Note to Bostonians: This post is intended to get you to come visit.
Living in Austin is sometimes like being at a perpetual happy hour; everywhere you turn there’s a cheap beer or a frozen margarita special. So, let’s be honest, y’all don’t really need anymore cheap drinks. I know I don’t! But, the fact remains, 20-dollar entrees really just aren’t in my budget. Lucky for me (and you!), some of the finest chefs in Austin have caught on to this. Enter the happy hour.
A revered Austin tradition, happy hours are an art form here. Some places do a different happy hour every day, some places have HH prices all night once a week, and some places let you eat a maki roll that would normally be $10 for $6. I love this because it gives everyone a chance at fine dining, it says “Hey, this is our community and we want to share what we love with everyone.” To which I reply, I would be proud to partake!
I went to the lovely Uchiko with my man yesterday for their Sake Social Hour. In case you don’t like Bravo, Uchiko is home to current Top Chef contestant Paul Qui… this is for real. We sat at the slightly crowded bar, surrounded by people who had, let’s just say, been to Uchiko before. After taking a moment to re-calibrate my usual excitement and tone down my fatty-noises (they were coming from the bar peanuts that are covered in this amazing chili-glaze… I think the bartender was actually impressed with how fast we ate them), we ordered two rolls ($6/ea), the brussel sprouts ($3), the gyutan nigiri ($3), and a glass of unfiltered sake each ($3). That’s a solid meal at one of the best restaurants in town for $26 for two people.
I could go on and on about how good the food was (beef tongue! Katsu pork belly! Yama gobo! Egg yolk custard! Oh my!), but you should probably just go check it out yourself. The atmosphere of the restaurant is calm and comfortable, warm and exotic all at once. I didn’t take any cell-phone pictures because I didn’t want to interrupt our experience or do an injustice to any of the beautiful food.
I’ve got my eye on a few other swanky happy hours including Parkside (everyday 5-7), Jeffery’s (5-7 everyday but Saturday when it’s 9-11), and Perla’s (3-6 weekdays). Some Twitter recommendations that I’ll be checking on soon are: Whip-In, UMI, and Kona Grill. I know what standing in a dive bar drinking a Lone Star feels like, so now I’m out for atmosphere, I’m out for art.