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Food
2012 Readers Poll
2012 Critics Picks
Best 24-Hour/Late Night

Whether your late-night cravings are for Tex-Mex, burgers, healthy entrées, or the red-eyed line cook, Kerbey Lane has you covered. Relaxing with friends over a delicious bowl of Kerbey Queso is the perfect conclusion to a night out, while the hearty breakfast fare and coffee (and the aforementioned line cook) are the perfect fuel for pulling an all-nighter.

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, Round Rock, 512/879-2827
701 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/879-2820
www.kerbeylanecafe.com

Best Beer/Wine Prices

When we found out that Austin readers awarded Houston-bred Spec's this particular honorific for the fifth year in a row, we had to do a little, uh, participant-observation research. And - hiccup - yes, you're right.

Spec's
5775 Airport, 512/366-8300
4978 Hwy. 290 W., 512/366-8260
10515 MoPac N., 512/342-6893
201 University Oaks Blvd., Round Rock, 512/341-9066
9900 S. I-35, 512/280-7400
13015 Shops Pkwy., Bee Cave, 512/263-9981
739 Old Bastrop Highway, Bastrop, 512/308-0250
3550 S General Bruce Dr., Temple, 254/771-1518
4970 W. U.S. 290 SVC Rd
www.specsonline.com

Shelley Hiam

Best Cheap Date

Rustic, romantic, European-style - Blue Dahlia breathes new life into overused restaurant-review adjectives with its winning combination of locally-sourced French cuisine, cozy decor, and moderate pricing. Whether your date prefers the candlelit interior or the enchanting outdoor bamboo garden, you'll get that classy-yet-casual vibe. For the true bargain-hunter, the happy hour Bellinis and tartines can't be beat.

Blue Dahlia Bistro
1115 E. 11th, 512/542-9542
3663 Bee Cave Rd., 512/306-1668
www.bluedahliabistro.com

Best Farmers' Market

Austin has no lack of health stores or farmers' markets, and this Eastside upstart has lured a great array of local vendors. Healthy cooking depends on fresh ingredients, and this market features seasonal vendors, like Johnson's Backyard Garden and Engel Farms, offering up the best locally grown produce. Plus, there's plenty in the way of ready-made fare from folks like Cazamance, Coolhaus, and the Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery. With live music and kombucha on tap, you can browse the veggies with a coffee, and settle in for a homemade brunch of goat cheese and pâté. Hello, Sunday, nice to meet you.

John Anderson

Best Food Event

Some like it hot, some like it hotter. Some prefer green, others red, but the one thing everyone can agree on is salsa’s rightful place on Austin’s table. Nevermind the summer swelter, Austinites gather year after year to crown winners and taste the glory. Best in show is the gift of giving, as Austin shares its love of grub with a bounty of canned food donations to the Capital Area Food Bank.

Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
www.austinchronicle.com/hot-sauce-festival

Best Food Trailer

It's not typical for a food trailer to show up in the pages of People magazine, but East Side King is far from typical. Its Beef Tongue Bun is the kind of dish that makes you want to gossip, and the Fried Brussels Sprout Salad is prettier than a starlet. We know Paul Qui won Top Chef, but the food's the real celebrity.

East Side King
East Side King at the Liberty, 1618 E. Sixth
2310 S. Lamar #101, 512/383-8382
www.eskaustin.com

John Anderson

Best Food/Groceries Delivery

We all want to eat healthier, but between improv classes, volunteering, and walking the dog, we don't have time to wait in long grocery store lines. Instead of gobbling down endless Hot Pockets, our readers know the goodness of having Greenling delivered. Their five-day meal kits are packed with gorgeous local produce and easy step-by-step instructions. Dinner without cardboard? What a revelation!

Greenling
512/440-8449
www.greenling.com

Best Intimate Dining

It's Austin's sexiest restaurant, sublime even before the first, flawless bite. It may seem odd at first to call such a large dining room intimate, but chef/owner Tyson Cole has had a little practice setting the scene. Key to the ambiance is the glistening lighting, which gives each table its own snug glow. And then there's the menu. Although all Uchiko's plates are uniformly superlative, we think their Tobacco Cream dessert has single-handedly kindled half of the city's romances. Each bite is so smoky and seductive, velvety and rich … it's positively Freudian. Share an order on your first date and we guarantee you'll make out.

