Ryan Kober, Chef, Actor & Austin Food Blogger

Ryan Kober is a chef, actor and food blogger who has recently relocated to Austin and is enjoying exploring the city and sharing his adventures. He has a top 5 happy hour deal recommendations and we discuss the 5 restaurants and what makes each a great place to check out.
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Troy: And good afternoon, everyone. hopefully it's a nice day for you guys in Austin. It's pretty nice day for us. Get a little bit warmer, sunny the sun. Sun's a nice, nice factor. So I'm always really happy when we have kind of the sunny days, although the warm, warmer weather and less theater is, you know, the last two kind of things that would really, really tick off all the buttons and stuff like that. I am joined today by Ryan Coburn. Ryan is, there's a lot of things, but Ryan, is an actor, is a chef and is a, food blogger primarily about Austin, which is how we connected a while back for my, Austin spotlight magazine. And so I'm really excited to have him as a contributor to that and excited to have him on here and kind of learn a little bit more about him and talk a little bit, about Austin food too. So thank you for taking the time.

Ryan: Oh, it's awesome to be here. I'm always glad to talk about food and myself as a narcissist. That's great. but yeah, it's really great to be.

Troy: That's awesome. I also was like, you know, every once in a while, I'll reach out to some people about doing it and there'll be a little nervous about like, you know, how, how, how you do it. And, after, you know, seeing your videos and stuff like that, that you put on social media, like, oh, Ryan's not going to have, this'll be, Ryan will be all, all, all for something like this. So

Ryan: I'm pretty comfortable in Front of a camera.

Troy: So I knew that would, that would go well. but yeah. Why don't you, I mean kind of give us a little bit about your origin story. I know like for most people, Austin, isn't home, it's kind of even more interesting when, when it is home. Cause it is seemed kind of rare for a lot of people, but what's kind of your background and how'd you get to Austin.

Troy: so I decided to do that and literally on new year's day of last year, I, they came up for Christmas and with their car and my car, we brought all my stuff down. I lived with them for a hot second and I just automatically started applying to different places, all over Austin, different restaurants and stuff like that. I eventually landed on easy tiger, which is a big part of Austin. They have three locations currently and I'm one of the cooks there. but to get into how I got into cooking, it was kind of a weird happenstance. Like I had just started getting into my food blog. I was really big on food photography originally. I just, for myself, I started taking pictures of food. I really liked it. And I liked writing little love stories to all the food that I was eating.

Ryan: I was pretty tasty. I was pretty much single and taking myself out on like little self dates, you know, treat yourself all that stuff. And I just kept like making all these posts and more and more people started to like it. And my friend Abby saw it and she was already food blogging at the time. And she was like, you have good content. Why don't you just make a separate account and just do a food blog So I started doing that. I made the fair bear. and I, and as I was doing that, I was still a starving actor, you know, in New York city at the time. So, you know, I was a bartender, I was a waiter and I use this app called jet jet Joe, which was basically like Tinder for waiters and bartenders and stuff. Where if you were basically in a certain area, you had a clean suit and tie that you could just go to a certain event.

Ryan: You could show up within a few hours and get paid for the job and go, I ended up at this place where they were doing this program called story course, which was basically, the, this Broadway actor, Adam canter and, this and his business partner, Brian, we're doing a like six course meal for these like almost Michelin star chefs that were telling their story of how they immigrated from wherever they were from to America and doing that through a six course meal. So like they would send out a course and then the, the guests would read out loud a chapter of their life. And then the next course would come out and it would go like that. And that was like, you know, I'd been in restaurants and, but I never really been in the kitchen before, but because this was such a, a small and personal organization, everyone was doing everything to help set up.

Ryan: And I ended up in the kitchen and I still had like my little like led food, blogging light. And I was staring at all this food and I kept asking the chefs individually. I was like, your food looks amazing. Can I take pictures of your food And they were always like, yeah, no one just like comes up to you and was like, yo, let me take pictures of your food. So I decided to do that. They're babies. They're like, oh yeah, sure. Here take exactly like, you know, I, you know, I take everyone else just like, have like a food blogging light to make everything look nice. They usually just take like a rinky dink a picture on their cell phone, but I always had my light on me. So I started taking pictures of all these chefs food. And one of them, his name is chef.

