2003 Readers Poll
2003 Critics Picks
Best Local Food Trend

Can something so entrenched in Austin's food culture as breakfast tacos really be called a "trend"? We're not sure, but our fair city's overwhelming abundance of cheap, tasty breakfast tacos is invariably one of the first things expatriates miss about Austin.

Best Bakery

For more than 22 years, the Upper Crust has offered its fresh, flaky goodness in many shapes, including fruit tartlets, rich cakes, artisan breads, and pies. A great place to gather for breakfast with friends, its wholesome, neighborhood-bakery appeal is oh-so-deliciously Austin.

Upper Crust Bakery
4508 Burnet Rd.

Best Breakfast

Whether it's a full stack drenched in syrup or a hearty cup of oatmeal, a Kerbey Lane breakfast inspires the type of appetites that are as unlimited as the variety of choices on their menu. We recommend any of their delicious omelettes, avaliable with tofu and plenty of cheese! Don't forget a side of fruit or bacon to complete your feast. Their around-the-clock menu is great at any hour and even better for those who get there early.

Kerbey Lane Cafe
3704 Kerbey, 512/451-1436
13435 Hwy. 183 N. #415, 512/258-7757
2606 Guadalupe, 512/477-5717
4301 W. William Cannon, 512/899-1500
3003 S. Lamar, 512/445-4451
2120 N. Mays St., Round Rock, 512/879-2827
701 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/879-2820
2200 Aldrich #100, 512/879-2818

Best Caterer

Again. Year after year. Scrumptious goodies presented with irresistible style are the hallmark of Word of Mouth. Many of their items are often-requested favorites, but the main thing Word of Mouth dishes out is excellence. From intimate dinners to magnificent weddings to enormous charity events, they are the last Word in catering.

Word of Mouth
2501 N. Lamar

Best Coffehouse

While both local legendary koffee klatches have delicious drinks and unique atmospheres, each has its own select comforts. For wireless Internet access with your cup of joe and the oasis of their outdoor patio, try Spider House. For people-watching to distract from those textbooks, try Little City. With locations within walking distance of campus, both provide a perfect place to study or hook up after class.

2908 Fruth

Best Diner

Star Seeds. The all-night institution, bewilderment to the uninitiated, scourge of the Sunday church crowd, server of the drunk and very drunk alike. A just, yet merciless, eatery – no, entity. Migas, you are good and plentiful. Bacon cheeseburger, we are awed by your fortitude. Breakfast taco – you are legend. Your minions strike swiftly, serving you 24 hours a day. Yea, come humbly to the altar, but expect no burnt offering.

Star Seeds Cafe
3101 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd

Best Home Delivery

We’re pleased as pepperoni and extra cheese to know you like your pizza local. Austin’s Pizza is an entirely homegrown affair but four years young, with a scrappy attitude and sumptuous pies (offering old standbys and exotics like broccoli, peanuts, and soy cheese) – and did we mention their delivery folks are the cutest in town? What if you’re not in the mood for 'za, but hate the thought of jockeying for a parking space or an interminable wait for a two-top? Why bother when the best seats in the house are on your couch, and the best food in town is but a phone call – better yet, an Internet click – away? That’s all it takes to get the likes of Chuy’s, Hula Hut, and Bombay Grill (among 2 dozen-plus local restaurants to choose from) delivered to your door, by our tie winner, EatOutIn. Better yet, the delivery drivers won’t laugh at you in your jammies; they’ve been doing this since 1986, so you can bet they’ve seen it all before.

Austin's Pizza
1817 S. Lamar, 512/717-8764
3601 W. William Cannon, 512/717-8763
10900 Research, 512/717-8767
1600 W. 35th, 512/717-8769
3638 Bee Caves Rd., 512/717-8771
2928 Guadalupe, 512/795-8888
4131 Spicewood Springs Rd. Ste. N-4, 512/346-9990

Best Neighborhood Grocery

The secret, of course, to being a great neighborhood grocery is having a neighborhood that wants one – a store that responds to its customers' needs, not the other way around. Both Wheatsville and Fresh Plus have done the job for Austin's urban pockets for more than a generation.

Wheatsville Food Co-op
3101 Guadalupe

Fresh Plus
1221 West Lynn

John Anderson

John Anderson

Best Lunch-Hour Spot

We said it before, we'll say it again: Freebirds is the best thing that ever came out of College Station. The joint that offers you burritos the size of your head (or bigger even) apparently also mandates that all new employees get heavily tattooed and pierced during orientation. Everyone is always in a good mood there. The Statue of Liberty busting out of the wall clutching a burrito is a nice, subtle touch. And their patented Bad Ass BBQ sauce is just that.

Best Produce

Part of the HEB family, Central Market has two locations with two wonderlands of produce in Austin. We counted 30 kinds of apples, 20-plus kinds of chile peppers, and more than 10 kinds of mushrooms. Not only do they have the variety and size to beat most other produce sections, the freshness is consistently better than their competitiors and is definitely worth the money.

Central Market North
4001 N. Lamar

Images Courtesy of MML Hospitality

Best Special-Occasion Restaurant

If we could eat at Jeffrey's every day, we definitely would. The candle-light ambience combined with the helpful waitstaff and magnificent culinary creations make for one hell of a special occasion. And man oh man ... those Crispy Oysters are just to die for. Dress up or dress down, and enjoy this gem of a restaurant.

1204 W. Lynn

Best Waitstaff

The slacker service common in many Austin restaurants has no place at Chez Zee. With a reputation like this Austin legend's, business is hoppin' most of the time. The waitstaff here exudes a casual elegance that is softened a bit by genuinely eager, friendly attitudes. They may dress like other waiters, but they might as well be wearing wings and halos when they're dishing out that heavenly brunch – with such items as the Crème Brûlée French Toast – you'll think you've died and gone to heaven.

Chez Zee
5406 Balcones Dr.

Best 24 Hour/Late Night

Rumor has it Kent and Diana were just hoping for a short-term solution to a fabric surplus when they opened the Mag. But once those tables got covered in the crazy collection of ends-of-bolt cloth, people started sitting at those tables, the place filled up around the clock, and the rest is history. The South Congress location is excellent for watching movie stars, rock stars, and aspiring types late at night. The Lake Austin location has a different but equally cool vibe. May we recommend breakfast tacos with chipotle and a short stack of gingerbread pancakes? (Might as well get some queso while you're waiting.)

Magnolia Cafe
1920 S. Congress, 512/445-0000

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