The Houston Astros are Better than Ever

It is easy to think of the Houston Astros as a good team – yes they are. But this season has the making of something truly special and no we don’t mean just their record.  Yes, as of writing this piece they have a season high 13 game lead, but they also had two immaculate innings in one game, Justin Verlander has been having a Cy Young level season after Tommy Surgery, Jeremy Pena is putting up Rookie of the Year level numbers, Jordan is having an MVP season, and so much more.

The Juicebox

We got our start covering Longhorn games back in the day and haven’t covered as many live sporting events as we would have like. For July 4th we couldn’t think of a better idea than to cover an Astros game. With an attendance of  33,936 Minute Maid park was buzzing with red, white, and blue (yes also some orange). Over 20 years old the parks still feel fresh and the place to be on a holiday weekend during the summer in H-Town.

Image
From The Astros

Heading into this game, the Astros had just finished sweeping the Los Angeles Angels and looking to continue building their lead in the West. They started out slow with lack luster pitching and an offense not clicking with Kansas City jumping to a quick 5 run to nothing lead by the end of the third inning. Then the Astros started chipping away with one run in each of the 4th, 5th, and 7th innings culminating in a massive 8th inning that resulted in 3 runs and a tie game.

And then…. well you know what happens next. Jordan Alvarez walked it off for the win. The Astros love America. That was the Astros biggest come from behind win this season and back to back walk off home run win.

Rest of the Season

The Astros are as a Team better than ever – players with outstanding individual seasons, team chemistry off the charts, and an offense and defense that seem to be coming together at the same time. Expect a fun summer/fall and a post-season filled with good vibes. Follow us on Twitter and TikTok for more Texas sports coverage.

Houston is FROZEN!

Disney’s FROZEN, the hit Broadway Musical is making its Houston debut in an exclusive 3-week engagement. From the producer of The Lion King and AladdinFrozen, the Tony-nominated Best Musical will play Thursday, June 30, 2022 through Sunday, July 17, 2022 as part of the Memorial Hermann Broadway at the Hobby Center 2021-22 Season.

Opening Night

2013 feels just like yesterday – that is when the animated hit Frozen hit theatres and took the world by storm. On Thursday night we attending the opening night of the on stage adaptation in Houston and the it felt like 2013 in the best ways possible.  This is a show every bit as magical as the animation, packed with visual thrills and gorgeous choreography alongside signature ballads that gain greater power in their live incarnation. It is big on spectacle yet never loses control with special effects.

Background

There are currently five productions of Frozen playing around the world, including Australia, Japan, London and Hamburg. The Tony -nominated Best Musical completed its Broadway run in March 2020 after breaking four house records at The St. James Theatre.

Frozen has been created for the stage by an award-winning team and features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. 

The creative team for Frozen also includes scenic and costume design by two-time Tony and Olivier Award winner Christopher Oramlighting design by six-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz, sound design by seven-time Tony nominee Peter Hylenski, video design by Tony winner Finn Ross, puppet design by Michael Curry, hair design by David Brian Brown, makeup design by Anne Ford-Coates, special effects design by Jeremy Chernick and casting by The Telsey Office/Rachel Hoffman, CSA and Laura Wade, CSA.

Tickets

Tickets can be purchased on the Hobby Center’s website.

10 Best Restaurants and Other Places to Eat in Austin

It’s no secret that Austin, Texas is known for outstanding food, exciting live music venues, and access to scenic outdoor activities. Out of the many things to do in Austin the choices of where you’d like to eat are endless. The day I moved here I was overwhelmed with all of the delicious eateries to choose from.

10 Best Places To Eat and Drink in Austin

Here’s a list of the Best Restaurant Spots that I have tried and have found myself visiting again. 

  1. Jinya Ramen Bar
  2. Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon
  3. Lucy’s Fried Chicken
  4. Magnolia Cafe
  5. Taquero Mucho
  6. Snooze A.M. Eatery
  7. LORO
  8. Elizabeth Street Cafe
  9. Home Slice Pizza
  10. UTea Pho

1 – Jinya Ramen Bar

Jinya ramen bar in Austin

Unlike most people who find themselves craving a burger or a slice of pizza, I am someone who will willingly eat a bowl of ramen any day I can. I find myself visiting Jinya Ramen Bar and some other restaurants located at The Domain. I enjoy their rich broth which has been slowly simmered for more than twenty hours and handmade noodles, both combined to make this authentic Japanese dish. 

The modern interior and comfortable seating arrangements make this dining experience one to remember. Whether you prefer high-top or low-top tables, Jinya has you covered. You’ll definitely want to take a picture of your food and even the background to show off the lovely interior. 

To start off, I ordered the Vegan Bun (plant-base bun, pea protein patty, guacamole, and cucumber with vegan mayonnaise) and Takoyaki (battered octopus over egg tartar topped with kewpie mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, fresh cut green onion, and smoked bonito flakes). 

