Category Archives: Bevo Bucks

Sandwich Fights From The Drag: Potbelly

A distinctive food oasis on the Drag

For the first edition of our Sandwich Fights From the Drag, I had to begin with Potbelly. It is one of the first places I ate at when I came to UT. I first met Potbelly in the DFW area, actually, when I was still trying to figure out where I wanted to go for college. We arrived the day before I was set to tour colleges and it was dinner time. My dad and I were starving as we were figuring out where we wanted to eat. Soon, we came across a small building with the strange name “Potbelly.” I asked my dad about it and he said it was a rather popular sandwich shop some people liked and he knew of some clients that raved about the place. We decided to give it a try.

I'm sorry, I couldn't wait to take a bite

Mmmm! It was yummy! Mostly the sandwiches are fixed (kind of like Quizno’s), but they are made fresh to order with your choice of toppings. I ordered the Wreck on white (the roast beef was calling to me!) and my dad the Italian on wheat. They were both delicious with crunchy toasty bread and warm savory fillings that quickly filled us up. I also think the lettuce and mayo give an added sweetness that is just right with the salty luncheon meats. I have never had their salads, but I am told the Chicken Salad is very good as a salad or on a sandwich.

They're so cute! And tasty!

The cookies ‘n’ cream malt was amazing as well! Very thick with cute butter cookies on the straw. A perfect addition to a yummy drink. It is just the right thickness and is actually drinkable with a straw. I will admit, I’d go to Sonic first for a malt, but Potbelly is a good second! Other desserts include hand-dipped ice cream cones and regular-sized cookies that are also rather tasty. The sugar crystals are big and the cookies are hearty enough for a satisfying, albeit small, dessert. If you like desserts, one cookie may not be enough. 😛

It just looks like a comfy place to sit down and eat

An interesting note is the décor of Potbelly. Potbelly first started out as an antique store that sold sandwiches and soon the sandwiches took over the store! The antique furnishings are a nostalgic callback to the original store’s intent and I feel gives a more comfy feeling with wooden counters and old-fashioned signs hanging around the restaurant. Each restaurant is unique in its decorations and has a general theme, but is individual in tastes. The Austin location has to have Longhorns! I appreciate the warm feeling of the restaurant that invites its diners to rest, relax, and eat well.

When we finally went to visit Austin, we discovered a Potbelly on the Drag as well! Super hungry and in the mood for a sandwich, the sandwich was just as yummy in Austin as it was in Dallas. It was also great to see the unique decorations of the restaurants. There is a small stage in the back for live performances, keeping up Austin’s music tradition. There is lots of seating in the back with cozy booths that are my favorite place to sit.

If you're interested in "how to Potbelly"

The people have always been nice since I’ve been there and are patient in taking your orders for toppings. The price is also pretty great since a sandwich can pretty much fill you up or leave leftovers for less than $5! Awesome for the expensive prices on the Drag these days. You can also order it online and delivery, how fun is that?

Overall, I really enjoy Potbelly and find that, if I have no idea where I want to eat that day, I can always fall back on Potbelly.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 for delicious sandwiches, limited customization, great prices.

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What’s a Rasta Pasta?

 

What lies beneath my Chicken Montego Bay dish?

Rasta Pasta is one of the new noodle joints opening by campus. It has recently started accepting Bevo Bucks and that prompted my interest in trying the place out. It is right next to Crave, which is on the corner of the Drag and 21st street. Easily accessible from campus, it’s nice to have a new pasta place to eat.

Celebrating a new vibe by campus

Rasta Pasta instantly popped with flavor as the walls are painted in yellow, green, and red. Jamaican-inspired art and flags hang upon the walls. A sort of Tiki bar sits in the back of the restaurant. You sit down at a table and your waiter comes to pick up your drink and food orders. A nice addition is that if you come for dinner, you automatically get a small side salad and garlic bread.

Novel new concept: spaghetti sauce on salad

The salad was a standard lettuce mix and you had the choice of a sundried tomato sauce or a green chile vinaigrette sauce. I personally got the sundried tomato sauce and it was interesting on top of the salad. Think of a sweetened and slightly cheesy tomato sauce on top of plain salad. I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say I loved it either. It was fun to try something different though. The green chile vinaigrette sauce was rather watery and smelled strongly of vinegar, hearkening back to tastes that are more usual on pasta. It was deemed OK. The garlic bread was pretty good and very buttery, but I kind of wished it was a little crunchier.

I personally got the Chicken Montego Bay and it was pretty good. It was like Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken, but a lot spicier and more peppery. Definitely not too salty. It was also different with the sweet taste from the pineapple. At first, I thought there was no pineapple, but I could definitely taste it. Apparently, the pineapple was small chunks that looked like they were the canned kind instead of fresh or big pineapple slices like I expected. They were tasty, nonetheless, and the flavor did come out with the dish. The jerk chicken didn’t taste especially spiced either, but I was pleased with the dish and I felt the wine cream sauce was not too heavy. The large amounts of fresh vegetables in the dish were also nice compared to the many other dishes on the Drag that are very light on the vegetables. The serving is very big, definitely able to fill up a big appetite or provide multiple meals for a small appetite.

My roommate decided on the spaghetti with garlic and herb sauce. A simple nice pasta dish. It was delicious and she compared it kind of to a pizza, probably because of the strong oregano taste in the pasta. It was yummy, but admittedly a little plain. Good though if you want to not be too experimental, but try something different.

Want some Rasta Pasta anyone?

The rest of our group tried the Rasta Pasta. It was definitely unique and as they said “unusual.” The pasta has a sort of secondary heat that builds with each bite. One bite, though, will not burn your taste buds. I am not really sure how to describe the dish except that it was very spicy and you mostly tasted the tomato and garlic. The chicken was shredded and added a nice protein, but everything in the dish was overwhelmed by the sauce.

In terms of service and hygiene, I have to give this place a low score. 😦 Our server was nice and it seemed like he was working a lot of tables at once, but he was awfully slow. He accidentally spilled some vinaigrette on one of our backpacks and his bracelet kept touching our food. Yuck! In terms of hygiene, it was unfortunate that I did not realize until I was putting my food into a box that there was a hair in one of the pastas and some plastic as well. Double yuck!

Overall, the food was interesting and different (fruit + pasta abounds!) and the ambience is very friendly and good for groups. The food servings are large, but depending on how much you like the flavor will determine if you think you got the full value of your meal which averages at over $10 each. The service and hygiene is lacking. I think with time and some cleaning up, Rasta Pasta could be a different experience on the Drag, we’ll just have to see how long that is.

Rating: 😛 😛 for different and unique dishes, but lack of hygiene and service.

Dolce Finale, I Choose You!

Mmm, a smorgasbord of tasty gelato flavors 😛

After a grueling exam, my friend and I decided to relax by enjoying some gelato. I was excited to come as I had seen it in passing on my walks around West campus. Its name is Dolce Finale and it is a new gelato shop that is joining the sweeping trend of cool creations to challenge the yogurt monopoly in Austin.

Dolce Finale is a gelato shop that focuses mainly on creating tasty gelato and a wide variety of flavors. It is vegan friendly, fresh, and can even be dairy free if necessary. It arrived on the scene in June and has since added itself to the list of Bevo Bucks merchants available around the city. The menu is extensive, ranging from the gelato flavors to gelato creations such as smoothies and banana splits. There are even paninis and salads for mealtime.

I want gelato now.

So what is the difference between gelato and its creamier counterparts like ice cream and yogurt? Basically, gelato is more about smooth texture, intense flavor, and more sugar-based. Ice cream is cream-based and tends to be airier. Yogurt, a popular favorite here in Austin, is more of a custard-base and contains special bacteria that can be h ealthy for your gut. You can also find a history of gelato on the Dolce Finale website.

