Clam Chowder at Clark’s Oyster Bar in Austin
If you are among the many who travel to Austin, Texas for conventions and conferences, you might agree that half the fun is eating at different places every time you go. So, don’t make the mistake of grabbing lunch or dinner at the same spots each time you visit. Austin is Texas’ most iconic foodie fest of a city, and adventururing around just a few streets away from the Convention Center will always get you to one-of-a-kind eateries you’ll be so glad you found.
Like Clark’s Oyster Bar
I really like a restaurant that has a distinct personality, don’t you? You know, the kind you don’t see everywhere. A restaurant that appears to have decisively carved out a niche of its own in a highly competitive market, and then sits back, calm, cool and consistently collected, just turning out great food with exceptional service.
Clark’s is that kind of place.
More Than Oysters
If you drive too fast down 6th Street toward Mopac, you could miss it, but if the sun is shining just so, the reflection off the yellow and white umbrellas will catch your attention. You’ll glance over and think, “Oh, that place looks cute.”
But if you’re like me, there’s a strong chance you could read the sign and determine you can leave this one off your list. Because if you and I are cut from the same cloth, you’re not a huge fan of oysters.
Well, I mean, if you are an oyster lover, you will be instantly drawn to the place because of its name. I just never have cultivated a deep love for the squishy little things. I wish I had. It would have been a good thing to do, merely because of the health benefits they offer, if nothing else.
However, what I have learned is that if a restaurant specializes in oysters, there is a strong chance I’ll find other delicious seafood options on the menu.
Which is exactly what happened when we went to Clark’s Oyster Bar.
Sure, this place is known for its oysters, but, hey. They also serve an ah-mazing bowl of clam chowder. In fact, I’d have to call it a little taste of nautical heaven.
Photo – Clark’s Oyster Bar on Instagram
Intimate and Airy
Clark’s is a small restaurant set on the northwest corner of Blanco and 6th Street in Austin’s historic Clarksville neighborhood. Bar seating is tight, with a few stools around an aluminum-look bistro counter. And if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot at a couple of stools facing the small kitchen, you can watch Clark’s chefs doing their thing. They’ve got the whole thing down to a very efficienet process that appears totally effortles, my friends. You have to be really good to master what these guys make look so easy.
If you would rather sit on the other side of the restaurant, there are white tablecloths and several tables that seat 2-4. All the space is filled with a seabreezy nautical décor and feel, with lots of natural light from the big pane windows.
It’s important for those of us Over Fifty to note that Clark’s isn’t really the kind of place to take all the kids and grandkids when they come to town. However, it’s perfect for date night or special lunches with a friend. Basically, the relaxing vibe here at Clark’s makes it a great setting for real connection with someone you love or someone you’re trying to get to know.
If the weather’s nice, you’ll want to request seating outside under those big, pretty yellow umbrellas you noticed from the street.
Bread, Butter and Salt
Every table receives a small bread board to enjoy while going over the menu.
All the bread is made in their kitchen, along with the butter and jam. Alongside those three things that need no help in the satisfying category, there’s a tiny mound of coarse-ground salt. Dip the tip of your knife in that salt, add it to the butter you’ve smeared on your lusciously dense slice of bread and say, “Mmmmmmm.” Oh, it’s good.
We sat outside under a big oak tree. Hence the warm sunshine and mellow shadows.
Boston, Texas Style
Mike and I have been to Boston twice, and we love New England clam chowder. But the recipe at Clark’s is a little different than that. Maybe it’s more like a West Coast style?
Either way, it’s creamy and rich, filled with itsy bitsy diced celery, potatoes and clams. And it’s served in a little ceramic bowl with a lid. The server removes the lid when she sets it down in front of you. I just love that. You, too? I thought so.
Also, this bowl of chunky goodness goes so well with Clark’s iceberg wedge salad … which goes so well with the little bread board … which goes so well with outside seating … which goes so well with Sundays.
Sunday Lunch, Clark’s Style
Some Sundays you want to come home from church and fry a chicken, like my mom did a million delicious times. Other times, you just want something light and breezy to match the day.
That’s when you should go to Clark’s.
And if you really don’t think you’re in the mood for the best clam chowder between here and Massachusetts, you can always opt to order Clark’s famous burger and shoestring fries.
Park, Sit and Spoon
So, next time you book your flights for a conference in the foodie capital of the Lone Star State, choose a little later return on Sunday afternoon.
That way, you can go to Clark’s, sit outside under the yellow umbrellas, listen to the soothing Sunday jazz, have a bowl of clam chowder, and not even wish you were on the East Coast, West Coast, or anywhere else for that matter.
Encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure and a knife-tip of salt on your bread and butter,
PS: Here are a few other posts you might enjoy.