Both of these small plates did not disappoint. My favorite ramen dish to order is the Sprouting Up Ramen. This consists of rich pork and chicken broth, tender pork chashu, crispy brussels sprouts, thick noodles, and other delicious essentials. Next time you’re shopping at The Domain, take a lunch break and visit Jinya Ramen Bar!

2 – Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon

Fresa's Chicken al Carbon in Austin

Located at their South First location is the tasty Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon which offers dine-in seating, a full bar, a to-go window, and onsite events. I was fortunate enough to experience their beautiful outdoor patio filled with string lights, good music, and heat lamps. 

Before jumping into what food I would want to order, my roommates and I immediately requested the delectable Frozen Avocado Margaritas. I know what you’re thinking but I want you to erase whatever judgment you have and give this one a go. This frozen drink has a subtle lime flavor along with a creamy avocado addition and a classic salt rim that quenches any thirst. 

I then ordered the El Rey taco. This included beef brisket, cabbage, pickled jalapeno, chipotle mayo, and fire-roasted salsa filled inside a flour tortilla. But, that wasn’t enough to satisfy my hunger. Which is why I also got the El Santo taco filled with agave-lime chicken, avocado, jicama, carrot, jalapeno, chipotle mayo, and avocado Verde salsa wrapped in a corn tortilla.

Go enjoy some tacos and any of their frozen drinks on their outdoor patio to ensure a safe and yummy experience. 

3 – Lucy’s Fried Chicken 

Up next is the scrumptious and filling Lucy’s Fried Chicken located at their Burnet Road spot. After studying for hours at Monkey Nest Coffee, dinner time began to approach and the lit-up sign in front of this welcoming eatery caught my attention. It’s a good thing I had such a huge appetite! 

Right away I knew I was going to order the Chicken N’ Waffles. This consisted of Belgian style waffles, chicken breast, and thigh, topped with blackberries and honey butter and syrup on the side.

I have visited this place three times now and this is still the only item on the menu that I order. It fits perfectly for any time of the day whether I want it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. But, it is definitely on my bucket list to branch out and order something new on their wide variety menu. 

4 – Magnolia Cafe

Magnolia Cafe in Austin

Through thick and thin and a whole 42 years later. Magnolia Cafe has stood its ground and remains open and ready to serve both new and life-long committed customers. Open every day of the week from 8 AM. to 10 PM.

It gives a chance for anyone to come and enjoy their range of food options such as breakfast, Tex-Mex, burgers, sandwiches, and more. Luckily, I’ve tasted items from both the brunch and Tex-Mex sections of the menu. 

The Royal Toast menu item comes with four triangles of French toast, two eggs any style you want, and your choice of fruit, bacon, or ham. A classic breakfast choice that gives you all of the necessary nutrients your body craves.

I also got to order the Tex-Mex Enchiladas which have corn tortillas stuffed with cheddar and jack cheese, topped with chili con carne sauce, diced onions, cilantro, and a side of Spanish rice and black beans. 

And, let’s not forget my on-the-house Magnolia Brownie that I received graciously from my server. This homemade rich chocolate brownie served with pecans, whip cream, and vanilla ice cream made my meal even more special. You also have the choice to enjoy your food indoor, outdoor, or pick-up curbside! 

5 – Taquero Mucho

Taquero Mucho in Austin

Can you picture a restaurant that has everything pink? Pink interior, pink seating, pink drinks, even pink tacos! That is the perfect and only description for Taquero Mucho founded by Gabriela Bucio who had the vision to create a place for women to feel empowered and celebrated. This taqueria has become Austin’s hot spot for Instagram-worthy pics and feminine-themed drinks and meals. 

Even reading the menu gives customers a fun experience where they are able to scout out which aesthetically pleasing item they are craving. I got to order the Fresa Frosé, a strawberry frozen rosé served in a fun pouch with a pink straw.

To share for the table, I enjoyed the Taquitos de papa con queso, lightly fried corn tortillas filled with soft potatoes, queso fresco, cabbage, Mexican crema, cotija cheese, and guacamole. 

For my main entree, I got two Carnitas tacos served with hot pink corn tortillas, rice, beans, and topped with pico de gallo and tomatillo salsa. Needless to say, I walked away with a full tummy and an urge to go back very soon. 

6 – Snooze A.M. Eatery 

Now what I ordered was probably the most filling breakfast item I’ve ever had, and it even resulted in me taking home leftovers. The Spuds Deluxe is an option that serves a big portion of hash browns, covered with melted cheddar and jack cheese, scallions, two cage-free eggs.

However, style you’d like, and your choice of two enhancements. Your choice of enhancements (26 different options) ranges from seafood, veggie, savory sauces, meats, faux meat, and cheese categories. 

