Monday, January 16, 2017

Lick Honest Ice Creams

 A buddy and I were out on Burnet one night waiting to go meet-up with our crew for a few beers, when he says "I'm in the mood for ice cream". He did a quick search for places close by, expecting to find a Baskin Robbins or Dairy Queen. Instead, he found a place called "Licks".

 How could you not go to a place called Licks?

 I have found the sweeping changes in the Austin Market fascinating. Nothing is simple anymore. You cannot just open a burger-joint in Austin; instead it either needs to be "gourmet" or "retro". Pretentiousness has become a gimmick. It was a bit of a cultural jolt to find a specialty ice cream place sandwiched between two very classy restaurants and in a strip-shopping center including a couple of high-end furniture stores next door to one of the newly built apartment/shopping structures. Not long ago, this same area is where one would go to visit local comic-book stores, tattoo-studios, and head-shops. 

 Austin is changing.

 Licks is closer to a European ice cream shop than the traditional American shop, primarily in that the scoops are smaller than what you might expect. The distinction that Lick wants you to recognize is their use of all-natural ingredients and artisan ice creams. You don't just get vanilla, you get "Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans enhanced by the sweet, complex notes of local Good Flow Honey". You don't get chocolate, you get "buttery notes from SRSLY Chocolate and Texas Olive Ranch olive oil shine through this dark chocolate and sea salt flavor".

 That is what I got. Two scoops of that in a chocolate-waffle bowl. As weird as chocolate, olive-oil, and sea-salt ice cream might sound, it was very good. There was just a hunt of sale in this very chocolaty ice cream. Service was friendly, even though it was a busy night. seating was limited, as was parking (half the 20+ spaces lot was closed off for the valet parking being offered by one of the restaurants). 

 The price was very reasonable. My two scoops of specialty ice cream with a chocolate waffle bowl was right around $4.00. 

 The crowd at this place on the night I visited matched the decor. Definitely the "in" crowd or those desperate to be seen that way. My friend and I stuck out like two sore thumbs. Lick Honest Ice Creams appears to be a favorite of the Hipster-Elite in Austin, but don't hold that against it.

 Next time I visit, I am trying the Goat Cheese, Thyme, and Honey ice cream.



Dan's Hamburgers: North Lamar

 I have been shopping at the Half Price Books on North Lamar Boulevard south of West Koenig Lane for over a decade. The entire time, Dan's Hamburgers was right across the street, but I never bothered visiting. I went to Fran's Hamburgers on South Congress when I first moved to Austin (until 1990, they were the same company), and as readers of this blog know I was not impressed.  I had a little time one day and was in the area, so instead of stopping into DK Sushi next door, I decided to give Dan's a shot.

 Dan's Hamburgers is another Austin original business, founded in 1973. Going into the Dan's on North Lamar has the feel of stepping back in time to the 1970s; the restaurant has a simple floor-plan with red and chrome fixtures and an almost dingy look (unavoidable in an open room where lots of things are fried every day). The menu has nothing out of the ordinary; burgers, fries, onion rings, sodas, and shakes. Dan's has a breakfast and dinner menu that includes omelets, breakfast tacos (because this is Austin), biscuits and gravy, chicken strips, and chicken-fried steak.


 The onion-rings are a must, though they are a little thick for my taste they are still amazing. The double-hamburger with cheese I ordered was good; just what you would expect of a simple hamburger. A burger, onion rings, and a soda was just over $10. The service was friendly and the food was cooked to order. It is not a place you will get in-and-out of quickly, but you won't mind the wait.


 Dan's Hamburgers has expanded to four locations, and based on the images on their website (http://dans-hamburgers.com/), the North Lamar location is either the oldest or the most in need of renovation. Good food for a good price, but lacking in aesthetics. A hamburger place doesn't need to be pretty, but when the word I think of to describe the interior is "dingy", there is room for improvement.



