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 (, 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.