Kicking off my “Where to Eat During ACL” series is Liberty Kitchen. A better title would be “where to eat for any number of reasons: Liberty Kitchen.” I’ve recommended this restaurant for a girls’ night out happy hour spot, early morning brunch, boozy brunch, date night romance, business lunch, and private dining for a midsized group, all in the last week. Really, I’m starting to believe that Liberty Kitchen can meet just about any dining need. I can confirm that it meets all my Mac & Cheese needs. All. Their mac is what I wish my homemade mac could be, with its silky-smooth, rich cheese sauce. For extra decadence, order the King Crab mac. You’ll swoon.
During ACL, you can avoid the festival goers by hitting Liberty Kitchen during lunch and dinner hours. If you’re going to the festival, note that the restaurant is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, and is a short car ride West of downtown. Brunch service will be a mix, but my prediction is non-festival goers in the early morning, and tons of wristband wearing diners starting at 10am. The key thing to take away here is that if you haven’t yet eaten at Liberty Kitchen, you need to, and soon. Today is good. Go now.
In full disclosure, I was invited by the restaurant to sample some of the many delightful dishes on the menu. I kicked off my visit by hanging out at the oyster bar. There’s not much I love more than delicious oysters on the half shell, except maybe fried oysters topping a deviled egg. Liberty Kitchen is known for its deviled eggs topped with a variety of offerings: fried oysters, a juicy spicy chicken strip, pimento cheese & crabmeat, and smoked salmon. You cannot go wrong ordering the Deviled Egg Trial while waiting for your raw oysters to be shucked. The combination of toppings and deviled egg is a flavor bomb, and adding a bit of the housemade Bacon Jam pushes it over the top.
When you’re craving briny raw oysters, you need to pair the delicate flavor with a solid beverage choice. You’ll find craft beer, liquor and wine on the menu, but let me suggest the Lillie Langtrey, a beautifully hued craft cocktail of gin, lemon juice and hibiscus syrup that is not too sweet, not too sour. I sipped one while savoring a platter of oysters, and it was heaven.
Happy hour on weekdays, from 3pm – 6pm features 50 cents off oysters, and 1/2 off Liberty Burgers, queso and chicken wings. Take advantage of their patio now that we have cooler temps, as it’s a perfect people-watching spot. Bonus: it’s dog-friendly.
The restaurant’s location makes it easy to be the jumping off spot for weekend fun. Liberty Kitchen makes for an impressive date night whether you’re on your first date, celebrating your wedding anniversary or simply happy to have a babysitter. Please, order the gumbo.
The 40-oz to Freedom Gumbo is a house specialty, meant to be shared but I dream of ordering it all for myself, just for the leftovers. It boasts a deep, robust roux filled with king crab, andouille, roasted meats, chicken, lump crab, and oysters, is served with your choice of rice or potato salad, and topped with fried oysters, scallions, and fried okra. This is serious gumbo, the kind that at the first taste makes you reconsider your housing situation in favor of moving into the condos above the restaurant just to have easier and faster access to this one dish.
Brunch at Liberty Kitchen has two waves, I’ve decided. Parents, you can have absolutely scrumptious breakfast with your kids (or without) at what the party crowd and/or non-parents may consider the crack of dawn, with breakfast service starting at 8am on weekends and holiday weekdays. Fit folks who hit the trail or gym in the less hot/less crowded early mornings, drop in for your “I earned this” Cinnamon Challah French toast or fried oyster, sausage and fried egg sandwich. Don’t worry about your sweaty self, that’s what patios are made for, to allow fresh air and sunshine to enhance your dining experience. On Saturdays you can enjoy your cocktails early, and why not? On Sundays you will have a bit of a wait for a beverage with a kick (10am if you’re ordering with food), thanks to our state’s blue laws.
This leads me to the Heisenburg-er. Starving? Order the Heisenburg-er. Hungover and looking for a cure? Heisenburg-er. Love a burger that packs a punch? Heisenburg-er. The sheer size of this sandwich is intimidating, but it’s love at first bite. Billed on the menu as a “griddled burger ‘club’ with some issues,” you’ll find yourself staring with amazement at the layers: avocado, fresh jalapeños, avocado oil mayo, pickles, griddled burger patty, white American cheese, a thick slice of housemade rotisserie turkey, pepperjack cheese, bacon jam, and deviled eggs. Here’s a close up:
For more delicate fare that’ll leave you completely satisfied, order the lobster roll. Liberty Kitchen lightly dresses their lobster with a lemon tarragon mayo, allowing the sweet seafood to shine. The lobster was cooked to perfection, and heaped into the buttered, toasted roll. If you’re a lobster fan, you won’t want to pass up this menu star. Simple, yet so very delectable!
Dessert, you must save room for dessert. If you don’t think you can manage it after eating something the size of the Heisenburg-er, then make a date to return for just dessert. If chocolate is your thing, order the Mexican Cinnamon Chocolate & Cajeta Bread Pudding. You’ll thank me later.
Liberty Kitchen, 507 Pressler (entrance to parking garage is on W. 5th Street), is open Mon-Wed 11am-10pm, Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday 11am-midnight, Saturday 8am-midnight, and Sunday 8am-10pm. Private dining available. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter, and “like” them on Facebook.