The Year in Food

The 2014 tastes we just couldn't stop thinking about

Sawyer & Co.
Sawyer & Co. (Photo by John Anderson)

Top 10 LOCAL Trends

1) Y'ALL COME BACK NOW If 2014 happened faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, Southern food slowed us down. Whether from a humble Airstream (Red Star Southern) or an Eastside oasis (Jacoby's), pimento cheese was everywhere.

2) THE BRASSICA RING If brussels sprouts are the Margo Channing of Austin menus, then cauliflower is the conniving Eve Harring­ton. The crucifer gives the performance of its life at Lenoir, Fork & Taco, and wink.

3) PRAISE THE LARD Paula Deen may have made us all a little wary of butter, but – dagnabbit – we're not giving up fat altogether. You can even dredge your pickles through lard at Olamaie.

4) BAKE SALE This year, our favorite restaurants became gluten Rasputins, hypnotizing us with beautiful breads. Even Uchiko got in on the act. They may not have had butter knives, but that didn't stop them from serving a basil olive bread at their first vegetarian omakase.

5) BLUE-PLATE SPECIAL While there are still plenty of places to taste this gold in Aus­tin, some of the hottest joints ain't so fancy. Places like Sawyer & Co. and the new Counter Cafe served up diner classics with elevated ingredients and grease-free interiors.

6) BFFS Whether it was Micklethwait getting cozy with Austin Eastciders, Delysia Chocolatier smoking salts in Franklin Barbecue's pits, or Michi Ramen getting freaky with Via 313's pizza, Frankenstein's monster never seemed so edible.

7) HIGH CULTURE In Austin, it ain't a thing unless it has its own festival. 2014 was the year we became a fermentation nation.

8) FELL OFF THE TRUCK There are a few exceptions (La Barbecue, Thai Kun), but trailers no longer defined Austin dining in 2014. The best either broke out on their own (Garbo's Fresh Maine Lobster, the Peached Tortilla) or made food truck dining something new (Kyoten).

9) GREEN WITH ENVY Meat, schmeat. Gardner's debut at the Austin Food & Wine Festival elicited so many oohs and ahhs that soon menus all over town were featuring haute veggies.

10) UNDER FIRE If chefs' tables proved that cooking is theatre, it's no wonder that there's now some very nice stage lighting. At Dai Due and Odd Duck, wood-burning ovens not only provide nuanced flavor, but also a romantic backdrop to the story ahead.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Top 10, Red Star Southern, Jacoby's, wink, Fork & Taco, Olamaie, Sawyer & Co., Counter Cafe, Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin Eastciders, Delysia Chocolatier, Uchiko, Franklin Barbecue, Michi Ramen, Via 313, Austin Fermentation Festival, La Barbecue, Thai Kun, Garbo's Fresh Maine Lobster, the Peached Tortilla

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