It's only been open a little more than a year, but you wouldn't know it by the crowds of caffeinated fans that pack this 24/7 Eastside coffeehouse. Owners Stephanie and Steve Williams have created a nice lounge space with one-of-a-kind beverages – including a menu of choice mocha delights named for classic novels – and a tasty selection of items for noshing, including noms from Torchy's Tacos, Hoboken Pies, and Russell's Bakery (to name just a few). With a gazillion places to plug in, Bennu has quickly become a favorite with students (it's the closest 24-hour joint to the UT campus, the Williamses note), techies, and Twitterers alike.
To say the menu at Cherrywood Coffeehouse is extensive is an understatement – as is calling this Eastside restaurant just a coffeehouse. Seriously, what coffeehouse boasts such great grub? Sure, some might feature tasty tidbits rolled in and reheated from other great Austin food haunts, but Cherrywood – led by chef Kevin Jackson (the Woodland, Shaggy's) and owner Ryan Marks, a Louisiana boy – fires it up fresh to order. This burger is heavenly, juicy, and grilled to your specs, wrapped in a sweet bun and covered with all the trimmings, plus the options of grilled onions, mushrooms, etc., should you so desire. Plates naturally come with fries, the crispy outsides dusted with rocky salt.
Arrested Development went to the TV sitcom graveyard years ago, but its dream of a frozen banana stand still lives on. Actually, Bananarchy's prime motivator, it seems, is in uplifting the neglected banana's profile in the ongoing dessert wars (the website raises a fist at the "Cakeists" and the "Ice Cream Echelon"). So, to recap: fomenting revolution, one frozen banana at a time. It's a new world order … and we'd like ours with sprinkles on top.
Cupcakes may be all the rage again this year, and there are some clever vendors out there that would have you believe they have the tastiest cupcakes of them all. But we'd like to submit the cupcakes whipped up by Maritza Lujan of Four Pink Dragonflies for your consideration, because she's totally sold us. The dreamations from Lujan's kitchen will have you believing that she stirred some secret potion into her little treasures. And as if delicious were not enough, she also has an eye for color and decoration that will make you squeal before you faint at first bite with that luscious rush that feels like falling in love. Alas, Four Pink Dragonflies has no place to hang her shingle (yet), but you can order her tasty goodies by phone or e-mail. You're welcome.
Sure, Austin has had a relatively mild summer. A mild Austin summer is still ludicrously hot. GoodPop to the rescue! Using all natural ingredients, evaporated organic cane juice, and agave nectar as a sweetener, these paletas aren't your average hot-day cure. Mango chile and El Cucuy (lime, cucumber, and chile) are amazing flavors for sure, but require an ice-cold beer to be enjoyed to the fullest. The real treasure is the watermelon agave. So crisp it crackles in the back of your throat, this popsicle beats even the most serious of Austin temperatures. Catch them at Barton Springs, or let them come to the rescue at one of our city's many music festivals.
Four family farms in Central East Austin and Farmhouse Delivery's Elizabeth Winslow organized this tour, harking back to the days when their neighborhood was well-tended and productive agricultural property. Several hundred people paid to tour Boggy Creek Farm, HausBar Farms, Rain Lily Farm, and Springdale Farm, tasting dishes made from farm produce and sipping local brews. Guests reconnected with Austin's agrarian past while embracing our delicious present and hope for a bountiful future. Eight thousand dollars in proceeds benefited the crucial work of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.
Count us among those who were very surprised when the Sunset Valley Farmers' Market up and moved to a prime location in the Barton Creek Square mall parking lot on a week's notice in the early spring. Instead of signaling the end of a popular market in Sunset Valley, the internal squabbles that caused the move actually gave birth to three vibrant area markets. The Sustainable Food Center stepped in to re-create a market in Sunset Valley, the renamed Barton Creek Farmers' Market (née Sunset Valley) is flourishing in its new scenic hilltop location, and the new market in Cedar Park is so successful it recently moved to the parking lot at Lakeline Mall. Farmers' market shoppers all over the Austin metro area are the winners every Saturday, 9am-1pm.
