Restaurant Review: Restaurant Review

Despite the grownup Greeks,
J Black's has some of the best bar food in town

J Black's

710-B W. Sixth, 512/433-6954, http://www.jblacks.com
Mon.-Thu., 4pm-2am; Fri.-Sun., 11am-2am
Restaurant Review
Photo by John Anderson

J Black's

710 W. Sixth Ste. B, 433-6954
Daily, 4pm-2am (kitchen closes at 12mid)
www.jblacks.com

I was talking to someone recently about West Sixth Street and how the new bars that have sprouted up in that part of town are very similar to the college crowd shot bars that abound on East Sixth. The only obvious difference: The customers at the trendy West Sixth bars are the same ones that used to down shots at Touché and the Library only a few years back, only all grown up. As much as I actively avoid that sort of place, I had heard good things about the food at J Black's, so I ventured in recently for happy hour.

First impression: bad. A crowd of grownup Greeks was partying loudly on the tiny outdoor patio, smoking cigars. The bar is completely open to the patio, so even though the smokers were outside, the entire place reeked of cigar smoke. Quite unfortunate for someone looking to taste what the bar refers to as "redefined dining." Once inside, the seats are comfortable, there's ever-changing local art on the brick walls, and staff members are friendly and eager to please. Turns out they have pretty good deals, every day from 4 to 8pm and all night Sunday: $1 off all drinks, 25% off bottles of wine, and half-price select menu items. Among the sharable plates are some unusual but tasty treats: macaroni with smoked Gouda, asadero, and sharp cheddar cheese rolled into balls, panko crusted, and fried and served with pimento cheese sauce ($3.50 at happy hour); smoked-salmon-and-goat-cheese mousse served with capers, chopped shallots, and crostini ($6 at happy hour); pigs in a blanket made with Niman Ranch hot dogs served with a creole mustard dipping sauce ($5 at happy hour); and a tasty dish of four lollipop lamb chops, grilled to medium rare and served with a side of creamy Gorgonzola sauce ($13.99). My only complaints about the chops were that ours were served lukewarm (perhaps due to the 25-minute wait between ordering and receiving them) and that the Gorgonzola sauce is more like a dressing, so the effect of dipping lukewarm chops in a cold sauce left us, well, chilly.

The Gorgonzola and apple salad ($3.50 at happy hour) was a pleasant surprise – a generous pile of fresh baby greens topped with halved grape tomatoes, thinly sliced apples, red onions, crumbled blue cheese, and spiced walnuts tossed with Champagne-shallot vinaigrette. The vinaigrette picked up the chile spice from the walnuts, adding a very pleasant piquant touch to the fresh, crisp salad.

The main dishes here are thin-crust pizzas in many flavor combinations, with a build-your-own list of ingredients. Some of the most unique combinations include the Stefano ($13.99) with applewood-smoked bacon, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and micro arugula; the Jambalaya ($13.99), topped with roasted chicken, andouille sausage, and Cajun spices; and the Crab & Portobello ($15.99), with caramelized shallots and white truffle oil. For dessert, J Black's serves a fudge brownie topped with Amy's Ice Cream. The limited dessert offerings are offset by the large amounts of liquid desserts – a good selection of scotch, liqueurs, and the obligatory chocolate martini.

Late-night bar goers can satisfy their munchies at J Black's until midnight every night, and honestly, this is some of the best bar food in the area. Cigar smoke notwithstanding, the food was enjoyable, and I even got to catch a little of the NBA playoffs on the screen.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Food Reviews
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
Just when you thought you couldn't possibly get any shawarma, right?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Sept. 4, 2020

Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
What does your favorite condiment reveal about who you are?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Aug. 28, 2020

More by Claudia Alarcón
Savory Characters
Savory Characters
Cooking up the next generation of cocktails

Feb. 6, 2015

Calling the Shots
Calling the Shots
The women defining Austin's cocktail culture

Jan. 23, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

J Black's, bar food, friend macaroni, happy hour

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle