5 Things To Know About Batch – Craft Beer & Kolaches

  1. Did you know that kolaches and beer are a magical combination?

I didn’t either, until Batch – Craft Beer & Kolaches showed me the light. To be honest, before this week, I was never a huge fan of kolaches.¬† Despite my previously held neutral feelings on these pastries, Batch has been making the rounds in the Austin blogging world, and I was excited to see what this place was all about. I was most definitely not disappointed, y’all. Here’s four more things that made me the happiest, and that I would be remiss not to share.

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  1. The patio is incredible. Spacious, covered with string lights (I love string lights) and covered in picnic benches that are perfect for sharing good conversation over kolaches and beer.
  2. Inside is a wall covered with beer. Or, more accurately, a wall covered in refrigerators that store ALL OF THE BEER. You can feast your eyes on this glorious image and then proceed to buy and take it home with you. Isn’t life grand?
  3. Of course, there’s no reason to wait if you don’t want to. Drinking beer on the beloved patio, I quickly fell in love with the vast selection and the unique choices presented to me.¬† Probably my favorite was the Live Oak¬†Lichtenhainer. The smokiness paired with the slight tartness made for a quirky and perfect pairing with my brisket kolache.
  4. Yes, that’s right. Brisket kolache. Actually, klobasniky if I’m being totally accurate. Fun fact – Kolaches are sweet, klobasnikies (would that be the correct plural?) are savory.¬† My brisket klobasniky was also stuffed with swiss and pickles. The jalapeno, cheese and sausage was stuffed with the gooiest, creamiest cheese that had me ooh-ing and ahh-ing the entire time I ate. The apple streusel kolache added just the right amount of sweet to my tasting. It reminded me of Thanksgiving a little bit, and I loved it for that.

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As I sat on my picnic bench taking in the patio views, sipping on a Lichtenhainer and savoring my savory klobasniky, one thing was clear to me. I was madly and deeply in love.

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I’m still over here feeling starry eyed over my tasting at Batch, and can’t wait to plan a visit back with my friends and little family. I love that this spot is great for groups, date nights or family outings. And for breakfast,¬† lunch, or snack! The versatility just means I get to plan all the more trips to the only kolache joint that forever has my heart.

Tasting at Treaty Oak

The weather is FINALLY getting cooler here in Austin. Cooler for us does not mean cold. It just means not miserably hot. Think 75 degrees-ish. So why it might not feel exactly like fall, it is beautiful and the ideal time for sitting outside to eat, drink and be merry. This is one of the many reasons that Treaty Oak is currently one of my go-to spots in the Austin area.

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Treaty Oak is known for being a distillery and for making some of the tastiest cocktails around.¬† Whether you’re wanting gin, rum, vodka or bourbon, they’ve got it. And pitchers of the stuff, if your heart so desires. (No pitchers of bourbon though, kids. Because, uh, bad decisions would be made.) Pitchers of cocktails! As if that doesn’t already sound enough like paradise, Treaty Oak rests on 20+ acres of gorgeous land in the Texas Hill Country. With benches and games and twinkle lights galore and even a playground for the littles, this is one of the most magical places to spend an afternoon in the greater Austin area.

But, wait. I haven’t even made my way to the most exciting part yet. Treaty Oak has recently started serving culinary delights at their new restaurant, Ghost Hill. While Treaty Oak has always served tasty snacks, they now offer a chef-prepared BBQ menu that is absolutely divine.

Executive Chef Chris Andrews is something of a culinary genius with the combinations and flavors he has created in the dishes at Ghost Hill. The ribs were some of the best ribs I have ever had the chance to devour. Ever so lightly fried and with a sesame bourbon glaze, pickled carrots, Asian herbs and lime. I might be trying not to drool while typing this. I might also be failing.