Cute! Gelato cakes!

An impressive variety of gelato flavors are available at Dolce Finale. First, there are the creamy, more milk-based type like chocolate and mocha. However, there are also the fruity flavors like mango and lemon. Much like ice cream specialty stores, Dolce Finale also offers such products as smoothies, banana splits, and even gelato cakes. Everything is also smaller as the pure taste from gelato is much more intense in a small amount in comparison to ice cream. If you have never been to a gelato place, the standard fare is a serving that is smaller than the usual ice cream and yogurt shops. However, the smaller cup emphasizes how the flavors are intense enough that a small serving is equal in taste and sugar rush to any regular size creamier variety. Usually you can get up to two flavors in a serving and for the larger set, you have the option of up to three.

They also have unique chocolates, how can you not want to come try?

Staff was super friendly and loved giving samples! They gave some great recommendations like the blood orange and house favorite, Mama Mia. They were also happy to tell us about Dolce Finale and why it’s such a great place for hanging out.

Fruity on one side, milky on the other

I personally tried Blood Orange and Baccio (chocolate and hazelnut). My friend had her usual favorite of Mama Mia and then Dulce de Leche. I was really taken with both and though they did not blend as well together as I hoped, both were equally yummy. The blood orange was intense and sour, but also quite sweet. I love fruit and that is one of my favorite things about gelato shops is the amount of fruity flavors available. The Baccio was also sinfully delicious. Dark chocolate pieces are scattered in the serving, emphasizing the chocolatey flavor of the gelato as well as the hint of hazelnut that brings out the chocolate flavor. I would definitely be willing to try both again. The flavor, Mama Mia, actually seems to be a house specialty and one of their most popular flavors. It is more of a basic vanilla base with a slightly sour and very sweet overtones. The Dulce de Leche was also yummy, being more akin to a caramel-like flavor that was very sweet, but delicious. All the flavors I tried were quite yummy and the flavors available are rotating.

Open 'til 2am!

The shop is also very inviting. Large windows line the outside and warm lighting livens the rather narrow store. The place is clean and very college-friendly. First, there is an amalgamation of different furniture and “couch seats” that are very inviting for hanging out. Huge flat-screen TVs are on either side and music plays in the background. The furniture is more retro and wi-fi is available. The place is very laptop-friendly with good wi-fi and lots of AC outlets. Open until 2am, this is definitely the place to be to hang out and enjoy being a college student.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 ½. The place is cute, delicious, and uber-friendly! I have yet to try their other menu choices, but the gelato was definitely tasty and a refreshing change from yogurt. Come try this place out if you haven’t already!

REVIEW: Arpeggio Grill, the Rotating Restaurant

You get bang for your Bevo buck!

Poor Arpeggio. The location has been a revolving location for restaurants that has ranged from Stix’s Bistro to Terra Burger to the now present Arpeggio Grill. It has been hard to keep up with rent on the Drag as the economy drags, but students keep pouring in. Rent has always been killer on the Drag and is even more present this year with the prominent closings of quite a few businesses like the clothing store Wish and the bookstore Intellectual Property in 2009. The Daily Texan actually focused in on it in early August. However, the owner of Arpeggio Grill seems to be taking lessons from his predecessors and I feel like the owner is ready for the Drag. Arpeggio Grill knows we students want good food at a location near us and a place that doesn’t have to look like a dump to give us a good deal. That’s why so many other restaurants on the Drag have been staying around and I think this restaurant could do the same.

A View to an Arabian Night

Approaching Arpeggio Grill, the restaurant face has huge windows that lets in light to what could be a cramped space. Murals of Arabian Nights decorate the walls and bring a kitschy, but nice atmosphere to the place. Arpeggio is noticeably a little better for small groups as the smaller tables are pushed to the wall and can be uncomfortable for parties larger than two. Our large group of ten had to split between two tables in order not to block the passageways between tables. The lighting is warm and inviting and everything is kept rather clean. It’s a place you can go and have good food that doesn’t look like a hole in the wall.

