With Austin officially now hosting A LOT more people in town thanks to SXSW, the city’s restaurants are banking on the increase in business. With SXSW beginning today, everyone is buzzing with festival plans. The parties. The shows. The drinking. But what about the eating? Austin is a city of hidden gems and among those gems are restaurants and food trucks. Make no mistake, I have barely begun to chip away at the long list of fine eateries in Austin. But I’m looking under every rock I find and a new place I love seems to pop up every few days. But since so many people will be in town over the next week and a half, and since they’ll all have to eat something, here’s a little list of my personal favorite places to eat in Austin. In no particular order, other than the order of decadent memories that come to mind:
1. East Side Showroom.
The East Side Showroom is like Moulin Rouge meets antique store meets 1920s meets great food. The cocktails are a little pricey (for Austin), but once you have one, you’ll understand why. The food is good, the art is eye-catching, the wine is savory, and the decor is romantic. And, like most places in Austin, they sometimes have live music. The food as been described as “rustic French with a soul food flair” and I second that.2. El Chilito.
El Chilito is a cute Mexican food stand up the street from me. There’s a big mustache outside that doubles as a see-saw. The food is amazing. My favorite: the fish tacos. You can’t sit inside El Chilito, there’s no space. But they have picnic tables outside in both covered and uncovered areas.
It may seem silly for me to put a ‘fast food’ joint on this list, but, I kid you not, P.Terry’s is one of my favorite discoveries since moving to Austin. It’s a burger drive-thru but here’s the difference: They’re local to Austin. They use hormone and antibiotic free meat. They only buy vegetarian-fed meat. They offer (delicious) veggie burgers. Their french fries start out as potatoes (not frozen) in their kitchen and they’re fried in 100% canola oil with no trans fat or hydrogenated oils. Their produce is organic and delivered fresh every morning. They offer wheat buns. What does this mean? Well, it means you can really taste the difference (like REALLY), and also that you can finally eat some fast food and not feel so crappy about it.
4. Home Slice.
I’ve only been outta NYC and in Austin for 5 months, so when it comes down to pizza, I’m still a New Yorker. And where the hell do I get a slice? At home slice. The stuff is good. I’m not sure if I can safely say “as good” or “the same”, but, put it this way: I’m satisfied upon that last bite. And, for what it’s worth, East Side Pies is also very good.
There’s nothing healthy about a food truck blasting music filled with people ready to make you your dream donut on demand, but there is something glorious about it. Gourdough’s is just that: a truck where you can order whatever kind of donut you want, included customized donuts. Hang tight while they make your sweet treat and remember this: one is enough for two. Or three.
I’m leaving out a bunch of favorites, but these are the first five that come to mind. Have Austin dining suggestions? Leave them for us in the comments so our Austin-going readers can dive into the goodness.