Here's something I really love about Austin. As the city continues to reluctantly and aggressively evolve, good proprietors do everything they can to cater to the existing Austin culture, one full of burgeoning artists, musicians and entrepreneurs, many of whom are in the early, and not yet lucrative, points in their career. They accept these people, they hire these people, and best of all they have specials to get these people in the doors. All of these give newer, and most of the time higher priced, places and comforting atmosphere that is Austin.
Sure these places attract some world class douchers, but they can be easily outnumbered and ignored.
Case in point, Lambert's. Upscale barbecue.
Dinner entrees range from $14 to $20 for barbecue, and $25 to $40 for oak grilled items (all of which are worth it if you have the means), but that's even ala carte, and a family style side, which is the only way they come, will run you $6 or $7 each. Per person then, starting with a salad or appetizer, an entree, a side, and a glass of wine (and come on, who's NOT going to have a drink with the incredible food that they dish out) will run between $40 and $70. Pricey, particular for a barbecue dinner.
I filled up there for $20 last night, inclusive of tax and tip. Lambert's Happy Hour, People of Austin. People of Austin, Lambert's Happy Hour. Doctor, Docter, aaaannnnd Doctor. Say hello. Half price bar food and discounted wine, beer and liquor everyday, including weekends, between 5pm and 7pm.
I started with an ample sized classic wedge salad, roughly a third of a head of cold, crisp, iceberg lettuce topped with homemade blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese, crispy bacon and cherry tomatoes. $4
From there I narrowed it down to the Oak Grilled Hanger Steak, served with a fried egg in the hole, charred jalapeno butter, and steak tomato for $8, a Barbecue Plate with choice of meat and choice of two sides for $7 ($4 to add an extra meat to that), and Crispy Wild Boar Ribs for $6. No skimping on portions on these deals either, they're full sized and filling.
I opted for the latter and was taken completely by surprise...in a good way. Somewhere between exiting the chopper after gunning this thing down and putting it in front of me, Lambert's executive chef got confused along the way, resulting in a buffalo chicken wing meets Thai sweet chili meets slow cooked and spiced feral hog. A spin on the classic chicken wing served with blue cheese and a celery and daikon slaw, with each of the eight meaty ribs cleaned of enough meat on the end to give you a clean grip as you go to town like a wild boar on a raccoon carcass. Not at all what I expected to get, but a very, very welcome surprise.
I opted for a $6 stroooooong pour of wine over their classically themed cocktails, bringing the pretax bill to $16. Worth every penny in a place that is worth every penny for a $50 meal.
Atmosphere here is second to none for a high end place. Very Texas feel, two great bars with great bartenders and regulars who can guide you in the right direction (though there isn't a wrong one) and make your evening truly enjoyable.
Five to Seven
Oh, and on my walk home I stopped in Haddingtons for a Stranger on the Highway, a whiskey based cocktail creation by the lovely Tiffany, and leaned, though I've never seen advertised, that they too have half priced appetizers and sandwiches from five to seven. Another great spot, and another great deal.
Atmosphere: understated classy, Austin, two bars with plenty of seating, concerts at the upstairs bar, good for a nice dinner, great for happy hour, good for groups, good for a date, good for shooting the shit with strangers, good if you're flying solo, outdoor seating
Food: upscale barbecue ang grilled meats
Dog Friendly: maybe outside
When to Go: happy hour, dinner, lunch
Crowd: locals, regulars, out of towners, groups, families, couples, hotchicks
What to Order for the First Timer: barbecue plate, green chile cheese grits