Eat Here Now

EAT HERE NOW – AUSTIN

March 14, 2012

By Hannah Fearheiley

Photo courtesy of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Keeping Austin weird is the crux of the charm this capital city possesses as it balances legislators, college students and full time residents with an eclectic vibe. It’s the kind of city where you can dress up or dress down; in most cases, people prefer dressing down in a nice scarf, boots and jeans kind of way as they dine in establishments replete with exposed brick walls, metals stools nestled at a bar, water served in Mason jars and servers expressing their own personal style. With this embracing spirit of self expression it makes perfect sense that quirky, creative, breath-of-fresh-air Austin has become town where the word trailer connotes mouthwateringly innovative cuisine instead of transitory residents and long haul truckers.

It hasn’t been a long haul since diners felt the impact of the food trailer boom in 2009, but in a few short years the Austin food scene has been changed forever. When it started the locals had no idea how big it was really going to get. Trailers got people talking not only about the diversity of cuisine being produced out of a trailer but the sheer talent of the chefs who got their start producing delicious food with integrity and very little overhead. The recently James Beard nominated chef/owner of Barley Swine (www.barleyswine.com), Bryce Gilmore, received praises over his food trailer “ The Odd Duck” and is now one of the most talked about and respected chef’s in Austin. Aaron Franklin opened his small BBQ trailer on the side of a noisy frontage road in 2009 and by 2011 had a brick and mortar store front, selling out of some of the best, okay the best, BBQ in Texas every day.

Their commonality extends further than their trailer beginnings, they also support local farmers and keeping the Austin culinary industry thriving. It’s an industry producing food worthy of a five star restaurant rating. Chefs have created eateries, both mobile and brick & mortar, where people can enjoy well executed and well thought out dishes in a very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.

Contigo Patio by Knox Photographics

Locals embrace this culinary boom with open arms but have not forgotten their roots- the alpha of the food scene- the simple breakfast taco. On any given Saturday morning Austinites, roused from their Rainey Street-induced slumber with growling stomachs, can be heard muttering, “Where should we get breakfast tacos?” A food staple that is the common denominator between all locals, the breakfast taco isn’t a trend that waxes and wanes with the new year. They are a permanent staple in Austin cuisine.

TacoDeli happens to have some of the best in town. All of their organic eggs are sourced from local farms and they use fresh seasonal produce whenever possible. Order the eggs, papas (creamy mashed potatoes) & cheese taco ($2.10). Every time their eggs are perfectly scrambled, light and fluffy, paired with creamy mashed potatoes & fresh white cheese, it’s unbelievable. Their deceptively spicy & creamy Doña salsa made with fresh pureed jalapenos makes people shake their head at each bite in delicious approval. Another must-have is their Cowboy Taco made with local beef tenderloin, grilled corn, onions, roasted peppers, topped with guacamole & queso fresco ($3.75). The beef tenderloin is insanely tender and melds perfectly with the acidic guacamole- it’s a win every time. After you have enjoyed some TacoDeli, stop next door to Houndstooth coffee shop for some of the best quality coffee in Austin. They are nerds in the best way possible when it comes to being the best at their trade. There is a science and method to being a barista and their perfect crèmes show they have it down to a T. The cortado, 3oz. of delicately steamed milk with two shots of espresso served in a short glass, is a treat I look forward to every Saturday. Houndstooth also has a small selection of beer, wine, as well as pastries made by local artisans so feel free to spend all day in this caffeinated paradise.

Tacodeli 4200 N. Lamar Austin, TX 78756
Hours:
Mon-Fri 7 am – 3 pm
Sat-Sun 8 am – 3 pm

Houndstooth 4200 N. Lamar Ste 120 Austin, TX 78756
Hours:
Mon-Fri 6 am – 10 pm
Sat 7 am – 10 pm
Sun 7 am – 7 pm

We asked a few industry people about their favorite places in Austin and this is where they are eating when they’re not toiling behind their own bars or stoves:

