Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we headed to the Hyatt Lost Pines in Bastrop for a quick, much-needed break.  Before checking into the hotel, we headed to Austin for lunch at Hopdoddy, our favorite burger place anywhere (although, in fairness, there are LOTS of runners up).



As a general rule, I try to avoid waiting in line, for anything.  But here we were, on one of the coldest days we’ve had so far this fall, waiting in line for AN HOUR to eat at Hopdoddy.  Was it worth it?  You bet.

According to its owners, Hopdoddy “was created to express the perfect union of burgers and beer: Handcrafted Beer (Hop) + (Doddy), the nickname given to the native cow in Aberdeen, Scotland.”  Freshness and an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients is key at Hopdoddy:

IMG_3055The wait line snakes past the bar, where we spent about half of our wait.  This is genius, as it undoubtedly increases alcohol and milkshake sales tremendously.  As Hopdoddy advises, “Your progression is best enjoyed with a cold one in hand!”  I know we made a purchase or two while waiting.  🙂

I was fascinated by the jar of homemade triple sec aging on the counter (gotta try this at home):


There was a Thanksgiving turkey burger that sounded interesting, but no takers at our table:


I went with a boring burger, but the rest of the family chose more exciting burgers — my son went for the Terlingua (Angus Beef, Chile Con Carne, Corn Fritos, Tillamook Cheddar), my daughter chose the Goodnight (Angus Beef, Tillamook Cheddar, Hickory BBQ Sauce, Caramelized Onions, Sliced Jalapenos), and my husband ordered the Buffalo Bill (Bison, Blue Cheese, Frank’s Hot Sauce, Apple-Smoked Bacon).  Even though my burger was not all gussied up, my Parmesan Truffle Fries were:

IMG_3062My daughter gets a kick out of the slogans on the employees’ t-shirts, things like “We spank our patties and they like it,” and “Our milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard.”  As for me, I get a chuckle every time out of this sign on the door next to the ladies room, which advises in small print that the mens room is on the other side:


It’s just a matter of time until I open that door 

No trip to South Congress Avenue would be complete without a stop at Big Top Candy Shop, which has just about every kind of confection you can imagine, in a vintage candy store setting.  I love the colorful vintage circus posters that decorate the shop:


Pretty sure I know this kid

My son had fun buying candy cigarettes from an old cigarette machine.  Remember those (candy cigarettes AND cigarette machines)?


In keeping with the times, there was also an assortment of bacon candies, which were kinda disgusting, in my opinion:


We headed to the hotel and settled in.  The magnificent giant longhorn was there to greet us:


Although the gardens were not filled with colorful flowers this time of year, there was still plenty of brilliant color from the beautyberry bushes and yaupon holly bushes:



IMG_3112Sitting on a wooden bench under a vine-covered arbor, looking at the clear blue sky on a crisp autumn day, was a peaceful–if brief–respite from the frenzied work and school schedules that dominate our lives.


The next day we dined at Hudson’s on the Bend, a very special restaurant in the hill country just outside of Austin.  In the parking lot, my son discovered his dream car, a Hot Wheels camaro:



I’ll buy it for him, right after my Barbie Ferrari arrives.  In the parking lot, we also stumbled across a local bar association meeting (I only get to say this because I’m a lawyer):


Vultures waiting for their next meal

Outside, Hudson’s on the Bend boasts a lush herb garden and charming patio:



There’s also a smokehouse, where the beginnings of some great meals are created:


The dining room is cozy and charming:


Among the highlights of our meal:


Coca Cola baby back ribs with chipotle BBQ sauce and mango jalapeno cole slaw


Smoked Duck Diablos (duck breast, jicama, jalapeño, and figs in balsamic, wrapped in applewood bacon with red chili glaze and dipping sauce)


Rosemary-crusted smoked beef tenderloin with jalapeño hollandaise


 Pecan-smoked duck breast shingled with seared diver scallops, with bourbon praline sweet potatoes and cranberry chipotle sauce


 Ancho-cured pecan-smoked wild turkey with wild boar corn bread stuffing and gravy, bourbon vanilla pecan sweet potatoes, and peppered cranberry relish


 Mixed grill — axis venison, rabbit tenders, pecan-smoked Bandera quail with honey cilantro ginger glaze, achiote-marinated buffalo, and spicy game sausage

IMG_3092The Wild Turtle (caramel pecan pie dipped in Belgian chocolate)

The last time we dined at Hudson’s on the Bend was about 5 years ago, and we took this picture of the kids sitting on the wooden bench in the garden:

photo-10 copy

Can you guess what the picture is taped to?  Our friend and astronaut Danny Olivas brought the photo with him into space and took a picture of it taped to a window on the space shuttle Discovery (STS-128)!  (We had the coolest Christmas card that year!)

Our little getaway turned out to be shorter than planned because we had to return for a high school football playoff game, and what would turn out to be my daughter’s last high school marching band event (i.e., the team lost).  But it was a gorgeous day, an exciting game, and all in all, a pretty nice way to spend a November afternoon.  No complaints here.  🙂


Hopdoddy Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Hudson's on the Bend on Urbanspoon