Food, food, and more food...

There are many, many choices available to try at Arpeggio. First, there is the Mediterranean side that has all sorts of foods like falafels, kabobs, and baba ghanouj. On the other side is another sort of mini-restaurant in the place called Tomato Shack that serves Italian food. Basic pastas are available as well as a good variety of pizzas. No one tried the Italian food, but it looked like it might be a fair deal if one was dying for some Italian. Personally, for myself, I wanted to try as much as possible so I got the Arpeggio Mesa Platter. The platter contains a little bit of everything Mediterranean and is apparently a popular choice. It was this huge Styrofoam plate full of different kinds of food. There was the beef and chicken shawerma, both nicely seasoned. Then there was the rice, which was also well made and not too spicy. The hummus was good. It was really quite smooth and had a distinctively sour taste. The tabouleh was a little spicy and tasty. Very fresh. The dolma was yummy, but a tiny bit on the soggy side. The baba ghanouj (the brown meatball-looking objects in the first picture) was also quite yummy, but very spicy. I think the platter was a great choice for trying a little of everything and everything was well seasoned and tasted right.

Pita bread with every meal

In general, everyone found the food pretty yummy.  You get a really good deal with the decent prices for tons of food so definitely recommended! Between our large group, we had the chicken, falafels, shawermas, grilled fish, steak, and special platters and no complaints about dinner choice. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it’s a place we would like to go back to. The people were definitely very nice and the place seemed quite clean. There’s a white board with special deals and a menu in the back with pictures if you have no idea what you want.The guy calls out the number at the bottom of the receipt and brings the food to you. You might want to save yourself trouble and order to-go since you can still eat it there.

A whole half chicken that was delicious to the last bite

Afterwards, it looks like I barely touched the plate, but I came away with a very full stomach and enough leftovers for two meals. I think Arpeggio Grill is accomplishing its goals of providing tasty food for good prices to college students on a budget. Arpeggio Grill is right on the Drag, close to campus, so it is a convenient place to stop by and fulfill your Mediterranean craving.  Grab a pita and some hummus or a falafel to go, Arpeggio Grill is a great place to grab a meal with leftovers to boot.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 1/2 for tasty food at decent prices, tons of food that will surely provide leftovers and makes the price even better for your Bevo Bucks!

To Milto’s and Back

One lonely Sunday I was scouting for a new place to eat for dinner. It’d been a while since I had tried someplace new so I finally decided to look for some good Greek food near campus. Now, I know Milto’s has competition in the way of Kismet Café and the new El Greco, but Milto’s isn’t only a Greek restaurant. Far from it. I decided to give it a try and here is the result.

Cheesy Pesto Bread

All right, all right. The food did taste good. Little greasy, but it was decent.

On my way there, I was busy trying to decide whether to brave it out and eat alone or do take-out. Immediately, when I got there, I decided take-out was the way to go. I don’t know if it was me chickening out or the fact that the restaurant was rather dark, but I decided that I did not really want to eat there that day. From the outside, Milto’s looked like a nice family establishment and inside, it was really just like a family establishment. Not fancy, but homey and a good place to sit back and talk to fellow diners. In the dark. OK, OK, it wasn’t that dark and I didn’t get to explore the other side rooms they had, which are really nice if you want to have a more private dinner or be a little louder that day. Milto’s is a friendly restaurant, albeit a little small, that lets the diners order at the counter and pick up the order (dine-in or take-out) by using a little announcing speaker and a little service bell to notify customers to pick up their order. I headed straight to the counter to put in my order.

