I spent over three hours at this tasting, and when I wasn’t eating I was probably laughing or lost in good conversation. I hit it off with one group of customers so well that I made them take a picture with me and the owner joked that he had hired them for the day. After that, I spent another hour and a half¬†chuckling and chatting¬†with the Coffee Shark team.

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Though mine was more of a beer and food tasting, I can’t not mention the coffee. I had a regular drip coffee but this was far from¬†any¬†‘ole¬†regular drip coffee. Coffee Shark uses a steampunk coffee brewer. This is a hybrid (trybrid?) of the French press,¬†siphon and pour over. They make their delightful drip coffees by using temperature, time, volume and water agitation.¬† So basically this coffee is pure MAGIC.

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I almost wish I could keep this place a secret, but that would be nearly criminal. I must share this good with the world. So, here you go, world. Coffee Shark is where it’s at.¬†¬†Prepare¬†to eat good food, drink good drinks, and make new friends.

Going Places

Hi, friends!

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You may have noticed I’ve made a couple of changes? After nearly eight years as christinadoesitall, I am now christinagoingplaces. Bittersweet. Bitter, because I’ve made so many happy memories and friends as christinadoesitall. Sweet, because I’m slowly finding my niche and place in this world. After years of dabbling in a little bit of everything and loving every moment of that, I am beginning to¬†realize my¬†passions. I’m both¬†an MBA¬†student¬†and a girl who just really loves to¬†explore the world. Education and travel are both so very valuable to me.¬†So in¬†more than one sense of the term, my goal is to be going places.

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So here I am! Doing things! Going places!

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Later this week¬†I’ll be heading to Virginia and¬†Maryland to visit my best friend of sixteen years. Because of Meg and her family, this part of the world has become much¬†like a second home to me.¬†I can’t wait to hug and laugh and dance and¬†adventure with one of my favorite human beings.

When I return to Austin, it will be the beginning of crunch time. I graduate in five months, y’all! Part of me is so ready and the other part just wants time to slow down. The past¬†year and seven months of grad school has been a blur of hard work and magic. I’m not¬†ready for another semester of grueling coursework, but I’m not quite¬†ready for it to all be over yet either.

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Speaking of not being quite ready for things. This month I¬†turn twenty-eight. Like what? When? HOW?! I wonder where all the time has gone, but then I remember. It’s been spent doing really great things. Like building a home and a family with¬†the¬†dude I love the most.¬†And getting lost in happy hours and good conversation and captivating reads. Chasing big dreams, and catching many of them. Trying new things and facing fears head on.¬†(Unless this fear involves getting my blood drawn and then I will definitely turn my head away and also¬†possibly pass out.)¬†Driving through states and boarding lots and lots of airplanes.¬†And learning.¬†Always learning.

And all of that? It makes twenty-eight sound way¬†less scary and¬†much¬†more like a wonderland of possibility. I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

Pst –

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By the way, I’m way blonde now! It feels fun and right.

Tasting at Napa Flats

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I recently went to a blog tasting at Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. Guys, I was so smitten that I barely made it a week before returning for happy hour.

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There wasn’t anything I didn’t love about Napa Flats. I loved the interior, which combined¬†Californian, Italian¬†and Austin vibes gloriously. I felt immediately welcomed into the environment that manages to be friendly, sleek, comfy and classy all at once. I also loved¬†the playground on the patio, as this would be a place perfect to bring my fam back to. My toddler¬†could have a blast while my husband and I could enjoy¬†an air of sophistication that¬†many kid-friendly restaurants lack. Classy in the front, two-year old party in the back.

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But now let me get to my favorite part. The food. Oh, the food. You guys, I’m practically swooning just typing this. They started me off the wood-fired avocado, which was grilled with chimichuri sauce on top of a bed of corn salsa. Y’all, The mix of grilled avocado and salsa and olive oil all mixed together so perfectly. I was drinking the chardonnay on tap while chomping down on said avocado, and all¬†of the flavors¬†together felt just like a masterpiece¬†on my tongue.¬†Recounting this is a struggle¬†because I want more right now but it’s midnight so I CAN’T.

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Next up the was the main dish. I asked my sweet waiter Chris for his recommendations, and he¬†suggested ¬†that¬†I should try both the Mush N Spin pizza AND the Citrus Chicken. I was not one to argue with¬†such a brilliant¬†suggestion. The pizza’s toppings included mushroom, spinach, caramelized onions, whipped ricotta, mozzarella and fried brussel sprout leaves. Pst- Tossed in a white truffle oil. Is your mouth watering? Because mine is. I don’t think much else needs to be said here, except it was every bit as delicious as it sounds.

The Citrus Chicken was pan-seared, topped with a lemon white wine butter sauce and served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. There is something magical about the combination of chicken and lemon. And butter, of course all of the butter. Napa Flats put together a divine combo of the three.