Uchiko
4200 N. Lamar #140
512/916-4808
uchikoaustin.com

John Anderson

Best Kept Secret

Industrial seating and slick mirrors above the bar aren't the only things making this modern hangout a new fave. Gourmet sandwiches, pizzas, and salads ripe with farm-fresh ingredients pair well with local craft beer. Add in the kid-friendly ambience and their support of local dog charities, and you begin to understand why Austinites are gathering. We fully support a restaurant with a canine mascot and a community mindset; now pour us a Firemans 4 and let's talk toppings and tail-waggers.

Austin Terrier
3435 Greystone
512/369-3751
www.austinterrier.com

Best Local Farm

Remember that time you tried to start your own backyard garden in order to feed a house of twentysomethings and impress that hip, sustainability-obsessed fox? Harder than you thought, huh? Luckily, you can achieve your goals for local/organic/sustainable produce with none of the backbreaking labor. The fine folk at Johnson's Backyard Garden – undeniably the freshest, the best variety, and most ubiquitous on the local farm scene – know your growth potential.

Johnson's Backyard Garden
9515 Hergotz
512/386-5273
www.jbgorganic.com

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Local Food Blog

Eater Austin allows even food neophytes to sound like they work for Zagat. The Heat Map is an essential guide to where you should eat tonight and the Eater 38 lets you know where you should have a standing reservation. The writers are as sharp as Limburger, and nothing slips below their radar. Crucial reading for Austinites with taste.

Eater Austin
austin.eater.com

Best Local Food Company

There's a reason why Greenling keeps appearing on our Readers "BOA" list. They have a knack for choosing winners themselves. Their produce could easily win any county fair and their artisanal foods are the stuff of gold medals. They'll even deliver to the Chronicle. It's as if they knew they would be on this list.

Greenling
512/440-8449
www.greenling.com

Best Meal Delivery

Congratulations, David Ansel, you're bringing it home again. The soup is outstanding (as is the juice, the pasta, etc.), but the back story is just as good. It's an Austin classic, from the healthy, comfy style of cuisine to the Cinderella story of the dude who delivered soup by bicycle and ended up featured in Food and Wine.

The Soup Peddler
501 W. Mary, 512/373-7672
2801 S. Lamar, 512/444-7687
13219 Hwy. 183 N.
www.souppeddler.com

Best Neighborhood Grocery

Nothing is more refreshing on Austin's blisteringly hot days than Wheatsville's cucumber agua fresca. And nothing is more edifying on a cold winter's eve than a trip to their nutritional, yet decadent, self-serve hot bar of comfort food. Then again, few stores know Austin as well as our favorite co-op. Why do you think that is? Wheatsville's buyers are community; they're an essential cog of not only their immediate North Campus neighborhood, but this entire town. They talk to customers on the floor, as opposed to being stuck in corporate offices. It's what keeps us coming back, and why so many of our readers are owners.

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

photo by John Anderson

Shelley Hiam

Best Outdoor Dining

Willie's on the soundtrack, the fire pit is blazing, and there's a neatly-folded Mexican blanket in case you want to snuggle up. It's like being at your uncle's Hill Country ranch. Except your uncle never made rabbit and dumplings. Pure hospitality under the big Texas sky.

Contigo
2027 Anchor
512/614-2260
www.contigotexas.com/austin

Best Place To Take a First Date

It's Austin's sexiest restaurant, sublime even before the first, flawless bite. It may seem odd at first to call such a large dining room intimate, but chef/owner Tyson Cole has had a little practice setting the scene. Key to the ambiance is the glistening lighting, which gives each table its own snug glow. And then there's the menu. Although all Uchiko's plates are uniformly superlative, we think their Tobacco Cream dessert has single-handedly kindled half of the city's romances. Each bite is so smoky and seductive, velvety and rich … it's positively Freudian. Share an order on your first date and we guarantee you'll make out.

Uchiko
4200 N. Lamar #140
512/916-4808
uchikoaustin.com

John Anderson

Best Sweets/Goodies

Established in 1999 by two UT sophomores, Tiff's Treats continues to delight students with fresh-from-the-oven cookies and brownies. Luckily for the rest of us, there are now three Austin locations; and if you want to spread the love even more, you can have these delicious treats delivered to your friends, accompanied by a special-occasion balloon.

Tiff's Treats
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
www.cookiedelivery.com

 
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