Whether these meat products are called charcuterie (French), salumi (Italian), or artisan sausages (American), we are so down with this tasty retro trend in the craft of butchering and preserving meat. The chefs at these local companies are mastering the art of preserving meats, turning pork, beef, lamb, and seafood into delectable dishes that can be purchased at farmers' markets around the city. Locavore chef Jesse Griffiths hot-smokes meats that are sustainably raised in Central Texas. Chef Lawrence Kocurek uses time-honored French techniques to create sausages with everything from local pork to Gulf seafood. Salt & Time's Ben Runkle is the new kid on the block, curing meats in the Italian tradition. We salute their work and are hungry for more.
Were the Goddess of Liberty to jump down from her perch atop the Capitol dome and set up shop at the corner of 11th & Brazos, at some point, she'd probably enjoy a nice, "cents"ible lunch at this delightfully utilitarian Downtown diner. After one of the revolving Messhall daily specials (such as lasagna, chicken-fried steak, or barbecue ribs), you might catch her smacking her lips and rubbing her belly. Then she'd probably utter (in the spirit of her NYC sister): "Give me your time-crunched, your working poor, your hungry masses yearning to eat, pretense-free!" The only wretched refuse will be the plate you lick clean and the napkin that catches your glee.
So it's the weekend, and you've got big plans ahead that could be impaired by a brunch of mimosas and eggs Benedict and lord knows what else. It's time for the perfect bagel. Crusty on the outside, lofty, dignified dough on the inside: This is what you've been waiting for in Austin for years. Plus, you get to feel virtuous for picking up a Texas dozen of 14 to keep you in breakfast for a week, especially because you got up early before all the good flavors sold out.
Wish you could eat tasty, healthy meals every day without all the shopping, chopping, cooking, and cleaning involved? Of course you do and now you can, because the fairy godmother of busy, hungry, fit (or aspiring to be) people has finally waved her wand over Austin, making all these magical places appear where you can just walk in, grab fresh, calorie-controlled meals from the cooler (or even several days' worth, including snacks), and eat like a movie star with a personal chef any time you want. No time for the walking-in part? Check out these take-out trendsetters' websites for delivery details, along with vegan, gluten-free, and other options as well.
The almost salty snap of the shortbready crust provides the perfect foil for the one-two sugar punch of the meringue and rich wall of chocolate. Judy and Amber Chandler know how to make a pie, and their chocolate cream is just the tip of the sweet tooth. The tiny shop, located next to the U.S. Post Office on Main Street in Bastrop, is as down-home as their Apple Crunch Pie, a bit of a riff on the traditional favorite, with hearty oatmeal, caramel, and pecan topping. They also bake tangy Southern fruit pies, custard pies to make your momma cry, and a fudge pecan wonder that will have you pricking your fingers to check for sugar shock. A short scenic drive (if you indulge and take the lovely winding FM 969 east) will land you in this pie-porium and give you the chance to explore our small-town neighbor across the edge of the county line.
Somehow filling yet refreshing at the same time, this staple snack of Maharashtra, India, is made with love and consistency by New India Cuisine owner Annu Shinde to guarantee that each perfectly crispy, turmeric-yellow bite, cooled with your choice of mint or tamarind-date sauce, will be just as mind-blowing as the last. We highly suggest a fresh ginger soda to wash down all that exotic comfort food goodness.
This sassy and classy upscale urban club in Lincoln Village serves up some serious cuisine. Just order the po'boy. It's one of the yummiest in town. Tender, lightly battered whole shrimp or hunks of catfish, hearty, chewy roll, spring greens, juicy tomato, and … hold up! What's this? They call it MoJoe, and it packs some serious mojo – perhaps aioli, but definitely aaaaaaiii! The MoJoe Room's take on a Louisiana rémoulade is simple, but spread across a sandwich or used as a condiment for hush puppies and fries, adds an effective kick that sends these already generous concoctions into Superdome TD territory.
Just take a seat at one of Pacha's homey wooden tables surrounded by Andean art, and it will come as no surprise that this coffeehouse is the keeper of a major secret: the Pacha Latte. Delightfully cozy when warm and refreshingly perfect when cold, this latte has it all. It's sweet and richly subtle, and after many thwarted attempts at trying to figure out what makes up this holy latte, all we know is that Pacha has one of the best-kept secrets in town.
What sets Bam's apart is that the ingredients have been stuffed inside the burgers. The kitchen staff starts with hickory-smoked, 100% pure beef patties, then fills them with the freshest ingredients around, and the flavors just explode. Like it kinda spicy? Try the Hatch Chile Burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, and, of course, Hatch chiles. Bam's also makes a decent chicken-fried steak, as well as a number of other dishes. It's a laid-back place with a nice biergarten, live music, and great service. Well worth the drive.
