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Food & Drink

Best Ambassadors of Fungi
Logro Farms

"Beer dirt" and coffee grounds may seem like the unfortunate remnants of a late-night blowout, but in Ryan Sansbury and Jeremy Bastian's hands, they are just the beginning. With a focus on sustainability, the childhood friends grow delicious oyster mushrooms using spent brewer's grains from neighboring Jester King Brewery in their unique formula. If you want in on the festivities, they'll even sell you a 3-D printed home kit. How's that for a garden party?

Best Bar With Heart(s) and Soul
Royal Jelly

Neighborhood bars may not be the first place we would look for skewered chicken hearts, but Royal Jelly isn't your typical neighborhood bar. In addition to that churrasco, served with an electrifying strawberry chimichurri, Royal Jelly expands your pub grub horizons with charred octopus panzanella, sweet potato fettuccine, and merguez sliders. The taps are no slouch either, showcasing local brews that go far beyond the basics. It's no wonder that this charmingly ramshackle drinkery, ahem, gets our blood pumping.

Best Barbecue Without the Wait

No one refutes the dominance of Franklin or la Barbecue in the hearts and minds (and tummies) of barbecue lovers both local and nationwide. But what if you need to quench your meat craving and you don't have time for the long lines? The mom-and-pop team at Kerlin (just a hop and a skip away from the big two) has you covered. They may have come from Arizona, but they know a good thing when they see one, and they took to the Central Texas tradition quick. They make superlative sausage and beautifully barked brisket, and you won't want to snooze on their bleu cheese coleslaw and jalapeño dill potato salad.

Kerlin BBQ, 1700 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/412-5588,

Best Beer Can Design
Austin Beerworks Seasonal Series by Helms Workshop

The folks behind Austin Beerworks take a lot of pride in making their limited edition beers distinctive, so when a recent expansion allowed them to can those beers for the first time, it called for something special. Local brand design studio Helms Workshop is no stranger to the craft beer game, having worked with Boulevard Brewing and Fullsteam, but their ABW seasonals electrify the shelf in a new way, wrapped in patterns that pay homage to the style and the name (slices and bowler hats for their Citra hop IPA Bloodwork Orange or vikings and turkey legs for their upcoming Battle Axe, for example). It may be true that you can't judge a book by its cover, but that ain't got nothing to do with beer.

Best Coffee Innovation
Fleet Coffee

We all know the coffee shop staples: Americanos, breves, and cappuccinos. But Fleet Coffee co-owners Patrick Pierce and Lorenzo Perkins go well beyond the caffeination ABCs. Here, your morning ritual isn't a burnt latte choked down through a green straw; it's espresso mixed with Fruity Pebbles-infused milk and served with a crispy treat or reimagined with tonic, lime, and simple syrup. Yes, they have the classics too, but Fleet is anything but basic.

Fleet Coffee, 2427 Webberville Rd.,

Best Coffee Liqueur for a White Russian
Caffe del Fuego

We can't help but think if the Dude lived in Austin, he would have had much less to abide. Certainly he wouldn't have had to fill his favorite drink with syrupy dreck. When you are being chased by nihilists, you need something more – Austin Roasting Company beans, pure cane sugars, Madagascar vanilla, and filtered spirits aged for sophistication. If you drink it, we can't promise you'll be dreaming about bowling alleys and Julianne Moore, but we guarantee you'll like seeing what condition your condition is in.

Best Dessert Science Project
SPUN Ice Cream

So you flunked Chemistry 101 and only recently realized the periodic table wasn't a piece of occasional furniture, but that doesn't mean you have to practice scientific denialism. Made with liquid nitrogen and local seasonal ingredients, SPUN's ice cream uses our favorite scientific method, topping a base of dark chocolate and horchata with mix & match pairings like peanut brittle or handcut sprinkles. We couldn't ask for a better lab partner.

SPUN Ice Cream, 1912-D E. Seventh,

Best Drink of the Summer ... and Beyond
Austin Eastciders Pineapple

It's an Austin tradition to complain about the dog days of triple-digit weather, but this year we were praying for a few more days of sun. That's because this season gave us "Piney Cides." Refreshing with a pineapple kick, but without the sticky sweetness you might expect, Austin Eastciders' latest variety is the perfect drink to accompany poolside lounging, fireworks watching, or just stripping down to your skivvies after work. "Hot town, summer in the city" indeed.