Ryan: Behzad. He was so enamored by the food, food photography that I was taking, that he was like, do you want to go to my next event Like, I'm going to have private events outside of this one. Do you want to come along And when you do that, do you want to be my sous chef for the evening I'm a little low on staff. Do you want to just like, help me out, help plate some food, I'll show you how to like, you know, stir a certain things here and there and get into it. And you could take food photography and I'll pay you. And I was like, yes, let's do that right now. I want to do that right now. Let's do it. and so I kept going to his events and slowly but surely, like I started to get my own apron and I started to get my own chef's coat. And I was just like, I really want to do this. I, I like this way too much. This makes me smile a lot. Like, I just love the interaction, the closeness of being in a kitchen with someone else and, and to be with all the guests right there and his food, like I love food and his food was outrageous. And the fact that I got to take pictures, cook it, like taste it, everything. It was just, it was the ultimate for me, truly. So

Troy: To actually make that the creation yourself, as much as you enjoyed the photography, part of it, to be like the person behind the, you know, again, the dinner, the meal that you get to take that photography for was even more exciting for.

Ryan: Oh, it was, it was even more special than I could have imagined. And eventually I was like, I kind of want to do this more. Do I go to culinary school What's what's the next step for me And he was like, no, no, no, no, no, no. Do not go to culinary school. If you want to be in debt, you go to culinary school. But if you truly, cause from his experience, like he's gone to culinary school, he's been, you know, he's been to France, he's done all this stuff, all the steps that every typical chef would do. And he was like, basically, if you want to learn the basics and learn them well and fast on your own, get into a kitchen and start from the bottom and work your way up top. And he was a consulting chef for this restaurant in the city, in New York city.

Ryan: I shouldn't just say the city, but the city. and he was a consulting chef, just working on the menu. It was actually that, Harry Potter style pop-up bar, I think it's called, it's called the cauldron where they were just doing like magical mixing cocktails and like all that stuff. And you know, it was on Buzzfeed and everything like that, that got so popular that they wanted to get, a whole menu for it. Not just, not just the alcohol. So he was tapped to do that. And he was like, well, since I'm doing this, I can probably get you in as a prep cook. cause that's like, that's the lowest rank for any kitchen. So he was like, I'll get you in as that. But if you want it badly, you take it from there. If you really want to get up in the ranks, I can't just automatically get, make you a line cook.

Ryan: That's not, that's not how it works. So it was like, you go from there and if you want it badly, you'll, you'll make it you'll make your way. So I started doing that and slowly but surely, I went from that restaurant to the next, I kept making friends with other chefs through food, blogging events. And I eventually met chef Alison Fasano. Who's been on chopped and whole bunch of other food network shows. and she was like, I saw you cooking with this one chef, who it happened to be Tom Colicchio from, from the food network. He went to chef event. He was hosting one of his events. One day I ended up just taking a picture with him and a bunch of other chefs. And she saw that I was in that circle and she was like, you, I want you you're from long island.

Ryan: I'm going to be cooking on long island all summer. why don't you come join me And I was like, whoa, I am. I'm not the chef that you think I am. I'm literally, I'm just starting out listing the picture. Yeah. Like I'm like, I'm sweating bullets. She's thinking that like, I'm some kind of like Sue Schaeffer or something like that. I was like, no, that's not what this is. But like, thank you. I I'll, I'll take it. If you want to start me out at the bottom, I can do that. She was like, well, listen, I will teach you everything that I know. It's just that no one's going to be going out to long island just to cook for the summer. Like that's, it's just, you know, it, yes, it is enticing to be out on long island for the summer. But like, you gotta find housing, you gotta do all this stuff.

Ryan: She was like, if you live on long island, you can, you can do this and I'll teach you. And I was like, if you're going to teach me like, so let's do it. So, I ended up cooking with her one other chef in this tiny kitchen, out east, in the middle of summer. And because she had just been on chopped, she was super popular. Our restaurant was booked all the time. It was awesome. But our sous chef at the time was going through some stuff. We had to get rid of him halfway through the summer. So it was just me and her and the dishwasher all summer. And that was nuts. Like you want to talk about trial by fire, literally. That was it. And so like, I really learned to up my chops from there and that helped a lot. and from there I just followed her to all these different restaurants and then like everyone else COVID and a lot of stuff shut down, you know So from there I went to Texas, I did my thing and I've just been doing the food thing, tech talks here and there. and just kinda, you know, keep my head above water, like everyone else, but trying to find all the small moments along the way.

