Food
2007 Readers Poll
2007 Critics Picks
Best 24-Hour/Late

Fear not when the munchies monster attacks! We live in a real city, with options far from golden arches. The culinary freedom to choose between gingerbread pancakes or some wild stir-fry concoction 24 hours a day is the true cosmopolitan experience. The friendly staff at Magnolia Cafe is always on call with their mixture of soul food, health food, and everything in between. Mmmmm … Love Veggies.

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

Best Brunch Crowd

The delicious and abundant brunch menu at this converted 19th century saloon attracts a diverse and colorful crowd composed of power-players, tourists, and all sorts of Austinites who crave Moonshine's uptown, down-home style of comfort vittles. Brunch seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The all-you-care-to-eat buffet is $13.95, and for that morning belt of white lightning, Bloody Marys and mimosas are $3.50.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
303 Red River
512/236-9599
www.moonshinegrill.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Cheap Meal

It's easy to keep the wallet as full as the belly with Tamale House's generous 85-cent breakfast tacos. Airport Boulevard's beloved, unassuming shrine to the taco gods keeps prices down and service speedy with low overhead and a streamlined operation. Place your order, marvel at how cheap you made out, fill your own salsa cup, and wait with bated taste buds for your number to be called. "Number 71!" never sounded so satisfying.

Best Coffee/Tea Selection

From the original on Lamar, the local coffee minichain has become as much a part of Austin as guitars and bats – there's even a Java at City Hall! Now, with their soon-to-open outlet at the airport, Austin Java's rich, dark brews and oh-so-scrumptious all-day menu could be the first stop for visitors flying in and the last taste of the 512 before they fly out. But whether you're getting it served on their hardwood floors or taking a catering delivery at your door, raise a mug of locally roasted joe and remember why they've become local faves.

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Expensive Restaurant

Some lovers want diamonds; some want pearls – but all want Uchi. Fit to be saved for the most special of occasions, the famous omakase, a multicourse house specialty, is perfection. Plate after plate of gorgeous fresh fish, flown in from Japan daily, are chopped with ultimate precision and exquisitely combined with seasonal ingredients for unique presentation. The ultimate in culinary delight: pricey. Every bite: priceless.

Uchi
801 S. Lamar
512/916-4808
www.uchiaustin.com

Best Farmers' Market

As one of the Top 5 farmers' markets in the nation (according to Eat Well magazine), Sunset Valley starts your Saturday off right with an amazing selection of homegrown goodness: From candles to coffee to soap to organic pesticide, it's all there and all local. And of course, there's the produce. Check out this season's variety, with our unpredictable fall rendering both warm and cool season crops. You'll feel as fresh as a butterfly and eager to get back home to start tossin' that salad.

Barton Creek Farmers Market
2901 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/280-1976
2323 S Lamar, 512/280-1976
www.bartoncreekfarmersmarket.org

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Local Food Company

Local organic food delivered to your door and reasonably priced? Too good to be true? Nah. This is Austin, and the eco-friendly sustainable food fairies at Greenling are for real. They offer a great deal on all your produce needs, which you can pick yourself or let the experts choose with one of six different boxes. Top picks are the Local Box filled to the brim with seasonal organic produce and, sometimes, delicious nonproduce treats like local chocolate. Or the Longhorn Box stuffed with study fuel consisting of healthy snack-ready veggies and fruit, baby carrots, and Texas pecans. For farm-fresh taste, look no further than your computer.

Greenling
512/440-8449
www.greenling.com

Best Locally Produced Food

Nothing beats a Sweet Leaf Tea with a hefty cup of ice. That's why they're abundant at festivals like Austin City Limits – because they're so friggin' refreshing! Not to mention darn good mixers (try a Tito's Sweeto). They've blown up like no one's business, quenching the desire for something other than soda. On one of the oldest estates in Austin, Boggy Creek Farms keeps it real and way down to earth, with an array of seasonal fruits and veggies, as well as other locally produced products such as Rainwater from Dripping Springs, tofu from White Mountain, and a much-loved henhouse with its own autobiography and family tree.

Boggy Creek Farm
3414 Lyons
512/926-4650
www.boggycreekfarm.com

Sweet Leaf Tea
515 S. Congress #700
512/328-7775
www.sweetleaftea.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Lunch Delivery

While the perfect box lunch from Jason's isn't a cure for a case of the Mondays, it's a standard office favorite for a very good reason – fresh, quality meals and service that continue to rock the corporate grid. Potatoes bigger than your head, bright colorful salads, and desserts to diet for. A bowl of steaming-hot tomato-basil soup? The ideal salve for the chilly confines of your cubicle.

Jason's Deli
1000 E. 41st #940, 512/453-8666
3300 Bee Caves Rd., 512/328-0200
13729 Research, 512/258-7888
10225 Research #1010, 512/345-9586
www.jasonsdeli.com

Best Neighborhood Grocery

It’s no secret that Austinites love organic foods, local produce, and international specialties. They also love the local groceries that bring them these items. Fresh Plus focuses on specialty items and freshly prepared snacks while also stocking traditional fare, and Wheatsville Co-op emphasizes organic, natural foods and made-to-order sandwiches without forgetting its customers’ familiar favorites. Both offer great delis and service – no wonder the neighbors heart them!

Fresh Plus
408 E. 43rd
512/459-8922
www.freshplusaustin.com

Wheatsville Food Co-op
3101 Guadalupe
512/478-2667
www.wheatsville.coop

Best Outdoor Dining

Walking under a melt of sunlight to a shady waterin' hole for a chicken-fried steak and ranch salad … we'd say that's about as Texas as it gets. Under the spreading pecan trees, the appropriately named Shady Grove walks the walk – or more precisely, chills the chill (Shady Thang margarita? Yes, please) – and has been as rock-steady on the beloved Barton Springs strip as the boulders which decorate her walls.

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

Best Place to Meet for Lunch

From the original on Lamar, the local coffee minichain has become as much a part of Austin as guitars and bats – there's even a Java at City Hall! Now, with their soon-to-open outlet at the airport, Austin Java's rich, dark brews and oh-so-scrumptious all-day menu could be the first stop for visitors flying in and the last taste of the 512 before they fly out. But whether you're getting it served on their hardwood floors or taking a catering delivery at your door, raise a mug of locally roasted joe and remember why they've become local faves.

Best Place to Take a First Date

Is it the lush patio? The tinkling of the piano when you're nestled in a cozy booth? Or maybe it's just their divine arrabbiata? Whatever the secret is, Romeo's has got it in spades. Definitely kitschy with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, red hurricane candles, and plastic grapes hanging from a lattice ceiling, the warm atmosphere of Romeo's is ultimately very familiar and evokes nostalgic romance. The lack of pretense is charming; the menu is easy to read, understand, and pronounce and filled with reasonably priced entrées, so it's a realistic first date for many of us, as well.

Best Restaurant Food Trend

Everyone knows organic is orgasmic. But if you’re chomping on a pesticide-free apple from Australia, think of all the fuel burned getting it onto your plate. Not so eco-friendly now, eh? But chefs are increasingly mixing organic food with a good measure of locally grown produce. Voilà! Eco-friendly eats when you dine out, not just in your own kitchen.

 
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