Top 10 Local Tastes of Heaven on Earth

A seemingly random assortment of flavors linked by excellence

Apis (Photo by John Anderson)

1) APIS That this handsomely appointed and bee-happy restaurant is on the grounds of its own apiary a little west of the city is almost beside the point: never had better food, never experienced better service, than here.

2) CHORIZO CORNBREAD When chef Sterling Ridings of Guild isn't busy perfecting seafood, he comes up with things like this oddly brilliant brunch item: chorizo-stuffed cornbread, in the shape of a giant madeleine.

3) ESCARGOT AT ELIZABETH STREET CAFE Earlier this year, I wrote an article about the local availability of snails and I'm still completely knocked out by the always-available French-Vietnamese take on 'em at this elegant Bouldin Creek venue.

4) THE FAT JACK BURGER at Jack Allen's Kitchen – and its near-equivalent at the celebrated chef's Salt Traders joint in Round Rock – is my top pick for grilled ground beef on a bun in Central Texas.

5) EASY TIGER AT THE LINC This needs no description. What, you haven't been there yet?

6) STILL AUSTIN WHISKEY CO. As if the pristine flavors and potency of whiskeys from this excellent distillery weren't enough, now they've added gin to their sterling stable of tipples? Salut!

7) EGGS BY ETHOS For all the impressive Patrizi's-catered decadence of "Salvador Dalí's Naked Feast" at the Vortex, the simple omelettes cooked up by Chad Salvata on a small gas stove that night remain most cherished in my taste's memory.

8) AH SING DEN Ill-conceived cultural appropriation or near-genius homage to opium den debauchery of days gone by? With chef Jacqueline Agans heading the kitchen now, we'll leave that question moot and concentrate on the munching and drunkening, tyvm.

9) CENTRAL MARKET COOKING SCHOOL Some of the top chefs in the city – in, sometimes, the nation – will teach you how to make their own specialties? And you get to eat what's being demonstrated right there in the kitchen? And it's paired with wine? What's not to love, even though Cindy Haenel's left the party?

10) RAW FISH AT NOON Holy barbecued unagi, that lunchtime sushi special at Komé on Airport is exactly what my fresh-craving palate and malnourished wallet need in the middle – or beginning, or end – of a week.

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