Food Editor Jessi Cape's Top 10 Austin Bites
Conscious craving has always been
1) DipDipDip Tatsu-ya
It's every single menu item that has me craving this North Burnet shabu-shabu restaurant, but if I'm forced to choose, it's probably the shrimp meatballs ... or the wagyu beef dragged through the shiso kosho queso and slapped into a steamed bun. OK, just get the Baller omakase and die happy.
2) Nixta Taqueria
For those who "just don't like beets," go directly to this little East 12th Street spot. The beautiful "tartare" tostada features roasted beets, salsa macha aïoli, avocado crema, fresh horseradish, and lime, and not only is it delightful, but it also shares menu space with some of the most creative daily tacos in town.
3) Carpenters Hall
For lunch, you can't beat their chopped salad – a bright rainbow of veggies, sharp provolone, and salami. For dinner, their signature chicken schnitzel makes a big, lovely meal for two, with spaetzle and tomato salad.
4) Plow Bao
Brand-new to the Austin dining scene, Joyce Ni's all-vegan dumpling food truck at Buzz Mill Shady has somehow (black magic? bottled genie?) created delicious meatless versions of classic Chinese pan-fried pork wontons, beef dumplings, and shrimp shumai that rival any of their meaty counterparts. If you're lucky, you might even score some vegan shrimp ball soup.
5) Be More Pacific
I love this Filipino restaurant's lumpia and their longganisa tots made with fried potatoes, white queso, their signature homemade longganisa (pork-sausage crumble), and topped with spicy banana sauce and green onion. I don't know if better comfort food exists.
6) Otherside Deli
It's been almost a year since I first discovered the Roddy, their version of a patty melt with a pile of tender house pastrami (or corned beef or turkey), gooey American cheese, grilled onions, and Russian dressing on toasted rye (best to add the zesty spicy pepper relish), and I still stand by this hot sandwich. And the entire deli as a whole. Don't sleep on the potato latkes either. Just afterward.
When you've got a chef like Gabe Erales at the helm, it's no wonder Comedor's menu is constantly blowing minds and educating palates. Case in point: their bone marrow taco. The exquisite level of flavor artistry, sustainability mindfulness, and straight-up style at this Downtown restaurant is truly something to behold.
In this business, one of my greatest joys is being able to slip into a neighborhood restaurant where no one knows my name (or cares), the drinks are strong, and there is an excessive number of green plants. Vivo checks all these boxes and has my favorite tostada: a crispy corn tortilla piled high with delicious tinga chicken, shredded lettuce, sliced avocado, sour cream, and plenty of queso cotija. And wonderfully spicy table salsa with thick chips to boot!
9) Blind Salamander
Not one of my usual suspects, this Omni Barton Creek restaurant offers a killer Hill Country view and some of the most elegant seafood in town. Favorites include: smoked whitefish dip with everything bagel seasoning; burrata with beads of barrel-aged balsamic; espresso- rubbed, bourbon-glazed Texas quail; lobster mac & cheese; and chocolate silk pie. It's awfully convenient to roll myself up to the room after a feast like that.
I toyed with placing this little Italian eatery on my "Sips" list for their After Apple-Picking cocktail (rye, apple, cinnamon, Jelínek amaro), but ultimately, the rich memory of those incredibly beautiful chocolates won. The handmade truffles (salted caramel; vanilla chai) and bark (cinnamon cacao) are a perfect way to end any meal.