Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reed's List of Austin Favorites

This list is a work in progress. We're always adding to it!




  • Salty Sow | East Manor Road (Gastropub)
    We love going for happy hour, when many of their drinks and appetizers are $5. Thomas usually gets an order of the duck fat fries + honey rosemary dipped fried chicken. I'll usually get an order of fries myself + the pork 'carnitas' taco with parmesan queso. I also love the truffled deviled eggs and the crispy brussels sprouts. For dessert, you HAVE to get the bananas foster beignets! We usually try to call ahead or make reservations on the OpenTable app. 
  • Winflo Osteria | West Sixth Street (Italian)
    This restaurant is located in 1922 craftsman style home, and there's also outdoor seating under an old oak tree. We usually have a glass of wine each, and then split a pasta and a pizza. Our picks are the prosciutto pizza and the cavatelli con salsicca pasta (gorgonzola cheese, sausage, caramelized onions and mushrooms). Winflo has complimentary valet parking. 
  • NoRTH | The Domain (Italian)
    We'll usually start by splitting their Tuscan kale salad and munching on their famous "zucca chips" (thinly sliced zucchini that's flash fried. CAUTION: addicting). We've tried/love the bacon + egg pizza and "the pig" pizza. After the salad and zucchini chips, we're usually full after splitting a pizza. 
  • Walton's Fancy & Staple | West Sixth Street (Bakery, Delicatessen, Breakfast)
    This place is owned by Sandra Bullock (who has a home in Austin too) and couldn't be more adorable. Open for breakfast and lunch, Walton's menu has SO MANY things on it that I'd recommend. The scratch biscuits and gravy are awesome, as is the steel cut oatmeal and challah french toast. My go-to for lunch is the "turkey sweet" sandwich: turkey, applewood smoked bacon, white cheddar, caramelized onion-apple chutney and maple aioli on a croissant. 
  • Bacon | 10th Street (Breakfast, Homestyle Cooking) 
    Three words: chicken and waffles. Whether you've never tried it before, or you're on the hunt to find the best take on the recipe, add Bacon to your list. You can get them to add bacon to the malted vanilla waffle batter too (duh!). If you're not up for C&W, they've got biscuits and bacon gravy, french toast, and more, plus burgers, sandwiches and salads for lunch. 
  • 24 Diner | North Lamar (Breakfast, Comfort Food)
    As the name suggests, 24 Diner is always open. Some say that 24 Diner has the best chicken & waffles, but I still like Bacon's better. I've only eaten breakfast here and have several recommendations: the 24 Hash, oatmeal with apricot-peach chutney, and the fried chicken biscuit. 
  • Home Slice Pizza | South Congress Avenue (Pizza)
    We can't get enough of this place. There's usually a long wait, so if you're in a hurry, try going during a non-peak time, or order by the slice from their to-go window. We don't mind the wait, because they have a back patio where you can order beer and their famous garlic knots to enjoy. I love their pear gorgonzola salad, and then we'll build our own pizza to share. 
  • Second Bar + Kitchen | Congress Avenue (New American)
    This is a fun dinner date place when you're looking for something a little less casual. Our picks include the black truffle pommes frites, the chicken breast with roasted corn panzanella, and the braised beef short rib. 
  • Frank | Colorado Street (American)
    "Hot dogs and cold beer" is their motto. They have different varieties of waffle fries, and our favorite is the Canadian poutine fries (brown gravy + cheese curds). Their mac & cheese and corn cup are both great appetizers too. The hot dog and sausage options are endless. You can even add a "flapjacket" to any dog: instead of a bun, the dog is cooked in corn meal batter to make it a corndog. 
  • La Condesa | Guadalupe (Modern Mexican)
    La Condesa serves a modern take on interior Mexican food (vs. Tex-Mex). We love their "elotes" (Mexican street corn) and their salsas + guacamoles. My favorite entree is the quinoa stuffed chile relleno. Thomas can't remember what he ordered, but he remembers it being good. One word of advice: they do serve brunch, but we wouldn't recommend it. Stick to dinner and you'll love this place. 
  • Kerbey Lane | Multiple Locations (Breakfast)
