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Trulucks vs. Eddie V’s

21 February 2010 18,686 views 21 Comments

Over the span of three days a couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to dine at both the downtown Austin locations of Truluck’s and Eddie V’s as a guest of each restaurant.

The similarities were many. Both specialize in fine dining seafood and steak, both are part of a family of restaurants — there are ten Truluck’s  and five Eddie V’s — Roaring Fork and Wildfish Seafood Grille are also part of the Eddie V’s group. There are two locations of both in Austin — one downtown, one in the Arboretum.

The similarities don’t end there. Truluck’s sits in a prime corner location at 4th and Colorado — just one block from Congress Avenue.

trulucks sign

Eddie V’s is on the corner of 5th and San Jacinto, two blocks from Congress.

eddie vs sign

Truluck’s happy hour is 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and all night on Sunday. Specials include half-price appetizers and $1 off specialty martinis, liquor, beer, and wine. The mood is set with live piano music and waiters offer hot towels with lemon to freshen up.

We tried miso butterscotch chicken wings ($4.50 at happy hour), mini bacon cheeseburgers ($6.50 at happy hour), and crab and shrimp rangoons ($4.50).

Truluck's Bar

Eddie V’s happy hour is also 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. every night and all night on Sunday and Monday. Specials include half-price appetizers, .50 oysters, and $1 off all drinks.

If all appetizers are half-price, happy hour guests can enjoy their famous crab cake for $8.50, calamari for $6.50, and tuna tartare for $6.50. There is also a three-piece jazz band playing nightly starting at 7 p.m.

Below are the adorable bacon cheeseburgers at Truluck’s bar. In the background, the Statesman‘s Addie Broyles takes a bite.

Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers at Truluck's

My favorite dish at Eddie V’s was the Sliced Filet Mignon Hot Rock Ishiyaki that we seared on a hot Japanese river stone at the table ($14). It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and served with a umami-licious dipping sauce. If they offer it 1/2 priced during happy hour for $7, I’d jump on that deal!

wagyu beef ishiyaki

Each restaurant offers a “Seafood Tower” with a variety of shellfish — listed on the menus as “market price” (don’t you hate that?). Based on the information shared by their publicists, I’d guess that you’ll spend at least $40 for this appetizer that serves two to four diners.

It was especially impressive at Truluck’s as the waiters carried the two-story tower out complete with misting dry ice.

seafood display

Also at Truluck’s was this fantastically jumbo Nigerian King Shrimp. It was served with a Niman Ranch New York Strip steak, roasted mushroom ragout and parmesan mashed potato. While not currently on the menu, this opulent surf and turf would cost $58 and could easily be split between two people.

Tiger Prawn

Nigerian King Shrimp at Truluck's - photo by Adam Holzband

One of the most flavorful shellfish we tasted was this crab claw that I rescued off the seafood tower and stored safely in my stomach.

Crab Claw at Truluck's

Crab Claw at Truluck's - photo by Adam Holzband

While I grew up in Maryland, I’m not as much a fan of crab cakes as I am of soft-shelled crabs and it doesn’t really matter to me if crab cakes have a bit of filler in them.

If you care about such things, you’ll probably enjoy the Truluck’s Superlump Crabcake ($16) and the Eddie V’s All Lump Crab Cake ($17). They were both super-rich.

Eddie V's famous Crab Cake

Eddie V's famous Crab Cake

Both restaurants also served a delicious rare tuna dish. The Truluck’s Sesame-Crusted Hawaiian Tuna ($29) was a favorite since it was much lighter than other entrees. I also loved Eddie V’s Pacific Ahi Tuna Steak ($28) with shiitake mushrooms, wasabi potato puree and ginger-soy jus.

Seared Ahi Tuna

Eddie V's Seared Ahi Tuna

Overall, Truluck’s and Eddie V’s offer similar experiences and prices. Comparing them feels somewhat like splitting hairs but I would say where they differ the most is in atmosphere.

Both are closed for lunch but Truluck’s offers a more serious and quiet atmosphere for happy hour with colleagues, dinner with clients, or to catch up with an old friend.

Eddie V’s is a great singles and dating scene (especially the bar), and I felt the urge to get up and dance to the jazzy trio (but contained myself). I’d recommend it for a special-occasion or romantic meal.

More photos from Truluck’s (mostly by Adam) are available on Flickr. Unfortunately Eddie V’s was very dark (people were using tiny flashlights to read their menus) so I didn’t have as many shots turn out.

What would you recommend for a high-end seafood or steak dinner in downtown Austin?

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  • marcoskirsch

    The desserts at Truluck's are incredible and not very expensive. If you are in the mood for some coffee and some of the best cakes in Austin, you can't go wrong with Truluck's. And most people would not even think about it.

  • jodibart

    The desserts were gorgeous and this is a great idea for a late night dessert or post-theatre or show stop. I honestly can't remember how they tasted since we tried OVER 25 dishes that night. What are your favorites?

