Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tarred & Feathered at Moonshine's Brunch In Austin

The delay in posting Breakfast In Austin's review is sort of like the Moonshine experience on Sunday morning. Imagine arriving to a traffic jam of cars awaiting valet parking and a sea of patrons hoping for their black square buzzers to vibrate and flash with affirmation. After scurrying out of G-Man's SUV, I ran inside to visit the hostess desk and was told we'd have a 1 hour and 15 minute wait. Wait for over an hour? Sure! Why the hell not.

The characters looked interesting enough. The post UCLA/UT crowd was sprawled out on the patio suffering from hangover or loss and couples & families cluttered the sidewalks. All looked conversational and content. The contentment, I'm guessing, coming from a mandatory trip to the bartender who guaranteed the heaviest pours all around. It took about a second to grab my buzzer and place my order with the bartender. Our 1 hour plus delay became a relaxed and leisurely 45 minutes because of the generous amounts of people watching AND potent vodka in our Ann's Bloody Mary's. Folks! Please don't hesitate to order a double. So far, not the #1 Bloody Mary in town, but hands down - the best pour.

Seriously. The moment you enter Moonshine to feast, you're taken back to a simpler & historical time. Prohibition? Well...obviously not. Moonshine's home was built and owned by a German family in the late 1800's and served as a grocery and dry goods store. Later the 1-story addition was used as a saloon. Jump ahead 100 years to current day September 2010 and imagine innovate American comfort food in a relaxed and cool atmosphere. Moonshine, by nearly all accounts, has become an Austin staple. Voted #1 in several Austin Chronicle categories (including Best Sunday Brunch), most Austin-ites know the Green Chile Macaroni & Cheese or the Broiled Rainbow Trout with Cornbread Stuffing & Chile Sage Butter. Just ask them. Moonshine has such a great reputation that folks don't mind waiting in a line for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch.

Warm and fuzzy at the 45 minute mark, our buzzer lit up like a Christmas tree and G-Man and I were immediately seated by a window in an intimate corner. Erin, from Michigan, introduced herself as our server and gave us the quick rundown on Moonshine's buffet styled food placement. Surprisingly, most servers don't introduce themselves by name anymore. Erin did and she was absolutely lovely and attentive. Here's a photo of Erin.

It was an undertaking, but I made it a personal mission to sample most items from the Brunch Menu. Here are some snapshots, a list of what I tasted and my impressions noted accordingly:

Ann's Bloody Mary with vodka, tomato
juice, chipotle & garlic (WOW - an impressive vodka pour!)
Egg in a Biscuit (The BEST!)
Sliver of a Veggie Omelette (perfect & flavorful)
Green Egg Scramble with Basil Pesto, Parmesan Cheese & Tomatoes (really green & has St. Patrick's Day written all over it)
King Ranch Casserole (good)
Grilled Jalapeno Breakfast Sausages (spicy little numbers - yum!)
Roasted Red Potatoes (more spice please)
Green Chile Cheese Grits w/hatch green chiles & cheddar cheese (slightly runny in consistency but flavorful)
Cornflake Fried Chicken Tenders (not a fan of the fry, but a nice alternative to a chicken tender)
Buttermilk Biscuits with Chipotle Cream & Gravy (delicious)
Turkey Croissant (flavorful but bordering on soggy from sitting)
Miniature bagel with salmon spread (perfect spread)
Seasonal Fresh Fruit with poppy seed yogurt (fresh and satisfying)
White Chocolate Bread Pudding (holy cow! a wonderful surprise)
Plate full of baked goods; cinnamon pinwheel, apple turnover, cappuccino bundt cake, (#1 in deliciousness was the cappuccino bundt cake - all others were dry but tasty)

I highly recommend a little Moonshine! Sunday Brunch is served from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and costs $15.95 per plate. Should you prefer quick seating, it's best to arrive early or after 1 p.m. In the event you want the entire dog and pony show (including drinks on the patio & bonding with the crowd) arrive somewhere in the middle. Moonshine does not take reservations for Sunday Brunch.

It's all about the feast, not the famine!

To learn more about Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar & Grill, banquet options & other menus, visit
To view their Brunch Menu:

Pros: Fresh & flavorful food, great selection, ambiance, service, a place you can relax & never feel rushed, heavy on the pour bloody mary
Cons: If you're expecting to be seated quickly - you'll be stuck with a wait
Suggestions: Spice up your red potatoes and thicken your green chile grits

Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar & Grill ~ 303 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701 ~ 512.236.9599

Saturday, September 18, 2010

At home with Breakfast In Austin

Today Breakfast In Austin is at home! Due to Saturday morning indecisiveness, I decided to chef up my own little breakfast. Through the years I've been pretty comfortable in the kitchen. Never taking any formal classes other than a couple at Whole Foods in Austin and Seattle, I'm an inventive but novice chef. Typically I don't follow recipes but rather tweak them or create my own.