Every now and then I get the sudden urge to treat myself and order brunch (it doesn’t help when my roommates are just as easily persuaded to do the same thing). I never had heard of Snooze A.M. Eatery until very recently when I decided to go after my morning Zoom class. We masked up and were led to an orange-colored booth away from other customers. 

There are three different locations in Austin so you surely will be able to find the one most convenient to you and indulge in some hearty breakfast dishes. Your choice of dine-in, ordering online, or even catering are all options readily available. 

7 – LORO Smokehouse

LORO smokehouse in Austin

This Asian smokehouse and bar has done nothing but satisfy my hunger whenever I want something light but also fill me up at the same time. I have only experienced Loro by ordering their food through Uber Eats and having it delivered. It tends to be a great late-night meal that I end up wanting about every weekend. 

The only things I have ordered from their menu are the rice bowls, filled with coconut rice, seasonal pickles, and Thai herbs. My go-to’s are the Oak Smoked Salmon rice bowl and the Malaysian Curry Chicken rice bowl. There is something about the coconut rice and the incorporation of the salmon or chicken with the seasonal pickles that make my tastebuds devour these bowls. 

8 – Elizabeth Street Cafe 

Elizabeth Street Cafe in Austin

Serving as both a Vietnamese cafe and French bakery, Elizabeth Street Cafe is a unique neighborhood restaurant found in South Austin. The aesthetic of the place gives off tea room vibes and an elegant garden patio to complete the theme. Serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner makes it simple for people to come and go as they please. 

I went with the classic Grilled Marinated Pork Bánh Mì. Served on a house-baked baguette with homemade mayonnaise, cucumber, daikon, carrot, sambal, cilantro, and jalapeno… who wouldn’t want to taste this? I have yet to try the Pho noodle soup and grab some French macarons from the bakery. You can see that you get the best of both worlds within this eatery so stop by and prepare to enjoy! 

9 – Home Slice Pizza

Home Slice Pizza in Austin

If you’re ever in the mood for some authentic pizza by the slice or pie, Home Slice Pizza is the place for you. These homemade and hand-tossed pies will leave your stomach content whether you choose to dine-in or carry out. The friendly service and authentic pizza kitchen atmosphere will make you want to order again and again. 

During a romantic dinner date, I was able to request the Antipasto, a generous plate of Italian meats and cheeses such as salamis, capicola, Provolone, imported Parmigiano Reggiano, mixed olives, house-roasted red peppers, and marinated artichoke hearts. What more could you ask for? For the main event, I got to enjoy the classic Pepperoni & Mushroom pizza, a simple yet mouthwatering choice. 

From salads and antipasti to calzones and pizzas, this pizzeria has you covered with whatever Italian craving you have. Alcoholic beverages, desserts, and cold subs are also available and ready to order. I was able to place my order via phone and pick it up at a time convenient for me so I was able to enjoy my meal while sitting outdoors at Auditorium Shores. 

10 – UTea Pho Restaurant

UTea Pho Restaurant in Austin

A big bowl of pho noodle soup sounds delightful during any time of the day, rain or shine. This healthy Vietnamese cuisine and bakery located in West Campus attracts the eyes and stomachs of many UT students. And it just so happens that UTea Pho is a five-minute walk away from my apartment. How convenient! 

I normally find myself ordering one of their starters such as the Shrimp Spring Roll, Veggie Pot Stickers, or my favorite Crab Rangoons. Each starter comes with the perfect amount of food in order to make sure you have room for a hearty bowl of pho.

The Brisket Pho is my favorite one to order because of the combination of rice noodles in beef broth, fresh bean sprouts, basil leaves, lime, and jalapeno. I also love to dip my brisket in a generous amount of Hoison sauce and Siracha. 

Let’s not forget the freshly baked handmade Cream Puff filled with vanilla whipped cream and strawberries and covered with a chocolate drizzle. The cream puff flavor possibilities are endless along with their smoothies, teas, and slushes. And don’t worry, if you’re not in the pho mood you can always choose from their rice plates, vermicelli, pad thai, and sandwiches! 

 

Fukomoto – Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya

About Fukumoto

Widely acclaimed as one of the best sushi spots in town, Austin’s Fukumoto serves a wide variety of classic and trendy tapa-style dishes. From their buttery Sake Toro salmon belly to their decadent Blue-fin Tuna Maki, the restaurant sources all their fish from an expert purveyor in Japan. In addition to their fresh sushi, Fukumoto is also well-known for their freshly grilled izakaya-style skewers and Japanese comfort food classics.

Fukumoto’s namesake, Kazu Fukumoto, also the owner and head chef, started with humble beginnings. He began his career as a dishwasher at Musashino Sushi Dokoro until he worked his way up the ranks to become the head sushi chef. After a decade of experience in the restaurant industry, he traveled back to Japan to study traditional Yakitori (preparation of skewered grilled chicken). In September of 2015, he reaped the fruits of his labor. He founded his own restaurant, Fukumoto: Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya, right off of Austin’s East 6th.

