Have Your Lake and Eat There Too

'Chronicle' foodies dive into the fresh offerings out west

When we were exploring area neighborhoods for our inaugural First Plates Awards this spring, we discovered that the former suburban culinary wasteland at the intersection of Highway 71 and RR 620 is now a bustling culinary destination that extends all the way to the Lakeway area. Not only does the Hill Country Galleria boast its own Whole Foods Market and a fine selection of local independent restaurants as well as a few national chains, but several of Austin's most popular homegrown chains (Mandola's Italian Market, Waterloo Ice House, Maudie's Tex-Mex, Blue Bamboo Viet-Thai) are doing big business across the road in the Shops at the Galleria. That center is also home to specialty retailers such as Spec's, the newly relocated Faraday's Kitchen Store that includes expanded cooking-class facilities, and the Lone Star Farmers' Market that sets up in the parking lot every Sunday from 10am-2pm. And with a third Con' Olio outlet set to open in August and the highly anticipated fall arrival of Schmidt Family Barbecue from the third generation of one of the legendary barbecue families of Lockhart, the area's ever-expanding menu is only showing signs of strengthening in the future. Chronicle contributor Wes Mar­shall lives near Spicewood, so the Bee Cave/Lakeway area is his natural beat, and here he contributes most of the coverage of the newer things we discovered.

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