Wednesday, May 25th

What Suicide Leaves Behind

I don’t normally use my blog as therapy or get too personal here. But something happened in my life that is so intensely painful that I’m having trouble moving on. I’m hoping that the practical process of writing and organizing my thoughts will serve as a means of catharsis.

Angel of Grief

A close friend of mine died last month. It came as a surprise. She was young in years and even younger in spirit. We hadn’t spoken in several months, which was not unusual for us. Our friendship didn’t require constant maintenance or checking in. She shunned social media so our catch-ups happened over email or even better, in person. I would save up stories and photos our mutual friends shared on Facebook and deliver the news, savoring each piece of juicy gossip. She always had news for me, too, and even after marathon sessions of chatting, we never ran out of things to talk about.

If I had known the last time I saw her that it would be the very last time, I would have made every moment count. I would have hugged her tight and said the important things that friends should say to each other: You taught me so much about being kind and selfless, just by being that way yourself. You are worthy and talented and smart. You are supposed to be on this planet a long, long time because you make it a better world.

I didn’t get to say those things and apparently she didn’t know those things. It took several weeks of digging and finding out information in small terrible pieces, each one deepening my grief, lessening my understanding. Eventually it was through the police that I found out my sweet friend took her own life in a horrifically violent, punishing way.

When I was trying to find out answers, suicide was not something I considered. Because she was healthy and happy. She could (and did) run marathons without even training for them. She regularly did yoga and got massages because she believed in treating herself well. She didn’t struggle for money, nor did she care about material things. She volunteered constantly because she enjoyed giving back and didn’t even view it as a sacrifice. She played the violin and never missed a performance of the Austin Symphony, buying season passes and bringing a different friend to each show. She had no enemies, only legions of friends who loved her. Her family was doting and supportive. She loved good food and didn’t smoke or do drugs, and could barely handle a glass of wine. No, she lived life unaltered and wasn’t looking for an escape.

Except that she was.

There was no depression or mental illness, but something was very, very wrong and I missed it. We all missed it.

And now it’s too late. There are no more answers to be had, only questions upon questions. Still, I google her name in vain. I check her obituary online several times a day, hoping that someone new leaves a comment that will provide some answers. Anything. I compulsively look at the one social media account she had—LinkedIn—which I made her get when she was job searching years ago. But there are no answers.

Dock on calm water at dusk

Eventually I’ll have to let this go and learn to live with the questions. I’ll have to stop obsessing over the terrible way she died and try to remember the gentle way she lived. But this loss has left a hole in my heart. I look at Violet and see all the promise and happiness the future holds and it devastates me how much my friend lost. I think of her parents and my body shudders with sobs. It’s a tragedy unlike any other I’ve ever experienced and my sorrow feels bottomless.

So much of Austin reminds me of her. Our regular dinners at Whole Foods downtown where we’d linger at the seafood counter. Of Eeyore’s Picnic. Of a North Austin spa we went to and a restaurant around corner where we sipped wine and ate oysters in a treat yo’self day. The Driskill Hotel, where we met at a Halloween ball and were wearing the same costumes. So many memories.

Death is a dreaded topic on its own, but suicide is so much more complicated. Because mixed in with the grief are confusion, regret, and anger. I feel all of those things. I’m angry that she robbed herself of a future. And that she robbed us of her. And I’m filled with regret that I waited too long to reach out and plan our next dinner. And I’m confused as to why she didn’t think her life was worth living. But through those feelings, it’s the grief that has the tightest grip.

Red Northern Cardinal

I miss you, CJ.

Tuesday, May 17th

Kerbey Lane Summer Menu

Kerbey Lane Summer Menu

We’re at the precipice of a new season, where it goes from hot to hotter in Austin. It’s my least favorite time of year and I start dreading summer as soon as March rolls around. However, summer does bring about some tasty nostalgia. When I think of summer, my memories are filled with hotdogs and burgers on the grill, thick slices of juicy watermelon, and piles of corn on the cob. Kerbey Lane puts their own spin on summer and they just rolled out their newest seasonal menu. Best of all, you don’t have to wait till it’s 105° since it’s available right now. I attended a blogger preview last week and sampled the menu.

Crab Mac & Cheese Bites, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Austin Texas

You might recognize some of the featured items from last season, like the Crab Mac and Cheese Bites. These are yummy and I’m glad they are keeping them around a while longer. You can also get the crab mac as an entree. My preference is the small bites for the ideal crab-to-pasta ratio.

Crab Mac and Cheese Entree, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Kerbey Lane likes to get playful with their Eggs Benedict and their version over steak enchiladas toes the line between breakfast and lunch. Perfect for those who can never decide what to get at brunch.

Steak Enchilada Benedict, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

If you’re like me, you have to get a pancake at Kerbey. Right now the seasonal flavor is Lemon Poppyseed which is my favorite. But if you want something more adventurous, the twist on chicken and waffles is as bold as it gets. Cinnamon beignet pancakes are topped with crispy fried chicken and a maple buffalo sauce. Total showstopper!