Scranton Twohey- Director of Operations for Clive Bar, Bar Ilegal, Lustre Pearl, & Bar 96. All of these bars are located in the hopping Rainey Street District. Go to Clive for educated & friendly bartenders, great specialty cocktails, and an easy going place to hang out (609 Davis street) Just Behind Clive lies a secret gem called Bar Ilegal mezcal bar (also, 609 Davis street ). The soft candle lighting, rustic quaint interior makes it a perfect place to start the night. Order the Mexican Mule-Ilegal Joven, pineapple, jalapeno, lime, & ginger. Lustre Pearl is in a funky old house with great outdoor seating and an “always welcome” vibe (97 Rainey St). For Bar96 sports bar think vintage sports memorabilia and less neon lighting. They have a great deck, bag games, clear TV’s and a tasty food trailer called Cazamance. (96 Rainey St)

Twohey says, “When I have the opportunity to go out for me it’s all about service, atmosphere, and simple food. Here are some of my favorite go to places in Austin.”

Enoteca-“I really like the simplicity and the small tight indoors of Enoteca. I sit at the bar and order the pizza ($14), lasagna ($24) or spinach salad ($7) with candied pecans and an amazing cheese. They grow all of their own vegetables and all of their dough is homemade. They always put out consistent food and it’s located in a really great area of town.”

1610 S Congress Austin TX 78704
Hours:
Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday: open 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. for brunch; closed at night

Las Palomas– “They have a great mole with really bold flavors. All of their tortillas are homemade and the sauces are amazing and made fresh daily.”

3201 Bee Caves Road, Suite 122 Austin, Texas 78746
Hours:
Open Tuesday- Saturday for Lunch and Dinner Closed Sunday and Monday
Lunch: Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Dinner : Tuesday – Thursday 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday till 10:00 p.m.

Sunflower– “This is a great Vietnamese place off of 183. Whenever I go here I usually get the phô, it’s always really delicious and the staff here treat you like royalty right when you walk in the door. Their Chicken Clay pot is great too, and comes with a ton of great vegetables perfectly cooked. It’s an awesome place.”
8557 Research Blvd Ste 146 Austin, TX 78758

Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sun 10 am – 9:30 pm

La Condesa– “I love this place because it’s well done, upscale Mexican fare. The drinks are great and the service is always good. This place has such a good vibe every time I go. I love the Sunday Chicken ($24); it’s so tender and has tons of flavor. They also have great salads like their Mixta Salad with local arugula, local cabbage, iceberg, green beans, jícama, radish, corn, grape tomato, avocado, queso fresco, & mustard vinaigrette ($10)”

400 West 2nd Street Austin, TX 78701
Hours:
Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Mon-Wed, Sun 5 pm – 10 pm
Thu-Sat 5 pm – 11 pm
Sat-Sun 11 am – 3 pm

Zocolo-“My wife and love going to Zocolo for healthy Mexican food and it’s nicely priced. You walk up to the counter to order your food and the service is super friendly. I always feel good after eating their food. It’s in a cool neighborhood and they have really good clientele. It’s simple, but I really love their Chicken Fajita Tacos and they also have really great fish taco served with a fresh crunchy slaw and fresh limes.”
1110 W Lynn Austin, TX 78703
Hours: Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri 11 am – 10 pm Wed 11 am – 12 am Sat-Sun 10 am – 10 pm

Paulina van Eeden Hill- Association Sales Manager at the Omni Hotel at Southpark. Paulina is an incredible at-home cook and has worked for the always delicious Jeffery’s Restaurant, an Austin institution that boasts 37 years of continued success.

Off the beaten path:
Contigo– “ Near the new Mueller development, Contigo completely embodies
the Austin spirit. Local ingredients, unique drinks, and a sprawling
patio (even in 100+ degrees it’s surprising cool). Try the Bee’s
Knees (gin, honey and lemon), Ox Tongue Slider, and Rabbit &
Dumplings.”
2027 Anchor Ln. Austin, TX 78723
5pm – Midnight Every Day
Brunch: Sunday from 10:30 – 2:30