Sunday, May 1, 2016

Encore Records


 If you are a fan of metal, punk, and/or horror, you need to check out Encore Records on 6th Street just east of the underpass of I-35.  This little record store is packed to the roof with amazing merchandise.  Encore Records offers a mix of vinyl and CDs, and provides both classic and the latest albums.  Browsing their shelves is like a trip through history with classics like Exodus to the latest album by Rob Zombie. Mixed in with the metal and punk, you will also find some country, hip-hop, rock-and-roll, and even rap, but the place has the look, feel, and merchandise to cater to a crowd that enjoys a much heavier sound.


 It doesn't end with music at Encore.  They also offer an excellent collection of classic horror films, b-movies, and cult-films.  Above the shelves hang t-shirts, almost entirely black, printed with album art, horror-film art, and other assorted weirdness.  

 Encore Records is also where to go to find trade publications about the metal scene, local events and concert information, and to stay on-top of what is about to drop.  There staff is incredibly knowledgeable about rock and metal, and some of the friendlies around.  Encore Records also participates in the annual Record Store Day events, offering opportunities to get rare and collectible albums and merchandise.

 Encore Records offers something that cannot be gotten from downloading music on-line.  It is more than just a retail outlet, it is a community hub for everyone who loves heavy music and the metal scene.  If you haven't been yet, you should check them out.

 Encore Records
 809 E 6th St

 Austin, TX 78702

 (512) 451-8111

Old School Bar and Grill


 I am just going to put this out there.  Almost every Sunday, my daughter and I hit the town to check out something new.  To be perfectly honest, I have been remiss in the many opportunities to blog about our adventures the amazing city of Austin Texas.  Consider this blog the first in the re-emergence of the Austin Lowbrow blog.  And, if you want to hangout with us while we do our thing around town, hit me up and I will tell you when and where we will be.


 This Sunday, we had the need to be on 6th Street.  We were on our way to Tears of Joy (the photos for which did not turn out, but rest assured I will be back to review it) and we were trying to decide on what to have for lunch.  My daughter is a minor, but unbeknownst to many minors can eat at the bars that serve food in Austin as long as it is before a certain time, like maybe 8pm.  So, as we happened to be walking by the Old School Bar and Grill, their greeter stopped us at the door and asked if we wanted to see a menu.  We decided to roll with it, and ended up on the third-floor balcony overlooking 6th Street, waiting for our lunch.


The Old School Bar and Grill is in a really beautiful building, one with a great deal of antique charm.  We were escorted through the ground-floor eatery up two flights of wooden stairs to what appeared to be the dance-floor and stage on the third-floor, and from there to the balcony.  This was the perfect day to be eating outside, maybe in the high 60s and just a little cloudy.  They had probably only opened within the last hour, but the wait-staff proved to be very attentive to the handful of patrons already out on Sunday.


 A couple of items caught my eye on their menu.  They serve a Blue Cheese Buffalo Burger, a hamburger patty seasoned with buffalo sauce, blue cheese, and bacon.  I considered this as an option until I saw they have fish-and-chips, my base-line pub-food of choice.  I elected to have the fish-and-chips, while my daughter went with a burger.

 In addition, there drink menu included a concoction called "The Granpa", a collection of fruit liquors that sounded tasty.  I am one who likes my drinks to taste good, and not require developing a taste for them.

 The order was filled in roughly ten minutes.  The Granpa proved to be an excellent choice; sweet while not syrupy and strong enough to offer a mild buzz.  The fish-and-chips were better than average, but not near the top of my list of good dishes, making me wish I had went with the burger.  My daughter enjoyed her burger, but was neither impressed nor disappointed.  The home-style fries were as good as any other part of the meal. 

 All-in-all, the meal was well worth the $30 spent on two plates and a drink.  I will be going back to try that burger. 