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Truth be told,¬† barbeque is usually my least favorite type of food. This basically makes me a terrible Texan, I know, but there’s the truth. BUT Treaty Oak had me second-guessing my standpoint on BBQ.¬† Partly because the meats were all so perfect. The brisket, for example. Smoked to perfection and equal parts juicy and tender, this stuff quickly had me becoming a barbeque believer. And the roasted pork shoulder? Y’all. We’re talking achiote, cilantro, onion, cotija, lime and corn tortillas to pile all of this goodness onto. Obviously, this visit quickly had me converting into a BBQ believer. But another major factor in my newfound love were the sides. Chris and I both agreed that many popular BBQ places do great with the meats but slack on the sides. The sides are usually my favorite part about BBQ, so I am thrilled to report that they are most definitely not skimped on at Ghost Hill.

The potato salad was amongst my favorite of sides to devour. It’s both mayonnaise and mustard based, and this combo of flavors paired with the smoked brisket and lightly fried ribs left me swooning hard. But what equally impressed me in regards to each side was the care that was so obviously put into each. Chef Andrews knows that a meal is made extra special when every little detail is taken care of.¬† So, to my delight, every side dish could stand alone as its own delicious meal.

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Even the queso, though not exactly a typical bbq appetizer, was divine. I’ve mentioned before that I tend to judge a place based on how good their queso is.¬† To be fair, I wouldn’t have judged the queso quite as harshly at a barbeque joint, but Ghost Hill got so many extra brownie points (cheese points) for their decandently creamy, dreamy, cheesy goodness.

I can’t write a post about a distillery without giving a shoutout to at least a couple of drinks, I have to recommend the Dark & Stormy, which is Treaty Oak’s take on the Moscow Mule. Instead of vodka, they use rum! I absolutely love this substitution and now want to forever drink my ginger beer with rum. Not on their everyday menu is the seasonal spiked apple cider, which comes complete with an in-house made apple chip. Just the right amount of sweet and spice and everything nice. It was like drinking a cup of fall.

Oh, wait, wait, wait. How have I not mentioned the ice cream yet? Because, y’all. Homemade ice cream. I tried the strawberry basil and was absolutely blown away by the way the basil so elegantly complemented the strawberry. Chef noted that he has always loved adding herbs to ice cream flavors, and this is definitely a skill he has mastered. If you’re looking for sweets with a little aromatic kick, look no further than Ghost Hill.

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Treaty Oak is always working hard to make their space the best it can be, and it shows with every sip, every bite and every glance around their property. Though the distillery is only opened on the weekends,¬† the Ghost Hill hours have been expanded to also be opened on Thursdays from 4-9. May I suggest visiting the restaurant on one of these Thursdays? I may or may not have the inside scoop that the most unique of recipes are always being cooked up on this particular day. Chef Andrews has also started catering events for 10-500 people, so naturally I want to have every event ever in my life catered by Treaty Oak. But truly, whatever day and for whatever reason you decide to visit,¬† you’re going to feel like a kid in a candy store. Or an adult in a distillery store, if you will.

I could rave for another fifty paragraphs or so about the happiness I found at Treaty Oak. Whether it be the gorgeous property or the exquisite tastes, the good company or the bounty of libations, this spot has been added to my list of treasures. So I’m sending out an open invitation for all¬† reading this. Come for the BBQ. Or if you’re one of my vegetarian pals, come for the sides. Stay for the views and the pitchers of cocktails. And second helpings of barbeque.

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.

 

Brooklyn’s Down South

You may know that I’m a big believer in going a little off the beaten path to find treasures. To Austinites, the city of Buda can be off the beaten path. But, oh, does this path have its share of treasures. The most recent gem I found is Brooklyn’s Down South. Located in the heart of downtown Buda, this is a must-visit if you’re ever in the area. Though I’d go so far as to say that it’s a must-visit even if you’re not in the area.

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I was instantly charmed walking into Brooklyn’s Down South. The interior is simple, sleek and quickly introduces you to an open bar area. The cocktails are a big part of the beauty of Brooklyn’s, so the prominence of the bar seemed appropriate. But, ahem. I’ll get back to that.

I requested to sit on the patio because Austin just experienced a “cold” front (meaning it’s 85 degrees instead of 105), and because #foodbloggerlightingproblems. And the back patio? Gorgeous. Magical. Spacious and filled with string lights, picnic benches and comfy couches to relax your food baby on.¬† So now you that know I’m swooning over the ambiance at Brooklyn’s Down South, let’s get to my favorite part. DA EATS.