As for breakfast in my own kitchen, I'm an advocate of all things turkey bacon (Oscar Meyer should pay me big money for converting 100's from pig to turkey - thank you very much) because of it's leanness and flavor. I've tried every brand - organic and otherwise and always come back to Oscar Meyer's Turkey Bacon product. Surprised? Just try it already! Additionally I love EGGS as a base, usually favoring frittata's, omelets and scrambles because of the latitude of ingredients you can play with. They are healthy dishes (if you want them to be) and tough to screw up!

This morning's fare is a delicious and easy to make Red Peppered Frittata with Turkey Bacon & Parmesan, with less than 30 minutes of preparation and cooking time. The result is a gorgeous little egg pie which is flavorful, healthy and a hit with just about anyone young or old. Not only do frittata's make sense in the morning, but can also be served as a brunch dish or at dinner with a salad. Here is the recipe & easy to follow instructions:

Red Pepper Frittata with Turkey Bacon & Parmesan
(Serving 1-2)

2 Large Organic Brown Eggs
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup Organic Egg Whites
1/4 cup diced Red Onion
2-3 fresh garlic cloves (garlic press)
4-5 pieces of Turkey Bacon
1/4 Red Pepper (diced)
2-3 TBSP grated Parmesan Cheese
Sprinkling of fresh Parsley
Pam Spray - Organic styled Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees;
2. In a non-stick pan cook Turkey Bacon on the stovetop (when opening pack, cut all strips down middle - half pieces are easier to handle when cooking and cutting) Once Turkey Bacon is finished, remove pieces and place between paper towels to capture excess grease then chop into small pieces (set aside);
3. Beat Eggs & Egg Whites in bowl, add Pepper (set aside);
4. Dice Red Onion and Garlic (set aside);
5. Dice Red Pepper, parmesan and parsley (set aside);
6. In an 8 inch, oven proof & non-stick saute pan, spray with Pam and cook onion & garlic until softened and fragrant;
7. Add diced Turkey Bacon, Red Pepper & Parmesan to egg mixture and gently blend;
8. Add egg mixture to pan and stir gently to combine with red onion and garlic;
9. Increase heat to medium to medium high and cook without stirring for 2-3 minute, then loosen the edges with a flat wooden spoon or spatula. (This is when I work the pan and tip it from various angles, allowing the uncooked egg mixture on top to run toward the edges - continuing to loosen the edges with my flat wooden spoon);
10. In no more than 10 minutes the frittata should be mostly cooked. Transfer the oven proof saute pan into the oven for 10 minutes OR until frittata is set;
11. Remove from oven and give it a quick cool. Gently transfer the frittata to a cutting board, slice into 4 pieces, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with a side of salsa and fresh fruit.

As you play with this recipe I suggest you add more or less red onion, garlic, pepper, veggies and cheese based on your personal preferences. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do and can see the endless variations in ingredients.

It's all about the feast, not the famine!

Pros: Luxury of cooking the meal you want with bold flavors, being inventive, little expense, wear whatever outfit you want
Cons: Clean up
Suggestions: Hard pressed to come up with any

Breakfast In Austin ~ home ~
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Perfect Breakfast Tacos at Jose's Taqueria el Guerrerense

Our neighborhood taco trailer owned and operated by Jose is unassuming, inexpensive, ultra-casual with made to order breakfast tacos. Jose is a gracious host who also works a second job selling ski boats. His menu is hand written in spanish, translated for us gringos into english and all food is made to order. All breakfast tacos cost no more than $1.50. The trailer is old, simple and nothing impressive at first glance. All of that changes when Jose flashes his crooked-toothed smile.

With an eagerness to provide a glimpse into Jose's Mexican styled cooking, these gorgeous little breakfast tacos are heavily influenced by Jose's upbringing in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Notably more identifiable with one of it's core cities being Acapulco. This is where Jose is from and serves as the inspiration for the name of his business, Guerrerense being a person from the state of Guerrero. Ole!

Jose recently moved his trailer and table and chairs from the boat lot near Hudson Bend Middle School down the street half mile to Texas Custom Choppers. From Mansfield Dam heading toward Lakeway, that'd be approximately 3 miles on your left. The new location is a bit tricky because it sits on the edge of 620, but it's still accessible. On any given morning park in the Texas Custom Choppers lot or take your chance on the side of the road.

Upon our arrival at around 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning and feeling like the consummate regulars, G-Man placed his order with Jose first. 2 chorizo, egg & cheese breakfast tacos in flour tortillas, topped with the weekend only and freshly made avocado based green salsa.

I mixed it up and requested 1 bacon, egg & cheese and 1 bean, egg & cheese (Jose added a few pieces of ham), also topped with the avocado salsa. Both our plates were gorgeous, fresh and flavorful. At 3 bucks per plate, pretty unreal!

