My next stop in my search for a great happy hour is this unassuming place in central Austin called 34th Street Cafe. Located near the corner of Lamar Blvd and 34th st, the lime green exterior suggests a funky, casual eatery. But take a step inside and the place exudes a much more elegant and upscale ambience.
Their happy hour is Monday – Friday from 5 to 7 pm and offers half off all appetizers, a dollar off of all their beers and half off all bottles of sparkling wine. I wasn’t in a beer mood so I enjoyed a glass of wine instead. But we did partake in the appetizers and they were delicious!
They don’t have a huge selection for appetizers, but what they do have is done very well. We first ordered the duck confit hash, which consisted of thin slices of duck meat cooked until crispy with cippolini onions, frisee (also called curly endive-those light green, squiggly lettuces that look like they should be at the bottom of the ocean) with a fried egg on top. This is one of those dishes that I wouldn’t think I would like as much as I did. The crispness of the meat with the softness of the egg was really tasty. Normally a $10 appetizer, it’s a really nice treat for 5 bucks at happy hour.
Next up were the sweet potato fries. These aren’t considered an appetizer, they’re listed as a snack, and therefore are not part of the happy hour special. But hey-they’re also only 5 bucks and gosh-darnit, we felt like fries! They were thick, fluffy and very seasoned, a little spicy and a little sweet. Yum.
Then came the lump crabmeat croquettes, which were three round crab cake balls each poised on top of a spoonful of avocado creme fraiche- which to me is a fancy way to say guacamole. It was tasty but not fantastic, mostly due to the fact that there was a fair amount of breading lumped in with the lump crabmeat. I lived in Maryland for a few years and love crab, so when I see “lump crabmeat” I’m expecting most of the lumps to consist of crab. But that’s just me. At happy hour it’s $6, normally $12.
Last on the list was the Tuscan pizza. The crust was thin, slightly crispy and buttery and it was topped with mushrooms, roasted garlic and mozzarella with mounds of ricotta. At happy hour it’s $6 and a nice personal size that is also good for sharing.
Another idea I want to mention is their Prix Fixe Dinners they have every Monday and Tuesday from 5 pm to close. We didn’t partake in this (this time) but it looked like a really good deal. It’s a three course tasting dinner and included a glass of wine-all for $24 per person! By “tasting dinner” I am assuming the portions are smaller and since we didn’t order this, I can’t comment on the size of the portions. But the menu offered that night sounded interesting-tuna tartare was the amuse, which I just learned (like right this second, thanks Google) means small samplings of food served before a meal to whet the appetite and stimulate the palate. The appetizer was a salt cod and the entrée was a pork loin with black-eyed peas and winter greens. The wine choices were a French Chardonnay and an Italian Sangiovese.
I found the quality of the food at 34th Street Cafe to be very good, though there weren’t an extensive array of choices at happy hour prices. The dishes were thoughtfully prepared and the setting had a certain romance to it. If you are looking for a joint to get a little rowdy with your buds for a drink after work, this would not be the place. But if you’re wanting a quieter setting or a relaxing evening with the girls over a glass of wine, this is a good place to be.