Chicken and Pancakes, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

For the more diet conscious eater the Chicken Caprese Salad doesn’t skimp on the treats. Avocado, chicken, bacon, mozzarella, grilled chicken, and tomatoes hit all the savory, creamy notes. Slivered almonds provide a balancing crunch.

Chicken Caprese Salad, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Other menu highlights are the Greek Lamb Skewers, with tabbouleh, hummus, Kalamata olives, and grilled pita, kicky little Fried Green Tomato Sliders, and Summer Chicken on a bed of seasonal vegetables like tomatoes and red bell peppers, accompanied by bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes.

Greek Lamb Skewers, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Fried Green Tomato BLT Sliders, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Summer Chicken, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

For dessert, a formidable key lime pie from The Cake Plate is a delicious rendition of the classic.

Key Lime Pie, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

What are your favorites when dining at Kerbey Lane Cafe?

Tuesday, April 19th

Stream Queens

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

We’re just coming out of a month that was so incredibly busy that we’re finally just getting our bearings again. Normally I’d block off a little recovery time after SXSW, but we had no such luxury this year. We had back-to-back visits from my parents and Chris’ dad, both of which were wonderful. We took a road trip to Fort Worth and went to a wedding, the zoo, and Cane Rosso for dinner. Then last weekend was AFBA’s Colossal Curry Cook-off, which was a huge success!

Violet with Nana and Pop-Pop in Bluebonnets

Violet and GrandDad

Violet and GrandDad

Violet and Elephants at Fort Worth Zoo

Violet’s getting so big. She races down the hallway in her walker, babbles away, and tries to put her pacifiers in our mouths. So far, she’s really not digging solid foods much, but we keep trying a little everyday. My mom brought her a whole bunch of CDs and it’s so fun to watch her recognize the music and try to sing along. Sesame Street is her favorite, especially the songs sung by Grover.


We haven’t had much free time to watch TV, but I’ve relished those rare moments when I could relax on the couch and decompress with some entertainment. What we’ve been watching lately:

Meet the Patels

Meet the Patels

I enjoyed this so much I watched it twice. The light-hearted documentary focuses on Ravi Patel (who you may recognize from Master of None) and the cultural pressure to get married. It was impossible not to fall in love with his whole family.

F is for Family

This is decidedly NOT kid-friendly, but F is for Family is a cartoon worth watching. Bill Burr, Laura Dern, and Justin Long anchor this series that’s filled with recognizable voices. It’s some good clean 70s fun. BoJack Horseman is still my favorite though.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I haven’t quite finished the newly released second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but thought it was worth mentioning. Ellie Kemper is adorable.

Sensitive Skin

I’d watch Kim Cattrall in just about anything, but this was hard to get through. It’s highly stylized and on the surface, sophisticated, but also…really annoying? Cattrall is just fine. It’s Don McKellar, the male lead in season one, who rubs me the wrong way. But I’ll persevere and give the second season a chance.

What are you guys watching? Leave me a comment so we can discuss. Having trouble deciding what to watch? Make a fortune cookie!

Netflx Fortune Teller

Saturday, April 9th

Curry the Day

Next Saturday the Austin Food Blogger Alliance will be holding its first fundraiser, The Colossal Curry-Off. As the current president, I’m excited that we have this fun event that will not only help sustain our organization, but explore a versatile dish not commonly featured in Austin. We chose curry as the subject of our first event because it’s virtually limitless and doesn’t exclude anyone with dietary restrictions. It can be vegan, vegetarian, meaty, glutinous or gluten-free, spicy, mild, expensive, or cheap. It can derive flavor inspiration from India, Thailand, South America, or anywhere!

Curry

People who enter cooking competitions are a unique breed. I am not one of these people, as I do not possess the skill nor the bravery to commit to such an undertaking. But I’m friends with a few cooks who enter contests from time to time and they all get that same gleam in their eyes when it comes to competing. They all seem energized by the planning, the creativity, and the excitement that comes from feeding masses of people from a makeshift outdoor kitchen space that might consist of little more than a picnic table and whatever they can carry.

Curry CookOff

I can’t divulge any secrets, but I can tell you that our 20-some contestants are bringing their A-games. The descriptions of the curries are outrageous. So buy your ticket, come hang out with us at Shangri-La, and help vote for the best curry in Austin! Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, which is a total steal for the gourmet bites you’ll be getting. We’ll have a kickass DJ, too.

The event is 21+ because DRINKING, but you could use a couple hours away from your kids anyway. There’s pretty much no reason for you not to come. If you think you don’t like curry, that’s probably because you haven’t tasted enough yet. (It’s like saying, “I don’t like sandwiches.” Just because you don’t like salami doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with grilled cheese. Or peanut butter and jelly.) This is your chance to find the curry you love. Will you get another opportunity to taste a ton of curries for $15 while listening to some old school hip-hop in East Austin? Probably not.

We have all kinds of great sponsors partnering with us, like Whole Foods, Wheatsville, TRACE, Savory Spice Shop, and more! The first 50 people in the door will get swag bags to take home.