With food comes thirst, so G-Man and I each enjoyed Jose's freshly made lime-aid in a super-size cup. With a generous amount of sugar and the authentic sour of lime, our mouths couldn't help but pucker. What a refreshing compliment to the tacos. Tummies full, we said our goodbyes & thank you's to Jose and left happy.

We've been repeat customers too many times to count and Jose deserves more success than he currently has. The quality and flavor of Jose's breakfast tacos are better than most. Taqueria el Guerrerense is open 7 days a week with a full menu. (I highly recommend the chicken tacos later in the day) I promise a visit to this trailer will be worth the drive for you downtown Austin-ites. For those of you who live in Central or near the Lake, come on over. Remember to tell Jose that Jen sent you! You won't be disappointed with this unknown breakfast experience.

It's all about the feast, not the famine!

Pros: Fresh ingredients, amazing taste & flavor, inexpensive, made to order, open 7 days a week, lunch & dinner items, BYOB but be discreet
Cons: Not the best location - off shoulder of busy 620 - your life is in your own hands
Suggestions: The old menu board has faded from elements, time for a new one, Jose! Time to advertising - owner deserve more business

Taqueria el Guerrerense (In front of Texas Custom Choppers) ~ 2203 RR 620 North, Austin, TX 78734 ~ For to go orders call 512.317.5339 or for events call 512.657.3955

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Funk & 50's at Austin Diner

Breakfast, by all accounts, is a pretty affordable meal, unless you're hitting brunch with 2 or more friends every weekend and sipping on mary's or mimosa's. Sort of puts the cost of eggs, bacon & toast in its own place. My initial hope with Breakfast In Austin was to flip between breakfast and brunch from week to week and showcase some cool places to start the day. With my last two reviews focusing on brunch, it was time to focus on some breakfast only menus. This weeks choice? The Burnet Road landmark and ultra retro, Austin Diner.

The Austin Diner oozes that old 50's - 60's ultra funky vibe! I'm not sure if it was the old signage embossed with "Diner" out front or the hard plastic elementary styled chairs with steel legs sitting outside. I couldn't wait to open the door to see what subtle nuances I might find inside. I was not disappointed! Gotta say, it was a toss-up on the old school decor - the glass vertical shelving hosting pots & pitchers, a wall holding old toasters & griddles AND the black records mounted on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. The latter was my fav! Certainly the formica dinette tabletops and checkered floors added a little class to the joint.

After G-Man and I were greeted by a pleasant waitress, I found myself bobbing along toward our table to an Elvis Presley tune. Totally fitting but where was the jukebox? We ordered our obligatory black coffee & water and once pleasant waitress returned, the musical stylings had hit Stevie Ray and an old Aerosmith tune. Nice mix! I asked what 2 items were popular on the Austin Diner menu. Answer? The Egg Platter or Brian's Favorite. But I had another idea in mind...

At the recent urging of a friend who loves Migas, he suggested I find a presentation to write up and photograph. The stars aligned because Migas was exactly what I wanted. Austin Diner delivered! Made with two scrambled eggs (which honestly seemed like the largest 2 eggs I'd ever had) sauteed onions, cilantro, jalapenos, tomato and a generous amount of tortilla strips, topped with cheese...I was in absolute heaven! Flavorful and hearty, I couldn't finish my plate (and I used the 2 flour tortillas provided). The Migas was also served with semi-bland home fries and a cup of black beans with kick. The charge? $6.99 - which to me was well priced and worth every penny!

G-Man was also inclined to order the Migas, great minds I'm telling you, but for the review's sake opted instead for the Mexican Omelet. G-Man hadn't eaten an omelet in years, but was curious and on a protein kick. His egg creation was made with 3 eggs, blended cheeses, sauteed onions, tomato, jalapenos, cilantro and topped off with ranchero sauce & sour cream. I thought the presentation looked too runny but G-Man was pleased and commented on the solid flavor and heartiness of the dish. I went in for a bite with my own fork and found the omelet - good. G-Man's sides included toast and home fries, all for the sticker price of $7.50.

I leave you with this - the general philosophy in Austin, I believe, is never sacrifice the stomach's need for nourishment. There is never a shortage of those who spend at their favorite establishments, but come on...we're all looking for a deal! The Austin Diner has that affordability factor. Matched with ambiance and vibe, patrons won't feel short changed. Perhaps the same circa 1950? Austin Diner offers great food, supplies awesome portions, is ultra-easy on the pocketbook and serves breakfast all day! So go pay your bills and swing by this hip little Diner.

It's all about the feast, not the famine! (Thinking this might just be my catch-phrase!)

To learn more about Austin Diner, go to

To view the Breakfast Menu, go to and scroll down to the very bottom

Pros: Affordable prices, cool retro vibe, quick & friendly service, flavorful food, lots of patrons, good parking
Cons: Sorry, but the tables were a little dirty
Suggestions: Wipe off the extra large salsa bottle before you move it from one table to another - germaphobes won't like that

Austin Diner ~ 5408 Burnet Rd., Austin, TX 78756 ~ (512) 467-9552