Monday, August 30, 2010

Not just DOGS & BEER at Frank!

FRANK! Located between 4th & 5th on Colorado in Downtown Austin, Frank is known for their variety of kick ass hot dogs, surprising sides and cold beer. If a chili cheese or nacho dog aint your thing, Frank totes himself as the Purveyor of Artisan Sausage and offers The Notorious P.I.G. or a beer soaked Brat. Dogs for everyone from 11am to 10pm, Monday through Saturday. Additionally there's a Late Night Menu for the chronic, 20+ something stumbler from 10pm to close.

If you think Frank's day & nighttime menus aren't enough, you'll be pleased to know they're open for breakfast from 8am to 11am. The menu is simple and affordable including Intelligentsia Coffee, Pastries, Beignets and Biscuits. But that's not what has Breakfast in Austin so captivated! When I discovered their Sunday Brunch and studied the menu, I thought I'd died and gone to Frank heaven. A Red Headed Stranger? Flapsticks? Biscuits with Jackalope Gravy? No better occasion then to grab friend and fellow breakfast lover, Sarah Groves and experience the home cooking of Frank on Sunday!

Ms. Groves arrived right on time at 11am with an up front parking space and I...was late. Luckily no harm. Sarah and I eagerly blasted through Frank's friendly doors and were quickly seated in Joe's section. No wait and definitely the best two top in the joint, as we could see everything and everyone! Sarah was clearly needing a little hair of the dog, so my suggestion of their Red Headed Stranger was kindly received. Joe! Two, please. I had heard of the bacon infused vodka additive, but giggled like a school girl at the sight of the chunk of cheddar cheese and bacon garnish in my Mason jar. May I say, don't let the bacon fool you because this was the best Bloody Mary I've had in a LONG time! Sarah concurred.

Onto the food! Truthfully I had read the Frank brunch menu prior to arriving, so I had already decided to order off their "Fantastic Four" menu for $11.00. Basically, select 4 out of 15 items and EAT. My selections? The Split Biscuit with Jackalope Gravy, 2 Over Easy Eggs, Hash Brown Casserole and Bierock. Everything was flavorful and good - especially the Split Biscuit with Jackalope Gravy and Hash Brown Casserole. The Bierock? This was Frank's version of a German pocket pastry, labeled "The Elvis". You guessed it! Diced Banana, peanut butter and speckles of bacon on the inside. Let's just say the first bite was totally bizarre but completely tasty at the same time.

Sarah's turn. Paired with her hair of the dog, Sarah decidedly zoned in on the Frank Texas Benedict. A great choice and a plate after my own heart! Due to my incessant need for all things Benedict, I avoided eyeballing this delicacy until Ms. Groves ordered it. Tradition aside, this dish shined with a jumbo split cheddar biscuit, pulled pork, fried eggs and jalapeno hollandaise. I was able to sample a touch of the hollandaise on my fork and it was delicious. Must say I was a little envious! Sarah was more than satisfied with her choice and gave this version of Benedict a big thumbs up.

I LOVE FRANK! To date this is my favorite place for Sunday Brunch in Austin and I cannot wait to return. I highly recommend a visit to anyone who likes great service, inventive and flavorful food and a cool vibe that caters to a laid back and varied crowd. As a parting gift, don't forget to give a nod to the flag above the bar on your way out ~ our server Joe thought we'd get a laugh out of it and so will you...

On a final note - if you're not too full and up for some in house shopping, Frank has a small Grocery Store inside the restaurant, featuring cook books, hot dog material and candies. Always open to carrying local items, give Frank suggestions! The Store is open Monday through Saturday from 8am-10pm and Sunday during Brunch from 11am-3pm. "Frankly," the store didn't seem too open on this particular day.