Fukumoto Menu

Image Credit - OTL

With seasonal items and a constantly-evolving menu, Fukumoto offers a fresh experience each time you visit. Here are some of our must-try favorite dishes:

Fukumoto’s Uni Pasta is a truly unique Japanese take on an Italian classic. The creaminess of the uni (sea urchin) combined with al dente spaghetti pasta creates the perfect comfort food dish. To top it all off, shredded nori and basil is added as the perfect garnish. If you want to try something new, this is definitely the dish to order!

Since Kazu Fukumoto specialized in learning traditional Yakitori in Japan, trying the Bonjiri Yakitori is an absolute must! The caramelized flavor and crispy texture delivered by the fresh grill adds to the dish’s deliciousness! On the inside, the chicken is juicy and definitely addicting. You can never go wrong with these skewers!

Fukumoto Restaurant Reservation

To reserve a seat at Fukumoto, call their phone number: 512-770-6880.
For a reservation of 6 or more, a credit card number is required.

Location and Hours of Fukumoto Austin

Image Credit - Austin Eater

Located at 514 Medina Street, Fukumoto is open from 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm from Monday to Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the restaurant is open from 4:30 pm – 9:30 pm. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.

Fukumoto FAQs

Does Fukumoto offer any vegan options?

Yes, there is a wide variety of veggie skewers and side dishes to choose from!

Does Fukumoto accept American Express?

Yes! Fukumoto accepts American Express.

Conclusion

From Fukumoto’s humble beginnings washing dishes to making a name for himself in the Austin food scene, he has strived to set new standards of authenticity and customer satisfaction. With its lofty modern interior and traditional Japanese décor, Fukumoto delivers a unique experience and fusion of flavors that is sure to have your taste buds sing!

5 Boba Tea Places in Austin TX

Honestly, it is getting hotter than tapioca balls here down south, especially in Austin, Texas. When I am craving a nice middle between tea and milk, my body instantly knows what it wants: Boba tea.

5 of the Best Bubble Tea Spots in Austin Texas

Here’s a quick list of the most popular Boba tea spots located around Austin, Texas.

  1. Gen Bobabee & Coffee House
  2. Teacup Boba House
  3. Sharetea
  4. Cocos Café
  5. K-Bop

1 – Gen Bobabee & Coffee House

gen bobabee and coffee house in Austin

Located in Chinatown Center, this boba filled delight is surrounded by delicious smells even before you walk through the door. Gen Bobabee offers various different drinks, from house coffee milk teas to smoothies, slushies, and a none tea special.

The place inside is very aesthetic (perfect for that insta pic!) including a wall covered in the prettiest painted flowers. My favorite drink to get here is their Taro Smoothie with Tapioca Pearls, less sweet!

Address: 10901 104 N Lamar Blvd A, Austin, TX 78753

2 – Teacup Boba House

teacup boba store in Austin

Located on Riverside Dr., Tea Cup Austin prides itself into caring about what goes into everyone’s cup of tea. The tea they use is loose leaf, instead of the usual artificial powders and tea bags, and use local milk sourced from Shamrock Farms. They offer out-of-the-ordinary drinks, such as an “Avalanche” and “Mangonada”, as well as classic brews and fruit teas.

My personal favorite is the Brown Sugar Milk Tea – any of their drinks can be made with almond milk upon request. Similarly, if you like to eat things made with brown sugar, then you should try sugar free desserts because it wouldn’t compromise your healthier lifestyle.

Address: 1725 E Riverside Dr unit b, Austin, TX 78741

3 – Sharetea

Sharetea store in Austin

Sharetea has various branches across the US, with all ingredients shipped directly from Taiwan. The Sharetea in Austin offers the classic milk teas, as well as creamas, moitos, ice blended, and even your own option of taking ½ gallon teas to go! A drink I have been dying to try is the Hokkaido Pearl Milk Tea – essentially caramel toffee. Who doesn’t love a perfect blend of crunchy and creamy all in one sip?

Addresses:

13343 US-183 #275, Austin, TX 78750

8557 Research Blvd Suite #118 Austin, TX 78757

4 – Cocos Café

CoCo's Cafe in Austin

Located on Guadalupe Street right across from the University of Texas, Coco’s is a locally owned business that is near and dear to my heart. Their menu extends from drinks to food as well, some of their most popular items being their curry fried tofu or a jasmine green tea + lychee jelly. My personal favorite is to get a coconut & taro smoothie w/ soy milk & tapioca pearls. Hits the spot every single time.

Address: 1910 Guadalupe St Austin, TX 78705

5 – K-Bop

k-bop in Austin

K-Bop Austin is an outlet right next door to Coco’s that offers authentic tasting Korean healthy food & bubble tea. They’re particularly known for their bulgogi – thin slices of beef prepared by marination and grilling.