    An Austin original, Kebery Lane has several locations throughout the city. You really can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Their pancakes are the best, and in addition to the usual buttermilk, gingerbread, apple whole wheat, and blueberry, they have a rotating seasonal flavor. I've seen oatmeal raisin, s'mores, lemon poppyseed, and pumpkin. When I'm not feeling pancakes, I love the eggs francisco: an English muffin with scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado and their famous Kerbey queso. 
  • Maiko | West Sixth Street (Japanese, Sushi)
    Maiko is right across the street from where I used to work, so it quickly became one of my favorite sushi places. Their miso soup is great, and they've got a great bento box deal for lunch. 
  • Moonshine | (American Comfort Food)
    Another restaurant with amazing chicken & waffles! Where some restaurants bring you bread or chips & salsa, Moonshine brings you a bucket of savory seasoned popcorn. Moonshine isn't a place where I order the same thing each time – I always try to get something new. They have an awesome brunch buffet too! If you're in town for an event at the Austin Convention Center, Moonshine is located right behind it. 
  • Chuy's | Multiple Locations (Tex-Mex)
    Another Austin original! Chuy's has now expanded to many cities across the U.S., so I realize you may have one in your hometown. But if you've never been, it's a must. Everything on the menu is amazing. If you go during happy hour and sit in the bar, there's all-you-can-eat free queso, along with their chips & salsa. 
  • Trudy's | Multiple Locations (Tex-Mex)
    Chuy's will always be my go-to Tex-Mex restaurant, but Trudy's is a close second. Great happy hour, and I always get their stuffed avocado. 
  • Hula Hut | Lake Austin Blvd. (Polynesian twist on Tex-Mex)
    Hula Hut is right on the water, so it's a fun atmosphere for lunch or dinner. Chips & salsa/queso, stuffed avocado, "pipeline" enchiladas... everything is good. 
  • Jasper's | The Domain (Gourmet "backyard cuisine") 
    This is a new one on the Reed's list, as we tried it to celebrate our anniversary. It's a little pricier, so save it for a special occasion, or go with the intent on splitting an entree. We recommend the rotisserie prime rib, hands down. I got the pork tenderloin, which was also cooked to perfection, but the corn it's served over is quite spicy, fair warning. 
  • Kona Grill | The Domain (American-Asian Fusion, Sushi)
    This is a great happy hour spot and they also have a "reverse" or late night happy hour from 9-11. We've been for both happy hour and lunch/dinner. For dinner, we recommend their pineapple fried rice and the macadamia nut chicken with mashed potatoes. For lunch or happy hour, order from the sushi menu, or get the avocado egg rolls or macadamia nut chicken tacos. 
  • Jack Allen's Kitchen | Two Locations (Farm-to-Table)
    Everything on their menu is made from locally sourced ingredients. We've ordered so many things on the menu and recommend them all. If you're in town on a Sunday, their brunch buffet should not be missed. 
  • Hopdoddy | Multiple Locations (Burgers)
    Hopdoddy serves what I think of as "fancy" burgers. I love the "primetime" burger with brie, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce. Thomas gets the "goodnight" Tillamook cheddar cheese and hickory BBQ sauce. There's more than 13 burgers on the menu, plus amazing fries, milkshakes, and a full line-up of craft beers. This restaurants is super popular, so be prepared to wait, or go during a non-peak time. We went once at 3:30 or 4 and still waited in line for 20-30 minutes before ordering. But it's so worth it!
  • Phil's Icehouse | Multiple Locations (Burgers)
    This is probably our other favorite burger spot besides Hopdoddy. 10+ burger varieties on the menu, fries and sweet potato fries, milkshakes. YUM. My favorite is the 78704 (Monterrey jack cheese + avocado) and Thomas gets the 78750 (fried onion ring + bacon), both named after Austin-area zip codes. Wherever there's a Phil's, an Amy's Ice Cream is always right next door (see my SWEETS category below). 
  • Torchy's Tacos | Multiple Locations (Tacos)
    Torchy's has also expanded outside of Austin, but as an Austin-original, I have to recommend it. Our favorites are the "democrat" (shredded barbacoa beef), the fried avocado, and the "trailer park" (fried chicken, and Thomas orders it "trashy" with means it has queso on it too).  
  • Franklin BBQ | East 11th Street (BBQ)
  • The Salt Lick | Driftwood, TX (BBQ)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jack David | Newborn Photography

Grayson and Megan are some of our dearest friends. We get to do life alongside them through our church community group, and it has been so fun to watch them prepare for baby Jack's arrival. 

