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Austin Gastro Graze 4: HopDoddy’s Burger Bar

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UPDATE: Another Austin Foodie was kind enough to post his own thoughts on Hopdoddy’s and, as one burger lover to another, it is best and fair to also take his feelings toward Hopdoddy’s into account!

A few days ago Chip and I tried Hopdoddy’s during a hankering for a burger. Normally, we’d go to Phil’s Ice House or, if we were in a rush, P. Terry’s, but in the spirit of trying new things, we found ourselves at the newer Austin chain.

Yes, I did call it Hop Daddy’s for the longest time. Thanks for asking.

Background on Hopdoddy’s: Two guys, Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso, created this chain, one man based in Austin and one in Scottsdale, AZ. Now, about these two boys: They’re the brains behind Z-Tejas, Roaring Fork, Eddie V’s, and The Salty Sow, a new favorite, and all restaurants I’ve enjoyed in my life here in Austin. In November of 2011, however, these men decided to sell the rights to a couple of their eateries to the same corporation that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden. A sale to the tune of $59 million. You read that correctly. And they, like anyone that just gets an absurd amount of money that generations of their kin can live off of, decided to create more restaurants. Because the restaurant business is known for being relaxing. Yeah, it’s crazy, but that’s what they did.

Hopdoddy’s was their newest venture. It offers a varieties of meat as well as a veggie option. All of their beef is hormone and antibiotic free and humanely processed. They also offer Bison, Turkey, Lamb, and Sushi-grade Tuna, and their buns are freshly baked twice a day. Their menu has some very appetizing combinations, including The Buffalo Bill (Bison, Blue Cheese, Frank’s Hot Sauce, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Sassy Sauce) and the Primetime (Texas Akaushi Beef, Brie Cheese, Truffle Aioli, Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Steak Sauce). Chip ordered the Llano Pablano (Angus Beef, Pepper Jack, Roasted Poblano Chiles, Apple-Smoked Bacon, Chipotle Mayo and, no, if you say Llano properly it doesn’t rhyme) and I got the Magic Shroom (Angus Beef, Texas Goat Cheese, Field Mushrooms, Mayo & Basil Pesto) with brie instead of goat cheese.

The Llano Pablano burger with fries.

The Shroom burger with Brie instead of Goat cheese.

The burgers were tasty, they really were. And for an order-at-the counter style joint, there was actually roving waitstaff to clear plates and refill drinks, as well as run orders out to tables. The fries were some of my favorite in town. The vibe is hip, the food good, and the price is to be as expected for the quality of the food you’re getting. So it’s by far a great experience all around. Is it great? Meh. I’m just partial because everyone’s favorite burger joint is personal to them. Luckily in Austin we’re spoiled by good burger bars and you only have to pick your favorite and argue endlessly over delicious versus delicious-er with friends.

P. Terry’s – Great for on the run and better than any Whopper Jr. you’ll ever had. AWESOME fries and good shakes, too. My pick for a fast burger that’s just the right size, fresh and flavorful, with great fries.

Hat Creek – A larger burger than P. Terry’s, but just as fresh with a few more options, but not as many locations as the hometown favorite. Lacks the awesome fries. Chip’s pick for on the go.

Phil’s Ice House – Super family friendly, right next to Amy’s Ice Creams, offers great burger combinations, sweet potato fries, and onion rings, and even have foot long corn dogs. This is my pick for a Saturday lunch when Chip and I want to sit for big burger that will fill us up right up to a late dinner.

Onion Rings and Footlong Corn Dog at Phil’s Ice House.

Crown & Anchor – Good burger, great lunch atmosphere, perfect for when I worked on campus and wanted an affordable and yummy burger, salad, and beer for lunch. It’s not amazing, there aren’t a ton of options, but it’s tasty and a little dive bar-esque, which is an excellent pick me up for the middle of your day.

