$4 drinks, free quesadillas at Tacos and Tequila

April 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

Monday – Friday 4-7pm; Sunday 3-close
$4 House margs, mojitos, well drinks, martinis, house wine
$2.75 draft beer
Free quesadilla bar 4-6pm

TNTs bar boasts 100+ types of tequila. | Photo by Thu Pham

The $4 House Margarita is huge. | Photo by Thu Pham

Tacos and Tequila, or TNT for short, is one of my favorite happy hour hotspots. Conveniently located on west 5th St. and Pressler St., this new joint serves a bajillion kinds of tacos and over 100 kinds of tequila. For you margarita lovers, this is the place for you. While I will admit TNT’s regular menu is a bit pricey for my taste, its happy hour offerings are quite a steal.

You might think that $4 for a house marg is pricey, but trust me when I say that you might only need one to get the job done. Not only is the margarita gigantic, it’s also pretty strong. My friend Jacob and I ordered mojitos first, and after we got the marg, we both agreed that we should’ve ordered the margarita only. The mojitos, by the way, are pretty tasty—but again, I might be a little bias because mojitos are my drink of choice so I’m not very critical of them.

TNTs picturesque and delicious $4 mojitos. | Photo by Thu Pham

Another awesome thing about TNT is that you literally don’t even have to pay for any food to get full. Their complimentary chip-and-dip actually consists of 3 different kinds of chips and 3 different kinds of dips.  The sweet potato chips are on the greasy side, but they are fresh and oh-my-goodness delicious. However, their free quesadilla bar is the icing on the complimentary-food cake.  There’s always a mix—usually chicken and something else. They have veggie quesadillas also. You just go up and grab ’em.

If you want a bit more to snack on, I would highly recommend the guacamole, which is made in front of you. Literally, the waiter pulls up a cart with various toppings and scoops the avocado out and everything. It tastes like heaven—but be warned, it’s also about $8. For you fellow frugal drinkers, I’d stick with the drinks and free food.

One last plus: free parking garage. That should put a smile on everyone’s face.

The free unlimited quesadillas are great with TNTs margaritas. | Photo by Thu Pham

The complimentary chips and dips are incredibly fresh and tasty. | Photo by Thu Pham

Maria Maria’s $3.50 margs are a steal on Thursdays

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Monday – Friday 4-6pm and all day on Wednesday
Margaritas $5
Coronas $2
Draught Beer $3
House Wine $5
Bar appetizers $5- $8

Thursday
House Margarita $3.50
Maria Maria Margarita $4.50

The open space in Maria Maria is great for live music. | Photo by TPham

Maria Maria, located on Fourth and Colorado, is a great place to go if you’re in the mood for live music and tasty margaritas. I went on Thursday with my girlfriends and I was pleasantly surprised at how spacious the bar was. Being a chain restaurant owned by musician Santana, I wasn’t expecting it to feel so classy. We got a round of margaritas for $4 and a small cup of sangria.

The margaritas were very, very good and cheap since it was Thursday and they were $3.50. We decided to experiment around and asked the bartender to crush fresh strawberries into the house margarita. Let me tell you, it was incredible! The strawberries added another dollar to the base price, but I think it’s worth it. I thought the sangria was mediocre and a bit watered down.

I enjoyed the open space and the live music. I would definitely recommend coming here on Thursday for the cheap margs, but I don’t see it being worth the trip on the other days.

House Margaritas with fresh strawberries for $4.50. | Photo by TPham

Sushi Zushi: happy hour for those with larger wallets

April 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Fifth Street Commons (West Fifth); at the Domain

Mon-Fri 3-7pm
Draft beer $3
Hot sake $3
Wine and signature cocktails $5
Appetizers, comfort food and sushi rolls $2-$6

Cucumber saketini

I absolutely am the biggest sushi fan, but ever since I’ve been in college, I’ve had to drastically cut down because it’s so expensive. I’ve been dying to try a new sushi place for happy hour since Kyoto’s on Congress closed. A friend and I went to the Sushi Zushi location on West Fifth, near mopac, around 6:30. The décor was very modern and clean, and there was no wait. We found street parking right in front, but there is ample parking in the garage and behind the building.

The first thing you’ll notice when you sit down is how HUGE the regular menu is. Literally, it’s a 20”x16” sheet of paper covered with dishes in teeny-tiny font. It’s incredibly overwhelming. Lucky for us frugal drinkers, the happy hour menu is a fraction of the size.

I come to sushi happy hour more for the rolls than the drinks, primarily because I don’t really think anything alcohol-based complements sushi very

Spicy Tuna Roll, Key West Roll

well. However, on the suggestion of the waiter, who was very nice, my friend ordered a cucumber saketini and I had a blackberry smash. These drinks are almost a little too fancy for their own good—they’re very visually appealing, but don’t plan on getting a buzz with these. It might get pricey if you’re looking to get a buzz off of these drinks. The cucumber martini, which is the resturant’s most popular cocktail, tastes incredibly refreshingly and a little healthy. My blackberry tasted like carbonated fruit juice with a drop of liquor.