Troy: Very nice. Yeah. No, I mean, obviously COVID, especially in the hospitality and restaurant space and stuff like that has been, pretty devastating to, you know, there was just so many different restaurants that had to shut down because they couldn't, your are already running on such fine margins anyway, at most restaurants to suddenly be, you know, have either to not be able to be open or to have demand slipped a little bit and stuff. It's just been, a big challenge for sure.

Ryan: Yeah. No, a lot of places have really been suffering and you know, I, you know, I see some people still like giving food, like food critics are still critiquing certain restaurants right now. And personally, I just don't think it's like, I don't think it's the time to be doing that. I think that we should just be encouraging to eat at certain places. Like if we still enjoy certain places, but I don't think we can critique certain places for how they're functioning currently, because every restaurant is just suffering right now. And it's like, it could be a spot that you remember being really good, but like if you don't yeah

Troy: Yeah. Again, half the staff that they were when they were at full capacity, because again, right. There's a lot of people in that space that had that because you had to find a job, went into something else and they, didn't not necessarily going back into the restaurant space or hospitality space. And so, yeah, like I say to, even though restaurants that have made it through our, you know, backup and running for the most part, like again, even the ones that are back up and running are Mo very few of them are at the same, a hundred percent capacity if they were really.|

​​​​​​​Ryan: Yeah. So, you know, it's, so like what I'm trying to do at least with, with my food blog is just highlight the places that have really wowed me, especially during these times, because if they can still turn out the food that is making me go like, holy crap, I need to go back if they're still able to do that and turn out that type of food during these times, give that place your full support. Cause my God, that that's a miracle in and of itself.

Troy: Yeah, yeah, no, that's been kind of, one of the challenging things is trying to go, you know, like wanting to go to restaurants more to a degree, but also again, like I say, just being tricky as far as, you know, do you get stuff delivered Can you sit in locations You just, all the different kinds of stuff that, just the changes that have happened in that, in that space. And so it's a, it's definitely something where you want to support. Cause it's, you know, it, the cool thing with restaurants for in a lot of cases is there some of them more, a lot of times some of them can be some, you know, really define a neighborhood or a city. Obviously there's a lot of, kind of more chain types of restaurants, but especially the ones that are more mom and pop or, you know, you know, a couple locations in a city and stuff it's, you know, those are the ones that you really want to help support. They're probably the ones that have the hardest time as well. And the ones that kind of give cities and neighborhoods their unique flair. For sure.

Ryan: For sure. Yeah.

Troy: So one of the, let's say one of the things, that I've always kind of wondered too, like you obviously have a huge passion for food, still do some of the food blog stuff as well too. Is it pretty common in your industry or you think you're kind of unique in the fact of like, Hey, let me go work as a cook or do this for 40 hours or more a week. And then aside from that, let me go into more restaurants and, and, and deal with that. That's, that'd be more for a lot of people. Like once they leave the actual, you know, nine to five, obviously it's not nine to five for a chef, but once they kinda, you know, leave that space, sometimes they want to do other things to relax them in mind. But it seems like not that you don't do some other things as well too, but it seems like you enjoy kind of checking out other places as well on top of, you know, making it a career.

Ryan: Yeah. I, I don't know. I just truly, I mean, as corny as this sounds, but like literally variety is the spice of life for me. and when I'm done working, I either want to cook something really good for myself that I'm, you know, I'm not getting at the restaurant or, you know, I just don't normally have, or I want to go someplace else and give someplace else my full support because I just moved to Austin and I want to see what Austin has to offer. I mean, they're one of the food capitals of the world. It's part of the reason why I moved here. I want to see what they got, you know, and it's, it's my little treat, you know, I've been standing on my feet for, you know, eight to 10 to 12 hours, depending on the shift. I want to relax and food, having a good meal, like, and just like being outside on a beautiful day, like today, like that is my go-to, that's what I want to do.