Best Gas Station Parking Lot Food
Abo Youssef Mediterranean Food

The bright yellow and red of the Manor Express convenience store may not have the same allure as the tasteful beiges and whites of trendy dining rooms, but that doesn't seem to matter one bit to the folks lining up for Abo Youssef's shawarma and falafel. With an attention to customer care, killer baklava, and a mint lemonade perfect for Austin weather, Abo Youssef proves that our food truck scene is just as essential as ever.

Abo Youssef Mediterranean Food, 2101 Manor Rd.,

Best Licuados
La Fruta Feliz

There are many good things to be had at La Fruta Feliz: the obligatory breakfast tacos, fiery menudo, and some of the best barbacoa in town. But whatever you order, washing it down with a licuado is non-negotiable. Creamy and thick enough to eat with a spoon, they're lushly sweet – the perfect treat to get you through yet another long, hot Austin day. The menu is extensive, but a good place to start is one with everything – papaya, mango, banana, and strawberry – all blended together into a gloriously refreshing mess, guaranteed to give you the most enjoyable sugar rush you've had in years.

La Fruta Feliz, 3124 Manor Rd., 512/961-5013

Best Local Food Boosters
Austin Food & Wine Alliance

Most people know them for their parties – Live Fire!, Wine & Swine, and Official Drink of Austin – all highlights on our town's culinary calendar and known for their unique ability to attract the best chefs and mixologists from Texas and beyond. But some still don't know the reason why so many pros say yes to the AFWA. It's simple. With their culinary grant program and high school culinary career conferences, the nonprofit is essential to keeping our local foodways strong. And that's a reason for celebration, even when the parties are over.

Best Local IPA
Pinthouse Pizza Electric Jellyfish

Pinthouse Pizza and its renowned IPA program is at the epicenter of Austin's hop-delirium. But the one beer that lords over this brewpub's entire beer board – as well as any other hopped-up contenders city-wide – is their Electric Jellyfish IPA. Bright with juicy, citric, and tropical fruit hops like Equinox, Galaxy, Calypso, and Citra, and very reasonable 6.5% ABV, this IPA is as intricate as it is refreshing.

Pinthouse Pizza, 4729 Burnet Rd., 512/436-9605,

Pinthouse Pizza, 4236 S. Lamar, 512/502-5808,

Best Nepalese Morsel
Saffron's Gobi Manchurian

Cauliflower would be the undisputed star of the produce department if more people tried Saffron's Gobi Manchurian. It's a dry version of the Indo-Chinese specialty, but the tomato, garlic, and soy-based sauce is expertly spiced and proportioned to keep it moist and delectable. It's a surefire antidote to this town's parade of boring brassicas. Who knew the path to enlightenment would be found in a shopping center restaurant's fried florets?

Saffron, 3616 Far West Blvd., 512/241-1732,

Best New Fast Food
Flyrite Chicken

Although we realize that Chick-fil-A has stopped all that nonsense of giving to anti-gay causes, we still prefer to get our chicken fix closer to home. The folks at Flyrite offer us feel-good fast food made with no artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, or antibiotics. And unlike at that fast food giant, you can wash your chickie down with local brews.

Flyrite Chicken, 2129 E. Seventh, 512/284-8014,

Best New Instagram Opportunity

Yes, yes. Austin loves you so much, and, despite your shortcomings, considers you her butter half. But she might start getting jealous if she sees one more photo of you and Irene. The hedge wall with the pink neon sign in front of the ELM Group's latest restaurant proved to be this summer's can't-skip snap. Bearded dudes, naifs in floppy hats, wandering toddlers, and even hard-drinking grandmas all stopped to strike a pose. How's that for a signature?