 401 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701






Thursday, May 29, 2014

Austin Vape and Smoke

  I love the eclectic South First neighborhood; its eateries, retro-shops, and tattoo studios set the standard for what it to me truly Austin.  A welcome addition to the mix is Austin Vape and Smoke at 4200 South 1st St, just a block south of Ben White Blvd, and well worth the short drive the the heart of the South First neighborhood.  Austin Vape and Smoke brings a local flair to the smoking and vaping business.

 The E-Liquid Industry is growing in popularity in Austin and around the nation.  "Vaping", which includes E-cigarettes, is more than just a safe alternative to regular cigarettes.  E-Liquids come in a variety of flavors and include mixes which offer a number of different benefits.  On the rare occasions when I have smokes socially, I have always hated the flavor of cigarettes while enjoying the buzz of nicotine.  E-Liquid gives me a variety of flavors; from traditional tobacco to cinnamon roll.  I can also choose my nicotine content, no nicotine, and even a mellowing oil derived from industrial hemp that is 100% legal.

 For those concerned about the safety of vaping, Kemal Whyte, one of the owners of Austin Smoke and Vape, explained that we are talking about 2000 or more harsh chemical additives in your standard cigarette compared to less then a dozen chemicals that are often included as additive in our food.  The tobacco industry, concerned about protecting it's profits, has engaged in a campaign to challenge the E-Liquid market.  While I recognize that there is no such thing as 100% safe, E-Liquid is by far a safer alternative to what is offered by the tobacco industry.

 The education I received on vaping from Kemal is one of the reasons why I will shop Austin Vape and Smoke before any other vendor.  These guys have a passion for the vaping and smoking culture.  Their shop includes a number of E-Liquid devices designed to serve the needs of the occasional vaper to the regular user, and the have a HUGE selection of E-Liquids to choose from.  They also offer a variety of recreational smoking devices; hookas, water-pipes, and beautiful glass pieces that you must see.  Austin Vape and Smoke is also culturally engaged, as a visit to their Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/Austinvapeandsmoke) demonstrates their support of the legalization of marijuana and their effort to educate the public about its medicinal benefits.

Along with art, artists are also occasionally on display.
 Going to Austin Vape and Smoke is a great experience.  The guys are professional and friendly, going out of their way to cater to their customers and their questions.  The shop is impressively clean and open, with local artists being invited to display work on their walls.  Having been to a few other smoke shops in town, I can tell you that this is not typical of the industry.  Whether you are considering vaping for the first time or you have been into recreational smoking for years, Austin Vape and Smoke is the shop in town that will take care of you.


 Austin Vape and Smoke
 4200 South 1st St.
 Austin, TX, 78745
 512 579-7361
 Austinvapeandsmoke@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Your Mom's Burger Bar, Home of the Stuffed Burger

 Unfortunately, Your Mom's Burger Bar has closed.  I hope Ryan and Gina give it another shot sometime soon.

-J


So, here's a little story.

 Last Saturday, my wife and I were on out way to take me to work.  We decided to get a little lunch on the way, and not feeling like eating at any of our usual spots I suggested we visit "Your Mom's Burger Bar" on Airport Blvd.  It was on the way and I had been wanting to check it out since it opened.  My wife suggested that the only reason I wanted to check it out was because of the "tattoo vibe".  The logo features a woman with a tattoo on her wrist and the building is painted black.  I pointed out that the name is clever as well. 

 When we pulled-up Saturday, it was about 11:15 in the morning.  At the door was a woman who I assumed was a waitress who turns out to be Gina Blackmore, one of the owners.  She informed us that the restaurant did not open until noon, but if we were willing to stick around until 11:50 she could get the chef to start out orders early.  Despite this kind offer, my wife and I both had places to be ( I work at a tattoo studio that opens at noon).  I took a menu and said we would come back.  Feeling bad, I even called the owner on my way to work and told him that my wife and I would be in for our "date night" Monday.  I just wanted to let him know he had not lost a customer.