Getting my take-out at Milto’s, I was impressed by how nice the guy at the counter was. I am not a very loud person, but he took the time to try to listen to my order and was patient when I was trying to order the tyropitas. He did get a little confused about my wanting pesto cheese bread too, but I decided to let it go and let it be part of my trying the Italian food they have. I also ordered souvlaki since I had come for Greek food and I was told to wait and my food would be out soon. I decided to sit at the small table by the pick-up counter and watched guests go by as I studied for classes.

First off, I was surprised by the emptiness of the restaurant at 6pm, but it was a Sunday and students probably were trying to stay as far away from campus as they could. Soon after I ordered, though, tons of people came, but they were mostly older folks who didn’t seem to be students and families. Quite a few people ordered take-out and another woman soon after me also sat at a table nearby to wait for her food. I noticed the décor of the place now and noted how the restaurant was one of those simple take-care-of-yourself restaurants with even paper towels provided on each table as napkins. Milto’s is an Italian restaurant as well and looking at their pizzas, there are two kinds: Sicilian pizza and Neapolitan pizza. The Neapolitan pizza is your usual round thin-crust pizza, but the Sicilian pizza is a much thicker crust and is more square/rectangle-shaped. Pizzas seemed quite popular and each type of pizza was ordered rather equally. However, if you’re looking for good ol’ New York pizza, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Try Hot Slice down the road.

Nearly every person who ordered got a Greek salad. Really. Next time, I am definitely getting a Greek salad. There was even another lady talking to her friend in line saying how the best thing there was the Greek salad and she was eating there almost every week. When the salad came out, I’ll admit, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary with it. However, it did look quite fresh with tomatoes and dressing and an interestingly shaped roll on top. It is sort of a brown swirl that accompanies the salad and I presume is quite tasty.

I waited for my food for over half an hour, but I guess I asked for a lot (tyropitas, pesto cheese bread, and souvlaki), the stuff wasn’t what they usually make as I could tell from the people who ordered, and I was ordering take-out. However, I do feel like I waited an awfully long time because even the woman who ordered after me got her food first and left. Eventually, I got my food, but if I ever eat there again and order out, I am definitely calling ahead.

Finally, back with the goods, I proceeded to take pictures of my food and eat. I finished everything over the course of three days because I guess I wasn’t that hungry, but here is the run-down. The tyropitas were yummy, but quite different from the Greek food I’m used to during the Greek festival in Houston. If you like real Greek food, I would not recommend Milto’s for that. The phyllo dough was not flaky enough nor buttery enough and the cheese didn’t seem to taste quite right. The cheese seemed to be a mix of cream cheese and feta cheese and definitely more cream cheese than feta. The fact that cream cheese is inside just doesn’t seem right. The cream cheese was also very salty and though the tyropita does tend to be salty, this one seemed overly salty. Though the tyropitas were not what I was expecting and not worth the price, it did taste good dipped in the tzatziki sauce provided and the sauce was good. The pesto cheese bread was also pretty good reheated. It smelled good and had fresh tomatoes chopped on top, but the cheese and pesto did not seem very unique or tasty and the best recommendation I can give for it is the thickness of the bread. Finally, the souvlaki was also a little disappointing and, again, not really worth the price. It was just a few pieces of not very flavorful meat put into a pita and provided some tomatoes and onions to eat with it. The real flavor of any souvlaki dish is the seasoning of the meat and this just did not cut it.

Tyropitas

The tyropitas I came for

Overall, Milto’s is a decent Italian restaurant from what I can gather, but it is definitely a restaurant supported by its patrons. I would not recommend coming here for Greek food, but I do really want to try the Greek salad now. I think this place is best if you are used to this kind of homemade food or really enjoy the atmosphere of the place. Milto’s is a nice small restaurant, but the food is very ordinary. The prices are a little expensive for what you get and I think the only reason I might come back to the restaurant is curiosity and Bevo Bucks.

Rating: 😛 😛 1/2 for having average food, its nice customer service, and expensive prices.