This 12-week intensive course offers an in-depth study of the history and practice of cocktail mixology – everything from the knowledge of individual spirits to classic cocktail recipes. To graduate, students must fill in a cocktail passport at various locations around the city, pass a 100-question written test, and successfully make three cocktails (out of a possible 25) for a panel of judges in the practical exam. Presented by instructors David Alan and Lara Nixon, the courses are offered spring and fall, with special summer short courses thrown in for good measure. Advanced and professional courses will be added to the curriculum soon. Better cocktails all over town? We'll drink to that!
While so much of our beloved slacker mecca insists that pouring some cake mix into a fluted piece of paper is worth that dig into your pocket for this month's last Abe Lincoln, Tamale House has your back through this nutty cupcake trend. In the spirit of its beloved 85¢ taco come these hand-decorated delights in an array of neopolitania: white frosting on chocolate cake, strawberry on yellow, strawberry on chocolate, chocolate on strawberry – the combos seem limitless (you'll find there are actually nine possible flavor combinations if you passed third-grade math) and each only costs one dollar. Even after your eyes bug out at the cheap lunch, you can add one of these beauties and still have a few presidents left 'til payday.
It's always worth a stumble over to the small gift shop on the grounds of Austin's venerable Eastside Cafe. Why not knock out some shopping for some adorable corn-cob holders in the shape of wiener dogs or some pads for your knees for "gardening" while cautiously holding back the drool, awaiting your artichoke manicotti or Elaine's Blue Plate special? Just watch out. Those sneaky lasses at the Eastside have planted samples of their harrowingly addictive chocolate chip cookies on the counter. Yup, the same counter where they sell the insanely delicious devils, each individually wrapped in wax bags. Damn it! The first hit is always free!
You know it happens. You're hungry, Downtown, and only have a couple of bucks left in your pocket. You don't want a hot dog or a burger cuz you don't want to contribute to global warming, deforestation, or factory farming, but you need a solid meal to help you bounce the night away. Nuevo León has just the thing. A delicious side of black beans and a side of yellow rice together make a generous portion that serves as a whole meal. It totals less than $2.50 and will keep your sassypants dance energy going for hours and hours. The place has been family-owned and -operated for almost three decades, so you're not only totally environmentally conscious and budget-minded, you're also keeping it local.
Jim-Jim's is a little slice of icy heaven, an Austin institution that purveys the ultimate frozen treat. If a frozen virgin margarita and a fruit smoothie could reproduce, they might create something close to this oxymoronically named "water ice." If it's not really famous, it should be. Do yourself a favor and try the strawberry lemonade; it will seriously put a dent in your sno-cone loyalty.
With a menu this intimate, you might want to first shower and powder up your parts. Tomodachi has a playful menu with rolls like 4 play, xXx, and Say My Name!. The Volcano, with the simple description: "wow!!!! U will love it!!!" is the most fun to eat as it comes out on a flaming plate. Every night, Tomodachi has a list of specials ranging from fresh Ginger Tuna to Naked in the Bathroom (an exquisite three-fish roll wrapped in wasabi-dipped cucumber). Don't be shy, we all secretly want to try that Screaming Orgasm!
For those of us too broke, impatient, and badly dressed to sit through one of Austin's many fine Indian dining experiences, there's Tarka, Clay Pit's hot-younger-sister restaurant. Choose-your-spice-level curries, crispy naan, huge biryani bowls, fragrant rice, and thick lassis are prepared fast and consumed even faster. Oh, and everything on the menu is less than $10.
Why does Kerbey Lane’s 24-hour-diner goodness epitomize Austin? Is it the way that West Lake moms and drunken UT undergrads come together at Kerbey to enjoy pancakes, burgers, home fries, and everything in between? The laid-back, interestingly tattooed staff, always happy to oblige special requests? Or maybe it’s just the famed queso that is the glue that holds it together and keeps us coming back.
There's Tex-Mex, and then there's Austin, Tex-Mex, and it's the latter this tasty taco joint has perfected. These tortilla titans have a sense of humor (see menu items like the Dirty Sanchez and the Trailer Park); show your date you've got one, too, by ordering your tacos "trashy." He'll get your drift.
