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
2901 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/280-1976
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.
The Austin Chronicle
4000 N. I-35
6505 Airport Blvd.
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.
1014 N. Lamar
4710 E. Fifth
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.
Boggy Creek Farm
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
3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667
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.
801 S. Lamar
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.
1806 Nueces, 512/473-2600
11011 Research, 512/349-2200
3201 Bee Caves Rd., 512/519-3300
117 Louis Henna Blvd. #130, Round Rock, 512/808-4300
4301 W. William Cannon #210, 512/687-6800
1235 E. 51st, 512/813-7100
4701-B Highway 183-A, Cedar Park, 512/975-7170
5145 FM 620 N., 512/817-4500
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.
St. David's Episcopal Church
301 E. Eighth
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