Hurry for Curry

Your support means so much to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. The organization is run by volunteers and your ticket purchase goes towards helping us pay for expenses like: insurance, taxes and accounting fees, domain and web hosting, other technology fees, and supporting our own philanthropic activities for other organizations. We care about feeding the community, helping sustainable food communities thrive, and supporting educational endeavors across multiple food-related fields. It’s an active group and I could not be prouder to be in it. We even published a book!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to enhance the Austin-area through our cooking, writing, photography, and celebration of food. There’s a lot of creativity, passion, and hard work that goes into doing what we do, and most of us do it just for the love of it. Events like this keep it affordable for members so that we can include everyone who wants to be a part of this community.

Once again, here’s the ticket link! We’ll see you at Shangri-La on Saturday, April 16th, 2-4 PM. Come hungry!

Friday, April 1st

The Detour: Advance Screening!

The Detour of TBS

Have you guys heard about The Detour yet? The yet-to-be-aired family comedy on TBS stars creator Jason Jones (Queer as Folk, How I Met Your Mother) and Natalie Zea (Justified, Californication) as parents who take their kids on a road trip fraught with disaster. TBS used to be known primarily for rerunning our old favorites, but now they have a whole slew of original programming and The Detour will be a great addition to their line-up with its funny, edgy writing.

Check out the trailer:

Like what you see? You can be one of the first to watch it before it airs! I’m hosting a screening party at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline next Thursday, April 7th. Sign up here to get free passes for you and a friend. Come hang out with me and TBS! We’ll have cocktail hour and snacks at 6 pm, and the show starts at 7. There will be a photo booth, gift bags, and chances to win stuff. It’s going to be a fun night!

If you’ve never been to an advance screening before, now’s your chance. Grab your girls (or your guy) and join us for a night of laughs.

The Detour, Austin Preview

Thursday, March 31st

South by South Baby

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

We’ve been busy over here, with work and life and SXSW. We were those crazy people who brought a baby into the heart of Austin’s craziest scene! Our plans were to not go at all this year and we didn’t have badges. But once the parties and invites rolled in, there were a few events we couldn’t resist.

South by South Baby #SXSW #sxswi

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on

One of those events was the premier of Pee Wee’s Big Holiday. It was Violet’s first movie and while she didn’t grasp the plot, she loved sitting in an audience of laughing people. She also chewed on her little red Pee Wee bow tie! We mingled with the cast and crew of the movie at the intimate afterparty. Paul Reubens was kind enough to let us snap a photo with him. The whole evening was a blast!

A dark photo, but that’s us and Paul Reubens. #peeweeherman #sxsw

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on

Violet was a popular little guest no matter where we went and was in good spirits. She loves being out and about, so we take her as many places as we can. I was surprised by the dozens of people who approached us and expressed admiration for bringing her along. Most had babies themselves. She had her photo taken by lots of people and loved the attention. We made some great memories.

As we cherish all these special moments, we look forward to all the fun things that lie ahead. Netflix sent us some LEGO sets for the launch of their new LEGO shows and I can’t wait for Violet to get into all these fun toys I have stocked away for her. I’ll gladly invest in some LEGO slippers to spare my feet!

LEGO Slippers


So here’s what we’ve been streaming lately:

Documentary Now!

Documentary Now!

The IFC series features the brilliant Fred Armisen and Bill Hader in parodies of classic documentary parodies like Grey Gardens and The Thin Blue Line. It’s hilarious and smart. Here’s a guide to every documentary mocked.

Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake

The dark and disturbing series just announced that they are filming the second season, so I thought it time to finally get around to watching the first season. Elizabeth Moss carries the drama set in New Zealand, proving her acting chops go far beyond Peggy Olson.

Flaked

Flaked

It’s been questioned whether Will Arnett can carry a series and Flaked doesn’t really provide an answer. The slow-moving series is mildly appealing and Arnett is always likable, but this could have been better. I almost didn’t stick with this one but there was a satisfying payoff in the end. It’s just a little arduous getting there. Also, I can’t stress how much I loathe the opening credits.

What have you been watching lately?

Friday, March 4th

Comprehensive Guide to Indian Food in Austin

It’s time for my annual update on all the Indian restaurants in Austin, as part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide. This is a tough task because each year many places close and many open. I promise that as of writing, this list is accurate and complete. Take a look at years past to see how much has changed. (2015, 2014, 2013) Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite are and what you like to order. 

2016 AFBA City Guide

Asiana

801 E. William Cannon Dr, Ste 205, Austin, TX 78745

T-Th 11-2, 5-9:30, F 11-2, 5-10, Sat 12-3, 5-10, Sun 12-3, 5-9:30

Don’t let the rundown strip mall or sparse decor fool you, Asiana makes some great food. Delicious dosas, fluffy naan and some of the spiciest vindaloo in the city. Ask for it spicy and you shall receive.

Naan

Biryani Pot

12407 N. Mopac Expy, Ste 200B, Austin, TX 78758

T-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-10 F 11-2:30, 5:30-10:30, S 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

This chain has high quality food, friendly service, and is a very popular lunch destination. Formerly Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine.

