Tag Archives: Drag

Craving Candy? Check Out Campus Candy

Candy as far as the eye can see...

Returning after a rather warm winter, the first thing I noticed on the Drag was the bright-colored sign advertising “Campus Candy.” What in the world could that place be? A candy store on the Drag, very convenient for hungry night owls? This place is going to do just fine.

Campus Candy is the new kid on the block, replacing the previous clothing store Wish. It is a candy store that has opened up on the Drag that is covering some of the latest fads on campus. It sells frozen yogurt, pastries from Cheesecake Factory, and also popular drinks and snacks to pick up in between classes.

You cannot miss this store on the Drag, blasting loud music like it’s a club and showing off its brightly-colored sign. Stepping in, it feels a bit like stepping into Wonka’s factory as the bright colors of the walls, seating, and candy overwhelm the visitor.

The flavors are often changing. My favorite is admittedly the tiramisu

To the right is the frozen yogurt, supervised by an employee ready to explain the system and provide sample cups. A way to monitor the tasting of flavors, I suppose. The frozen yogurt is very flavorful and a wide variety. Flavors range from tiramisu to chocolate chip mint to raspberry. The price, however, is quite high. It is nearly 70 cents/oz. For a half full cup, it cost me about $3.30, a price that could get a lot more at the other frozen yogurt places near UT. However, the flavors match Red Mango in intensity and the tiramisu and crème brulee flavors seem to be very popular.

A variety of toppings are available at Campus Candy, just like you would find at any other frozen yogurt store. There are tons of sauces as you can see in the front of the picture and lots of fruits and chewy toppings like flavored mochis. I think I’ve also found a new favorite topping for frozen yogurt that tasted kind of like chocolate-covered rice krispy treats.

Tons of toppings and sauces, even some I have never seen at other yogurt places.

Another fun addition to Campus Candy is the fact that you can put any candy in the store on top. It’s a great way to try out some new candies you want to check out, but don’t want to pay the $2.89/quarter of a pound for. For the yogurt I bought, I added some of the sour gummy bears on top to try them out. FYI, probably not a good idea to put gummies on top of cold products as it does reduce the chew of the candy.

Some novelty candies sit around the store such as a 27 lb. gummy bear and the gummy skull next to it. When Valentine’s day was coming up, chocolate roses became available. A lot of old school candies are also available on the wall across from the register like Pot o’ Honey and Neccos.

Ooh, Cheesecake Factory right next to UT!

Finally, there are baked goods being sold at Campus Candy and finishes off the college student’s sweet tooth. Most of the baked goods are from the Cheesecake Factory. These pastries include popular cheesecake flavors from Cheesecake Factory like Raspberry Swirl and Godiva Chocolate cheesecake. The cheesecake slices are not as big as the ones you get at the Cheesecake Factory, but they taste about as good as the ones you can get frozen at Sam’s. If you’re dying for a baked good, here is a decent place to go. They also have Cheesecake Factory’s cupcakes that I am interested in trying, but have yet to do so. Flavors seem to be rather standard such as red velvet, chocolate, and vanilla.

Overall, Campus Candy seems like an establishment that will be very popular on the Drag and already it is attracting loads of customers each night. I am excited that more than frozen yogurt is being sold here and I love the variety and customization available for toppings. Also, there is finally a place on the Drag for easy access to baked goods other than cupcakes and cookies.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 ½ for covering every sweet tooth, high prices, and good location.

Coo-Coo for CoCo’s Café!

Even the sign is bright and happy!

The “Asian” part of the Drag is the area near MLK Jr. Blvd. with phở, bubble tea, bánh mì sandwiches, and Asian stir fries. One of the popular favorites to visit over there is CoCo’s Café and it’s one of the two main places on the Drag to get bubble tea. Between the two, CoCo’s Café bubble teas tend to be sweeter so be aware of this.

I see the pictures, but what do they match up with? Check out the next pic.

CoCo’s Café is the more modern, Asian chain restaurant between it and Tap House with lots of seating, a brighter atmosphere, and cute Asian items in the back for looking at. The menu is quite inviting, especially since its update from my freshman year to a huge picture menu next to the regular menu. Popular favorites include the peppercorn chicken. I personally recommend the green onion pie and the vegetable vermicelli.

Here's the menu! Prices have gone up since I took this picture.

Looking around the place, it is a rather bright and colorful store. The front of the store is windows and there are track lights above the counter to order that also help highlight the menu. You can order bubble tea, Asian food, or even shaved ice that is a little-known secret of the place. You can get all non-food related needs at the back of the store along with their parking. Utensils are available in the back along with free soup and water. They have also installed a curio case full of Asian products like phone chains and cute animal figures that entice you to buy while you wait hungrily for your food.

