Secret Agent Man loves the Austin Omni hotel; he's all about the rooftop pool and hot tub. So for one of his birthday presents, I gifted him a night at the hotel. Not as over-the-top for 1 of 30+ birthday gifts as one might imagine; I have an occasional talent for finding cheap hotel rooms, and I struck gold for this past weekend.
We'd been anticipating our in-town retreat for a couple of weeks. Would we close the curtains, crank down the a/c, hang out the privacy sign, and open the door only for room service deliveries? Would we hot tub until our sunscreen cooked off, leaving us raisin-y and blistered?
Nope. Recent events along the Gulf Coast gave us a better idea: we would eat seafood like it was our job. That's right--a self-guided downtown seafood tour.
We began our work at lunch on Saturday, at the Turf and Surf Po' Boy Trailer. We were their only customers at 1pm, and the gal taking orders was really helpful with suggestions. (Especially since I was so hungry, I could only manage to answer "something delicious" when she asked us what we were in the mood for.) Shrimp Po' Boys with sweet potato fries saved the day! Yum; we're definitely going back there.
Checked in to the hotel. . .and waited for The Sister to show up with her family. Oh, right, we had a pit stop on our seafood tour, and it was The Sister (+ fam) who wanted to swim at the hotel. Who knew I would get to bust out with the out-awesome-ing so soon? Lucky me! How did I get so lucky? Evidently, when Secret Agent Man told his sister of our hotel plan, she suggested they come over for a swim. He was smart enough to chat with me about the idea before telling her yes, but I was not smart enough to straight up tell him I wanted him all to myself for the weekend. Instead I said "Sure! Who wouldn't want to swim on the roof! It will be fun!" Really, I was torn. I want to be awesome, and The Sister fam had a rough week--among other things, they had to say goodbye to their beloved sixteen year-old kitty. I even heard myself saying "Should we get them a special treat to cheer them up?" Shut up, self! Shut up! He decided the special treat was that they were coming to swim at our hotel. My special treat was the news that the rooftop hotel pool had a bar!
The rooftop bar had extra delicious frozen drinks, an entire bachelorette party, and an entire bachelor party unrelated to the bachelorette party. The hot tub was full of dudes passing around a box of Cheez-its and hollering at the sunbathing ladies. Even when Sister hopped in the hot tub with Delightful Niece, the dudes didn't clear out--they just offered to share the Cheez-its. Such nice young men after all!
Secret Agent Man had offered Sister + fam an hour-long visit, and sure enough, they cleared out in a timely manner. It's almost a shame, really, since I was just reaching the height of my awesome-ness. Either that, or I was too full of tasty frosted adult beverages to care. Secret Agent Man and I walked a fine (crooked) line between continuing to hang poolside and actually taking our seafood tour. But a shower and nap later, we hit the streets. We were on a mission!
We hit McCormick & Schmick's first. Did you know that many downtown Austin restaurants offer happy hour specials, even on Saturdays? And that offer includes lower-priced appetizers? Our jumbo shrimp cocktails were very good, even though our waitress did not know if our shrimps came from the Texas coast. (What's the point of eating seafood like it's our job if we're not buying "local"? Oh right, seafood is delicious.) The shrimp ceviche was pretty good, but not remarkable. And, to her credit, the waitress warned us that it wasn't her favorite. My John Daly was very tart, and delicious.
Next stop, Truluck's. Except we walked the wrong way and ended up several more blocks from our intended destination. Secret Agent Man has been (not so) secretly wanting to try out a pedicab ride, so we hopped in one and rode to our desination in (tricycle) style. Since we'd just chowed down on shrimp, we mixed it up with a Super Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, which we split. Friends, that crab cake was a slice of heaven. It was the best in the world. It had barely any filler, and they weren't kidding around about the Super Jumbo Lump business. I will dream about it at night.
After Truluck's, we decided our food to drink ratio needed improving. Cuba Libre was nearby, and also nearly deserted--it was, after all, well before dark. Their sign in front boasted the Best Mojito in Texas, and we needed to find out for ourselves. Except, have I ever had a mojito to compare? No. But I am pleased to report that their mojito tasted exactly like a piece of spearmint gum.
As it turns out, Maria Maria is practially next door to Cuba Libre. Hello, white sangria! Hello fruit salad in a glass! I was delighted to discover that my white sangria would include a surprise combination of fruits, depending on the bartender. I was only able to test my theory during two rounds, but in that time I was also able to consume several cherries, a strawberry, and an orange slice. Yum! The live music started not long after our arrival, and featured a lady member of the P-Funk, who Secret Agent Man had seen the week prior with George Clinton. We found out later that the lady P Funker was also part of the cast of the inaugural season of "Flavor of Love." Too bad she/her band were terrible. Probably from all the ganja.
Somehow we made our way to our (planned) final stop: Eddie V's. Actually, I know how we made our (drunken) way: pedicab! I was ready to be impressed by Eddie. I'd heard stories of seafood towers and celebrity sightings. Yet. . .my crab cake disappointed. Sure, it was tasty, and the sauce was good. But it was no World's Greatest Super Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. Secret Agent Man did love his crab claws, though. It just wasn't the perfect end to a fantastic evening. What to do??
Walk back to Truluck's and order up a slice of heaven, of course! What better way to end the evening than with another Super Jumbo Lump Crab Cake?? Since the kitchen was closing (whoops! time flies when you're having fun!), and we were the last order in, the bartender chatted us up a little bit, and even brought over some free cosmos that someone accidentally left in the freezer. I think they were accidentally left in the freezer because they were awful. Or full of roofies. Either way, we made it back to the hotel (thanks, pedicabber!) and turned in.
We ended our seafood tour with brunch at one of our semi-regular haunts on Sunday: Shuck Shack. Dear Shuck Shack, please cut back on the spicey in the Eggs Etouffee for next time. Is your cook new? Let's go back to the original recipe, which we love and miss. P.S. Your cafe au lait is delicious, and I would like an i.v. of that creamy goodness, so please get on that. XO, Guava.