Their drink menu varies from hot & iced milk, green, and smoothie teas, & their food menu offers ‘kimbops’ – a Korean style roll, as well as soups and bowls. My favorite is the Honeydew smoothie with the tofu kimbop – hold the mayo and egg. 

With so many unique milk tea options and areas, there is never a shortage of Austin things to do – especially when trying to crave that tea tooth. Next time you need to give into your boba craving, try out one of Austin favorites!

11 Spots to Sip in the Sunset in Austin

It’s seemed like the world has done nothing but change, and the first few weeks of 2022 have been no different. Kim Kardashian announced that she was filing for divorce from Kanye West, Olivia Rodrigo dropped her “driving license”, the first female Vice President was inaugurated – and throughout it all, the majority of the population has been trapped inside by the unwelcome remnant of COVID-19.

But what’s one thing that stayed constant through all the ups and downs, that hasn’t dulled or diminished even if we didn’t always come out of our homes to see it? If you said the sunset, you’re our lucky winner! Your prize, you ask? This list of the best ATX locations to take in that multicolored masterpiece of mother nature, in the hopes you never miss out on another one again. You’ll want to add these gems to your Austin things to do list – You’re welcome. 

1 – Covert Park at Mount Bonnell

At 775 feet, Mount Bonnell is generally considered to be the highest point in Austin. Nothing quite sets off that panoramic view of the skyline, lake, and rolling hills of ATX like the vibrant background of a good sunset. (Pro-tip: bring a date and some food for a romantic picnic!)

2 – The Oasis on Lake Travis 

If its reputation as the Sunset Capital of Texas isn’t convincing enough, you can Also get some pretty amazing tacos at this gargantuan Tex-Mex restaurant. Perched on a cliff 450 above Lake Travis, patrons of The Oasis can dig into a piece of Chocolate Caramel Crunch Cheesecake (ugh, I’m already jealous) as they wait for the Sunset Bell to begin soaking in the view. 

3 – Hula Hut

Since you’re already in the mood for some lakeside Tex-Mex, why not add in an island atmosphere and the Hula Hut’s distinct “surfer twist”? Order one of the restaurant’s signature Hu-La-La cocktails and take a seat on the patio to watch the colors change and refract off Lake Austin as the sun sinks behind West Lake Hills. And once you’re done, drop by Mozart’s for dessert! 

4 – Congress Avenue Bridge

This one is a classic. Whether you want to stand on the bridge itself, lounge on a nearby grassy hill, or go on the water in one of the kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards available for rent, the Congress Avenue Bridge provides an up-close look of the ATX skyline along with the sunset. And make sure to stick around for the double feature! Between the months of March and November, anyone enjoying the sunset here can turn to the east to watch the cloud of bats emerge from their colony beneath the bridge. 

5 – Pennybacker Bridge Overlook

If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, the view atop the Pennybacker Bridge Overlook Trail is DEFINITELY worth the trek. It’s a bit of a steep climb, but if I can make it in my sandals (a poor choice which I would not recommend), I 100% believe in you. Make sure you arrive a bit early to find a parking spot and leave time to get to the lookout point before sunset (to see both the bridge and the sunset, take the trail across the street from the parking), and sit back to enjoy one of the best views in Austin as the sun paints the sky. 

Lights on UT Tower to be turned off for construction

6 – The UT Tower

If you’re located in more Central Austin, head over to the UT Tower west observation deck to get a great view of this sunset. This is one that’s more uncommon, so it’ll most likely be a less crowded alternative. Be sure to make an appointment to get to the top, however. Enjoy this view of the sunset and the city, while also observing the bustling college campus.

7 – Tillery Kitchen and Bar

Tillery Kitchen and Bar is another great place to catch the gorgeous Austin sunset. Here, you can grab a delicious bite to eat, or a nice relaxing drink, while you watch the sunset. Check out their Mediterranean cuisine, which paired with a sunset, will make you feel like you’re in another world. At least, not Texas.

8 – The Long Center

A great place to watch the sunset with a view of the skyline is at The Long Center. The large, grassy hill that is located here makes the perfect viewing place. Come with a blanket and some food, and you have the perfect romantic picnic. Alternatively, bring a frisbee or some card games and have a fun night with friends. Either way, you’ll enjoy the beautiful Austin skyline to pair with the gorgeous sunset.

Austin Sunset

9 – Azul

If you’re looking for a nice place to get drinks and watch the sun go down, check out the Westin Hotel’s rooftop bar, Azul. This sleek place will make you feel straight out of a movie. It’s a great place to stop by to begin a night out with friends. Azul also offers some snack options to munch on, while you sit amongst the skyscrapers and watch the sunset.