Bombay Bistro

10710 Research Blvd. #126, Austin, TX 78759

4200 South Lamar #300, Austin, TX 78704

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-10, F 11-2, 5:30-10:30, S 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

The elegant, romantic decor of the south location makes for a great date spot.

Bombay Dhaba

1207 S. First St, Austin, TX 78704

M-Sat 11-2, 5-10

This South Austin food truck puts out consistent food at a great value, making it a popular local stop for diners and lunch and dinner. Like all trucks that have good food, they’ll occasionally run out of things so head there early if you’ve got your heart set on a particular item.

Bombay Express

13000 North I35, Bldg 12, Unit 216, Austin, TX 78753

Tues-Sun 11-9

Vegetarian.

Bombay Grill Indian Restaurant

3201 Bee Caves Rd. #148, Austin, TX 78746

Sun-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5:30-10

Cheery service and wide range of options on the buffet.

Indian Spices

Bombay to Kathmandu Kitchen

9616 N. Lamar Blvd, Ste 168, Austin, TX 78753

Th-Tues 11am-11pm, W 5 pm-11pm

Northern Indian street food and Nepali cuisine. People love the momos (dumplings.)

Chennai Cafe

3203 S IH-35, Ste 560, Round Rock, TX 78664

Tues-Thurs 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm, F 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm, Sun noon-3pm, 6pm, 9:30pm

The Dallas franchise plays South Indian classical music and expertly prepares the region’s dishes so well that it quickly became one of Round Rock’s most popular Indian restaurants.

Chicken Lollypop

1005 E. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753

11-9 daily

The Mumbai-style Indian Chinese menu satisfies vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Curried Mussels

Clay Pit

1601 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-11, F 11-2:30, 5-11, Sat 12-3, 5-11, Sun 12-3, 5-10

downtown favorite, Clay Pit offers a modern setting and delicious Bombay-inspired cocktails. The curried mussels alone are worth the trip.

Coriander Indian Cuisine

4894 Hwy 290 W, Sunset Valley, TX 78735

Sun-Th 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm

In the former location of Royal India, Coriander is a Dallas outpost. I love that there are lots of interesting dosas on the menu. Lunch buffet fans should hit this one as it’s a cut above the rest.

Coriander Indian Restaurant, Austin Texas

Curry in a Hurry

2121 W. Parmer Lane #114, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10-9

This vegetarian spot features a daily curry. Bonus: free wi-fi!

Daawat Indian Cuisine

500 Canyon Ridge Drive, Austin, TX, 78753

M-F 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 11:30-3, 5-10

Formerly Indian Spicy Kitchen, the extensive menu and online ordering system makes takeout a breeze.

G’Raj Mahal

73 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

Once a popular food truck this lovely Rainey Street restaurant has lots of outdoor dining in the front and chic backyard, as well as indoors. It’s a great date night spot or a place to fill up on carbs before or after hitting the bars.

Gandhi Bazar

3421 W. William Cannon Dr, #133, Austin, TX 78745

12809 N FM 620, #3, Austin, TX 78750

2121 W. Parmer Lane, #113, Austin, TX 78727

8650 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759

Daily 10-9

Prefer to cook your own Indian food? Stock up on spices and other essentials at one of Gandhi Bazar’s locations.

Hot Breads Bakery and Cafe

7318 McNeil Drive, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78729

Daily 10-10

So much more than a bakery, choices run from traditional Indian dishes to savory spiced puffed pastries. A unique concept in Austin.

Hyperabad House

11150 Research Blvd, Ste 210A, Austin, TX 78759

Sun-Th 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11a,-10:30pm

Authentic South Indian done well, there’s a large menu to choose from with meat and veggie dishes. The biryani is a favorite among guests.

Inchins Bamboo Garden

3107 S I35, Ste 760, Round Rock, TX 78664

M-Th 11:30-2, 5-10, F 11:30-2, 5-10:30, Sat 12-3:30, 5:30-10:30, Sun 12-3:30, 5:30-10

This Indo-Chinese chain features street food inspired dishes and a buffet.

Kababeque

3220 Amy Donovan Plz, Austin ,TX 78701

M, W-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun noon-6pm

Indian Mediterranean fusion truck at The Domain. Most popular dish is the Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap.

KP Indian Grocery

1212 W. Parmer Lane, Unit F, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10:30-9:30

Small Indian grocery store stocked with the essentials.

Lamba’s Royal Indian

414 Waller Street, Austin, TX 78702

Spicing up farmer’s markets, Lamba’s sells a wide range of frozen Indian dishes. They can be found at HOPE and other farmer’s markets in and around Austin.

Bollywood

Madras Pavillion

9025 Research Blvd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78758

M-F 11-3, 5:30-9:30, S-S 11-10

The vegetarian favorite has cuisine from both North and South India.

