Food
2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks

John Anderson

Best Local Food Trend

Hmmm, while some of us old-timers scratch our heads at the concept of Tex-Mex as a "trend," we think we follow your logic here: Austin is a frisky town, where food and dating go hand in hand. That said, sushi and Tex-Mex tie for best local food trend, and our town boasts a wealth of both the classic and the new. Not only do you come off as urbane when suggesting a night of shumai and sake at any one of our readers? faves like Korea Gardens, Ichiban, Kyoto, or Kenichi, but you also maintain that hometown-hero sensibility when you save the day the next afternoon by bringing over the best hangover cure known to man; and what better hangover food is there than menudo and migas from classics like El Azteca to new joints like Taqueria Los Altos or holy shrines like Maria?s Taco X-Press?

Best Bakery

Once you master Upper Crust’s pantheon of fresh baked goods -- ranging from honeyed schneckens and marzipan pockets to great breads and lunch items -- wake up to the ultimate morning gnarl: the Texan Croissant. Take your average croissant, make it impossibly better and then add jalapeños and cheese. If you can handle that, then you are a true Texan.

Upper Crust Bakery
4508 Burnet Rd.
512/467-0102
www.theuppercrustbakery.com

Best Breakfast

If your normal sleeping habits allow you to hit up a window seat early in the day, you’ll have a hard time deciding what’s better: the food or the crisp morning atmosphere that begins after the departure of the last after-hours partier. Or, if you’re like some of us, pancakes and bacon go down real well at 3am. Open “24/8,” the “Mag” has all the standards — burgers, salads, sandwiches, Tex-Mex, homemade soups, and a 24-hour breakfast menu.

Magnolia Cafe
1920 S. Congress, 512/445-0000
2304 Lake Austin Blvd., 512/478-8645
www.magnoliacafeaustin.com

Best Caterer

Over the last 10 years, Word of Mouth has catered events from galas for the Lance Armstrong Foundation to private parties of eight. With their own full staff of chefs and bakers, all menus can be customized to span the gamut of elegance, from mini burger bars to gourmet feasts. Talk of great taste spreads quickly.

Word of Mouth
2501 N. Lamar
512/472-9500
www.wordofmouthcatering.com

Best Coffeehouse

Spider House rules! The baristas are friendly and laid-back, the atmosphere comfy and relaxing. After you order one of the usual coffee or tea drinks, or a glass of beer, wine, or champagne, you can peruse the mixture of antique-store finds decorating the inside of the converted old manse or wander outside to the wonderful garden patio, complete with sculptures, bird feeders, and wind chimes.

Spider House Patio Bar & Cafe
2908 Fruth
512/480-9562
www.spiderhouse.com

Best Diner

Once again Star Seeds captures the hearts of Austinites whose desire for diner fare is likely to strike in the wee hours that stride dusk and dawn. Still open 24 hours, with all the same features of its notoriously yummy menu intact, Star Seeds has stepped up its game by offering draught beer! All of this and a newly added patio make Star Seeds a celestial haven for both night owls and diner aficionados. Oh yeah, don't stare at the cooks; they still hate that.

Star Seeds Cafe
3101 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd
512/478-7107
www.starseedscafe.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

Best Home Delivery

Eighteen years ago owner Jackie Davies was the first in the nation to set up this food delivery service that brings your order right to your door. They now have more than 40 contracts with various restaurant chains around Austin and Round Rock, ranging from Chili?s to Dan McKlusky?s to the County Line. Deliveries usually take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, with a 15% delivery charge.

EatOutIn
4131 Spicewood Springs Rd. Ste. N-4
512/346-9990
www.eatoutin.com

Best Neighborhood Grocery

Fresh Plus offers everything from your standard provisions to high-end specialty/novelty cuisine, all in two compact, convenient, easy-to-park-in or walk-to locations: Clarksville and Hyde Park. You can get Jif or Skippy, or you can get sunflower, cashew, sesame, or almond butter; you can get Maxwell House, or you can get your organic coffee beans in little burlap bags. Convenience never tasted so good.

Fresh Plus
1221 West Lynn, 512/477-5574
408 E. 43rd, 512/459-8922
2917 W. Anderson, 512/419-7379
2401 San Gabriel, 512/524-1394
www.freshplusaustin.com

Best Lunch Hour Spot

With a variety of gourmet pizzas and sandwiches, burgers, pastas, soups, and salads, and a crew that can sling it out before your boss knows you’re gone, Central Market Cafe has something to charm the taste buds of the most discriminating and frenzied palate. The produce department of Central Market is like a store unto itself, welcoming you with an explosion of colors and aromas to rival any flower shop. The question isn’t whether you’ll find fresh produce, but rather which of five different kinds of bananas, eight kinds of pears, 10 kinds of onions, or 19 kinds of potatoes to choose from.

Central Market
Central Market North, 4001 N. Lamar, 512/206-1000
Central Market South, 4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-4300
www.centralmarket.com

Best Produce

With a variety of gourmet pizzas and sandwiches, burgers, pastas, soups, and salads, and a crew that can sling it out before your boss knows you’re gone, Central Market Cafe has something to charm the taste buds of the most discriminating and frenzied palate. The produce department of Central Market is like a store unto itself, welcoming you with an explosion of colors and aromas to rival any flower shop. The question isn’t whether you’ll find fresh produce, but rather which of five different kinds of bananas, eight kinds of pears, 10 kinds of onions, or 19 kinds of potatoes to choose from.

Central Market
Central Market North, 4001 N. Lamar, 512/206-1000
Central Market South, 4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-4300
www.centralmarket.com

John Anderson

Best Special Occasion Restaurant

Talk about your special occasions … While it’s a well-known fact that this lovely restaurant off North Loop conjures an atmosphere that transports the senses, did you know that it also offers more tangible ventures to Mexico? In collaboration with a Oaxaca gallery, Fonda offered a unique upscale tour of the Southern Mexico town this past August. More than a cool escape from our steamy summer, the package included cooking classes, morning yoga, and premium accommodations. And for those who couldn’t make the trip – the next best thing? How about reservations for two at one of Austin’s greatest legends?

Fonda San Miguel
2330 W. North Loop
512/459-4121
www.fondasanmiguel.com

Best Waitstaff

Whoa, Trigger! Whether under the direct gaze of the blazing Austin sun or in the comfy confines of the air-conditioned room that could pass for one of Roy Rogers’ lodges, the dedicated cowpokes at Shady Grove provide prompt and unwaveringly friendly service. Whatever your hungry heart desires, the staff at Shady Grove serves it all with a generous side of Texas charm.

Shady Grove
1624 Barton Springs Rd.
512/474-9991
www.theshadygrove.com

Best 24 Hour Late Night

If your normal sleeping habits allow you to hit up a window seat early in the day, you’ll have a hard time deciding what’s better: the food or the crisp morning atmosphere that begins after the departure of the last after-hours partier. Or, if you’re like some of us, pancakes and bacon go down real well at 3am. Open “24/8,” the “Mag” has all the standards — burgers, salads, sandwiches, Tex-Mex, homemade soups, and a 24-hour breakfast menu.

Magnolia Cafe
1920 S. Congress, 512/445-0000
2304 Lake Austin Blvd., 512/478-8645
www.magnoliacafeaustin.com

 
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