Don't I make you hungry? 😛

Now, onto the food! The vegetable vermicelli I first saw when my friend got it. It is kind of like sly-foon if you’ve ever had that. It is basically clear vermicelli noodles stir fried with veggies and egg and quite delicious. It is a little on the salty side, but it’s not because it tastes salty. It is more a need to drink water after eating it. It’s quite a big portion size and it’s lasted for two meals for small appetites and just enough for a big appetite. I especially like to order this when I feel like noodles and veggies since there are a lot in this dish such as bok choy and gai lon.

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the green onion pie, but you can kind of see it in the visual menu at the top left corner. It is quite delicious and if you get the full size, it is like two onion pies on top of each other. Basically, it is an Asian pancake where a rice or flour-based dough is mixed with green onions and fried into slices of crispy deliciousness. The green onions give extra flavor that does not overwhelm to the fried dough and tastes great with the dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, and green onions. It’s a bit oily, but definitely recommended. Actually, all the appetizers are recommended as they are a fair price that go well with the bubble teas.

For some reason, I like to put the straws through the picture's mouths.

Which brings me to bubble tea. The bubble tea is pretty good, quite large in variety and a nice size. It costs a little extra for bubbles/tapioca pearls FYI. I always seem to order almond milk teas at the bubble tea places so in terms of the almond tea at CoCo’s Café, it is quite delicious. There is certainly enough milk in the tea and not a very fake-tasting almond extract flavor. However, I do find CoCo’s Café bubble tea to be on the sweet side and it even gives me a headache sometimes due to its sweetness.

Overall, CoCo’s Café is a great place on the Drag to get some pretty good Asian food and bubble tea at a reasonable price. It is open on Sundays and holidays and actually has parking, which is good if you have friends from off-campus visiting.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for fair prices, sweet bubble tea, and a bright happy atmosphere.

Get Peached with Peached Tortilla

The Peached Tortilla 2.0

If you haven’t heard of the Peached Tortilla, you will. It’s one of the hottest new food trailers in Austin and recently made some local fame at SXSW when hosting Rachael Ray’s Greenhouse party.  Its food theme is Asian/Southern fusion and ranges from banh mi sliders to Nutella wontons. Just this month, Peached Tortilla expanded itself to a second location right next to Hole in the Wall, on the corner of the Drag and Dean Keeton. Peached Tortilla 2.0 is smaller than its original counterpart and with a more limited menu selection, but at least it’s tasty trailer food right next to campus for lunch every weekday.

The people are very friendly and nice. The trailer seems hygienic since you can see the food being made and it’s really too small to get very dirty without people noticing. I think that’s something different about a trailer with windows: you can see how clean or not clean the kitchen is. Take-out is nice with the people being thoughtful by wrapping the food in foil and putting it into a paper bag. Definitely kept the food at least warm and not falling all over the bag.

Displayed open-faced so you can see the yummy ingredients before you taste them.

I got the banh mi slider and bbq brisket taco on corn tortilla. The taco was good, but not tasting the peach mint stuff. Sweeter brisket and moist. I liked the crunchy slaw on top of it and overall quite tasty. A good mouthful for $2.50. The banh mi slider was $3. It was on Hawaiian bread and slightly buttered and toasted, which was yummy. Definitely gave a lot of pork belly (also known as thick-sliced bacon) with a creamy sweet and sour sauce and slaw on top of it. Cilantro is prominent and gives an added dimensions that is delicious. I also liked the presentation in that it shows off the amount of ingredients in your food.

As you can see the burrito is reminiscent of the size and look of a Chipotle burrito, but it definitely tastes different on the inside.

There are also burritos for $6 that don’t seem to be sold from the original truck. They are like the slightly smaller cousins of the burrito size of Chipotle and is more of an Asian fusion burrito. Pad thai burrito seems to be quite popular, but there are a number of others like bbq brisket. My friend tried that and he deemed it tasty and filled him up for lunch. Another friend tried the pad thai taco and she found it quite yummy as well. It was sweeter and definitely not the classic pad thai taste, but that’s what made it fun and different.

I think the flavors of Peached Tortilla tend to err on the sweet side, but that may be due to the sauce on the slaw. I feel like it’s pretty yummy though and an interesting place for Asian fusion. I think the sliders are definitely the highlight and what makes the place different from other food trailers. Definitely my recommendation is to at least try the banh mi slider.

The 2.0 menu, photographed for your convenience. 🙂

The servings are just the right size for a snack and even a meal. However, it’s also fun to share with buddies or just try a bunch of different foods at once since the servings are relatively small. There also seems to be a slightly more limited menu compared to the original food truck since there are no fries, wontons, or etc. on the chalkboard menu (though I didn’t ask if there were other choices off-menu). It’s a nice little place right next to campus and a good stop to try something different.

Overall, Peached Tortilla seems like a tasty new place to try some trailer food very close to campus. The people are friendly and nice and the food is pretty good for a fair price. They’ve recently opened so you can grab the food before the line starts getting too long like at Coreano’s (who will be the next review).

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for tasty Asian/Southern fusion trailer food, limited menu, and friendly people. Go out and experience trailer food in Austin, right next to campus!

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!