Austin Sunset Boat

10 – On The Water

What better place to watch the sunset than on the water itself? Check out Sail Austin’s Sunset Sail, located in the Lake Travis area. The trip lasts 2 1/2 hours of a gorgeous Austin sunset. Book it with a group of friends, or for you and your significant other. This is a great alternative if you want to watch the sunset without the hustle and bustle of a restaurant.

11 – Zilker Park

Located in the heart of Austin, watch the sunset from Zilker Park. Here, you can even set up a sunset party with a large group of friends. Bring blankets, tables, food, whatever you’d like to watch from this iconic location. Be sure to bring a frisbee or volleyball, as they have courts provided for entertainment.

Austin Sunset FAQ’s

What time is sunset in Austin in November?

Yes, Around 5:30 pm.

What time does the sunset in Austin in September?

Yes, Around 7:30 pm.

What time is sunset in Austin in July?

Yes, Around 8:30 pm.

What time does the sunset in Austin in April?

Yes, Around 7:50 pm.

Conclusion

No matter where you choose, watching the gorgeous Austin sunset is a great way to reflect on this amazing city and all it has to offer.

Highway Vodka Review – Houston Hemp-Based Vodka In Distillery

Highway Vodka is changing the game by being the first black-owned hemp-based distillery in Houston, Texas.

The History

The history behind the creation of Highway Vodka originates eight years ago with the Vodka Co-founders, Ben Williams and Wendell Robins. Two friends whose love for distilling started out as nothing more than entertainment.

Fast-forward to now; Highway Vodka is creating a name for itself by sharing its unique strain of hemp that’s in its vodka! The company prides itself by ensuring that the ingredients of this enticing vodka are all “cooked up from scratch, by hand.”

History of Highway Vodka located in Houston

“I started to become interested in the ins-and-outs of distilling by watching my dad make batches with his friend,”

Highway Vodka’s lead distiller Codi Alan said. She is one of the first female black distillers in the country. I recently spoke with Codi, and she mentioned how her interest turned into her joining her family business.

“I think it’s so much fun to be a part of this business,” Alan said. “The best part about doing this is that I get to work with my family every day.”

Highway Vodka – Making Process

Highway Vodka making process

The Visit

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Highway Vodka on #NationalVodkaDay! Codi took guests behind the scenes and elaborated on the process behind making the vodka. Hemp, locally sourced corn and water from their “artesian aquifer” is the foundation of their “mash.” The mash is transferred to the fermentation stage and sits for one to two weeks.

experienced the Highway Vodka backend process

The hemp activates as a binder to the yeast during the fermentation stage while converting the sugars to alcohol. During this period, a dense layer of hemp oil forms at the top of the fermenter. A six-time distilled vodka, highway vodka is smooth and has a distinguished taste!

After the tour we got to bottle our own vodka and eat tasty bites that were infused with Highway Vodka!

Highway Vodka food dish

For more information, follow the distillery @highwayvodka on Instagram, or visit their website.

Kin Dee: Detailed Review of Houston’s Thai Restaurant

“Kin Dee” – which means “eat well” in Thai as well as being apart of a traditional Thai blessing, is the perfect name for the newest Thai restaurant in Houston Heights. Kin Dee opened in May under longtime friends Lukkaew Srasrisuwan and Miranda Loetkhamfu, both raised in Thailand, though their paths crossed in Houston in 2014. Their 30-dish menu reflects four distinct regions of Thailand through its authenticity, unique flavors, and overall vision. We were lucky enough to try out a few of Kin Dee’s signature dishes, and boy is there a lot to talk about.

Kin Dee Menu

I’ll start off by making it known: I love Thai food. I have always loved Thai food. I think Houston has amazing Thai food. And I think Kin Dee might be my new favorite spot for Thai food in Houston. When you walk into Kin Dee, you’re greeted with a lovely ceiling to floor elephant mural, luxurious red booths, and pleasant gold light fixtures. It’s all very cute and really sets the mood for what you’re about to eat and how exactly Kin Dee’s food is going to make you feel. I’ll give you a hint: it’s going to make you feel fantastic.

Appetizers

The appetizers offered at Kin Dee range from a few choices of salads, meat skewers, and wrapped food, such as the Money Bags – deep-fried minced chicken and shrimp wrapped in golden “money bags” meant to pass on good fortune or gold. A personal favorite from the appetizer menu is the Thai Flower Dumpling.

First of all, they’re probably the prettiest food I’ve ever eaten. The blue, petal-like dough is so delicate on the plate and so delicious once you eat it. The dumpling’s peanut filling is a perfect mix of savory and sweet that’ll leave you wanting more than just four.

