The Austin Chronicle

Second Helpings: Interactive Foraging Downtown

March 2, 2012, Food

Everyone has to take a break from panels and parties long enough to fuel up for the slate of evening events to come.

24 Diner This "chef-inspired comfort food" includes stuffed Swiss chard, beer cheese, and a fancy twist on fried jalapeños plus burgers, breakfast, and meat loaf. Don't forget about the milk shakes. 600 N. Lamar.

Annies Cafe & Bar The bistro burger with fries is the best bet here during the daytime, but Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 7pm, you can nab great bar food for $5. 319 Congress.

Bakerman's Patisserie and Chocolatier Indulge yourself in the morning with wonderful pastries and croissants here. 120 E. Seventh.

B.D. Riley's Irish Pub is a subtly elegant place with a real Irish feel. Great beer by the imperial pint (20 ounces) including Guinness, Bass, and Harp. Excellent pub grub, especially the fish-and-chips. Irish music on the sound system includes everything from Van Morrison to bodhran beats and fiddle. There always seem to be friendly folks bellying up to the bar. 204 E. Sixth.

Beale Street Tavern Try The King – a fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich served with Cheetos and a glass of milk. Need we say more? Okay, fried goat cheese. 214 E. Sixth.

The Boiling Pot Open for lunch on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, this place serves fresh, boiled seafood of every variety: shrimp, blue crabs, and crawfish (in season), as well as boudin, gumbo, oysters on the half shell, and red beans and rice. 700 E. Sixth.

Chez Nous Small and intimate, this grand-mère of Austin's French restaurants serves such classic bistro fare as a rustic homemade paté, croque monsieur, escargot, poisson meuniere (fish of the day in butter, parsley, and lemon juice), and steak frites to a very dedicated Downtown lunch crowd. 510 Neches.

Easy Tiger features artisanal bread (including baguettes, croissants, and pretzels), locally roasted coffee, house-made meats (sausages, corned beef, pastrami), a full bar, and more than 30 local and boutique draft beers. 709 E. Sixth.

El Sol y la Luna has a menu of breakfast specialties available all day, with omelets, tacos, and chalupas galore. Stop in on weekends for live music and late suppers. 600 E. Sixth.

Frank There's plenty to rave about here, from the chicken with bacon waffles to the mixology, but purists swear by the wonderful selection of hot dogs and artisanal sausages. 407 Colorado.

Garrido's Stop by for a two-taco plate of crispy oysters, mahimahi, or carnitas. At brunch, try the lamb-sausage omelet or just order breakfast tacos if you're in a hurry. 360 Nueces.

Hickory Street Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the sunny patio of this recently reopened Downtown mainstay. New management and decor, fresh new menu, same convenient location. 800 Congress.

Manuel's manages to be chic and casual at the same time and remains our favorite place for value-priced drinks and appetizers. Hit up late Sunday brunch for live music. 310 Congress.

Max's Wine Dive Spicy comfort food is just half the story at this Downtown wine bar. The list is affordable and varied for those dining in, and the retail area offers great specials. 207 San Jacinto.

Piranha Killer Sushi boasts beautiful presentation and an extensive sake and wine menu. Try the Love at First Sight roll. 207 San Jacinto #202.

Walton's Fancy and Staple has flowers, gifts, baked goods, and lots of coffee. Walton's own label provides the dark roast, and Hunapu, the light. The cold-brewed toddy, made with Brazilian yellow bourbon, is a favorite. The hot sandwiches include all-natural meats if you're not interested in nitrates for lunch. Grab a whoopie pie on your way out. 609 W. Sixth.

Wahoo's Fish Taco You'll feel like you're on vacation here, even if it's only for lunch hour. Regulars are addicted to the Banzai Bowl and keep coming back for tacos and Baja Rolls. 509-A Rio Grande.

Sushi Geisha This spot offers perfectly decent sushi at relatively low prices. The Spider Roll is a standout, but don't miss the vegetarian choices. 616 E. Sixth.

Truluck's The noise level and the prices are both steep here, but you'll enjoy aged beef, fresh seafood, and great salads in an elegant setting. 400 Colorado.

Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar Besides stacked enchiladas, the extensive menu offers hearty steak, chicken, and shrimp dishes flavored with a combination of Southwestern and Interior Mexican spices. 606 Trinity.

Royal Blue Grocery has excellent sandwiches, pizzas, and take-out items, besides gourmet microwavable packaged meals and a weekly wine tasting on Thursdays, 5-7pm. 247 W. Third; 360 Nueces.

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