Man Pasand Grocery

3601 W. William Cannon #750, Austin, TX 78749

13945 N. Hwy 183, Austin, TX 78717

Daily 10-9

A great place to stock up on spices, snacks, frozen meals, grains and more. The freshly made hot samosas for $1.00 at the counter are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Masala Dhaba

75 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

T-Th 5 pm-12 am, F-Sat 5 pm-3 am, Sun 5 pm-10:30 pm

This food truck is a Rainey Street staple and reviews are extremely positive. Perfect for late night eats while bar-hopping.

Masala Wok

1100 Center Ridge Dr, Ste 300, Austin, TX 78753

10515 N. Mopac, Ste. A-155, Austin, TX 78759

1500 E. Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Daily 11-10

This chain has classic Indian and Chinese options.

Ganesh

MediterrIndian

2512 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78705

M, W, Sun 5pm-10pm, Th-Sat 5pm-3am 

Live the name suggests, the friendly, affordable truck serves Mediterranean and Indian staples.

Mirchi Austin

1212 W. Parmer Lane, Unit A, Austin, TX 78753

Sun-Th 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-mid

Per the website, the menu draws upon the rich tapestry of Indian and Pakistani food culture and tradition.

MTM Indian Foods

9225 W. Parmer Lane, Austin, TX 78717

Sun-Th 11-8:30, F-Sat 11-9

Grocery store with a range of Northern and Southern Indian items.

Naanful Indian Grill

11101 Burnet Rd, Ste A130, Austin, TX 78758

Sun-Th 11-3, 5-9:30, F-Sat 11-3, 5-10

2000 S. I35, Round Rock, TX 78681

Sun-Th 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

Quick, build-to-order dishes. Will deliver, but order early, as their site estimates 60-75 delivery time.

Nasha, Austin, Texas

Mussels Malvani at Nasha, Austin Texas

Nasha

1614 E. 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

Sun-Th 11 am-12 am, F-Sat 11 am-2 am

The sister restaurant of New India Cuisine has a full bar, moderate prices, and favorites such as Millionaires Curry and lots of seafood dishes. Their tagline Get High on Indian Food is perfect for its East Austin home.

New India Cuisine

2304 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

M-F 11-10, S-S 12-10

The South Austin Marathi-style restaurant offers lots of fish and yeast-free naan. While not my personal favorite, many love this place.

New India

Paradise Biryani Pointe

1779 Wells Branch Pkwy, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78728

M-Th 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10, F-Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

They specialize in biryani, but if that’s not your thing, there’s a large menu with lots of diverse options.

Saffron

3616 Far West Blvd, Ste 113, Austin, TX 78731

Sun-Th 11am-2-pm, 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm

BYOB and has an extensive Nepali menu and a buffet at lunch. There’s also a Curry in a Hurry option, with three curries for ten bucks.

SIZZLE Indian Kitchen

2200 I-35 Frontage Rd, Ste C1, Round Rock, TX 78681

Tues-Sun 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm

One of the many restaurants implementing online order systems, SIZZLE is popular for takeout.

Star of India

2900 W. Anderson Lane, Ste 12D, Austin, TX 78757

Sun-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5:30-10

Standard buffet of classic dishes in a comfortable setting.

Curry

Suprabhat

9225 W. Parmer Lane, Ste 108, Austin, TX 78717

M-Th 11-3, 5-10, F 11-3, 5-10:30, Sat 11-3:30, 5-10:30, Sun 11-3:30, 5-10

All vegetarian, specializing in thali options.

Suvai Indian Kitchen

12920 W. Parmer Lane #105, Cedar Park, TX 78613

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-9, F 11-2:30, 5-9:30, Sat 12-3, 5-9:30, Sun 12-3, 5-9

Formerly Kadai Indian Kitchen, Cedar Park residents are delighted by large portions, fresh spicy dishes, and fast service. A must do if you are in the area.

Swad

9515 N. Lamar Blvd #156, Austin, TX 78753

Daily 11:30-9

Vegetarian favorites and fun street food. The big-as-your-head dosas are a must try. You won’t even mind the lack of atmosphere. Prices are low and service is fast and efficient, if not personable. Not a place for a date, but still one of my favorite places in Austin.

Mysore Masala Dosa

Taj Palace Indian Restaurant & Bar

6700 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-10 F 11-2, 5:30-10:30 S 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10

For more than 20 years the extensive buffet has been delighting loyal customers. This was one of Austin’s first Indian restaurants.

Tarka Indian Kitchen

201 University Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

5207 Brodie Ln, Austin, TX 78745

11501 Rock Rose Ave, Austin, TX 78746

Sun-Th 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

The little sister of Clay Pit offers many of the same classic curries and fantastic pakoras. The fast, casual counter service has proven to be so popular that they keep expanding, with three locations in the area and one in San Antonio.

Mirch Masala

Pakora

Taste From India

519 E. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78758

Th-Sat 7 pm-4 am

Indian kabobs for the late-night bar crowd.

Teji’s Foods

2100B Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Sun-W 11 am-10 pm, Th-Sat 11 am-3 am

1205 Round Rock Ave #115, Round Rock, TX 78681

Sun-Th 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10

1335 E. Whitestone Blvd, Ste T130, Austin, TX 78613

Daily 11am-10pm

Part grocery, part restaurant, the widely-respected Teji’s has the fluffiest naan.