Pro tip: DEFINITELY put some cilantro on top, it’s a crazy perfect compliment to the peanut filling.

kin dee menu dish

Drink

Now, before we move onto Kin Dee’s entrees, let’s talk about their drink menu. If you don’t drink, the Butterfly Pea Flower Tea is a perfect choice for you. It’s an herbal tea from butterfly pea flower mixed with lime juice with zero caffeine. It’s a refreshing tea that’s lightly fruity from the lime juice. Now, if you do drink, there are endless options for what kind of cocktail you can get. From a refreshing Sabai with basil leaves and fresh lime juice to a sweet and creamy Mango Sticky Rice with coconut milk and mango puree, there’s a cocktail for every mood you’re in!

The main dishes at Kin Dee are primarily noodle-based, with Thai staples such as curries, Pad Thai, drunken noodles, and Thai soups. There’s an entree for everyone; Pad Woon Sen with tofu for the vegetarian in your life, Kin Dee Fried Rice for the rice lover, or Shrimp Tom Yum Noodle Soup for the seafood fanatic.

An entree I think everyone could enjoy, except vegetarians (sorry to all the vegetarian readers), is the Northern Style Curry. Kin Dee’s Northern Style Curry is beyond delicious. It’s a bowl of everything good – egg noodles, coconut chicken curry, crispy noodles, lime, and shredded vegetables. If I could only recommend one item from Kin Dee, it’s definitely this curry. You have to try it; there aren’t enough words to describe just how good it is.

If you’re more into rice over noodles, I can respect that, and might I suggest the Thai Basil Chicken as your entree? Minced chicken (or tofu!), Thai jasmine rice, long bean, and Thai Chili Peppers are the primary ingredients in Kin Dee’s Thai Basil Chicken, and I just have to say, the flavor of the Thai jasmine rice is out of this world. Thai Basil Chicken is an incredibly popular dish in Thailand, so if you want a little taste of Thailand, this is the perfect rice dish for you!

kin-dee more dishes from their menu

Overall, Kin Dee is the perfect addition to the new Market development in Houston Heights. It’s perfect for lunch with the family or a night out with friends. It’s a great introduction to Thai food for those who haven’t had authentic Thai, while also being something comforting and familiar to those who already love and adore Thai food. If you find yourself in the Heights, give Kin Dee a try and find your new favorite Thai spot!

Location + Hours

1533 N Shepherd Drive Suite 160, Houston, TX 77008. Their hours are 11 AM – 3 PM; 5 PM – 10 PM Monday through Thursday, 11 AM – 3 PM; 5 PM – 12 AM on Fridays, 11 AM – 12 AM on Saturdays, and 11 AM – 10 PM on Sundays.

China Family Restaurant – Sichuan Food of Austin

As a lifestyle of quarantine gradually ends, so too has the return of dine-in restaurants come in waves. This is the case for China Family Restaurant, one of Austin’s most underrated spots for spicy Sichuan Chinese food.

Whether you are seeking takeout or a family-style experience, China Family has reopened its doors and is ready to serve up some of the best Sichuan Chinese food in Austin.

Regulars on the Drag may recognize the restaurant’s sister location, a takeout favorite for hungry college students. The Highland location’s greatly expanded menu and inclusion of more authentic Sichuan dishes is its greatest strength.

General Tso’s namesake dish can be found, but items on the specialty menu such as Chongqing Spicy Chicken and Sichuan Braised Pork Belly are where its really at.

History

Originally opening on February 1st, 2019, China Family enjoyed normal operations until COVID closed its doors for dine-in back in March of 2020. It has remained undefeated by the pandemic, recently returning to full service with its owners ready to share their recipes.

Many of the restaurant’s dishes are intended for sharing, as Family is at its core. Guests can often expect to leave with a full belly and a plate to take home for later.

China Family-Style Dining and More

I had heard of the portion sizes beforehand, so I brought a friend and an appetite for my visit. Though clearly meant for indoor dining, the restaurant does have a modest outdoor area. The service around noon was polite and quick to tend to our table’s needs. It was relatively busy, but not to the point where we had to reserve our places ahead of time.

Appetizers

One mark of the best Chinese restaurant is a great selection of appetizers, regardless of the region from which they hail. China Family did not disappoint in this regard as it served us up classics like Fried Dumplings, Crab Rangoon, and complimentary rice. The Dry Fried Green Beans were my personal favorite, a steaming hot heap of garlic-seasoned snaps with plenty to share.

I wanted to play it safe to some degree, unfamiliar as I was with Sichuan food, so I initially ordered the Orange Chicken. I remember being surprised at the little orange rind garnish, but much of my experience was with the Americanized version. That must be why they call it Orange Chicken. What I remember most was how crispy the breading was; even when doused in the sauce it didn’t get soggy. All of the vegetables were freshly steamed, as was the case with all of the entrees.

The Sichuan Chinese Food

More confident in the chefs’ talents after trying my first plate, I sought out items on the specialty menu which stood out. The sheer size and diversity of the menu can make it understandably intimidating to a first-time guest.

