2011 Readers Poll
2011 Critics Picks
Best 24-Hour/Late

To most Austinites, a walk down memory lane will almost surely include a walk to one of our beloved Kerbey Lane Cafes. The excellent service, quirky mix of Tex-Mex and healthier options, and unwavering dedication to giving the foggy-eyed their coffee fix ensures that Kerbey Lane Cafe will remain deep in the heart of Texas forever.

Various locations

Best Cheap Date

Trying to impress a date by showing off the coolest digs this city has to offer? Short on cash? Psh … the mustachioed mamacita at Home Slice has your back. For less than $10, you can get two slices and a soda for you and your squeeze. Afterward, you have the entirety of SoCo to romp through and canoodle in. Venue, delicious New York-style pizza, cheap price, and good Austin company.

Home Slice Pizza
1415 S. Congress, 512/444-7437
More Home Slice, 1421 S. Congress, 512/444-7437
501 E. 53rd, 512/707-7437

John Anderson

Best Farmers' Market

Every time we attend the Downtown SFC Farmers' Market, we are gripped by the urge to quit our soulless corporate jobs, sell our million-dollar high-rise condos, and head to the hills to found an organic farming cooperative and commune with the land. Loca-, herbi-, omni-, and carnivores come together to peddle and purchase at these weekly markets, creating community in an incredibly pleasant and healthy way.

Various locations

Best Food Event

Remember – there’s no crying in salsa. When it’s a battle for the best in greens, reds, and all the rest, come equipped with your bravest taste buds and plenty of water because competition is fierce under the hot Texas sun. This annual event of chiles and tomatoes is one of the world’s largest, and we think everyone wins.

The Austin Chronicle
4000 N. I-35

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Intimate Dining

You're three hours and five French 75s into another themed party at Justine's and someone has just knocked your wig askew again. As you stand your ground at the crowded bar, no one hears you above the din when you shout, "Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for; it's Champagne!" An older gentleman on your left is reciting poetry for no discernible reason, the torch singer sounds more like Édith Piaf than Piaf did, and your belly has been sated with perfectly cooked snails and perfectly uncooked red meat. This Eastside French bistro gem is affordable, elegant, and consistently perfectly done. Your garçon will be unapologetic and beautiful, your drinks will be meticulous and slow, and the music will be vintage, vinyl, and played at conversational volume. It's a great place to take a date, but you'll be back. Partying at Justine's is an adventure, too. Though you may have to fight your way to the bar, the themed special events are always well orchestrated and spangled with glitterati.

Justine's Brasserie
4710 E. Fifth

Best Local Farm

Boggy Creek was a USDA-certified organic urban farm before it was trendy to be one. Turn in at the big, red tomato sign at an unassuming driveway on the near Eastside, and you'll find hen houses, a farmhouse from the 1840s, and five acres of earthly bounty. The market stand is modest but stocked with local artisanal items and the farm's own produce harvested from either these fields or Boggy Creek's small sister farm outside Gause. Owners Larry and Carol Ann Sayle have built a small culture around their labor of love with an engaging website and blog, seasonal recipes, and even a children's book based on their chickens.

Boggy Creek Farm
3414 Lyons

Best Local Food Blog

Seeing as she recently won the Whole Foods Foodie Fantasy contest and nabbed this award last year, it shouldn't surprise anybody that Jodi Bart is again at the top of the heap. Tasty Touring serves as both a clearinghouse of reviews, profiles, and tidbits of Austin foodie news and an ever-expanding catalog of “wish you were here”s from savory destinations far and wide. Whether you need tips on where to eat in Marfa or seek a crowdsourced opinion on the best brunch in Austin or just need a gentle reminder that Nov. 1 is the best day to buy Halloween candy on the cheap, Bart knows the haps.

Tasty Touring

Best Local Food Company

We've sung Greenling's praises before, but lately it doesn't really need us to do the job: The company has seen massive growth in both its capacity to deliver organic goodness to your front door and in grocery innovation. Want to make a hearty, healthy meal but don't know where to start? Greenling's recipe kitchen has been prepping a variety of meal kits complete with all the necessary ingredients, as well as foolproof directions. Easy peas-y.


Best Lunch Delivery

The only thing that compares to the speed with which you can get in and out of a Jimmy John's location with sub and soda in hand is the speed with which you'll be devouring your delectable lunch after you've placed your delivery order – all while not losing a beat at work or play.

Various locations

Best Neighborhood Grocery

Wheatsville embodies everything you'd want from a member-owned food co-op. Placing a priority on exceptional local food products and the now-requisite organic and natural edibles, it employs a friendly, highly knowledgeable staff – some of whom have been on the grind since before you started at UT, through your graduation, and onward. Check out beer-and-wine buyer Shane Shelton's new video "Wheatsville R.O.C.K.S." if you have any doubts.

Wheatsville Food Co-op
3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667
4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888

photo by John Anderson

Best Outdoor Dining

Home-cooked eats under the shade of mighty tall pecans; afternoon breezes and nights under the fairy lights; an old black-and-white projector screen whirring in the background; music drifting through the canopy of trees; Shady Thangs, house-made Bloody Marys, cold beer, and frosty margaritas – sounds like summer camp, right? Well, that’s how Austin does patio dining.

Best Place To Take a First Date

This year’s winners remind us of that one universal truth: French equals sexy. Warm and stylishly relaxed, Blue Dahlia serves European-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients. For those, ahem, unplanned first breakfast dates, the lovely petit-déjeuner is served all day, offering blintzes, frittatas, homemade granola, and, if you’re lucky, a serenade from a traveling accordionist. Justine’s, Blue Dahlia’s boozy-sophisticate older sister, feels like frame after frame of a moody silent film. In the evening, the fading sunlight filters thickly through the windows like cigarette smoke while patrons enjoy aspèrges grillées, côte de porc, and Bordeaux Supérieur. Only the extensive vinyl collection and très Austin staff will remind you that you and your new lover are still stateside.

Justine's Brasserie
4710 E. Fifth

Blue Dahlia Bistro   Todd V. Wolfson

Best Sweets/Goodies

This South Austin bakery serves the sugar right! While the cupcake has become the trendy and ubiquitous handy confection, Sugar Mama's has the right idea with staples and daily specials. Our favorite is the Frida: cinnamon-chocolate cake topped with coffee-liqueur buttercream and cinnamon sugar. Kahlo would have been proud – proud enough to get some in her adorable unibrow, no doubt.

Sugar Mama's Bakeshop
1905-A S. First

Best-Kept Secret

In the cutthroat world of fro-yo, there's a new champeen of tangy yogurt flavors (dulce de leche, Bevoloupe) and exotic toppings (mochi, breakfast cereals), so we can't quite figure out why y'all think this West Coast chain with some serious marketing muscle is a secret. With its location in the heart of UT's West Campus and its sleek patio, this is a good people-watching perch. Weighing in at 16 ounces, TKO! Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone!

Todd V. Wolfson

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