Irene's, 506 West, 512/298-0853,

Best Pick-Me-Up
Om Gai at Dee Dee

You can almost set your clock by it. At around two in the afternoon, we invariably have a sneezing fit due to the gazillion allergens floating around in our town's air. But even after downing a fistful of Allegra, we still need something to break through the fog. Dee Dee's om gai has everything we need – chiles to clear those sinuses, dill to wake up drowsy taste buds, rustic chicken to comfort, and the perfect sticky rice to sop it all up. It's an instant restorative no matter what the pollen count.

Dee Dee, 1906 E. Cesar Chavez,

Best Place to Dadcore (Two Kid Maximum)
Live Oak Brewing

There is no place better to feel like a seasoned combat veteran of adolescent affairs than at the scopious brewhouse and beer garden of Austin's finest German-style beer maker, Live Oak Brewing. The wide-open plot allows for everyone from helicopter parents to cool dads (and moms), while also not impeding too much on the carefree fun of the non-breeders. The low ABV beers, like their Berliner Weisse and Grodziskie, account for worry-free family revelry (but it goes without saying, always use a DD).

Best Place to Embrace Gluten
L'oca d'oro

Some days you just want to drown yourself in a pool of noodles and eat your way out. But after eating the pumpkin tortelli, grilled shrimp rigatoni, and wood-roasted mushroom lasagna at L'oca d'oro, not just any im-pasta will do. L'oca d'oro can satisfy the craziest of carb craving, making your cheat day actually worth it. We salute the golden goose for putting the glee back into gluten.

L'oca d'oro, 1900 Simond, 737/212-1876,

Best Restaurant Interior Design
Mickie Spencer

Local diners already know Spencer's eclectic work at East Side Show Room, Hillside Farmacy, and Sawyer & Co., but this year she outdid herself with a pair of stunners. Ah Sing Den replaced the Show Room's metallic steampunk with luscious 18th century velvet and fringe. Eberly somehow manages to transition from midcentury modern to Victorian with nary a stumble. The best restaurant interiors have the power to transport. Spencer is Austin's most capable captain.

Best So What if It's Not in Austin Brewery
Twisted X Brewing Co.

Austin is lucky that it has a surfeit of breweries in our urban core, but sometimes it's nice to take a day trip. On a crisp autumn day (you know, the two or three autumn days we get before our two weeks of winter), there's nothing that takes the edge off of city living like a trip to Dripping Springs' Twisted X. It's not the most flashy tasting room, but sometimes all you need is a picnic table, a solid beer, and a Hill Country breeze.

Twisted X Brewing Company, 23455 W. RR 150, Dripping Springs, 512/829-5323,

Best Sweet Nothing
Fluff Meringues

Fluff's weightless clouds are like your first crush – beautiful and effervescent on the outside, but deep and complex once you get to know them a little better. Like a high school cheerleader smoking a joint between classes, or the bookworm band nerd with the killer abs, these dollops of sugary goodness strike the perfect balance.

Best Tap Wall (to Enjoy While Waiting for Takeout)
Michi Ramen

We're all about that spontaneous takeout life. Only problem is, you gotta wait 46 minutes drinking mudslides at Chili's while your mozzarella-stuffed lamb bladders crisp to the perfect snap. That's just awful. This is why we almost always defer to Michi Ramen for impromptu dinners, as it boasts the most woke beer wall in Austin with only eight taps. This soup wonderland features oft-rotating, limited distribution, specialty craft treats like Sputnik from Austin Beerworks, Dapper Devil from Blue Owl, and Cucumber Face Mask by Oasis. They also tend to get hard-to-find out-of-towners like Houston's Brash Brewing and San Antonio's Freetail while also curating a fine selection of Japanese beers. It'll make you wish that they'd slow it down a bit back there in the kitchen.

Best Taste of Italy
Gelateria Gemelli

Initially we were awed by Gemelli's classy interior and pastel display of frozen treats, but then our eyes were drawn to the gelateria's array of amari. We recommend the olive oil gelato (neutral in flavor does not equate to boring) to pair with any number of the aromatic liqueurs. And if you're in need of a pick-me-up, the affogato brings together gelato and espresso – or you could try the Beerfogato, which marries Austin Beerworks' Black Thunder with, say, peanut butter stracciatella. We'll saluté to that.