Chongqing Spicy Chicken

At the personal recommendation of the (super nice and helpful) manager, I ordered the Chongqing Spicy Chicken. A traditional dish, its use of chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns provided a dry, numbing heat to the breaded chicken. The liberal use of garlic and dry spices/peppers reminded me of Cajun fried chicken, though notably lacking in Cayenne. 

Specialty Menu

Many dishes on the specialty menu are brought out on a cast-iron plate so that the food can remain hot throughout the meal. I wanted to try another meat besides chicken, so I opted for the Sichuan Lamb on Iron. It was my favorite dish of the three that I sampled.

The presentation reminded me of going to a Mexican restaurant and ordering fajita meat off the skillet. A searing-hot griddle piled high with sizzling lamb, onions, and spicy peppers was brought out to me. The lamb was extremely juicy and tender, with each thinly sliced bite soaking up all of the flavors of the dish. I am normally used to chewy lamb chops, so this was a pleasant surprise! The sauce was very rich and goes great with their fried rice.

Conclusion

As much as I wanted to try everything, the overwhelming amount of food on the table meant that I would have to return for other traditional recipes like Sichuan Braised Pork Belly. It is very clear that the owners are passionate in sharing their recipes, a sign of a great restaurant.

Although not Austin’s only source for Sichuan Chinese food, it is this clear passion that grants China Family its authenticity. At the end of the day, they just want you to leave with a full belly and plenty of food. On that end, China Family Restaurant delivers some of the best Chinese Food in Austin.

The Magic of Aga’s – Authentic Indian in Houston

When you want authentic Pakistani/Indian food in Texas, Houston comes to mind, yes, there are some great placed all Houston Texas – last week we shared one of our favorite Indian restaurants in Houston. Today, let me tell you about my favorite Indo-Pakistani food spot in Houston known as Aga’s Restaurant.

The Roots

Aga’s is an Indo-Pakistani restaurant located in Sugar Park Plaza. They began business in 2001 and offer a memorable dine-in experience, along with delivery through UberEats, DoorDash, and Grubhub and catering services for all sorts of events. Since 2001 Aga’s has made a big name for themselves for their high quality service. Now, onto the star of the show: the food.

My Top Picks

Aga’s includes all sorts of authentic meals, desserts, and beverages. Their menu is very diverse and accustomed to fit many different preferences. For starters, all of the meat is halal, but there are plenty of vegetarian options as well! Let me tell you about my top picks in dishes whenever I visit! They offer tons of great options to choose from when it comes to appetizers, but my go to is Chicken Lollipops. These chicken drumsticks are perfectly marinated in a house blend of rich spices, deep fried and served with fresh homemade chili sauce.

The Curries

Starting off with curry, the selection of curries offered here is literally endless. They’ve got goat curries, beef curries, chicken curries, seafood curries, vegetarian curries, and even egg curries! My personal favorite is the Chicken Tandoori Masala curry. I have it with both rice and naan to get the full experience.

The chicken is soft and tender and the curry is rich in flavor and spice. The spice isn’t the kind that is unbearable, it is just the right amount that adds flavor and longing for more after every bite! I eat the chicken with the warm buttery naan first because it’s so easy to pull apart and then usually have the curry with rice because it allows its amazing flavor to be the star of the dish.

Did Someone Say Biryani?

Next up, we have the biryani. If you’re only going to order one item I would say make it this. Just like the other dishes, there are plenty of options for which type of biryani you can order. No matter what meat (or no meat) you have in your biryani, it packs a punch! In Indian and Pakistani culture biryani is a dish that takes time and attention to detail to create.

So many different spices and masalas are used when preparing it and it can be difficult to create in large quantities. However, Aga’s delivers it in its best form! They make sure that every bite is packed with bold flavor and it has the authentic home-cooked taste. It’s served with a cold yogurt sauce called raita to compliment its warm spice.

The Grill

Lastly, there’s no way I could forget to mention a dish from their grill! They have all sorts of grilled dishes and platters, but we can’t not mention their grilled goat chops. They are served sizzling straight off the grill and taste unlike anything else I have tried.

I can’t tell you the amount of grilled dishes I’ve had from other restaurants where it felt like I was eating leather! This dish is not supposed to cause endless chewing, it’s supposed to melt in your mouth, and at Aga’s it does just that. It’s got the nice traditional spices and flavors along with that beautiful charred flavor. It’s crispy on the edges but soft in the middle. They make sure to not over grill it so it doesn’t feel dry. I’d recommend having this one with naan, you won’t regret it!

These dishes are my favorites but they’re just a fraction of what Aga’s has to offer. When I visit I always find myself ordering multiple dishes just to get a taste of everything. I highly recommend visiting Aga’s Restaurant and exploring their menu whenever you’re in Houston!

For more reviews and restaurant recommendations be sure to check out our around town page!