Irie’s Island Food in Port Aransas (part of the Texas Gulf Coast) is the BEST ON THE ISLAND. Hands down. Everything they make is absolutely delicious, vibrant, and as from-scratch as possible. It doesn’t hurt that they’re walking distance from the ocean (read: absurdly fresh seafood).
One of my favorite things I tried there? Lobster and black bean spring rolls. Might sound like a weird combination, but it WORKED. Flaky spring roll wrappers are stuffed with fresh lobster, lots of black beans, and jack cheese, then deep fried and served incredibly hot. These guys are gigantic, too – one spring roll is equivalent to about 2-3 you’d get in your average Chinese takeout order. And you get three per order, so basically the amount of nine spring rolls. You could feed 3-4 people here, but obviously Rob and I split the entire order. Irie’s spring rolls also come with an array of bright, flavorful, also from-scratch dipping sauces (Golden Dragon was my #1) and some fresh slaw.
Irie’s is only open morning to mid-afternoon, and they often run out of their most popular seafood items. Our solution? Although maybe not traditional breakfast fare, we wolfed down these lobster spring rolls as our breakfast appetizer. Best breakfast ever, I’d say.
If you don’t live near the Texas coast, you could easily duplicate these at home – the rolls, at least. Just get some spring roll skins and stuff them with your favorite seafood (obv lobster is the top choice), black beans, and melty cheese, then fry those babies up. The dipping sauces would be harder to copy… me, I’ll probably just start planning another island getaway to Irie’s soon. I seriously think about how good it was all the time. It’s creepy.
You be the judge…
Golden, deep-fried, hot bready rings of goodness.
Okay, maybe it’s not THAT big of a challenge to figure out. They’re onion rings. But they’re the biggest, most ridiculous onion rings ever. ML and I stumbled upon these treasures at Stingrays sports bar in Port Aransas, TX. Obviously when multiple ESers travel together, intense amounts of food will be discovered, ordered, and conquered. I don’t think these photos accurately portray how huge this pile of onion rings was, and how big each individual ring was.The avocado ranch dip on the side didn’t hurt the situation either.
It you’re wondering, of course we ate them all. Duh.
When we ordered “nachos” at Lavaca Street bar IN AUSTIN, I didn’t realize that meant “a giant metal sheet pan filled to the brim with freshly fried tortilla chips smothered in both queso fresco and hot melted queso, spicy black beans, sour cream, fresh pico, and tons of jalapenos.” Really the giant sheet pan aspect and the combination of fresh cheese plus hot queso made these a shocking success. Plus the SHEER SIZE. This is like ten pounds of nacho.
On a recent visit back to my hometown of Seattle, my friends and I were in a dire hangover situation. We needed greasy goodness but after a night of questionable “dining” choices (midnight quesadillas and – dare I admit it? Domino’s pizza) we also wanted something that was actually well-made and worth our time. No ordinary diner breakfast would do.
Luckily pub/restaurant Lot No. 3 had us covered. This is their grilled cheese (made with Beecher’s – some of the best cheese ever, also Seattle-based) with three important additions: a runny fried egg, caramelized onions, and BACON. But not just any bacon. House candied bacon. Be still my heart (literally, I think I had a mini heart attack while devouring this, but it was worth it). Plus, it doesn’t come with some bullshit salad on the side or whatever. It comes with a miniature bowl of tomato soup. TOMATO SOUP! What else could you possibly need when you’re hungo and hangry?!
This is an honest-to-god thing that I ate. OMG. I can’t even. It’s a Texas-style beef rib from the good folks at Killen’s BBQ in Pearland, TX. I didn’t have to travel to Pearland for this giant hunk of greatness, though – Killen came to me! They were featured at the Austin edition of the ultra-amazing Cochon555 Heritage BBQ event series, hosted right at W Austin. I ate so much that day, but it was worth every bite.
If you are a carnivore who is lucky enough to live in a city with an upcoming Cochon event (or if you have the means to travel to one…) GO. I’m telling you. Go.
Presenting the Voltron Roll: crab, shrimp, avocado, pickled cucumber & carrot, topped with tuna, salmon & yellowtail, and served with sesame, spicy mayo, and soy lemongrass glaze. Whew! The color of the fish is beautiful, and the soy lemongrass glaze is made in-house and is one of the better condiments I’ve put in my mouth. This is from Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen in Austin, TX.