Tempura Grill Austin

9310 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

Sun-Th 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

Halal Pakistani and Indian in the Northgate Shopping Center.

Whip In

1950 I35 South, Austin, TX 78704

Daily 10 am-midnight

A funky South Austin staple, Whip In is a convenience store with indoor and outdoor live music, a massive selection of craft on draft, and a large menu of fusion Indian eats. Namaste, y’all.

Zarab’s Kabobs

2001 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Daily 11am-11pm

Modern interpretation of classic Indian dishes. This hole in the wall gets mixed reviews.

Bollywood

Saturday, February 27th

Nights at Home

This post is part of my relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

She’s only six months old, but Violet has a more active social life than many adults I know. Chris and I commit to a lot of social events and, so far, it’s been relatively easy to bring Violet to most things. Having a baby hasn’t slowed us down much yet, which is why those rare nights at home are so special.

When we stay at home I cook a simple meal and we’ll play settle in to play with Violet. She’s actively rolling around, playing with toys, and vetoing the food we give her. Those nights are filled with giggles and baby sighs and something fun on Netflix. Sometimes we’ll opt for a movie, other times we’ll watch a few episodes of a series.

Live Oak Brewery, Austin, Texas

Southwest Pediatrics, Austin, Texas

Baby food

Of course, the series everyone is talking about this week is Fuller House. The beloved family show is back after 21 years for a sentimental revisit of the sappy, silly show I loved as a kid. The cast aged well and it’s a great bit of nostalgia to see them back, laugh track and all.


Here are a few things I’ve watched lately:

Luther

Luther starring Idris Elba

Luther is a must-see for anyone who is debating giving in to a full-blown Idris Elba obsession. Just give in. The British cop show is the oft-told tale of a troubled cop who doesn’t play by the rules but it’s SO MUCH MORE! Unlike our American cops shows, this one is disturbing as hell. It’s not a show I can binge watch because it’s so dark, but it’s simply fantastic.

Love

Netflix series Love

Sigh. I really, really loved this show, you guys. Love is a binge-watcher for sure and feels made for that purpose. Each episode picks up right where the last leaves off. It’s a ten-episode tale of two people, a hot mess of a woman and a slightly less messed-up dork. We watch them meet, see them interact with each other and with friends. It’s not exactly the romantic comedy the name implies. A+ to Judd Apatow.

The Tiger and The Monk

I was so enthralled with The Tiger and The Monk that I watched it twice. The 50-minute documentary from 2007 is a glimpse into the idyllic Tiger Temple, where monks and tigers live in harmony together. I was actually coming up with a plan as to how we could make a trip to Thailand to see it in person. But in recent weeks, extremely distressing news has come out about the temple. My heart is broken. Watch it before reading this.

What are you guys watching? What do you do on your nights at home?

Tuesday, February 23rd

Where to Get Ramen in Austin

2016 AFBA City Guide

Once again it’s time for my annual ramen contribution to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s City Guide. Each year the ramen scene gets a little bit bigger. You can see my from my previous guides how things have changed. (2015, 2014, 2013.) If I didn’t include your favorite place, leave me a comment and tell me what I missed! And while you’re hungry, check out the rest of the guides from my talented food blogger friends. 


 

What’s not to love about ramen? It’s hearty, flavorful, bouncy. It’s not just trending in Austin, but all all over the US. But proudly, Austin’s become notable for its ramen. Enough so that visitors make sure to visit a ramen shop while in town, just like they do with barbecue and tacos. If you haven’t given ramen a try yet, pick a rainy day and hop in line at any of the places listed below. Soon enough you’ll be slurping with the best of them.

If you need more convincing, check out local filmmaker Christian Remde’s Culinary Equation fantastic video all about ramen.

Banzai Sushi and Grill

3914 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

M-Sat 11am-9:30 pm, Sun noon-9pm

No-frills ramen with choice of pork, beef, shrimp, tofu, or meatball. Every bowl comes topped with veggies and a hard boiled egg.

Cho Sushi Fusion

4300 N. Quinlan Park Rd, Ste 105, Austin, TX 78732

M-F 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm, Sat noon-10pm

2422 620 S, Ste A100, Austin, TX 78738

M-Th 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm, F 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-11pm, Sat noon-11pm, Sun 4pm-9pm

Simply labeled “Japanese Ramen” the lone offering at Cho features pork, vegetables, and egg in miso broth. $9 at lunch and $12 at dinner.

Daruma Ramen

612B E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

M-F 11:30-2, 5:30-10, Sat 11:30-10, Sun 12-9

People happily line up on East 6th to wait for their steaming bowls of noodles. Most notable is the vegan ramen, whose complex broth is steeped with veggies and fruit. Very interesting, and different than what anyone else is doing.

Daruma Ramen vegan bowl

Drunk Fish

10000 Research Blvd #139, Austin, TX 78759

M-Th 11am-8pm, F 11am-9pm, Sat 12pm-9pm

Offering a variety of broths and toppings, this Arboretum hole in the wall is popular with lunchers in a hurry.

