MIKADO Sushi and Japanese Tapas (Best Happy Hour in Austin, TX)

MIKADO is my favorite place for both sushi and happy hour in Austin, Texas.  Their happy hour menu has a large variety of sushi and unique Japanese tapas along with great cocktails, sake, wine and beer.  Their regular menu is also great.  Happy hour is Mon-Fri from 3-6 and all day Sunday.  They also have reverse happy hour on Fri & Sat from 9 pm to 10:15 pm.  The happy hour is fun and a real bargain.

My husband and I ate there for the past two Sundays.  I am going to take you through the dishes we devoured.  My husband loves Saba (marinated mackerel) so much that he judges a sushi restaurant by the quality of their Saba.  My hubby thinks that this is the best Saba he has ever had.  He ordered 12 pieces of Saba.  He is a big eater.

I have three favorites, Ono (also called escolar or white tuna), red snapper, and yellowtail.  So this is what I ordered to test the quality of the sushi.  All three were fresh and melt in your mouth delicious.  Below is the photo if our test dishes.

Mikado Feature

Six pieces of  Saba are in the front row.  Behind the Saba, the red snapper is on the left and the yellowtail is on the right.  In the very back are two pieces of Ono.  They were served with smooth hot sake.

Now that MIKADO passed our test with flying colors, we moved on to the rest of the meal.  The next course we ordered was from their main menu.  It is the most fantastic Miso Mushroom Soup.  The variety of mushrooms will change with the seasons.  The broth has a deep umami flavor.  This is Japan’s answer to comforting and nourishing chicken soup.

Mikado Mushroom Miso Soup

My hubby and I each had our own bowl.  We followed this with Spicy Garlic Edamame.

I had a glass of lychee sake and my hubby has a beer.

These edamame are very flavorful because of the chili and the garlic.  I like them better than plain boiled edamame.

Next we ordered three fried tapas accompanied by a refreshing and yummy lychee martini. The lychee martini is posted on my Instagram feed.

I will describe these tapas one at a time.  The first one was the most unique and delicious tofu I have ever come across.  YES I said TOFU.  Even my meatatarian husband loved it.


Mikado Agedashi Tofu

The dish is called Agedashi Tofu.  It is cubes of tofu, lightly coated with rice flour and then flash fried.  They are served with bonito flakes and a deeply flavorful dashi broth for dipping.  The tofu just melts in you mouth.  It is not at all greasy.

The second fried item was Fried Oysters.

Mikado Fried Oysters

These oysters have a crispy panko coating and are juicy inside.  Perfectly cooked and served with a savory soy based sauce.

The third fried item was Peppered Calamari.  It was absolutely delicious.

Mikado Peppered Calamari

Slightly peppery, not greasy at all and served with a tart but spicy sauce.

Next my hubby ordered Uni with Quail Egg as a palate cleanser.  I am not a big uni fan, so I ordered Peppered Tuna Tataki.  Both were fresh and yum.  They are shown below.

The last thing we ordered was the Hamachi Chili.

Mikado Hamachi Chili

The Hamachi was melt in your mouth fresh.  It was topped with a slightly spicy Ponzu sauce, a thin slice of Thai chili and a single pearl of red caviar.  So pretty.  I love pretty food that also tastes divine.

They also have a large selection of sushi rolls.  My hubby ordered two rolls, but he ate them before I had a chance to take photos.  I guess he got impatient with me photographing everything or he was really hungry.  He let me know that both rolls were great.  Obviously he loved them because they were gone before I had any.  Oh well.  Next time I will order a roll for myself.

If you are in Austin, Texas please go and dine at Mikado.  You won’t be disappointed.

Taverna Domain (Austin, Texas)

This is one of my favorite restaurants in Austin.  The staff and atmosphere are very welcoming.  The food and wine make me feel like I am in Italy.  My husband and I experienced a relaxed Sunday dinner.

We started with the Charred Octopus appetizer, paired with a glass of Sicilian red wine (Donnafugata “Sedara”–Nero D’Avola/Cab.)

Taverna2 Charred Octopus


I ordered the octopus because I had a dish similar to this when I was in Sicily.  This plate transported me back to Sicily.  The Octopus was smoky and tender.  It was served with roasted fingerling potatoes that were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  The accompanying salsa verde added a refreshing finish.

For our salad course we had the Roasted Beet Salad.

Taverna3 Beet Salad

The roasted beets were served with tender mache lettuce, spinach, orange wedges and goat cheese.  The salad was topped off with toasted hazelnuts and a honey, champagne vinaigrette.  This is one of the best beet salads I have had.  It was fresh, had just the right amount of acidity and the toasted hazelnuts added a flavorful crunch.

For our next course, we both ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana.  My husband got it with the spaghetti.  I decided to go a little lighter by substituting sautéed asparagus for the pasta.

Eggplant Parmigiana is my favorite Italian dish.  It is the dish I use to judge an Italian restaurant.  The best Eggplant Parmigiana I have ever had was in a small osteria in Bologna, Italy.  This one is so that good that it matched the one I had in Bologna.  It is fork tender and melts in your mouth.

For our main course we decided to order one entrée from the regular menu and one entrée from the specials board.

From the regular menu we ordered the Salmon Piccata, pan seared in a lemon caper sauce served with sautéed spinach and asparagus.

Taverna6 Salmon Piccata

The salmon was crispy on the outside and just pink in the center.  The accompanying vegetables and piccata sauce were perfectly seasoned.  The whole dish was fresh and flavorful.

From the specials board we ordered the Sea Bass Puttanesca, pan seared served on a bed of pasta puttanesca.

Taverna7 Sea Bass Puttanesca

The sea bass had a savory crust with a fresh flaky interior.  Their pasta is imported from Italy.  It was cooked al dente and sauced just right.  The puttanesca sauce was garlicy, salty and spicy.  The dish was delicious.  I think they should put it on their regular menu.

After this big meal we decided to skip dessert.  Alexander, our excellent waiter, insisted that we have the Tiramisu because it is the house specialty.  So we went ahead and ordered it.

Taverna8 Tiramisu

I have had Tiramisu many times.  This one was very well presented and also tasted very good.  It was soft and creamy.  Not too sweet, with a good balance of chocolate and coffee.

We enjoyed our dining experience so much, that Taverna Domain has become one of our go to restaurants.  Good food, service and ambiance.


Cafe Kranzler (South Padre Island, Texas)

Cafe Kranzler is the best fine dining restaurant that I have come across on South Padre Island.  It is a family run restaurant with an international menu. They have a varied wine selection and cocktail menu.

On my last trip there I started with Grilled Octopus Carpaccio


The Octopus was very tender, had a smoky flavor and was well seasoned with a balsamic glaze.  I paired it with a cocktail called The Great Gatsby (ruby red vodka, Lillet and grapefruit juice.)

My next dish was the Escargot cooked in a garlic butter and herb sauce.


I felt decadent pairing this course with a glass of Chateau Marges (white Bordeaux from France.)

For dessert, I had the Crepe Suzette made with a blood orange sauce.


The crepes were very light and delicate.  The blood orange sauce was fresh and had a tangy pop.  I paired this with a classic Sidecar cocktail.

Cafe Kranzler has an extensive menu with appetizers, salads, pastas, seafood, poultry and meat from all over the world.  The service is friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming and elegant for the area.