  • http://www.tipsytexan.com/ Tex

    Truluck's is a class act. I think that Eddie V's is delicious, but Truluck's more refined. They never miss a beat in my many experiences eating there. In a market where so many of the fine dining restaurants fail to deliver consistently, I feel like if we need to eat out or entertain and don't have room for disappointment, Truluck's is where we go. And those stone crab claws are awesome.

  • jodibart

    The desserts were gorgeous and this is a great idea for a late night dessert or post-theatre or show stop. I honestly can't remember how they tasted since we tried OVER 25 dishes that night. What are your favorites?

  • http://www.tipsytexan.com/ Tex

    Truluck's is a class act. I think that Eddie V's is delicious, but Truluck's more refined. They never miss a beat in my many experiences eating there. In a market where so many of the fine dining restaurants fail to deliver consistently, I feel like if we need to eat out or entertain and don't have room for disappointment, Truluck's is where we go. And those stone crab claws are awesome.

  • marcoskirsch

    I don't remember the specific items, and their website does not have the menu. I specifically recall an awesome chocolate tower cake. This was in the Arboretum location.

  • marcoskirsch

    I don't remember the specific items, and their website does not have the menu. I specifically recall an awesome chocolate tower cake. This was in the Arboretum location.

  • Ilyse

    Dearest Jodi,
    I love you and your blog dearly, but I'm going to have to stop reading it now b/c it is making me miss food at home and I don't feel like being homesick right now. Please find it in your heart to understand.

    faithfully yours,
    Ilyse

  • jodibart

    Hi David. Agree that Truluck's is a class act and the service was top notch. I didn't mention their wine selection but it was fabulous as well.

  • jodibart

    I bet it doesn't just make you miss the food. Austin isn't the same without you but I'm so happy that you are having fun in South America. Send more pics soon!

  • jodibart

    More comments from Facebook….

    Jason: Regarding your question at the end of the posting (“What would you recommend for a high-end seafood or steak dinner in downtown Austin?”), I recommend III Forks for high-end steak.

    Laura: Fleming's for steak! Hands. Down.

    Rebecca: I Rebeccammend III Forks. I still remember the Sea Bass I ate there 2 years ago! High quality service too!

    Adam: Gotta go with Eddie v's.

    Richard: Truluck's has the edge over Eddie V's for me.
    Two words: De-ssert
    And stone crab.. and the crab fried rice and mushrooms are fantastic

  • Betsy

    Great post and photos! I had a nice meal at Truluck's years ago, and after reading the comments and seeing the photo of that crazy Nigerian shrimp, I think I need to give it another try. Buenos Aires Cafe is also a good place to try for steak and seafood. I recently had a special there that featured grassfed beef tendorloin in chimichurri sauce with 3 grilled gulf shrimp, asparagus and mashed potatoes. It was out of this world; definitely worth the splurge.

  • Betsy

    Great post and photos! I had a nice meal at Truluck's years ago, and after reading the comments and seeing the photo of that crazy Nigerian shrimp, I think I need to give it another try. Buenos Aires Cafe is also a good place to try for steak and seafood. I recently had a special there that featured grassfed beef tendorloin in chimichurri sauce with 3 grilled gulf shrimp, asparagus and mashed potatoes. It was out of this world; definitely worth the splurge.

  • Paula Holzband

    Ditto Betsy' comment………”Great post and photos! I had a nice meal at Truluck's years ago, and after reading the comments and seeing the photo of that crazy Nigerian shrimp, I think I need to give it another try. ” Oy, that Nigerian shrimp is huge!! Great pictures by Adam. Jodi and Adam, you two must have really enjoyed yourselves! How in the world did you both manage to walk (or did you roll?) out of the restaurants, after trying so many dishes?! Love to you both, Paula/Mom

  • Paula Holzband

    Ditto Betsy' comment………”Great post and photos! I had a nice meal at Truluck's years ago, and after reading the comments and seeing the photo of that crazy Nigerian shrimp, I think I need to give it another try. ” Oy, that Nigerian shrimp is huge!! Great pictures by Adam. Jodi and Adam, you two must have really enjoyed yourselves! How in the world did you both manage to walk (or did you roll?) out of the restaurants, after trying so many dishes?! Love to you both, Paula/Mom

  • Paula Holzband

    Ditto Betsy' comment………”Great post and photos! I had a nice meal at Truluck's years ago, and after reading the comments and seeing the photo of that crazy Nigerian shrimp, I think I need to give it another try. ” Oy, that Nigerian shrimp is huge!! Great pictures by Adam. Jodi and Adam, you two must have really enjoyed yourselves! How in the world did you both manage to walk (or did you roll?) out of the restaurants, after trying so many dishes?! Love to you both, Paula/Mom

  • http://www.minus1son.com roland

    love this post!!! just found your site I will be a regular…thank you!

  • http://www.minus1son.com roland

    love this post!!! just found your site I will be a regular…thank you!

  • jodibart

    What a huge compliment. Thank you, Roland!

  • jodibart

    What a huge compliment. Thank you, Roland!

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