Jack David Dzialo was born on Monday, November 17, and we took these photos just a few days after he came home. Meg and Gray, we love you guys and can't wait to watch you raise this little one!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Harper's Birth Story

It was a joy to photograph the day that my niece was born, and I'm honored to have captured these memories for our family.

Harper Elizabeth Brown
July 30, 2014, 1:50 a.m.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seeing Red

We went to Lubbock last August to celebrate my sister's graduation from Texas Tech, and in helping her move out of her condo, she gave us this cabinet that one of her roommates had purposely left behind. At that time we knew we'd soon be buying a house, so we figured "sure, why not, it'll get used somewhere." And since moving in, it has sat in our garage, waiting to be refinished. 

While the cabinet probably could have been left as is, there was one spot on the top that had nail polish remover or something spilled on it, and the paint was bubbling up. We decided to strip it -- because that's easy, right? -- sand it down and stain it. Well...

Stripping paint off of the cabinet was a lot harder than we thought! Sure, the liquid stripper helped a lot, but it was messy, painful if you accidentally got any on you, and getting all of the paint removed was practically impossible. I told Thomas if I ever got the idea to re-do another previously painted piece, to remind me of how much time and energy this tiny thing took.

After stripping as much as we could, we used an "after wash" to remove more of the color, and then sanded it down for what seemed like hours. There are still little traces of red in the grain, but we think it adds a little character. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself to make me feel better about it.

Here's the final product of our labor. All in all, we're pretty pleased with how it turned out! When you walk in our front door, this is what you see on the wall to the left.

The window above the cabinet is from an old home in New Orleans, given to me by my friend Lianne when she heard I was looking for one. That was a whole other project in itself -- it must have had at least three layers of paint on it, built up from over the years, and we stripped and sanded it just like we did the cabinet. I accidentally broke one of the window panes while doing so, so we took out all the remaining panes and when the stain was complete, we used caulk to put three of the glass panes back in (top middle and bottom two corners). Thanks, Lianne!

We're taking our time making this house our home as time and budget allow. When you're trying to save money to pay off new appliances, little inexpensive projects like this make me feel like we're still making progress. Another project down, several more to go! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lone Star Staycation

For Thomas' birthday last month, I surprised him with a night "away" {if six miles from home counts} at the Lone Star Court at The Domain. The company I work for performed the civil engineering for the project, so it had been on my radar for a while. And when I saw a Living Social Deal for a one-night stay, I knew it would make for the perfect birthday date night. 

"At Lone Star Court, you'll enjoy a perfect pairing of modern convenience and traditional comfort in a unique blend of the past and present. Lone Star Court features Austin hotel rooms done up in a 'retro-ranch' motif reminiscent of a time when your journey was as fun as your destination. Our terrific location and fun decor is sure to get you in a mellow Hill Country mood. From metal headboards and deer horn lamps to pictures of country singing sensations and Republic of Texas flags, we've thought of everything to inspire a Lone Star state of mind."

We loved our stay! I went crazy over the decor and atmosphere of the whole place. Everything felt bright, clean and cozy. After we checked in, we went to The Water Trough, the rustic barn bar and eatery, for a drink and appetizers. We relaxed poolside that afternoon, although it was still too chilly to take a dip, and then after a nap, we went over to The Domain for dinner.

We were exhausted from a long week, so we called it a night pretty early and didn't set an alarm, which we don't get to do too often! But, next time around I'd love to stay out a little later to enjoy the fire pits and live music.

If you're looking for a fun getaway in the Austin area, look no further than the Lone Star Court. Even with the hotel being so close to home, it was a perfect way for us to recharge and relax as a couple.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cabinet Makeover

When buying a house, it's hard to prioritize what projects come first and what you wait to do later. If you're like me, you want to do it all and do it now! Not to mention, all those trips to Home Depot and Lowe's add up fast. 

While we daydream about granite countertops in the kitchen and not having carpet in our master bath, we're finding inexpensive little projects to personalize our home.