To learn more about Frank go to
To view the Sunday Brunch Menu:

Pros: The service rocked, great open ambience and cool vibe, food & selection were amazing, bacon infused bloody with beer chaser, kid friendly, no wait
Cons: The Grocery Store wasn't open
Suggestions: This is MINOR - Work on the store, Frank! Seemed very vacant - not a lot of merchandise & nobody tending a register

Frank ~ 4th & Colorado, Austin TX 78701 ~ 512.494.6916

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brunch for the Overindulgent at Paggi House

The reputation of this place most certainly precedes itself. You can talk to anyone in Austin and you'll hear something great about Paggi House. It's impeccable service, swanky atmosphere, mouth-watering food or it's memorable brunch. 10, 10, 10 & 10. Even Yelp boasts an astounding 200 posts, which all ooze upper-crust, so why even bother to review if all the other foodies have?

I've been to Paggi House a handful of times but never to eat a full meal. Once upon a time my good friend was an original partner in the business, so occasionally we'd connect for drinks and appetizers in the one of a kind, stone constructed, courtyard bar. But after a 2 year hiatus, my fading memory recalls a once impressive wine and some type of plated hors d'oeuvre. Evidently time for my return! Enter Breakfast In Austin and my desire to experience the reputable Paggi House brunch. Some say one of the best in town...

My companion for Sunday's jaunt? Gary, or G-Man. Boyfriend extraordinaire and quite possibly the best breakfast mate with a discerning critical eye. No rainbows, butterflies or fluffy B.S. with this man. I figured if anyone could see through an overrated place, G-Man would. In any case, we arrived to this 1840's historical structure before our 11:15 a.m. reservation to free valet parking and a perky hostess dressed for the inevitable party happening later that night. We were asked politely to wait a few minutes for seating, so I ordered a Bloody Mary from the bar and my companion an Iced Tea.

After a quick 10 minutes, we were seated at a quaint 4-top inside. G-Man quickly commented on the Paggi House architecture reminding him of landmarks in Charleston, South Carolina. A definite feel good for G-Man. While waiting on our server, we laughed at the musical stylings of Bob Marley singing from the speakers. Love our reggae but seemed an odd choice in these surroundings - especially with a jazz band playing outside.

Our nameless but excellent server welcomed us by explaining most of the Sunday samplings were set up buffet style in the west end of Paggi House. With that we gathered our hunger and tasted fresh fruit with homemade whipped cream, home made pastries, french toast, bleu cheese grits, bacon, breakfast sausage, mini-quiche, roasted pork tenderloin, grilled zucchini and red onion and hash browns. The hits? The fresh fruit and cream were delicious, bleu cheese grits amazingly flavorful and the quiche worth mentioning. Unfortunately the french toast was SOGGY, the pastries bland and the other offerings just standard.

Separately, we were encouraged to order Chicken and Waffles, Eggs Any Style (benedict, scrambled, sunny side up, over easy or poached) or Omelet's from the kitchen. As if these options weren't enough, we were free to order an unlimited amount. Really??!! An absolute dream for me! I finally took the plunge in sampling Chicken and Waffles. Brave but definitely not my favorite - dark meat, gag - but quite interesting and cool in presentation. Always a sucker for the Benedict, I ordered one portion and was sadly letdown with the over use of butter in the hollandaise sauce, although the ham and poached egg were cooked well.

To top off any gluttony, we patrons have that instinctual need to combine our food and beverage, right? Paggi House delivers in this arena. Drink selections include Mimosas - $1, Spicy Bloody Mary's - $2.50, Raspberry Lemonade with Vodka - $4, Strawberry Mojito's with Silver Rum - $4.50, Red Wine Sangria - $2.50 OR you can overindulge your senses with a $20 pitcher. I opted for another Spicy Bloody Mary (that'd be 2 if you're counting) and neither were spicy enough. I ended my meal with a cup of the organic drip coffee, which was a splendid way to end this eating experience at Paggi House.

No huge regrets in Paggi House Sunday brunch but I am left with two big O's. 1 - Overrated and 2 - Overindulgent. Think a few times before adding Paggi House as your #1 breakfast destination, as the food isn't as mouth watering as you might be led to believe and the cost in my opinion is unreasonable. Will I return? Most likely yes, but for dinner or their reverse happy hour in the late p.m.

