The best part about being in the AFBA is definitely bonding with fellow food-obsessed Austinites, but I’d say the second best part is our monthly happy hours. These events are useful for networking and whatnot, but mostly they give me a great reason to try out a different bar/restaurant every month!
Case in point, the end of last month, when we took over the bar at No Va on Rainey for the January #AFBAHH. I’d been hearing some good stuff about No Va since it opened a few months ago, but I had never taken the time to head over to check it out. I’m really glad I finally had motivation to pop in, because the happy hour at No Va is a treat. The atmosphere is stylish and relaxed (dim lighting, beautiful modern design, etc.) and both the drinks and food are richly excellent.
No Va’s wine, wells, and craft cocktails are $2 off during HH, which doesn’t mean they’re exactly cheap – an $11 cocktail becomes a $9 cocktail. BUT. These are no watered-down vodka-sodas. We’re talking boozy, complex creations like my order, the Lady Baltimore: Tito’s, chamomile grappa, honey, lemon, and champagne. It went down waaaay too easy. Adelle, my +1 for the evening, got the Old Mick: Jameson, honey, lemon, and black walnut. That one was a slower sipper, because it was strooooong, but equally good.
As far as food goes, the friendly No Va crew rolled out a bevy of delights for us to try. Forgive these photos, the low lighting in the bar made for a cozy ambiance, but hampered my photography. It was much more beautiful in person, and we loved every bite.
When it comes to the ubiquitous “flatbread pizza” offerings at most of the restaurants around here, I can really take them or leave them. BUT! No Va’s were a step above most bar pizzas you’d find in these parts. My favorite was the short rib and caramelized onion flatbread, in the background of the photo above. In the foreground is their arugula and potato flatbread. It was nice and spicy, albeit very difficult to eat gracefully.
Let’s talk about that mac and cheese, though. SO good. Similar to flatbread, I feel like mac and cheese is played out on so many restaurant menus, but I couldn’t get enough of No Va’s. We sampled both classic and jalapeño varieties and I seriously could have eaten a trough of either, but the jalapeño was especially hard to resist. (Note: I held back and did not eat a trough, however I did take second helpings of both. Small-ishhh second helpings.)
Finally: sliders! Apparently this was No Va’s first day serving ’em up, and they were really rich and satisfying – eating one of these bad boys was as filling as an entire P. Terry’s burger. This is because those lavish little patties are made with not just ground beef, but ground pork belly. They’re served with the usual suspects, greens and melted cheese, on super buttery brioche buns. Decadent, yo.
Would I go back to No Va for happy hour? Um, yes! One of my criteria for awesome happy hour is discounted food and drinks – not only that, but good food and drinks – No Va definitely delivers. The slightly swanky atmosphere is perfect for a date night, girls’ night, or impressive place to take out-of-towners for a bite to eat before hitting the rest of the bars on Rainey.
You can check out No Va’s full HH menu here. Happy Hour runs from 5-7pm Tuesday-Saturday, as well as late night 11pm-12am Tuesday-Thursday. Plenty of opportunities to savor fancy cocktails and un-boring flatbread!