Although it recently relocated to the Barton Creek Square back lot, this market has provided the connection between Texas farmers and South Austinites for almost 13 years. From High Country Bison and Caskey Orchards peaches to kettle corn, kombucha, and jewelry, this Austin institution offers something for everyone.
Barton Creek Farmers Market, 2323 S Lamar, 512/280-1976
When it comes to hot ways to partake in this city's many food events, two beloved perennials come to mind: The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival features hot items in the most literal sense, and AIDS Services of Austin's Dining for Life program is the local restaurant community's piquant way to boost the nonprofit's coffers – and all we have to do is choose to eat out.
North Lamar's Wink serves as the definition of intimate. You're going to be in very close quarters while dining, but after a few glasses of wine you'll hardly notice, and the delectable menu is a nice diversion too. Over on the Eastside, the French-inspired Justine's has a bit more legroom and later hours, and the low light and vintage feel are perfect paired with a chocolate pear tart or charcuterie plate.
Calendar-makers argue over whether Sunday or Monday marks the start of the week, but ours begins Saturday mornings at this Eastside gem, where fresh greens, henhouse eggs, Larry's legendary smoke-dried tomatoes, and more nourish our tummy and our soul. Think "nommm" meets ommmmmmmm.
We love to dial up this popular food blog on Tasty Tuesdays, a weekly feature showcasing local favorites which lately has kept us in the burgeoning loop of food-trailer mania. You'll also find Jodi Bart's charming anecdotal "Tasty Bits" posts, recipes, and restaurant reviews, so you won't have to dread the dinnertime question, "What do you want?"
Consistently good delivery service and beautiful organic produce have kept Greenling a readers' favorite four years running. Don't be overwhelmed by the selection; the Quick Shop Baskets will get you started. Top picks are the Local Box, overflowing with seasonal organic produce, and the Longhorn Box for maximum brain power with snack-ready veggies and fruit, baby carrots, and Texas pecans. Follow @Greenling_com on Twitter for this week's bounty.
Our readers know that behind the spectacular typography employed to promote this chain's sammichy wares, the freshly created comestibles themselves, delivered direct to your stomach's current ZIP code, are meat-and-veggie-packed heavyweights that can knock hunger for a loop without coldcocking a student's (or a harried office-worker's) wallet.
Since its renovation and expansion, Wheatsville has re-embraced the idea of community. As the landscape of Guadalupe has changed in the past few years, so has the veteran food co-op, and the updated interior and exterior signal that. However, the same friendly vibe is just within its doors; the biggest difference is that the aisles and food selections are a little bigger now.
Wheatsville Food Co-op, 4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888
For the sixth year running the readers' mandate stands: Shady Grove's twinkling canopy, barbecue, Hippie Sandwich, and stone patio make us happy on both sunny days and summer nights. Go by on a Thursday night for the Unplugged live music series.
A friend once told us that at Uchi, it's not just about a reverence for raw fish; it's about a delicate balance of flavors, an attention not just to all five senses but to all five taste sensations – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and that most furtive and flirtatious of the five: umami, or savoriness. As any good romantic comedy will tell you, you may reel in your would-be lover with a shared taste for the finer things in life or a flair for racy repartee under the influence of hot sake, but you and your new squeeze will need to ply every corner of the palate – not just the sweet and savory – to get you to that second date and beyond.
We've all heard the University of Texas slogan "What Starts Here Changes the World," and this has proven true in at least one case — Tiff's Treats, the brainchild of UT grads Tiffany Taylor and Leon Chen. Delivering delicious fresh baked goods at all hours of night and day, Tiff’s has changed the way we crave.
While these gems aren't exactly hidden (they each have their loyalists), they are less obvious than more crowded contenders. And therein lies added appeal. St. David's Cafe Divine is an air-conditioned respite in the heart of Downtown offering free wi-fi (boasting a "higher connection," ha-ha!), hot coffee, cold libations, sinful brownies, sandwiches and wraps, and walls of books and gifts. The Sandwich Joint is a hip li'l Burnet Road staple featuring hearty (and oh-so-affordable) "Daily Hook-up" lunch specials with names like Its-a-Gouda, Knuckle Sandwich, and Gobble Gobble. Both have earned our readers' desire to make them more well-known. Well, the secret's out now, baby.