Weekend Treat:
Lick– “ Using local and hormone-free dairy, local produce, and local
flavors, Lick produces delicious ice creams that showcase unique
ingredients instead of pure sugar. The staff will encourage you to try
as many flavors as you like; they add new flavors regularly so
sampling is a must. Try the Goat Cheese and Thyme, Too Hot Chocolate,
and Caramel Salt Lick.”
2032 South Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78704
Mon – Thu: 12:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 12:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Sun: 12:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Antonelli’s– “Austin’s only specialty food shop dedicated to cheese and
all its glory. You’ll be greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable
staff who encourages samples before selection (there’s a pattern
here). Pick up a couple of your favorites, grab a baguette (baked
fresh by Easy Tiger’s David Norman), and even a bottle of Jester
King’s Wytchmaker and spend the afternoon on your patio!”
4220 Duval Street Austin, TX 78751

Jester King Brewery– “Every Saturday afternoon, Jester King opens for
tastings in the Tap Room. Buy a glass and sample their latest brew-
you won’t find many of these in stores or restaurants! Take a tour,
try a local food trailer, and listen to a local band- no better way to
spend a Saturday afternoon.”
13005 Fitzhugh Rd Austin, TX 78736
Hours: Saturday 1 pm – 4 pm

Next on my list to try:
Elizabeth Street Café– New South Austin trendy French & Vietnamese café
1501 S 1st St Austin, TX 78704
Easy Tiger– Downtown Bakeshop and Beer Garden
709 E 6th St Austin, TX 78701
Olive and June– Southern Italian newbie from acclaimed Parkside’s chef
Shawn Cirkiel
3411 Glenview Ave Austin, TX 78703

Deepa Shridhar- Cook at Dai Due. She works with Chef/Butcher Jesse Griffiths, a true Renaissance man who has become an Austin phenomenon. He forages his greens, utilizes only organic local farmers, uses only what’s in season, doesn’t take any shortcuts, and offers various courses from a hunting & field dressing school to teaching people how to preserve vegetables. When she’s not in Griffiths’ kitchen you’ll find her here:

Manna Korea– “For about six dollars you can have a life-changing meal at Manna Korean. The pork bulgogi comes with a plethora of sides, mostly pickled, but all delicious. Another must try is the spicy kimchee soup & the bibimbap. Come hungry, don’t eat all day. It’s completely worth it.”
6808 N Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78752
Hours:
Tue-Wed 11 am – 10 pm
Thu-Sat 11 am – 2 am
Sun 12 pm – 8 pm

La Condesa-“A showstopper, perfect for parents or in-laws. What’s great is that you get a gorgeous plate that doesn’t skimp on the portions. You feel great for the money you spend on your meal. Be sure to get a ceviche as well as a specialty cocktail. These people seriously know what they are doing; whether it’s the tacos or the tortes.”
400 West 2nd Street Austin, TX 78701
Hours:
Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Mon-Wed, Sun 5 pm – 10 pm
Thu-Sat 5 pm – 11 pm
Sat-Sun 11 am – 3 pm

Franklin BBQ– “Best BBQ. Period. End of story. Be prepared to wait in line, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Sorry. It’s a definite food experience. What they put into their food is an intense, obsessive passion for the best BBQ anyone can muster. It’s not only respectable; it’s damn good.”
900 E 11th St Austin, TX 78702
Hours:
Tue-Sun 11 am – 1 pm
(Notice: people start to line up by 9:30am, it’s not for the faint of heart, but completely worth it.)

Dai Due-“I feel like I’m plugging. Alright, I AM plugging, but with good reason. I wanted to work for one company and one company only; that’s Dai Due. You want local? We’ll give you local and then some. Jesse Griffiths has the highest standard for not just meat, just food, in general. Whatever you order for breakfast; I guarantee you will be in heaven. I work for a genius, and I’m proud of that fact. Come for breakfast; become a regular. These are some of the items we have featured on our menu at the downtown farmers’ market: Fried Oyster Po’ Boy with pickled carrots & radishes, farm fresh tomato, & serrano mayonnaise ($7.00); Cabrito (Goat) Flautas, local Texas avocado, with charred onion salsa ($7.00); Wild Boar Chorizo, refried beans made with house butchered & cured bacon, pasilla salsa, & queso Fresco ($4.00); Biscuits, Country Style Sausage & Gravy (Like your great grandmother used to make) ($4.00); Texas Toast with bacon, a fried egg and B5 tomato. ($4.00)

4th and Guadalupe Austin, TX 78701 (Farmers Market)
Hours:
Sat 9 am – 1 pm

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