Ryan: You know, I, I can't get away from food. I don't want to get away from food. It's it's not something that I'm like, oh, no more. It's, it's just something that I I'm constantly wanting to be around. I'm not sick of it, even though I stare at it all day every day, but at the same time, my restaurant is a specific type of food. Sure. I will go anywhere else and try any type of food. But like, if it's, if it's like a burger and some schnitzel and some pretzels I've already had that, so I'm going to, I'm going to go literally anywhere else on my days off. and the one thing that does kind of suck sometimes is the schedules for, for chefs is, I mean, we're working at the most popular hours that anyone else tries to go out to eat. So to go out on like, you know, Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday when most other restaurants are also closed or, you know, they're, they're not at the

Troy: Are there the prime primary cook chef isn't working that day either. So like having the meal on that day, on the off time, isn't maybe the same as having, at Friday at​​​​​​​

Ryan: Exactly. So, you know, it's a, it's a double-edged sword, but that's also why I like having my food blog because it kind of pushes me to find those spots that are open on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, so that other cooks other people in the food industry like me can, you know, hunt that out and find that good spot that they too can have that good meal on their day off and relax if they're the same type of, build like me and they, they really do want that good meal to, to wind down. Yeah.

Troy: What what's been the biggest difference between say New York city and Austin, when it comes to food that you've noticed

Ryan: It's, I mean, truly from, from what I've seen, the differences picky eaters, I'd have to say, I feel like new Yorkers are, I mean, I, especially long Islanders, long Islanders are very, very specific about their orders, their dietary restrictions, everything like that. It's like, you'll get a ticket. That's like one order, but it's like, you know, yay big because it's just like, nah, I want the meat sandwich, but no meat, extra cheese, blah, blah, blah, no salt, boom. And you're just like, why did you come here for this If you're like, I think long Islanders are so used to diners because we're a very big diner spot. Diners are like our bread and butter. We love having it our way, having any type of meal at any hour, that's what diners are for. But then we're so used to that, that we'd go to any other restaurant.

Ryan: And we expect the same type of service where that's not the case. If you're going to any other restaurant, that chef is making that menu because it's because they made it that, that specific way. And if you're stripping it, of everything that that chef wanted to give you, that's, that's not the menu. That's not what they're doing it for. And you're kind of killing the magic of that food by doing that. But so many people are used to having it their way on long island that it's, it's just so picky and it can, it can get to you. It can definitely get to you, but here I've seen a lot less of that. I mean, there's, there's still your particular orders, you know, that's just life, but it's way less. So that

Troy: That's good. I would say that probably makes a nice for you in the kitchen for sure. That way. I know. for me originally moving from the Midwest, like, I don't feel like, I mean, there definitely is still variety of compare. I mean, compared to New York, obviously there's going to be less Friday just because of the kind of international culture and stuff of the city. But like, I've kind of always been surprised at the like Italian food always seemed like kind of such a staple food growing up, even though I'm not Italian. And I've, you know, that's always been one of the things that you're kind of like, oh, there's really not much Italian food in Austin and, and not a whole lot of really good Italian food when there is. And so that's kind of always been one of the surprising things that don't get me wrong. We can't get TexMex or Mexicans up up north that we get down here. So it's definitely just, you know, there's definitely

Ryan: Tradeoffs, man. I mean, I mean, listen, I miss and I'm going to be, I'm going to be working on this as like a personal project, but like pizza and bagels are staples of New York. I feel like most people know that, but like, those are the two things that you just can't get them as good anywhere else. I mean, there, there are a few spots here that have actually wowed me that have been pretty good. I think like, I think home slice pizza has been pretty good and I'm nervous, Charlies, nervous, Charlies. I think they're on north Lamar. but they though nervous Charlies bagels has been really good and home slice pizza has been the place that I've gone to for pretty legit pizza. That I've, that I've actually been like, that is not bad. The sauce is good. Like the crust is actually good. It's crisp, it's, you know, a lot of other places, it's almost like they're just putting ketchup and cheese on a, on a cardboard box and they're like, this is pizza. And you're like, huh.

