Kate Thornberry's Top 10 Recommendations
1) Peach Creek Farm's All-Berkshire German Sausage: All of Peach Creek's pork products are amazing; however, their perfectly seasoned German-style sausage is the epitome of Central Texas sausage. Berkshires are prized for their tender and flavorful meat, and in addition, Peach Creek's herd is free-range. The hogs are butchered only a few days prior to Saturday's Downtown Farmers' Market, making it (probably) the freshest sausage you have ever tasted in your life (market hours 9am-1pm).
2) Jo's Hot Coffee: There's a reason people are willing to sit outside at Jo's in the dead of winter and in the inferno of midsummer. Jo's makes the best: full-bodied, rich, and strong. They don't skimp on the espresso, and the baristas all know how to make every beverage perfectly (1300 S. Congress, 444-3800).
3) Pure Luck Goat Cheese: Pure Luck sets the standard for chèvre, and their cheese has become a staple for many Austinites, including myself. Mild, brightly fresh, and creamy, Pure Luck Chèvre is one of our best local products (and is quickly becoming nationally renowned). Available at Central Market, Whole Foods, Wheatsville Co-op, and at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market.
4) Top Notch: The Top Notch Restaurant on Burnet Road has remained unchanged and unchanging since 1971. As Austin has grown around it, Top Notch has gone from nicely modern to an anachronism to retro chic, simply by remaining true to itself. The whole time, their Longhorn Special has been the best hamburger in town, and it remains so. Two patties of quality beef broiled over charcoal, double cheese, lettuce, and tomato; it tastes like eternal summer. Everything Top Notch makes is made with care; the fries are crisp, the iced tea is fresh brewed, the onion rings are homemade, and everything is clean and cheerful (7525 Burnet Rd., 452-2181).
5) Sweetish Hill's Black-and-White Cookies: Among the many enticing bakery items at Sweetish Hill, it is easy to overlook these modest chocolate and vanilla cookies. They are, however, perfect. Crumbly, buttery, and light, yet intensely flavorful with a rich, chocolaty finish. Best cookie of 2006, no question about it (1120 W. Sixth, 472-1347).
6) Enoteca's Calimari Sandwich: The calamari at Enoteca is tender, crisp, and light. It's piled generously into a soft white roll with plenty of tartar sauce, and there's nothing like it. It is perfection and, for $8, a bargain, too (1610 S. Congress, 441-7672).
7) Boggy Creek Farm Stand: If you don't grow your own vegetables, Boggy Creek is where you want to buy them. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm, Boggy Creek always has the best of the season: greens, lettuces, vegetables, and flowers (and eggs, if you get there early!). Even the best organic supermarket produce doesn't compare to vegetables picked mere hours before. Added bonus: What you buy at Boggy Creek keeps a long time, because it hasn't been shipped (3414 Lyons, 926-4650).
8) Curra's on Oltorf: For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Curra's has pulled ahead of the pack for authentic Mexican food in Austin. The quality is superb, and the kitchen is consistent. Even the most difficult sauces are always perfect, and the price is right (614 E. Oltorf, 444-0012).
9) Texas French Bread Bagels: There is a lot of lovely artisan bread available in Austin, but no one's bagels are as fresh, chewy, soft, and authentic as TFB's. Available in sesame seed, poppyseed, and plain; get them early, because they sell out every day (Texas French Bread locations: 2900 Rio Grande, 3213 Red River, and 1722 S. Congress).
10) Grind-Your-Own Nut Butters at Whole Foods: This is so much fun, and you get the freshest possible product. Not only can you grind your own peanut butter, you can grind your own cashew butter, chocolate peanut butter, raw almond butter, roasted almond butter, and more! Say goodbye to separated, stiff nut butters; you can get as little or as much as you need, so it doesn't have time to separate. Plus, you're allowed to taste them all before you decide which one to get.