The Line + Arlo Grey – Austin, TX

When we heard through the grapevine that The Line was opening an Austin location, Jeff and I were thrilled. Though so many new Austin hotels have opened over the last few years, there are incredibly few that strike the right vibe for the city. Austin badly needed a new spot like the Line, which I suppose was the reason the bar and restaurant were crowded with curious locals during our stay.

One of our favorite things about traveling is frequenting hotel bars. Sometimes they offer that special getaway from the crowded lounges and nightspots that occupy most of the city centers we visit. In appearance Arlo Grey more than lived up to the photos you see here. With an almost panoramic outlook on Lady Bird Lake, the view can’t be topped anywhere in the city. We happened to be here during the famous flight of the bats, which takes place over Congress Bridge. We had a prime view to watch the bats take flight as we sipped our cocktails there one early Friday evening.

We were immediately charmed by the brevity of ingredients in each cocktail on the menu. The trend of drinks filled to the brim with a long list of infusions and cordials is something I’ve been eager for the cocktail world to move past. Drinks on the Arlo Grey menu had no more than three listed ingredients. My taste in cocktails leans stirred, not shaken, making the Whiskey Skiffer (rye, Cynar, vermouth) my first choice of beverage upon arrival. I’m always pleased with a riff on a Boulevardier, and this cocktail was balanced and very interesting in flavor. Jeff sampled the house Old Fashioned made with brandy, a spirit we both enjoy but is sadly overlooked for the most part on cocktail menus. We were very impressed when our cocktails came served over clear blocks of ice that were engraved with the hotel logo.

The restaurant Arlo Grey is headed up by Top Chef winner and published cookbook author Kristen Kish and Jeff and I were so excited to try her new menu for ourselves. The dishes are listed from lightest to heaviest and Jeff and I appreciated this thoughtfulness as we happened to visit one afternoon for an early happy hour.

We were advised that the carrot with summer corn and mesquite smoked yogurt was one of the most popular dishes on the menu and we knew why when our plate arrived. The mesquite yogurt is unlike anything we’d ever tried and provided a complex foil to the bright flavor of the corn. We also enjoyed a simple squash pasta preparation, the pasta shaped in a broad single sheet, folded and nestled in a light broth bursting with summer flavors.  It was absolutely delicious and perfect for a hot summer day.

With our pasta dish, we enjoyed two drinks that were equally suited to warm weather. The Devil’s Backbone was my favorite drink I tried during our stay, which truly says something as tiki drinks are not my usual cup of tea. Using a fiery mezcal in a tiki cocktail was genius, and the flavors were clean and bright. I’m looking forward to enjoying a few more the next time we stay at the Line.

We wandered down to the bar for a nightcap late one Saturday night. We were tired from running around town all day but not quite ready to call it a night. As we returned to the hotel, we could hear the great mix of music (post-punk, indie, soul & boogie) playing both inside and out, and it lead us straight to the bar where we could see a diverse mix of tourists and locals filling the space. Luckily, we were able to secure a couple of seats at the bar and spent the rest of the evening enjoying more of their wonderful cocktails and sharing conversations with the bartenders, who were both skilled and more than friendly. It was exactly what we hoped for and needed on our last night and with a place to stay for future visits.

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