Troy: Yeah, I don't, I, I'm not a big bagel person, so I definitely don't know, but it doesn't feel like there's like a ton of bagel air, you know, in, in, in Austin it's breakfast, tacos is what you have for breakfast, not bagels. I would say the pizza feels like it's more of a melting pot of different types of things. Right. And so in New York, if you, you know, if you're from there, you like New York style pizza, if you're from Chicago, you like Chicago style pizza. And so, and so I feel like the different Pete, the pizza places that are around here are usually maybe a little bit more kind of a mashup of some of those kinds of things versus maybe being, you know, as New York year as, as, Chicago, there's a place route pretty far north to places, from a Chicago style side of things, a couple place called monjas that used to have a few more locations.

Troy: That's the deep dish style pizza that I know is a place that I really like. And then a place called silicones. So coaches they're there, it's supposed to be a new style pizza. And I feel like it's a really good, I feel, you know, probably one of them, probably my top pizza place, if I really have to pretty legit. Yeah. So that's, that's a kind of, again, one, that's less because it's not essential as home slice and stuff. It's not quite as, on the radar for a lot of people, which is awesome. Kind of nice too.

Ryan: And one thing like, I mean, listen, obviously like TexMex is breakfast, tacos, everything like that is going to be what I go to here. But one thing that truly surprised me about Austin was the amount of Vietnamese spots and how good they are. Like, eh, there are an endless amount of Vietnamese places to go to. And I haven't had a bad meal since like I've been obsessed with bond me sandwiches lately. Those are like one of my go-to sandwiches if I'm ever like having a craving for something that, and, some FA is, on the, at least when it's like actually called out here, man. Oh my God. Like it hits the spot. There's so good. And it's, it's crazy. There are an endless amount.

Troy: Yeah. so I know for, we, again, we connected as doing for you as a contributor to the Austin spotlight magazine, which I kind of relaunched. And so I know one of the things I wanted to talk about today was your article about kind of, the top five, Austin happy hour deals. And so kind of curious, how you came up with the list and how you kind of, you know, check those things out or, you know, kind of find those places.

Ryan: Oh yeah. I mean, so I don't really like, I, yes, I have, I have a good amount of friends here in Austin, thankfully, since I've moved, but like most of them do work when I'm not working or, you know, we're, we're just like always missing each other.

Troy: Yes. The schedules don't necessarily align unless they're, unless there are other service industry people at that point. Yeah.

Ryan: So I tend to do a lot of things by myself and I, you know, I like to find good deals here and there and happy hours seem to be a really big thing in, in at least in Texas, I think, they really, they really just have good deals all around. So I just started looking around and I'm not, I'm not the biggest drinker. That's never really been my thing, but they, a lot of places have had great food deals at the same time as having great drink deals. So I just started looking for the most interesting ones, the ones that sounded the most enticing, the ones that had the biggest bang for their buck and, slowly but surely I would just go on a day off by myself and, and see, you know, what's open on a Tuesday or Wednesday and, and I would slowly but surely find these spots that were like this, this is a legit deal.

Ryan: Like this is, this is really good. I think one of the first spots was actually a bit a Vietnamese spot. It was the Elizabeth street cafe that is, it's more south it's after you cross it's after you crossed that bridge, that's on a Cezar Chavez. but I went in there and I didn't even realize that it was happy hour. I was just like, I wanted to, I wanted to check it out, but it was around like three or four o'clock and they, you know, I got myself like a bond me and like an app and I got myself a drink. And when the bill came, it was only like, like 10, 12 bucks. And I was like, that's not right. Like I, what did they miss Yeah. I was like, this is my server mess up. Or is my server like being really nice to me what's happening.

Ryan: But like I checked and there was just like happy hour discount, happy hour discount. And I was like, oh, okay. All right, well, I'm going to be back here for sure. Like, I think I had their lemon grass beef on me and I had, some of their, I think there was like, there there's summer rolls that are filled with like those, from a cellie noodles and like shrimp and barbecue beef or barbecue pork. And they have just like a trio of different dipping sauces that you can have. And I was like this, they, they go so hard for, and it was awesome. like it, cause I think that they're Vietnamese, but they're also French inspired. So they really, they, they just really put in the, those good cooking techniques for each dish and their bond MES are super fresh. The meat is so tender and flavorful. There, there are different dipping sauces. You want to slather everything with everything. And at the same time for anyone that does want a cocktail, they were like $2 off any, any cocktail of theirs. So I was like, all right, well, that's a great deal. I'm definitely coming back. And when I find friends that actually want to hang out with me on my days off, I'll bring them to. Yeah.