Thanks to being raised by a frugal mom, I have a knack for bargain hunting. Thomas and I have frequented our local thrift stores, looking for things to repurpose for our house, and a few months ago we happened upon this old china cabinet {originally from Bassett Furniture} at Salvation Army. We looked at each other as if to say "are you thinking what I'm thinking?" For a whopping $108, this beauty was ours, and we spent several weekends sanding, repainting, and applying new hardware to make it our own.

I couldn't find anything on the cabinet to indicate just how old it is, but I'm guessing at least 30 or 40 years. It has a felt-lined drawer for silver, too, with this old branded logo on the inside.

And here's the finished product! We chose to paint the cabinet navy {Martha Stewart Wrought Iron} and purchased new hardware from Anthropologie {glass knobs} and Home Depot {drawer handles}. We love how the blue contrasts with the grey walls in the living/dining room, and we're having fun staging the inside of the cabinet with glassware, liquor and other items for entertaining guests.

The Reeds are ready for some dinner parties! Don't worry, we won't make you eat on the floor. We've added a table since this photo was taken.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Not a Blog Conference

Blogging started for me in college as a way to keep family and friends up-to-date with my travel plans as I studied abroad in the Netherlands. Weekend trips to Germany, France or Switzerland were recapped in great detail, along with a photo dump of favorite images I’d captured. Then when classes were over and we backpacked through the Mediterranean for a month, I’d pop into an Internet café every chance I had to chronicle each memory.

The blog was set aside when I returned from that semester, until after graduation when I found myself going crazy with the job hunt. I needed something to break up my time spent sending out resumes and cover letters, so I revamped the blog. It became a collection of random posts… recipes, updates to friends and family about the wedding and job search, DIY projects and more.

Once I was married, I knew that I wanted to keep up the blog, so it started to become my creative and emotional outlet. I blogged about marriage, faith, food, travel… anything that Thomas and I were doing or experiencing.

I started to read more and more blogs too, finding women in the blog community that I felt drawn to, had similar interests with, looked up to or admired. Women like Casey Wiegand, Danielle Burkleo and Emily Anderson, the three friends who dreamed up the event Hope Spoken. I loved their authenticity, how down to earth they seemed, and how they loved and trusted Jesus. All three are in a different stage of life than me, having been married many years, raising a few kids, but I felt drawn to their stories and their hearts. If they were gathering women around them for a conference, I wanted to be there.  

In March of 2013, I jumped at the opportunity to buy my ticket the day they went on sale for the inaugural Hope Spoken conference. I anticipated meeting "blog friends" in real life, hearing some Biblical truth, and getting a better idea of what direction my blog was supposed to take. I recruited another friend to come with me, and in the weeks leading up to the event even considered making business cards to pass out to people I met, just something simple with my blog address and social media accounts to keep in touch.

But despite being drawn to attend through bloggers I admired, Hope Spoken was not a blog conference.

Hope Spoken wasn't about how much online influence I had, who my audience was, or how I could become a better writer. The event was a sacred, beautiful weekend of life stories being told, stories of hope that only comes through knowing Jesus. Stories were told of infertility and miscarriages, abuse, death of loved ones, adultery, damaged relationships, broken families... events that might cause one to lose hope. But hearing each woman bravely share what had been revealed to them during those times was exactly what every one of us needed that weekend. We needed to be reminded that we all have unique, life-giving stories to share, blog or no blog.

I felt so foolish when I met women who didn't even have a Facebook account, let alone a blog that they shared with the world. I was so relieved that I hadn't found the time to print out silly cards to pass out, as if anyone should have cared who I was or what I blogged about. Man. The Lord showed up in mighty ways at this event, revealing to me that I do have a story, that He has a purpose for everything we walk through, and that He has given us each other to walk alongside and encourage as we seek Him through it all.

Today, tickets went on sale for the 2015 event. I fully intended on posting this blog to encourage other friends to register to attend with me, but y'all... it's already sold out. Truly a testament to the life change that happened in March of this year, as 250 women gathered together to speak of hope.

If I'll see you in Dallas next year, I'd love to hear from you! And if you're still wanting to attend, keep an eye out for women who may sell their ticket down the road if they're unable to attend for some reason.

Casey, Danielle and Emily, thank you for your obedience to God's calling for you to create this gathering of women. I'm forever thankful for what I've learned and can't wait to watch God show off His glory in 2015 too!