Gelateria Gemelli, 1009 E. Sixth, 512/535-2170,

Best Taste of Kyoto
Asahi Imports

For nearly five decades, this North Austin institution has brought the classic Japanese konbini store experience to Texas. Now it's doubled in size, and added fresh lunchtime delights in onigiri corner. From katsu sando Monday to ichigo daifuku Thursday, and home-cooked treats all through the weekend, it's a taste of home for Austin's Japanese population, and a delicious alternative to ramen and sushi for everyone else. You'll always have something to enjoy while you're shopping for saké or hunting for the perfect Gudetama blind box. Arigato gozaimasu, Asahi!

Asahi Imports, 6105 Burnet Rd., 512/453-1850,

Best Tea Party
Tea Haus

It may seem odd to begin a recommendation of a tea house by raving about the coffee, but when that coffee is a tiny miracle of sea salt creme, we have to take a detour – and then swerve a little more to praise their signature basil fried chicken and strawberry brick toast. Whatever you order, Tea Haus is a tiny oasis, perfect for checking emails, meeting a Bumble date, or catching up with an old friend. Did we mention the tea? You're going to want to order that too.

Hottest Restaurant Staff
Emmer & Rye

We don't mean to diminish the artistry behind the small plates on chef Kevin Fink's dim sum carts or the interplay of finishes in architect Kevin Stewart's bright and airy space, but – danggggg – it's difficult to notice anything other than the gorgeous men and women who populate the house. We could rhapsodize about the smoldering eyes of that one line cook or the way that one server fills out his apron, but we'll let you develop your own crush. Trust, there's someone there that you'll want to eat up.

Best Artisan Food Maker
Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria

Absolutely amazing, locally sourced meats. Their sandwiches are killer and serve to remind me why I am never going vegan. – Jerry Durham

Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria, 1912 E. Seventh, 512/524-1383,

Best Barbecue
The Salt Lick

Awwww, the pleasant drive, beautiful country serenity … the vineyards, the intoxicating smell of the barbecue … true Texas rawness. – Melvis Lara

The Salt Lick, 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood, 512/858-4959,

The Salt Lick, 3350 E. Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock, 512/386-1044,

Best Breakfast
Kerbey Lane Cafe

Again, Jesus had Kerbey Lane at the Last Supper. What many don't know is that he also had it for the Last Breakfast. Fact. – Robbie Phillips

Kerbey Lane Cafe, 3704 Kerbey, 512/451-1436,

Kerbey Lane Cafe, 13435 Hwy. 183 N. #415, 512/258-7757,

Kerbey Lane Cafe, 2606 Guadalupe, 512/477-5717,

4 more locations

Best Brewery/Distiller
Austin Beerworks

Everyone at Austin Beerworks is such a pleasure, and it doesn't hurt they have the best beer in Texas. – Paige Fincher

Austin Beerworks, 3009 Industrial Terrace, 512/821-2494,

Best Burger
Hopdoddy Burger Bar

I didn't eat hamburgers before coming to Hopdoddy. Now I'm going once a week to make up for lost time. – Erin Anderson

Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 1400 S. Congress, 512/243-7505,

Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 2438-A W. Anderson, 512/467-2337,

Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 4615 N. Lamar Blvd. #307, 512/335-2337,

Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 2600 Hoppe Trail, Round Rock, 512/310-2337,

Best Cheap Date
Torchy's Tacos

I went on my first date with my now-husband to Torchy's back when we were poor. It will always hold a special place in my heart. – Ellen Bond

Torchy's Tacos, 2801 Guadalupe, 512/494-8226,

Torchy's Tacos, 2809 S. First, 512/444-0300,

Torchy's Tacos, 4301 W. William Cannon, 512/514-0767,

10 more locations

Best Chef
Tyson Cole

Tyson is so real. Love to see him at the restaurants and chatting with guests. His creations are incredible. – Daniel Allen

Best Coffee Shop
Radio Coffee & Beer

Pretty much every situation in life can be improved with the proper application of caffeine and booze. – Joe Ballato

Radio Coffee & Beer, 4204 Manchaca Rd., 512/394-7844,

Best Desserts
Sugar Mama's Bakeshop

Honestly, I used to be pretty ambivalent about cupcakes. But when I first tasted that cream cheese frosting on a Sugar Mama's cupcake, the heavens opened up to me. I will never be the same again. – Katelyn Alexander