 True to my word, we pulled up to the restaurant Monday night around 8pm.  It had been a slow Monday for Ryan Blackmore, the owner, and he had just closed the shop and was in the process of turning another diner away we he saw us.  He was excited to see us, and invited the other diner to come back in.  Inside, he told his step-son to fire up the grill and asked us all for our orders. 

 My wife was correct about my being attracted to the vibe.  The interior was decorated with kitchy signs and stencil art work.  Punk rock music played on the stereo.  We sat at the bar and chatted-up Ryan while he cooked.  Ryan is easily the most gracious host I have ever met at a restaurant.  He truly has a passion for making a great hamburger and making the experience a great one. 
Oh!-rings.  Had to pull an image from Your Mom's FB page.

 We ordered the Oh!-rings, Elvis Fried Pickles, the Willie Nelson Burger and the Robert DeNiro Burger.  I love onion-rings, and the Oh!-rings were hands-down the best I ever had.  The 1/2 pound stuffed burgers were incredible, and worth every penny at about $8.00 each.  We were lucky enough to catch Ryan experimenting with a new menu item, which he treated us to.  The Cupcake Shakes sound awesome, but if we are lucky he will add the Cheesecake Cupcake Shake to the menu.

 All-in-all, Your Mom's Burger Bar is a great dining experience.  Ryan and Gina Blackmore have added something special to eclectic mix of venues and eateries that are enhancing the section of Airport Blvd west of I-35.  Swing by and get a burger at Your Mom's... You will not be disappointed.

 5001 Airport Blvd
 Austin, TX, 78751
 512-454-MOMS (6667)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Little Pricks Tattoo

 It's an awesome shop with a funny name.

 Owner Kyle Giffen explained that the name was part of a list of names that he took to Lakeline Mall one day and just asked random people which they preferred.  Options like "Lonestar Tattoo" received an occasional nod of approval, but it was "Little Pricks Tattoo" that won hands-down.  

 You may know Kyle as the front-man of the local band "Red Cry" that played several gigs around Austin over the last few years.  You may also know him as one of the contestants on Season One of "Best Ink".  But, how you should really know Kyle is as one of the best Tattoo Artists in Austin, Texas.

 And now, he has opened his own shop.  

 Kyle's worked in several shops here in Austin, and he has taken those years of experience and created his personal vision of how a Tattoo Studio should operate.  At Little Pricks Tattoo, you will find the very best practices against cross-contamination and blood-born pathogens.  Needles and tubes are sealed until use and disposed of after each tattoo.  The studio is immaculately clean.  Safety and the health of the client is clearly priority one.

 While those high-standards place Little Pricks Tattoo at the head of the pack in Austin, it is the atmosphere that really sets the shop apart from others.  Kyle has gone out of his way to create and open, friendly, and fun environment.  Attitudes are check at the door.  The shop is brightly colored, the faces are friendly, and visitors are always welcome.  Folks from the local neighborhood (Anderson Mill and Cedar Park) often stop in to talk tattoos, business in general, or just to enjoy the vibe.  

 Little Pricks Tattoo is also reaching out to the community.  Artists are invited to display their work in the studio's front lobby, with the requirement that a portion of any sale be donated to a local charity.  Little Prick Tattoo has begun reaching out to local organizations to coordinate events that benefit the community or bring attention to a public issues.  Recognizing how good the local community has been to them, Kyle and his crew at Little Pricks Tattoo want to give back to the community in as many ways as they can.

 The art work itself is simply top-notch.  Kyle and fellow artist Matthew Cesario specialize in Neo-American Traditional Style Tattoos, essentially old-school tattoos featuring bold out-lines drawn in the traditional style but with bright colors, high-contrast shading, and modern subject-matter.  Their work is beautiful to behold and keep clients coming back for more.  

 Check them out on-line at http://littleprickstattoo.com

 Pay them a visit at: 11815 North FM 620, #6, Austin, TX.  They are open 12pm-10pm Monday-Saturday.

 You can also give them a call at (512) 502-4591.