Serving Sunday brunch at the Paggi House from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Diners are encouraged to call for a reservation at 512.473.3700

Learn more about Paggi House at
To view the Paggi House Brunch Menu:

Pros: Fresh fruit, bleu cheese grits, jazz band outside, ambiance, service, cheap drinks
Cons: Soggy French Toast, overpriced buffet at $24 per plate
Suggestions: Cook French Toast for a longer period of time, use less butter in the hollandaise sauce, decrease your per plate cost

Paggi House ~ 200 Lee Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78704 ~ 512.473.3700

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Which Galaxy am I in?

My breakfast dates for this weekend? Two open-minded, hungry, but slightly sleep deprived 11 year olds. Names? Sloan & Hailee. Better known as Thing #1 and Thing #2 on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. I decided to ease any pain the Things might experience with a napkin in your lap, shoulders back, brunch type of environment and go for something a bit more child-mild. After we scoured a few venues and menus online, catering to the laid back breakfast crowds, the Things and I selected Galaxy Cafe.

Enter the Galaxy at West Lynn in between Enfield & West 6th Street. No stars, no planets but a universe all its own. A locally owned and operated business in Austin, Texas, Galaxy Cafe boasts three (3) locations to serve its patrons. Unique, in that upon entry we discovered mounted boxes with menus and a friendly young lady who greeted us. She kindly suggested we each grab & study a breakfast menu. My eyes were drawn to a white two-seater bench, so we sat and studied. After the "what are you going to have?" discussion with the Things, we all decidedly approached the young lady at the counter. Counter service it was!

I opted for my very own french press coffee (which I adored) and the healthy and fresh Mediterranean Breakfast with eggs scrambled, fresh roma tomatoes, a touch of feta cheese and chopped basil. Add avocado? Of course! Anything to embolden a meal. A small cup of fresh fruit, including strawberries, cantaloupe & honeydew, adorned the plate along with half of an unimpressive and slightly over-toasted bagel. What is it about not getting bread right? I had ordered cream cheese and was hugely relieved when it appeared in the 3rd round of table delivery. Phew... My breakfast? $6.99 plus $1.25 for the avocado. This is the first time, in a long time, that I've walked away from breakfast feeling light on my feet. Typically overindulgent for a creamy, unhealthy weekend breakfast, I finished this meal feeling satisfied -not like the typical alien living on a different planet.

The Things? They were both fairly decisive in their counter service requests. Thing #1 opted for her version of a build your own breakfast wrap. Picking and choosing ingredients, Thing #1 ordered three scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and crispy bacon, wrapped in a giant flour tortilla and served with a fresh side of salsa. Massive in size with a great taste, a noted deal at $5.99. Thing #2 kept it simple with the American Breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, three strips of bacon and a half of bagel for a very affordable $5.99. Her verdict? A clean plate and commendable dish with a 7 out of 10 rating.

Suffice it to say, Galaxy Cafe's breakfast fare was light and affordable albeit a touch predictable and standard. I will definitely return but to try heartier fare like their popular french toast platter with strawberries, bananas and powdered sugar. It was great to see a busy crowd and the bowl of dum-dums as a post breakfast dessert for the Things!

Thank you for the enjoyable breakfast, Galaxy Cafe.

Pros: Affordable prices, friendly staff, great location, kid friendly
Cons: Confusion for 1st timers at entry & exit - we saw a 6 top sit down who waited 5 minutes for table service. Oops! Food is predictable...
Suggestions: Add a hearty Eggs Benedict to the menu

Learn more about Galaxy Cafe at: and check out their menu at:

Galaxy Cafe locations ~
The Triangle at 46th at Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78751 ~ 512.323.9494
1000 West Lynn, Austin, TX 78703 ~ 512.478.3434
9911 Brodie Lane, Austin, TX 78748 ~ 512.233.6000

Monday, August 9, 2010

Brunch & Hollandaise at Eastside Cafe

A first-timer to 20 plus year old Eastside Cafe, a handful of friends suggested I make this locally owned, garden fresh haunt my first stop. Easy to find without the use of google maps - Eastside Cafe is located at 2113 Manor Road just east of I-35 and the University of Texas. As first times go, I usually drive right by a new place, but no such thing with their visible and erect sign. Entering the main house at 10:35 a.m., I was greeted by a friendly hostessing staff who quickly directed me out a backyard path to the separate, yet charming, "Garden House". Meeting up with my friend, gluten-free-girl & blogger, Sarah (or GFG for my purposes here), she'd arrived and selected a quaint two top in the back of the house near the window.

