If you follow along on Instagram, you know that I’m a diehard fan of MMH, more formally known as McGuire Moorman Hospitality, and known by food-obsessed people like me as the group behind Austin restaurants like June’s, Jeffrey’s, Elizabeth Street Café, Josephine House, Perla’s, Clark’s, and Lamberts. Whenever I walk into one of their places for the first time, I get the same feeling: It’s like they’ve hired Hollywood production designers to crawl inside our collective mind and create the restaurants we all aspire to hang out in. They’re dreamy and cinematic, but thankfully totally real and right here in Austin. Every detail from the appetizers to the server uniforms and the candles in the bathroom are perfectly thought out.
When I’m having a crappy day, happy hour at June’s never fails to cheer me up. It’s like therapy, only so much more fun. So when the opportunity to eat at ALL seven of their restaurants in 24 hours and document it was presented to me, I responded to the email with a record amount of speed and enthusiasm. Being such a devotee of this restaurant group, you would have thought that I would plan out every moment of the day from soup to nuts, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and wing it.
Here now is hour-by-hour account of the greatest food day of my life. (Editor’s note: You might want to read it with a snack.)
Swim laps at the YMCA (I need to burn some calories to make room for all the buttery sauces I will ingest.)
Barre class. Two workouts in one day. I am feeling like I can conquer the world, but also eat it—I am famished.
And so it begins: Breakfast at Elizabeth Street Café
A little background on this place: Since opening in 2011, they’ve served up 85,311 macarons and 25,696 Singapore noodles. Both of those items are amazing, but I’m here for the breakfast of champions. I never think to go here, but breakfast at ESC is a hidden gem. As I mentioned before, I am hungry and “pacing myself” is the furthest thing from my mind. So I spend way to much time deciding what to order off their breakfast menu while nibbling on a chocolate croissant. Finally, I settle on the Breakfast Bahn Mi. That was the first perfect decision of my day.
I leave so full and content. Six restaurants to go. I head home to walk off breakfast with my dog, Brady.
Early Lunch at Lamberts
Lamberts was the original MMH hotspot, and they are celebrating 10 years of slinging high-end barbecue and fabulous cocktails. In that time, they’ve sold 680,000 pounds of brisket and 84,500 gallons of beer. My friend and I walk in, look at each other, and have the same great thought at the same time: should we grab a drink at the bar? Why, yes! Yes we should. It’s the most non-Tuesday of Tuesdays. The first drink of the day slides right down as we head out to the patio. Surprisingly, breakfast has settled and I’m ready to tackle meal number two, lunch number one. We go with the Cripsy Wild Boar Ribs for the appetizer. Can I quit now? There is no way anything else we order today can top this. Amazing. We decide to share a meat plate and fries because we’re at Lambert’s and it would be a Texas crime not to.
Late Lunch at Perla’s
Listen, I am full but I have never said “no” to Perla’s and I’m not about to start now. Besides, there is always room for oysters right? Apparently because since opening in 2009, this place has shucked 2,105,625 of the little guys. Perla’s does a rotating frozen cocktail and it’s August and I’m sitting on the their beautiful patio, so naturally I get the frozen cocktail. The Blue Hawaiian tastes like vacation. My friend and I decide that we really need to pace ourselves so we decide on a cool half dozen oysters to start. Those slide right down, and I still have room so we go for my favorite thing on their menu: The Grilled Octopus. They also just added Mexican Street Corn to the menu. I don’t claim to be an expert on a lot of things but I am picky when it comes to my street corn. This is easily, some of the best I’ve had.
Honestly, at this point I am ready to wave my white flag and move on. Our waiter insists that we get Salted Butterscotch Pot de Crème for dessert. Hesitant, I mull if over for a split second. Ok, I am getting the dessert. This is up there in the top three desserts I’ve had in my entire life. Now I am feeling full-er. The rest of the day seems kind of daunting, but I’m pretty sure I was born for this so I decide to go on a walk before happy hour number one.
Happy Hour at Clark’s
This walk has me feeling like a new person. I’ve had some time to let the previous meals digest and now I am ready for a light bite and drinks at Clark’s. Since 2012, this cozy little joint has served 1,952 tins of Caviar and their happy hour is a stellar deal: Monday – Friday 3-6 p.m., you get half-off burgers, 50 cents off oysters, and $5 martinis, oyster shooters and draft beers. Saturday and Sunday from 3- 6 p.m. 50 cents off oysters, half-off wine bottles, and $5 oyster shooters.
This is easy, a dozen oysters. We crush those. Then the debate starts: Should we or shouldn’t we get the Happy Hour Burger? For those who don’t know already, the fries at Clark’s are the jam. Ordering the burger (which Austin Monthly just named the best burger in town) means we’ll get those fries. So yes, one burger please. We split the burger, we’re still standing, and now we’re ready for happy hour number two.
Happy Hour at Josephine House
This little cottage restaurant is the perfect prelude to Jeffrey’s. A cool glass of wine and a plate of burrata later, I am feeling like we are making all the right choices today.
Dinner at Jeffrey’s
And now for the main event. Jeffrey’s has been a fixture in Austin since 1975. MMH bought and renovated it from top to bottom in 2013 and that same year, Bon Appetit magazine named it Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the US, along with Josephine House. Also, very importantly, you should know that since 2013 they’ve uncorked 35,956 bottles of wine.
This climax of my day is now somewhat of a blur, but here is what I can tell you: You will not get better service then this in Austin. Everything at Jeffrey’s is done right from the second you walk in the restaurant. Most people, me included, come here for very special occasions, which is a shame because you can enjoy their happy hour without breaking the bank. We went with the cheese plate, King Crab and Avocado Toast, Hamachi Carpaccio (MY FAVORITE), Tortellini, Pan Seared Bar Steak and somehow managed to sneak in a dessert. Those that know, know. Jeffrey’s is the best. If you want first-class dining in Austin, go here.
Dessert at June’s All Day
Seriously, I have never been this full in my entire life. This is way beyond Thanksgiving full. But the show must go on, so a nightcap at June’s. Food & Wine named June’s one of 10 Best New Restaurants in 2017 in the entire country in May and Bon Appetit just named it one of their Top 50 Finalists for Best New Restaurants. They’ve been open less than a year, but they’ve sold 7,525 cups of coffee and 1,426 Monster Cookies.
Sadly, they are out of the Monster Cookie, so I have a Lemon Tart. June herself pairs the perfect dessert wine for me and I call it night.
There’s no need for anymore food for a while, maybe I’ll fast for a week. I’ve had the best of the best all day and I only have the one stomach.