Sugar Mama's Bakeshop South, 1905-A S. First, 512/448-3727,

Sugar Mama's Bakeshop East, 2406-B Manor Rd., 512/912-6628,

Best Established Restaurant

If I could afford it, I'd eat there every day. For now, once a year will have to cut it. – Karen Phillips

Uchi, 801 S. Lamar, 512/916-4808,

Best Family Restaurant

Because there is always someone in your family who fucking loves Elvis. – Chelsea Fullwood

Chuy's, 1728 Barton Springs Rd., 512/474-4452,

Chuy's, 10520 N. Lamar, 512/836-3218,

Chuy's, 11680 Research, 512/342-0011,

2 more locations

Best Fine Dining

If I could afford it, I'd eat there every day. For now, once a year will have to cut it. – Karen Phillips

Uchi, 801 S. Lamar, 512/916-4808,

Best Food Truck
East Side King

🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽 – Meghan Curley

East Side King at the Liberty, 1618 E. Sixth,

East Side King, 2310 S. Lamar #101, 512/383-8382,

Best Ice Cream/Frozen Treats
Amy's Ice Creams

There are few places that make you feel like Austin more than Amy's, whether it's in the airport or anywhere around town. – Drew Ingram

Amy's Ice Creams, 1012 W. Sixth, 512/480-0673,

Amy's Ice Creams, 3500 Guadalupe, 512/458-6895,

Amy's Ice Creams, 2805 Bee Caves Rd. #416, 512/328-2697,

10 more locations

Best Late-Night Dining
Kerbey Lane Cafe

Again, Jesus had Kerbey Lane at the Last Supper. What many don't know is that he also had it for the Last Breakfast. Fact. – Robbie Phillips

Kerbey Lane Cafe, 3704 Kerbey, 512/451-1436,

Kerbey Lane Cafe, 13435 Hwy. 183 N. #415, 512/258-7757,

Kerbey Lane Cafe, 2606 Guadalupe, 512/477-5717,

4 more locations

Best New Restaurant

Interesting menu and great cocktails. The staff is super friendly and the concept is warm and inviting. Irene must be a pretty awesome lady. – Carlos Pasculado

Irene's, 506 West, 512/298-0853,

Best Noodles/Ramen
Ramen Tatsu-Ya

I've had some pretty heated arguments with close friends about this, and I feel firmly that other ramen shops in Austin can't touch Tatsu-Ya. Their broths are the most hearty and flavorful, and that's what makes it my go-to. – Ashley Gallagher

Ramen Tatsu-Ya, 8557 Research #126,

Ramen Tatsu-Ya, 1234 S. Lamar,

Best Pastry Chef
Laura Sawicki – Launderette

She has made the dessert something that makes you want it to be your birthday when you go! – Claire Frisby

Best Patio
Shady Grove

People-watching on the patio at Shady Grove during ACL Fest should be on everyone's bucket list. – Joe Ballato

Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Rd., 512/474-9991,

Best Pizza
Home Slice Pizza

There's nothing better than sitting at the bar with a PBR and feeling the heat from those ovens. – Joe Ballato

Home Slice Pizza, 1415 S. Congress, 512/444-7437,

More Home Slice, 1421 S. Congress, 512/444-7437,

Best Service

If I could afford it, I'd eat there every day. For now, once a year will have to cut it. – Karen Phillips

Uchi, 801 S. Lamar, 512/916-4808,

Best Tex-Mex/Taqueria

Because there is always someone in your family who fucking loves Elvis. – Chelsea Fullwood

Chuy's, 1728 Barton Springs Rd., 512/474-4452,

Chuy's, 10520 N. Lamar, 512/836-3218,

Chuy's, 11680 Research, 512/342-0011,

2 more locations

Best Vegan/Vegetarian
Bouldin Creek Cafe

The only thing that would make this place better is if they served the Renedict at all times, always. I could drink the chipotle pecan pesto. – Antonia Gales

Bouldin Creek Cafe, 1900 S. First, 512/416-1601,

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