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I was brought an array of plates, all beautiful and delicious in their own right. Seriously guys, my taste buds felt like they were on vacation. From the cheesy and creamy shrimp and grits to the spicy, tangy and perfectly crunchy carnitas tacos, my senses were taken on a wild rollercoaster of deliciousness. I realize this is all sounding very superfluous, but that’s okay because it’s also true.

Marrying into a Cajun family, I have a long love for boudin. For those of you who don’t know (as I didn’t before I married a Boudreaux) what boudin is, it is a spicy sausage containing rice and some type of meat, usually pork. Also, It is DELICIOUS. So my one request at Brooklyn’s was the bouldin balls. This is fried bouldin. Shaped into balls. It’s a dish I’ve long been obsessed with, and Brooklyn’s Down South only fueled said obsession. The fried balls (I’m giggling writing this, because I’m mature.) complemented the soft, flavorful boudin inside so wonderfully. I WANT MORE NOW.

Oh, oh and the Gumbo. It was 85 degrees outside, but this instantaneously took me to Christmas Day with the Boudreauxs. It tasted so similar to the thick, rich broth served to me by a Cajun clan in December. So I can tell you from experience, the gumbo served at Brooklyn’s is about as authentic as it gets.

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And it only gets better. The 967 burger is topped with American cheese, jalapeno bacon jam, crispy onion strings, and an egg. As if that doesn’t already sound incredible enough, it’s served on a toasted sourdough honey bun. I KNOW RIGHT.

I also have to give a shoutout to my new friend, Brooklyn’s bread pudding. Let me tell you about my new friend. This is French bread baked in a rich vanilla cinnamon custard topped with Bourbon sauce, powdered sugar and fresh fruit. Guys. Arguably the best bread pudding I’ve ever devoured. And I love me some bread pudding. It was the vanilla cinnamon custard that really did me in. The decadence of said custard soaked into the bread pudding and it was simply divine, y’all.

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Can I tell you about the drinks now? Because, yum. I started with the Buda Bowl which is a big, green, fruity concoction that I adored. But my favorite cocktail was the Prickly Pear ‘Rita, made with El Jimador silver, Patron Citronage, prickly pear puree, fresh lime juice, simple syrup & a splash of orange juice. It is even more refreshing and delightful than it sounds. The puree pairs perfectly with the lime and orange juice, making for the greatest of patio sippers.

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You might be catching onto the fact that I’m hooked on Brooklyn’s. This lovely new obsession is about a forty five minute drive from my house, but is easily worth every minute of annoying Austin traffic. Because boudin balls and bread pudding and prickly pear ‘ritas, y’all.

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Vivel’s Blog Tasting

I’ve never been a big pancake fan. A few bites in, and I’m bored. But crepes? Crepes I adore. Their thin texture paired with their versatility makes for a winning combo in my book/blog.

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Despite this founded adoration, my experiences with crepes have been few and far between. In fact, until yesterday, I had never tasted a savory crepe. I know, I know, such a food blogger fail. Luckily, my tasting with Vivel Coffee and Crepes changed all of that and opened my eyes (and mouth) to the beauty and variety of LIFE.

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But, really. The word Vivel translates from Latin¬†to mean “Life.” Owner Ali noted that he thought of this name during construction. While looking at the hills and greenery that Vivel is surrounded by in Lakeway, Texas, the name just seemed to fit. And it does.

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Because, y’all, these crepes gave me life.

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Ali spoiled me with all of the crepes. Like, all of them. I could have taken a crepe bath, and the bathtub would have been full. Of crepes. It was magical. Before I get into serenading my favorites, let me tell you¬†a little story about meeting Ali. As we were emailing back and forth, I assumed Ali was a¬†female.¬†Hear me out. I SWEAR,¬†somewhere I read that his name was “Ally” and not “Ali.” Obviously, the pronunciation in my head was completely wrong. When I met Ali the man in person, I was confused enough to stumble with my words and feel the need to explain myself. “I um.¬†Sorry. Thought you were going to be a woman.” So yes, my first words to this kind¬†gentleman were that I thought he was going to be the opposite gender. Typical smooth talking Christina, y’all.