Komé

4917 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

M-Th 11-2, 5-10, F 11-2, 5-11, Sat 11-3, 5-11, Sun 12-3, 5:30-10

Known for their wide array of fresh and delicious sushi, Komé also makes a kickass ramen available at lunch. Their ramen efforts were so popular that they opened a sister restaurant, the aforementioned Daruma Ramen.

Kome tonkatsu ramen

Michi Ramen

6519 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78752

Tues-Sun 11am-midnight

3005 S. Lamar, D-114B, Austin, TX 78704

Everyday, 11 am-midnight

The ramen groundbreakers of Austin, Michi Ramen was here before anyone else, slinging noodles out of a truck. The menu expanded when they moved to a brick and mortar. Last year they opened their second location on South Lamar, which strictly does take-out. They offer traditional broth thickness options and lots of toppings so you can build your own bowl.

Michi Ramen

*Pro-tip: Leave room for dessert! The mochi, 2 for $3 is shipped frozen from Hawaii and just heavenly.

Mochi

Midori Sushi

13435 N Hwy 183, Ste 301, Austin, TX 78750

M-Th 11:30am-9:30pm, F 11:30am-10:30pm, Sat noon-10pm

Twelve bucks will get you a bowl of miso ramen, topped with roasted pork, bean sprouts, and onions. Available at dinner only.

Musashino Sushi Dokoro

3407 Greystone Drive, Austin, TX 78731

Tues-Fri 11am-2, 5:30-10

Should you stray from the sushi menu, there are a variety of ramen bowls available at lunch.

O’Daku

2501 W. Parmer Lane #500, Austin, TX 78727

M-F 11-10, Sat 11:30-10:30

Ramen comes in three sizes in chicken, beef, and seafood, and “regular” as choices.

Origami Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar

1110 N. 35 Frontage Rd, Ste 200B, Round Rock, TX 78681

M-Th 11:30-2, 5-9, F 11:30-2, 5-10, Sat 11:30am-10pm

Miso and shoyu ramen offered at lunch.

Ramen Fukuya

1914 Guadalupe St, Ste A, Austin, TX 78705

M-Th 11 am-10pm, F 11 am-mid, Sat noon-mid, Sun noon-10am

Daily ramen offerings include fukuya (chicken bone broth), tonkotsu, and veggie. Seafood ramen and tsukemen are weekend additions.

Ramen Tatsu-ya

Ramen Tatsu-ya North 

8557 Research Blvd #126, Austin, TX 78758

Tues-Fri 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 12-3, 5-10

Ramen Tatsu-ya South

1234 South Lamar, Austin, TX 78704

Mon-Sun 11-3, 5-10

Arguably the most famous ramen in Austin,  Ramen Tatsu-ya is a must. Great for first timers, the menu provides a quirky guide on what to order, how to eat, and definitions for all the unfamiliar terms and ingredients. They offer classic toppings and fun flavors bombs, so you can customize every bowl. The masses cheered when their second, larger location opened.

Mi-So-Hot

Check out their website for the full menu which includes highlights like katsu sliders and sweet and sour Brussel’s sprouts.

*Pro-tip: Get there before 5:00 or after 8:45 to avoid the long line. Or just show up whenever and stand in line chatting with fellow ramen-heads, letting the anticipation build. Also, don’t miss the art in the bathrooms of the north location.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya Restroom Art

Shabu

2700 Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

11am-9:30pm daily

Most people visit Shabu to get hotpot and plain ramen noodles are one of the many options to enjoy with hotpot along with meats, veggies, and various toppings. Non-hotpot ramen options include BBQ Pork Ramen, Ramen Shrimp and Shitake, and Street Ramen which has Spam, beef, and lots of veggies.

Soto

11066 Pecan Park Blvd, Ste 402, Cedar Park, TX 78613

M-Th 11-3, 5-10, F 11-3, 5-11, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11-9

The reputable sushi spot has an acceptable ramen offering, too, pleasing customers with a decadent seafood ramen as well as traditional tonkatsu and shoyu.

Sushi Junai

1612 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701

Mon-Sat 11am-10pm

Known for all-you-can-eat sushi, they also offer a spicy ramen for $6.95.

Tokyo Sushi Japanese Restaurant

3201 Bee Caves Rd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78746

Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 4pm-10pm

Ramen offerings come in two flavors, Sapporo and Tokyo, with choices of chicken, beef, shrimp, crispy pork or seafood.

Whole Foods at The Domain

11920 Domain Drive, Austin, TX 78758

8 am-10 pm daily

Of the fabulous amenities this store boasts, the ramen bar is one of the best. The Texas ramen gives shoppers a taste of Japanese ramen with a twist…barbecue! Casual and easy, it’s a treat to have this spot for a quick slurp while you do your shopping.