Troy: have you, have you found that kind of same, have you found, I feel like, especially from like a New York east coast perspective, that everything's a little bit earlier here, again, I've lived in Austin for like 17 years now. So you just get you're used to that being the time, but right. You mentioned that you get there at three o'clock and you're like, you didn't realize that this would be happy hour because I don't believe in like New York that would be happy, hard haul, like happy hours, not going to be until five or six because people don't have dinner until nine or 10 where everything's happening kind of that hour or so earlier.

Ryan: I, I I've noticed that and I do love it. I'm like, listen, if I can, if I cause like I am of that mindset that like, when I do want to go eat, I also don't want to deal with traffic and like, and everything like that and like rush hour. So like the fact that like, it can be earlier and I can get out and get a good meal and like still be back at home within like 10, 15 minutes and cause like, you want to enjoy your meal and not have it ruined by like someone cutting you off in traffic on the way home. Yeah, exactly. Being stuck on the like, well, I'm not digesting any of this. Well, this is upsetting, but like, it honestly that's perfect for me. I love that. let's see, what else One of the other ones was foreign and domestic.

Ryan: Oh yeah. All right. So foreign and domestic, I found them by actually going on a date. I went on a date and I saw that they had a happy hour, but like I never actually went myself. But, they, I checked online after my date and I was like, they have a burger that's only like eight bucks. And and they also had like $4 apps. So I went there again by myself and I got there. I believe it's there, they're like white cheddar and black pepper Popo popovers that are so good. They're like little clouds of bread who doesn't love carbs. And so I got that and I got there, their burger, which is literally like a farm to table gourmet burger, like cheddar and an egg on top. And I was like, this is a steal. I like, if I can get, if I had this every day, I mean, I would probably die, but it was, it was so good.

Ryan: Like, cause they're, they're one of those farm to table places that you feel like you need to pay an arm and a leg just to go there and you need like save up. But like their happy hour is so worth it getting a burger that is that good, that gourmet, I I'd run there in a heartbeat. So that was, that was the second spot that I, that I found that I was just like writing this down, going back immediately. and then, what's, what's that other spot I I'm terrible assaulting now. Yes. the salty so salty. So yeah, so the salty, so I saw that fried that like fried chicken sandwich with the honey and the, and the Rosemary. And I was like, I don't need anything else. I don't. I like, I, you, I don't need a single other thing. I will order five of whatever that is, because that sounds like the most decadent thing I've ever heard in my life. And for it to be that cheap for, for happy hour, like why, why wouldn't you want to go there right away You know It's, it was just one of those things that my little fatty in me was just like, yeah, yeah. That's what I want. You know Cause like, listen, I'm in, I'm in Texas. Why wouldn't I want fried chicken And then they have all of this gourmet toppings on top and it's a little bit cheaper than the normal menu. Yeah.

Troy: Come on. Fried chicken is probably not a big staple of the New York restaurant.

Ryan: Yeah, no, it's like, we try, like you try, you can, you can have, and listen, I'm not saying that there aren't places that have, you know, good fried chicken in New York, but like Texas is the place to get.

Troy: Yeah. Like kind of going back to that Italian Mexican thing I was talking about, like there's just always going to be, you know, when you are in kind of the heart of that area, it's always going to be better and more and more options.

