“I didn’t drive eleven hours across the state of Texas to watch my cholesterol“, said Robb Walsh an American food writer, cookbook author, and restaurant owner, based in Galveston, Texas. Okay, now that you’ve been warned about possible health conditions of having a trip to this famous foodie and live music place, read on to find out how to have a great time in Austin, Texas.
My trip to Austin coincided with SXSW, a Music, Film & Interactive Festivals meaning that every one of 200+ Austin restaurant was overbooked, every bar was packed and every street was buzzing with events involving techies, celebrities, bloggers and anything and anyone else you can imagine. (Barak Obama made his appearance at SXSW Interactive this year!)
Keen to explore Austin’s famous restaurant scene, no matter whether SXSW got in the way or not, I got onto the challenge of finding top gourmet spots that started as a food trucks with a fantastic team of young and quirky chefs. Hundreds of pages of search results and blog articles later, I was confused, lost and most importantly – hungry! To save you from the endless choice of Austin restaurants, I have picked 5 locations that will hit the spot and give you a flavour of this cool foodie city.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
With 2 locations in Austin and 15 locations across the country, Hopdoddy Burger Bar is a place where you will find the best burger you might ever have. Full of flavour, juicy and unbelievably delicious, the burgers are made with all-natural ingredients and are growth hormones or antibiotics-free. The fries are hand-cut site from select Kennebec potatoes and the buns are made from scratch and baked fresh all day everyday.
If you are not an avid meat eater, try Ahi Tuna Burger. A mind blowing experience for your tastebuds. Cooked to perfection (and by that I mean medium rare – see the picture below), this burger is seasoned with Sprouts, Teriyaki, Honey Wasabi, Nori Chips, Pickled Ginger, Mayo, Red Leaf Lettuce, White Onion, and Beefsteak Tomato and is probably the healthiest and most delicious specialty burger ever. There are salads on the menu too but I didn’t get to check them out. 😉
Gordough’s Donuts, Beer & Cocktails
Gordough’s is not donuts. It’s a living proof that a) you are a slave to your stomach and b) that you have absolutely no willpower whatsoever. In fact, forget Marshmallow test. Instant and delayed gratification psychology theories should be tested by Gordoughs. I personally found it impossible not to try these gourmet street food creations that bring together ingredients that you never thought you would see listed in one meal. And definitely not within your average donut menu.
My choice was a burger donut that had everything you will find in a good classic burger, plus avocado (healthy!), laid between two deep fried donuts. (I warned you about cholesterol at the beginning of this blog post didn’t I!). My friend went for a Gordough donut with deep fried chicken which for me was definitely too much even for a quirky place like this – very heavy and oily but definitely delicious for some; and a sweet banana donut that after my burger donut extravaganza could not actually compare and tasted like a ‘simple dessert’.
Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew
I can hear you (almost) screaming: ‘But what about the famous BARBECUE???’ Not impressed with the prospective of waiting for at least 4 hours at the celebrity hotspot Franklin that international and local foodie community will eagerly start queuing for at the early hours to find out that the spot ran out of the meet by lunchtime (it’s open ‘while the stock lasts), I headed to Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew following advice from the locals.
If you really love BBQ including brisket, ribs, sausages and all sorts of things smoked inside out, this is your place. Set in the historic art deco 1950s Violet Crown Shopping Center on N. Lamar, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew is designed to host a nostalgic atmosphere that transcends back to the old Austin neighborhood style eatery which combines exceptional Texas BBQ , great atmosphere, and cold Texas craft brews. The meat was delicious. My body was crying for green salad and broccoli. Don’t believe the ‘sides’ on the menu that indicate that there might be ‘salad’. There isn’t because, according to the locals, why would it?
Dolce Neve – Local Italian Gelato
If you wonder how ‘local’ and ‘Italian’ can be legitimately used to describe this gelato place in Austin, visit Dolce Neve – Local Italian Gelato where Francesca, Leo, and Marco exercise the experience Francesca gained during her formal training at Carpigiani Gelato University (Bologna, Italy) (I know, how exciting is it that there is a Gelato University somewhere!) and share their passion for the most delicious gelato in the state.
Unlike your average gelato shops, Dolce Neve only have 18 flavors that are handcrafted daily as they need them. My fig ice cream was heavenly.
One might think that getting a drink in Austin is not a big deal – after all there are streets packed with bars and music venues. However if you want to hang out in a hip area with the locals, head to the Rainey Street which Container Bar, as well as a dozen of other cool bars call home. Drinks are affordable, happy hours are calling your name and you might be lucky with the weather: Rainey Street has you covered with their outdoor spaces and fun cool crowd.
At this point I’m pretty sure I lost my ability to taste and differentiate different food flavours and digest food even though half a dozen of other restaurants that made it to my list were really impressive – both in terms of the creativity of the menu, quality of ingredients and fun vibes.
Few pounds heavier and few hours flight later, I was hitting SoulCycle and Equinox getting my body and willpower back. 🙂
Oh, and last but not least, in Austin I had a pleasure to meet my social media icon – The Grumpy Cat. I was really excited to see her. I doubt she felt the same. Ugh oh.