A Foodie’s Guide to Austin
What makes Austin’s food scene so unique, attracting millions of visitors and residents year after year? The fact that there’s literally something to eat for everyone might have something to do with it. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed food enthusiast or a casual diner, Austin has a plate for every palate.
A full day needs the right kind of fuel, and there’s no better way to kick-start your morning than with a match made in bagel heaven. You may still be within Austin city limits when you visit one of the two Wholy Bagel locations, but you will feel like you’re taking a bite out of the big apple. Baked from scratch, these rings of doughy goodness are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – the way true New York-style bagels should be. Enjoy them with a savory cream cheese such as lox or sun-dried tomato & basil, or opt for something sweet such has strawberry or chocolate chip cream cheese. You can also turn them into a breakfast sandwich with your choice of meat and cheese from the shop’s deli counter or grab a Texas dozen of 14 (yes, everything is bigger in this state) to take with you. And don’t forget a steaming hot cup of Katz’s coffee – you’ll need it for the fun-filled adventure ahead.
Gone are the days of old-school diners with sticky tables, plastic condiment bottles, and yesterday’s pie. In true-to-Austin fashion, 24 Diner serves up the comfort food you’ve loved growing up, but with a local twist, using a few key ingredients to bring out a whole lot of flavor. The chicken and waffle dish, one of the restaurant’s signature fares, is baked with yeast-risen dough, butter, vanilla, and raw sugar and topped with delicious maple syrup from Vermont. The fried chicken, marinated and cooked to perfection, will definitely give you something to cluck about long after you’ve finished eating.
Move over, boring beef patty on a bun. There is a new kind of burger in town, and it’s not afraid to be different. Hopdoddy is not your ordinary hamburger “joint.” It’s a bar complete with specialty cocktails, beers on taps, and milkshakes on a mission. Freshly baked breads, farm-fresh produce and hand-cut fries (the parmesan truffle and hot honey and sage get honorable mentions) accompany a wide variety of burger-inspired creations. From bison and Kobe to chicken and plant-based, all protein bases are covered. Feeling extra adventurous? Try Hopdoddy’s own spin on sushi – the ahi tuna sandwich with sunflower sprouts, nori chips, teriyaki, honey wasabi, mayo, pickled ginger, lettuce, tomato and onion.
A trip to Texas wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the taco, an Austinite’s staple. Torchy’s Tacos knows that better than anyone, taking an unconventional approach to a beloved tradition. Stop by to satisfy the oddest of cravings, make a taco “trashy” by adding queso, sample the street corn, and check out the secret menu, home of the Ace of Spades, for more hidden twists.
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters is probably one of those places you might hear about on the so-called lists of popular recommendations. Either way, locals love it, and it’s one of the most memorable spots in town. The smell of freshly roasted beans will greet you as you walk down the patio deck and sit down on a quaint wooden bench overlooking stunning Lake Austin. If you’re lucky, you may spot a swan or two swimming about. During the holidays, you’ll be surrounded by a crowd of spectators waiting in anticipation of the Christmas Light Show, an inspiring color-meets-sound extravaganza. Cold and hot brews are always fair game, regardless of the season, and they pair well with a freshly baked pastry. For a real treat, try Mozart’s Mocha Special. It’s rich, delectable, and oh-so satisfying, especially if you have a sweet tooth!
As a visitor, you may not get a chance to taste everything that Austin has to offer the first time around. If you have a weekend to spend here, you’ll probably be tempted to take the more obvious route of exploring well-known eateries often found on tourist-friendly lists of dining recommendations, but why not take the road less-traveled and view your next meal through the lens of a local?