Ryan: Yes, exactly. So that was, cause you know, I I'm, I'm not really drawn to alcohol, but when you find food that is just that good, I'm going to go, I'm going to go right away. You know that was the other spot that I picked. oh yeah. the Liberty. Yeah. So, the Liberty is actually around the corner from the easy tiger location that I work at and me and my coworkers, that was the, that was literally the first bar that I ever really went to, went since I moved here. And I was like, these drinks are super cheap. Like, you know, you want to get like a tall boy of lone star or something. It's like $2, like two 50 and you have like a few of those. That's great. Like if I, if I want to go out for drinks, the Liberty is the spot that I actually do want to go to because you're not spending an arm and a leg. Like I know that sixth street is kind of divided whether like you're on the right side of to the left. and honestly like it's because I'm not that big of a drinker. Like if I do end up going out, like I don't want to spend that much money. Like I'd rather just like have a few beers, have a good time and just like, relax. I'm not trying to go to some nightclub that, you know, everything is with

Troy: The $15

Ryan: Drinks. Exactly. Like that's, that's just not my thing. So, I also saw that they do like all these drinks specials that start from the time that they open till around like eight o'clock. And they're like, eh, I think it's like a shot and a beer for like seven bucks or eight bucks. And I'm like, that's an amazing deal. Are you kidding me Like, and it's not like, some of them are like, well, well whiskey or, or like a well tequila, but like they're not bad. They're, they're not like the grossest thing you've ever had, but like, it's just like a good, like a good cheap beer and a good cheap shot. And that's a great, it's a great price. And when you're with your friends, they have a great backdoor, like, outdoor seating area that can fit a lot of people. I think they have like a pinball machine inside. They have, they have a pool table and they also have a food truck in the back. that does, I believe they do some form of, Asian cuisine. That is, I mean, I've had it more once and it's, it's awesome

Troy: Actually, once you've had that shot in that beer and

Ryan: Then, oh yeah, no, it's, it's evil, it's a little bit evil. They know, they know exactly what they're doing. They're like the second that alcohol touches, these people's lips, they're going to come running to us and it's been worth it every time. So that's, that's definitely a great spot for, for some low key drinks with friends.

Troy: Yeah. The final spot you put down there was maybe a little bit of a surprise would maybe be a little bit of a surprise to the diehards, but you put down the cheesecake factory.

Ryan: Yeah. You know, listen, I, I don't go to the cheesecake factory often. I really don't. That's why I was actually so surprised, when I went there and it turned out to be happy hour. So I was actually, I was at, the Barton, is it the Parton Creek mall Yeah. So I went there because me and my coworkers were actually doing a holiday photo shoot. I was dressed up as Santa, all this different stuff. And afterwards I think it was around like 4 30, 5 o'clock. And my friend was like, let's go to cheesecake factory it's right here in the mall. And I think that they have happy hour. And I was like, oh, I didn't know that they had happy hour. I had like, I never even crossed my mind. So I w we go there and I'm looking at their happy hour and you know, how they have that, like, you know, it's like this big of a menu binder. Exactly. Like I'm going to say half of it was for their happy hour. And also their drinks are really good. Like, I know that they're like a chain, but like they're, they have their drinks down to a science. They have a pink lemonade that is addicting. Like you barely taste the alcohol, but it is quite strong. And it's like, I, I think I had like two of them and I was like, I need to stop

Troy: Tastes good. And doesn't feel like I'm drinking, I'll call, but I can tell that I am.

Ryan: It did. It's like, yeah, I'm dressed as Santa. I don't want to be, I don't want to be the drunk center, just wandering around the mall right now. Like, it's, it's not the situation I want to be in, but, you know, they have, I think they have like a $5 burger. That's like a double cheeseburger that's ginormous. And they also have a smaller version of that. That's just mini sliders. That's I think like maybe a dollar cheaper. They have, they had just have tons of different shareables. I went with like eight, a group of eight people, and we all got like two apps each to share. And I think between that and the drinks, like we paid like 30 bucks each, for, for everything. Like, it was awesome when we were stuffed, they have like, they have these Brussels sprouts that are really good.

Ryan: They have, these like cheese balls that are just, you know, crunchy on the outside. They have a dipping, so everything has a dipping sauce. And I liked the food was actually quality. It's not like you're getting some kind of microwave Applebee's type situation going on. Like the, the people at the cheesecake factory are actually doing a really good job at, for a chain for a massive chain like that, between the drinks and the food. And like everything came out hot and fresh. Like we didn't wait that long. It was a really, really good deal. So I was pleasantly surprised.