After our half-giddy/half-we're eating & blogging together greeting, we ordered drinks and scoured the menu's. GFG's? Purely gluten-free. Mine? Not so much. Nice to have options! GFG opted for a delicious Migas spread with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheddar cheese & corn tortillas. Standard sides of black beans and home fries finished the plating. Seemingly affordable at $8.95 and making gluten-free look appealing to the masses.

On the other end of the menu, I was obligated to feast on Eastside Cafe's Classic Eggs Benedict with two perfectly poached eggs, generous cuts of tasty ham and a glutenous English muffin, topped with a flavorful and creamy hollandaise sauce. Added was a side of hand cut home fries

which were especially satisfactory. Mini corn bread muffins were provided in place of the preferred blueberry as a warm up. An expected price of $11.95. Was I disappointed in one of my favorite dishes? No - the sauce was great! But I left hoping there had been more hollandaise atop my benedict gem.

I would definitely recommend swinging by the Eastside Cafe for brunch. Should the desire kick in, Eastside Cafe serves on Saturday and Sunday, between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. They're also happy to take your reservation by phoning them at (512) 476-5858. The food is fresh, flavorful and the service reflective of Austin's laid back dining style. Where else can you wander the grounds and peek into an established garden or see baby chicks in a coop?

For any overflow caused by a long wait or should you have any shopping needs, the Cafe's ownership opened a neighboring store called Pitchforks & Tablespoons. There is definitely something for everyone (coffee, books, gifts, plants), plus a 22 year old lounging cat who looks like he's had more than 9 lives. Really.

Looking forward to coming back! Thank you Eastside Cafe for a fine morning experience.

Included are links to Eastside Cafe's brunch and gluten free menus plus their website address:

Brunch ~
Gluten Free ~
Eastside Cafe's Website ~

Also, if you're interested in Gluten-Free eating tips and where to find the best GF restaurants in Austin, check out my GFG-friend's blog ~

Pros: The hollandaise sauce, atmosphere, garden, no wait
Cons: 100 degrees outside - 85 degrees in the Garden Room and I was too hot, also never caught our servers name
Suggestions: More hollandaise on your benedict, please

Eastside Cafe ~ 2113 Manor Rd., Austin, TX 78722 ~ (512) 476-5858

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why Breakfast?

Suffice it to say, I love ALL things about breakfast. Although I'm a semi-night owl, there is nothing more vibrant about my 24 hours than waking up in the morning and witnessing the sun slowly turn dark into light. Anything is possible at 6:00 a.m.! Especially with an empty stomach and the promise of turkey bacon, a frittata, bagel with lox and cream cheese, granola or eggs benedict! You get the idea.

I've played with and reviewed restaurants in the past but it was just so random and I never truly had a niche. Writing about breakfast has been churning steadily in my head for some time now and it just makes sense! I enjoy this meal more than most and have typically quested to find the "best eggs benedict" or the "best cup of coffee". Austin has some truly impressive cuisine and what better way to explore an aspect of the city that for me has been limited to a few taco stands, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Magnolia, Sweetish Hill, a couple of random brunches and a variety of coffee joints!?

So I propose to myself a win-win situation! I will eat breakfast or brunch one time a week, posting thereafter for the period of one year. It'll knock out quite a few of my favorite things - writing, photography, eating and spending time with friends, family and some business folks. I'm really excited to see how this develops and would be thrilled for you to take this ride with me!

I'd love suggestions and or comments - anytime!

To all things breakfast ~