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Introducing Austin's Original Gastropub, Parkside Eatery

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

This just might be one of Downtown Austin's best happy hours. Held Monday through Friday from 5:00-6:30 p.m., happy hour at Parkside on historic 6th Street includes half-price cocktails, beer and food from the bar menu. Varied items such as fried green tomatos, blistered shishitos, fried egg sandwich (an item they are known for), lump crab fritters, grilled bar steak and even an oyster platter all are fair game after a busy workday.

Opened in 2008, Bon Appetit magazine rated the restaurant as one of the "Hot 10 New American Taverns" for its pub cuisine. Chef Nathan Lemley tells us, "Parkside became known as Austin's answer to a "gastro pub," known for its modern and hip appeal, upscale entrées, enticing seafood dishes and raw oysters- the city's first introduction to gourmet, farm-fresh, sharable plates in a casual but hip environment."

Parkside's was named after the Bronx, New York housing project worlds away from Austin that Chef/Owner Shawn Cirkiel's father grew up in. Lemley describes the restaurant as "New York City food culture, multicultural." He continues, "It was urban, exciting and loud." Just as we imagine Cirkiel's grandmother's 2-bedroom apartment was when entertaining and raising his father and two other children.

Locally grown and raised ingredients are the basis for the changing menu developed by Cirkiel and Lemley, depending on the season and availability. The current dinner menu features many interpretations of classic dishes, such as a farro risotto with winter root vegetables, 44 Farms New York Strip served with green beans, black garbanzos and chili or butternut squash soup made with kefir, cilantro and pecans. Add to these tastes an extensive selection of fresh oysters and seafood on the raw bar from fluke with toasted olives, chives and lemons to a more traditional ceviche featuring seafood, avocado, tomato and jalapeno.

Dished up from an old building with history, it blends well with the story of Cirkiel's family. Lemley notes, "The building is historic and the architectural manipulation honors that, alongside family photos of the past blended with modern furniture and elements." This building's private dining and event areas hold large or small groups for cocktail parties, seated meals or dinner buffets. The second floor is especially private with a banquet room, bar and rooftop patio with a view overlooking other classic buildings along 6th Street.

Parkside rocks the well-known music, film and technology extravaganza that is South by Southwest (SXSW) every March. Normally only open for dinner, the restaurant is open for lunch during the festival. "Business is crazy," exclaims Lemley, "with event space booked out a year in advance!"

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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