Blackberry Smash

Sushi Zushi’s happy hour menu is nowhere online, but includes several basic rolls, California, Philadelphia, and some of their appetizers. As an appetizer, I decided to try the Crawfish Dynamite which is baked crawfish served with masago caviar and spicy mayo. I found it to be tasty, but there was a lot of grease and the mayo overpowered the masago and caviar. For a $5 dish appetizer, it was very small, possibly meant for 1-2 people. We also tried the Key West Roll, which had shrimp tempura in it and it was mediocre. I probably won’t get it again if I go back. We also tried the spicy tuna roll, which I found to be much better than the Key West.

My friend and I decided to split a spicy octopus roll, which is not on the happy hour menu, and it was AMAZING. Incredibly simple with a focus on the octopus’s texture and the spicy mayo in it really brought out some good flavors. We wished it was on the HH menu.

This isn’t the cheapest of places, but it’s a good deal for sushi, which is always pricey. Next time, I want to get the cucumber saketini, the octopus roll, and the spicy salmon roll.

219West needs to turn the volume down

March 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Live music at 219West

All Day Monday, Weekdays 5-9pm, Saturday 5-8pm
$1 off draft beer
$5-8$ shakers of martinis (no shaker for straight alcohol matinis like Manhattans, Vodka, or Gin)
1/2 and 1/2 price American Tapas (half price plus 50 cents)
$12 wine flights

$5 martini shakers

219West is no doubt the happy hour champ of Austin’s Warehouse District. Located on Lavaca and Fourth Street, this traditional American bar is a bit more on the pricier range, but the location, atmosphere and quality of food is a good trade-off if you’re willing to dish out a couple more bucks.

I went on a Thursday night with several girlfriends, and luckily made a reservation since we were a big group. There was a 15-minute wait for a table otherwise. We opted to sit inside (there is a small outdoor area), and I was a bit surprise when our table was actually the height of coffee table. There is a full bar, and a good number of regular tables, along with our height-challenged table.

One thing that I couldn’t ignore was the blaring live music playing; it was incredibly loud and we were on the far end of the venue.  We were yelling just to hear one another. However, the two-person group took song requests, and the volume was great when our request came on and we were singing along. The man on the piano was lively and fun, and played mostly singalong-friendly oldies.

Chipotle mac & cheese

219West’s rather pricey menu was organized quite nicely—the drinks (beer, tequila-based, etc) were listedwith suggested appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I had a Georgia Peach martini and the rest had Mexican martinis.  The shakers were a pretty good size; I was able to pour about 3 drinks out of it. The Georgia Peach was sweet but had a more orange taste to it. The Mexican martinis were pretty standard.

Tuna and avocado tartare

In my opinion, 219West’s half-off tapas are more worth the visit than the drinks. Most of the appetizers fell into the $4-$9 range during happy hour. We ordered the chipotle mac & cheese, spicy cheese tater tots, southwestern mini burgers, and tuna and avocado tartare. I found the mac & cheese to be a little dry and could use more chipotle peppers. The tater tots were pretty standard and tasty, but yet again, I couldn’t taste the spice in it.  The mini-burgers came with four, and were amazing. Although the bun was a bit more on the greasy side, it made it so juicy. The tuna and avocado tartare was, hands down, my favorite dish because the tuna was incredibly fresh and the sauce really tasty. However, the chips we were given were basically crumbs, so it was a bit frustrating to eat.

Southwestern mini-burgers

If you want lots of energy and interaction with mediocre service and mid-priced drinks but amazing appetizers, then this is the place for you. If loud music isn’t your thing, I would suggest the outdoor seating.

Zocalo Cafe offers small selection of frozen drinks

March 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Everyday 3-6pm
$3 frozen sangria and frozen margaritas

$2.50 domestics / $3 imports
$9.99 appetizer platter

All-day drink specials on Wednesday, kitchen closes at normal hours but drinks are served until midnight
$2 frozen sangria, margaritas
$8 carafes

To kick-start this blog off, this frugal drinker is going to talk about her happy hour review of Zocalo Café, the modern Mexican restaurant located on West Lynn and 12th Street. I’ve never been to Zocalo’s, but I’ve heard good things about the food from friends and its sister restaurant, Galaxy Café, is one of my favorite places in Austin.

Frozen Margarita

I went on Wednesday to seize the $2 frozen drinks special with some friends. The moment I stepped in, the modern décor and Ikea-esque furniture definitely reminded me of the snazzy, fun décor of Galaxy Café. There was ample seating space inside and around 12-15 additional tables outside on the patio. The ordering style is a causal order-at-the-register, get a number and select a table, which I generally enjoy, but my friends and I waited in line for over 10 minutes before we finally made it to the front of the line.

Frozen sangria

The frozen drinks were served in a small wine glass. I was a bit underwhelmed by the size, but since it was only $2, I wasn’t going to complain—had it been $3 or regular price, I would opt out. The frozen sangria was well-balanced, not too diluted or wine-y, and the frozen margarita was a little more on the sweet side. Both drinks were not very strong.  The carafe is equal to, my estimate, 4-6 of the $2 drinks so if you have a larger group or want to drink more, I would suggest the $8 carafe. I think next time, I will get the frozen sangrita, which is a mixture of the two.

Overall, I give Zocalo a thumbs up for its Wednesday specials.  The atmosphere is great for a causal dinner, the service is mediocre at best, the food portion is a little under just-enough to fill you up (translation: pseudo-fancy food sizes), and the outdoor seating is a plus for this season.

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