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Back to crepe talk now.¬†Ali the man spoiled the heck out of me with these beautiful creations. A gorgeous combination of French, Italian and Mediterranean, I found myself swooning over each and every one. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top five so that this blog doesn’t turn into a¬†short novel.¬†Ahem.

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  1. Smoked Salmon Crepe – This was my one request at Vivel’s because I have a slight obsession with smoked salmon with all the fixin’s. It was everything I dreamed of and so much more. The lightness of the crepe paired with the decadence of the¬†cream cheese, capers and salmon was DIVINE. I’m salivating just writing this. Sexy, I know.
  2. Citronade – Are y’all ready for this?! Lemon reduction, brown sugar, whipped butter and vanilla gelato. I know, right?! Butter and lemon are two of my favorite things in life, and this pairing was pure happiness. The creamy, homemade gelato perfected¬†an already heavenly masterpiece.
  3. Cannelle –¬†This is simplicity¬†at its finest and most delicious. Cinnamon, brown sugar and whipped butter. That’s all it took to leave me with a crepe crush.
  4. The Marrakesh Express – I’m a firm believer in putting an egg on it. This crepe did just that sunny side up, and added some shredded spiced lamb, cumin and extra virgin olive oil. That runny egg matched with the tender lamb and the light, airy crepe? Words cannot even express the¬†feelings of elation I felt biting into this one.
  5. The Nutty Nutella – Okay, so it’s hard to go wrong with Nutella but Vivel somehow made it¬†taste more right than ever before. The walnuts and toasted almonds made the Nutella feel¬†perfectly at home in the crepe¬†paradise that¬†it so rightly deserves.

Special mention also goes out to the Vivel Latte with the lavender infused milk. I knew by my second sip of this strong and slightly sweet concoction that I had found myself a new beloved latte.

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Vivel know how to put life into crepes, you guys.¬†Every¬†single bite of every single crepe that¬†I bit into was exquisite. Ali is a worldwide and longtime expert¬†of the food industry, and this is evident in the¬†mesmerizing combinations of flavors he so masterfully creates. Forget pancakes, guys. Vivel’s will have you¬†exclaiming ‘Holy Crepe!’ in no time.

 

Baked By Amy’s Tasting

You walk in, and are immediately hit with the smell of happiness. The sweet¬†warmth¬†of cupcakes and cookies fill your lungs, and there’s suddenly an extra bounce in your step.¬† It’s like magic. Beautiful, delicious magic.

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This is how I felt walking into Baked by Amy’s. I was immediately greeted with four seasonal macarons, two cookies the size of my face and three gigantic cupcakes.¬†They sure do know how to woo a girl.¬†I was also immediately charmed by the interior. Bright and merry and full of flowers and¬†gorgeously decorated chalkboards.

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I was so excited about all of the things that it took me a while to settle down and actually bite into anything.  But once I started eating, stopping was not an option.

The pina colada macaron had me from first taste. I had forgotten the description given to me by the time I¬†bit into it, but it might as well have been called “summer.” It tasted like¬†a first dip into a swimming pool, like the sweet smell of tropical suntan lotion, like a perfect vacation in the middle of July. Put simply, it was paradise to my taste buds.

Another source of pure joy? The lemon tart cupcake donned a light, whipped topping which was an¬†ideal¬†match for the crumbly,¬†curd filled cupcake. Another addition that pairs wonderfully with a hot, summer’s day.

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The rest of the baked goodness did not disappoint. From the Tres Leches cupcake full of fresh fruit and cream to the¬†blissfully sweet¬†cherry and berry macarons, every little thing Baked by Amy’s does¬†is magic.

The best part of all of this for someone as indecisive as me? I don’t have to choose between cupcakes, cookies or macarons before coming in.¬†They have ’em all! Not in the mood for any of that (you crazy, boo) either? There’s an Amy’s Ice Creams RIGHT next door.

Did I mention yet¬†Baked by Amy’s¬†is ten minutes from my house? Ain’t that the sweetest?!

 

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.