Troy: Nice. Very nice. Yeah. with, with the new year, obviously there's, you know, so, I mean, it's cool to kind of have different places to check out, especially with, you know, shorter daylight hours and stuff like that too. But also we get people with the new year doing one of the biggest new year's, goals or, or resolutions is kinda trying to be in shape. So this is hopefully a balance to like, Hey, you, shouldn't probably shouldn't be going out to these places all the time. If you're really trying to, you know, get the in shape new year's resolution, but as a way to, as a reward for, you know, staying on track and to, you know, sell it cause, you know, he get too restrictive. That's how you fall off the wagon too. So you gotta kind of balance that, balance that out and saying, these are some really amazing options to check out.

Ryan: Yeah. You know, cause like, as, you know, as much as I also want to like try and get on like the fitness track and everything like that, I'm also trying to be a little more financially responsible as well. So to be able to, you know, not eat as badly as I usually do, but then also save a little money at the same time. And you find these certain, these certain hole in the wall, places that have really great deals, with also just like really gourmet delicious food. That's, that's a win-win for me, you know So I, I'm definitely about that new year's resolutions life.

Troy: Very nice. I know we'll have, so definitely I ended up, kind of posting, probably in the Facebook live here. I'll end up linking your articles so that people want to check it out. Can can see that and kind of learn more and remember those places. w do you have any ideas on what, what you're going to want to talk about February as far as

Ryan: Hm. In February I, I think I'm might want to try and tackle my favorite breakfast tacos that I've had thus far, because I mean, I've had a lot of the

Troy: I feel like, I feel like that potentially could be the second, most debated fought about food items behind barbecue. Like you want to start a, a fight in Austin or Texas, you know, mentioned, you know, you just kind of re you know, rate the different barbecue joints and that'll, definitely people upset. which is awesome. But yeah, no, but the breakfast tacos, I feel like are not too far behind because in a lot of cases there, some joints that do both. And so right now it's kind of that the, the honestly the best breakfast faculty usually have, you know, the brisket ones instead of just the bacon and sometimes the thing that like you, so, that'll be a good one to look forward to. And, and, also, you know, again, it helped me with those resolutions, you know, the breakfast tacos, you gotta have them in the morning. So it means you've got to get up and get going with your day and stuff.

Ryan: Oh yeah. It gets everything started. And, you know, honestly for, for me as well, like it, it also comes down to like the salsa that you put on top, because I N I usually need a salsa for my breakfast tacos. Like, I mean, listen, some breakfast tacos are good by themselves, but I really can judge a place by how much love and care they put into their salsa, because it, it can make or break it. Is it spicy enough Is it flavorful enough by itself It doesn't even need spice, all these different things, they all factor in. And, I'm a salsa boy.

Troy: Which as a chef, that shouldn't probably be very, very surprising at all. Yeah. Awesome. Well, cool. I appreciate you taking the time to, to jump on and chat. Like, it's been interesting to see some of your spots. There's been, a couple, there's been the Elizabeth street one I've not actually been to. So that's one, that's a place that I need to hit up at some point in time and make it back to the other ones as well too. Cause, it is always fun to check those places out. So the exciting to, to go do some happy hour stuff sometimes soon.

Ryan: Oh yeah. I hope you enjoy all the places that I've wrote


Troy: About. Yeah, no again, I'm sure they're, they, again, I've been to a bunch of them and they're all great. So I'm sure that the one that I haven't is awesome as well too. So, any kind of final words for people looking to check out Austin happy places is, in the coming days and months.

Ryan: just be adventurous. Look for, look for spots that are, that nobody's talking about, you know, cause like certain spots, like if they're too popular, you could be waiting for a really long time for something that might actually disappoint you. So sometimes you really just got to take a risk and go to the spots that, that are just a little more unknown and trust your gut. If it looks really good, do your own research and just try and suss those places out, you might find a really, really surprising treat

Troy: And variety's the spice of life. So by checking out different places, you're going to, you know, that's how you can find the new hidden jammer, the new, your new favorite spot versus going to the same old place all the time. Exactly. Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to, to chat today, Ryan and, wish you a great day,

Ryan: Troy. It was a pleasure and I will talk to you later.

Troy: Thanks a lot.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


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