Xian Sushi and Noodle

1801 E 51st St, Ste C370, Austin, TX 78723

13201 Ranch Rd 620, Ste U208, Austin, TX 78717

M-Sat 11:30-3, 5-10, Sun 12-p

Known for their exceptional hand-pulled noodles, Xian (pronounced SHE-ann) offers one ramen in their roster, shoyu. The Ranch Road location is fairly new, proving that the demand for noodles in Austin cannot be stopped.

Yanagi

4404 W. William Canon Drive, Ste B, Austin, TX 78749

M-Th 11-2:30, 4-9:30, F 11-2:30, 4-10:30, Sat 12-10

The two ramen options—Ramen and Spicy Ramen—have a miso broth and are topped with pork, onion, green onion, zucchini, and boiled egg.

Monday, February 8th

The Best Banh Mi in Austin

Banh Mi in Austin

Everyone is always debating who makes the best bánh mì in Austin. At least, my friends always are. Maybe your friends have loftier things to worry about, but my crew is serious about sandwiches. What started with a few simple comments on Instagram manifested into a full-scale event, with the aim to finally put it to bed. We were going to crown a winner.

When a determined group of food bloggers put their minds to a competition, you’d better believe the judging was not taken lightly. Master of data, Tasting Buds ensured that we didn’t enter into this haphazardly. There was voting ahead of time to determine who would make it into the competition. We settled on two categories: grilled pork and the traditional combo. Scoring sheets were simple. Each sandwich was to be scored from 1-10 and there were places to write notes about the bread, the filling, and anything else we wanted to talk about.

Banh Mi in Austin

The contenders were selected in advance and we dutifully fetched our assigned sandwiches before convening at the home of Foodie is the New Forty. The restaurants were not told about the competition, so the sandwiches were as authentic and regular as any other Saturday. The players:

Baguette House

Lily’s Sandwich Restaurant

Lulu B’s

Ng BMT

Saigon Le Vendeur

Tam Deli & Cafe

Thanh Nhi

Austin Banh Mi

In a state of raging hunger, we painstakingly set up the sandwiches. The Smoking Ho, pictured above, brought butcher paper and a massive cutting board. He’s our resident AFBA bánh mì expert so be sure to check out his City Guide post on the topic. After a lengthy photo shoot of the sandwich table, it was time to dig in. The room was quiet as everyone worked their way through the sandwiches, thoughtfully taking notes and sipping the Vietnamese coffees made by Girl Eats World.

Afterwards we discussed our findings over cream puffs and love letters. And the verdict is…

Banh Mi Austin

…that taste is subjective. Sorry, were you expecting a definitive winner? I’m getting to that. But before you skip to the bottom of this post, let me note that if one bánh mì was significantly better than all the rest, everyone would already know about it. But let me break down some of our findings.

When it came down to bread, everyone agreed that the most desired factor was crunchiness. And across the board, the bread was softer than we’d hoped. Lulu B’s bread held up the best, in my opinion. Lily’s was the best looking but possibly the worst quality bread. Lily’s was actually the worst overall.

Baguette House fared well on the combo (and also make the longest sandwiches) but the pork was abysmal. Still, Baguette House ranked among the top two. Which place had the best ranking among the group? Saigon Le Vendeur! More than half the judges picked Saigon as their favorite overall when polled at the end of the day. But Saigon’s combo was the most polarizing of sandwiches, yielding the highest and lowest of scores. (I ranked it as the worst sandwich of the day, but rated the pork very highly.)

What role did preconceived notions play?

Most of us came into this with personal preferences, but only a few kept those opinions after tasting the sandwiches side by side. My favorite, Tam Deli, remained my favorite. The same for Brisket and Bagels, who remained loyal to Ng BMT.

The judging was very individual, as each of us valued different things. While all agreed that filling carried more weight than bread, we had differing opinions on texture, flavor, and sauce. I gave higher points for those loaded with jalapeños, while South Austin Foodie felt they could be overpowering. Some appreciated a good sauce but Craft Taste was repulsed by mayonnaise. Gaminess was prized by some, but a negative for other’s palettes.

I placed a higher value on the veggies over the meats and might have been alone in that. Lulu B’s does not make a combo, so their lemongrass chicken was the lone variation. As someone who doesn’t love lemongrass, I appreciated how subtle it was. Others disliked that they could barely detect the lemongrass.

Value and service didn’t place a huge part in the rankings but we did discuss them. Tam Deli ranked as a high value option for low price point and sandwiches loaded with filling. (They were also the shortest in length.) Lulu B’s was the most expensive and also has the worst service of the group.

We did not include Elizabeth Street’s bánh mì purely for cost reasons, so I’ll have to head over and try one while the others are fresh in my mind. Because there were only so many of us and we could only reasonably eat so many bánh mì, we had to leave some out. Sadly our tasting and this post do not account for Dang Banh Mi, Bun Belly, Pho Van, I Heart Pho, Ya Ya’s, and more. If you have strong opinions about any of those places, please leave a comment so that others can see it.

Austin #BanhMania

So there you have it, the results of #BanhMania. On this day, the victor was Saigon Le Vendeur!

To read more about our Banh Mania, check out this post from Foodie is the New Forty.