Hut’s – Endless options of combinations, decent burgers, HUGE onion rings, and their Buy-One-Get-One on Tuesdays make them a super affordable choice for families and college students. Chip, myself, and a couple of friends practically lived there on Tuesday nights when we first moved to town and were trying to make it all work. Not saying they’re tops, just saying their an inexpensive alternative with an extensive menu.

Bottom line: Go to town; while out and about pick a local burger joint, because you can’t go wrong with any of the above.

For more Austin Adventures and Recipes be sure to follow me @TheNerdyFoodie.

Snacks on a Plane

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NOVEMBER OpenSalon Editor’s Pick
And as featured on the front page of Salon.com November


We’re all going to travel soon, all on top of each other and full of holiday cheer, though “cheer” may be the wrong term. Here’s a little something to keep that Hanger (hunger induced anger) at bay while on the road or in the skies.

I love having your elbow jammed unceremoniously into my love handle.

I don’t know you, but I already feel like you’re moving your way to second base, every time you squirm in your seat or take over the corner of my tray table.

I hate you and I hate being stuck on this plane. There’s nothing do to, movies aren’t offered any more, people feel more entitled then ever, and here we are sharing air for hours. The magazines have long lost any allure, and the crossword puzzle in People is pathetic.

That leaves one thing to do:

Eat.

Here Comes the Aeroplane!

I’m a firm believer in treating others the way you would like to be treated. I may be one of the last people on earth that lives that way. It even affects how and what I eat, especially when I travel.

I refuse to be that stinky person. You know the one I mean.

When I get on a plane I generally have celery and carrots on me, maybe a sliced apple. If it’s a particularly long flight I have successfully brought along peanut butter, but I generally do not eat my veggies with any kind of salad dressing as salad dressing can be smelly and I refuse to be that person on a plane.

And of course everything has to include a chaser of an Airborne & Advil cocktail, especially if I’m going to visit my parents.

My favorite Get Through Security & Get On With Your Life snackage that won’t stink up a plane:

‘You Wish You Had My Snack’ trail mix

1/3 chocolate chips (milk or dark)

11/4 cup Kashi Go Lean Crunch

1/3 cups Craisins

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup marshmallows

1/2 cup dried apricots

1 pack of M&M’s (optional)

Melt chocolate chips and pour over 2 cups Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cearal that has been mixed with craisins. Let set, break into pieces, toss with nuts, apricots, marshmallows, and anything else you feel like. Place mix into any size ziplock bag and jam into a purse or carry on. You don’t have to worry about this stuff getting crushed. Go to airport.

Feel Fresh and Less Disgusting Upon Arrival crudités

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup baby carrots

1 red pepper, sliced

3 string cheese things or Baby Bon Bell Cheeses

1 sliced and cored apple sprinkled lightly with lemon juice.

½ cup Green Olives (rinsed to help odor)

This may be a bit loud to eat, but the protein and fiber will keep you full without causing a sugar rush. Also great for those way over-priced wine pairings as offered by airlines. The lemon juice will add flavor and keep the apple from turning brown and the cheeses are low-smell and a decent replacement for salad dressing. I’ve found this little snack is the one from which I earn the most jealous stares. People seem to use a day of flying as an excuse to eat crap; by the end of it all that’s exactly what they feel like. I break out veggies and they glare at me like I won the lottery and won’t share. And I don’t share.

The sizes on these are all relative and easily changed based on the people eating and what you like.

It’s amazing what foods you can bring on planes. Provided it’s not a liquid or a nail clipper, security allows more through their gates then what people generally believe is okay. The last trip back to Austin I brought 2.5 pounds of different cheeses and a 1 pound link of sopresata, though, as per my refusal to be the smelly person, everything was triple plastic-wrapped and kept that way for the duration of the flight. On a trip a few months prior, I took 6 eggrolls and a couple 3oz. cups of duck sauce (neither of which you can get in Austin… well, not good ones at least) and steamed dumplings without a problem.

Hopefully by sharing that with you I didn’t just jinx anything for my next trip back east.