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Finally, DESSERT. I devoured the salted caramel gelato and the wood-fired Ghirardelli brownie with peanut butter gelato. Oh, and a side of sangria. The gelato was creamy and decadent and nostalgic of gelato hubby and I had¬†in Italy back in 2014. The brownie¬†was¬†gorgeous and rich and the wood-fired aspect gave it an enticingly unique taste.¬†And let ¬†us not forget the sangria. Napa’s Signature Red Sangria was refreshing and fruity¬†and made with whiskey! I’ve never had a whiskey-based sangria and it was surprisingly smooth and just the right amount of sweet.

If you can’t tell, I have a new found crush on Napa Flats. They spoiled¬†me with their¬†heavenly eats, amiable staff¬†and welcoming atmosphere. I’m attending grad school right across the street from my new crush, so I may or may not¬†make it to sangria stalker status soon.

Leave it to me to make a food blog creepy, y’all.

360 Uno Trattoria Tasting

I walked into 360 Uno Trattoria and for a moment I was back at a little café in Italy.

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Overflowing with charm and wine, sitting down for a food and¬†vino tasting at this quaint restaurant was an experience to be had. I immediately loved the option of sitting near the wine and coffee¬†bar for a casual feel or of going into the next room¬†for more of a fine dining experience. I chose the casual seating as I figured it would be easier to chat with the staff and write down notes like the nerdy blogger chick that I am. But I’m already planning a return with the hubby, because this is the perfect spot for a romantic date night.

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The sous chef at 360 Uno was kind enough to spoil me with a five course tasting, and his tasting portions were generous in that each was actually a full meal. My stomach was ready to explode from overeating and pure joy by the end of said tasting.¬†But I can honestly say that not one bite went into my mouth that wasn’t absolutely phenomenal. I am part Italian, but my¬†taste buds¬†won’t accept that I’m not full-blooded because my mouth just wants all of the Italian¬†foods all of the time. My poor husband is not a huge pasta fan but he married me and thus has to eat spaghetti and meatballs roughly once a week. I would live off of the stuff if it wasn’t for him. So eating pasta¬†in Austin is no new thing for me. That being said, I think I have found my new favorite Italian restaurant. In Austin, definitely. But 360 Uno was also on par with many of¬†the incredible bites that went into my mouth in Milan, Florence and Venice back in 2014. Seriously. It was that good.

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Where do I start?

The shrimp scampi appetizer was lemony, buttery goodness and is what food dreams are made of. I wouldn’t let the chef take the leftover sauce away because I just wanted to dip it into all of things. Like I could have dipped it into cardboard¬†and gone to town, y’all.¬†The antipasto misto was¬†a refreshing blend of cheeses, olives, salami, and other goodness. It’s left me constantly longing for the interesting (but incredible)¬†combo of fresh goat cheese, beans¬†and eggs ever since.

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The Di-Lisch, deriving from the sous chef’s last name Lischko, was probably the most intriguing pizza I’ve ever tasted.¬†Toppings included¬†fig spread, arugula, prosciutto, crushed red pepper and walnuts.¬†It was spicy, succulent, ¬†sweet and salty all at once. I can’t stop thinking about it because it really blew my mind that much.¬†But in¬†the best way possible.¬†The pepperoni pizza— oh the pepperoni pizza. The pizza of the gods.¬†Soft and cheesy¬†and exploding with flavor¬†and nearly melting in my mouth. If¬†melting in one’s mouth¬†sounds odd for a pizza, you may have just not done pizza right yet. 360 Uno does pizza right.

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The pasta didn’t disappoint either. Carbonara is always a classic favorite of mine, and this “breakfast pasta” was a mouth-watering addition to my mind-blowing meal.

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For dessert I was given cr√®me brulee and the profiterole. The profiterole was a heavenly combination of chocolate and vanilla laden cream puffs. As for the cr√®me brulee? It was amongst the most divine of desserts my mouth has ever had the honor of devouring. Fresh vanilla bean and caramelized sugar make for a decadent mixture, y’all. To pair with the desserts, I was treated to a white port. I didn’t even know white ports were a thing! It reminded me slightly of Crown, but without the intense aftertaste and oh-so-incredibly smooth.

OH. Did I mention they have wine¬†on tap?! WINE ON TAP. Can I please just live here? I’ll clean up after myself and¬†everything.¬†From buttery chardonnays to rich cabs, I was handed the perfect pairing of wine for each dish.¬†Basically guys, I was in my own personal paradise. I’m head over heels and feeling a little¬†heartsick that I haven’t had the chance to go back yet.

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I didn’t have a¬†moment (aka I would have exploded had a drop of any other delicious thing¬†so much as touched my lips) to try their coffee, but I hear it’s superb.¬†And this wouldn’t surprise me. From the¬†super fun and friendly¬†staff to the delectable¬†eats¬†and cozy environment, everything about my night spent at 360 Uno was an experience to remember. And uh, to relive again and again.

So worth the¬†food coma, y’all.