I am in love! I could seriously live in this city, if it wasn’t so far from Cali. It is so cute, has amazing food, fun outdoor activities & it’s warm. It was the perfect place for a babymoon. We toyed with the idea of doing a relaxing week in Kauai, but we decided that is something we could do with the baby. Austin was a great city for our last grown-up trip for awhile. We had dinner late in the evening (8 or 9pm) at amazing restaurants, that we wouldn’t have brought kids to, saw live music, went to some bars (even though, I couldn’t drink, it was still fun, because the design of all the establishments in Austin are just awesome). The food was phenomenal … The menus were adventurous, nose-to-tail cooking is huge there. It seemed like we could get pates, pork belly or something similar at most restaurants that we visited. Also, the service in Austin was impeccable… Everyone was SO nice, but not that trying too hard to give you good customer service nice. There was a very genuine friendliness about all the servers we encountered, and they were on top of it, which made the dining experience all that much better.
I had of course, researched all the restaurants that I wanted to try. We didn’t have enough time to visit them all, but here is where we ate, where the hubs drank & even a few places that we didn’t get a chance to try.
Pretty much the motto for the weekend…
24 Diner – We actually had dinner here, only because the restaurant we wanted to go to, uchiko (looked amazing & had a beautiful dining room) only takes limited reservations and had a 2 hour wait. Hungry, pregnant ladies cannot wait 2 hours to eat or they will quickly turn into very unpleasant company (or at least that is what happens to me), so we needed a backup plan fast. We had driven by this place and it was on my list, so we decided to try it. 24 Diner is inspired by diners of the 50s, minus the bad food & cheesy decor. They use local, organic produce whenever possible. They also participate in Farm to Table TX – there is a chalkboard up listing the ingredients that they are currently using from local farms. They also offer a gluten-free menu, which always makes ordering convenient and usually means more informed servers. Brooke had the hash + bloody mary, I didn’t try it, but he said it was amazing. I had the chicken salad… Which was so so good! The consistency was similar to a chicken salad that you would find in a sandwich, it had almonds, apricots, celery, red onion, ginger and tossed with a lemon vinaigrette. The flavors worked fabulously together.
South Congress Cafe – If you are in Austin, you MUST eat here. Probably the best breakfast I’ve ever had out. They do serve dinner too. Although, it was nicely decorated and designed (much like everything in Austin), I would reserve this restaurant for brunch, it just didn’t have the dinner vibe for me. There were many options that you could have easily paleo-ified. I went with the Smoked Brisket Hash. It was slow-smoked brisket marinated in a chipotle adobo sauce with potatoes, peppers, corn, cabbage and topped with 2 eggs. It was so filling that I didn’t even eat the potatoes. It did also come with homemade corn tortillas, and I did try one and it was very good.
hopdoddy burger bar – the burgers are not grass-fed, but they are hormone and antibiotic free and they grind the meat, in- house, daily (which I thought was pretty cool). I went with the Greek with no bun (they also have salad bowls) & it was delicious. It had lamb, feta cheese, arugula, pickled red onions, tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki sauce. I could have easily skipped the cheese and sauce, to have made this fully paleo, but I was going wild (haha, not really) with my food choices since I was on vacation. Brooke had the El Diablo and he quickly learned that the Texans are not messing around when it comes to spicy food. His mouth was pretty much on fire for the rest of the meal. And their cocktails with fresh-squeezed citrus looked so good. I can’t wait to go back and have one post-baby.
Food Trucks – They are EVERYWHERE in Austin. They don’t drive around, they are stationed in little trailer parks, usually with a few other food carts. I just loved the entire concept. Food trucks are an inexpensive way to try some amazing food. Plus, they were mostly in airstreams, which made it that much cuter. The food truck I was dying to try was odd duck Farm to Trailer. Everything is locally sourced and the menu changes daily. It was closed, when we tried to go. Apparently, they only serve dinner. It doesn’t specify this on their website, but if you download the food truck app, it provides the operating hours. We ended up eating at Mellizoz Tacos instead, which we had also read good things about. This actually ended up being my least favorite meal in Austin. I ordered the padre & the slow-rider, but I didn’t realize until I got my food that they use flour tortillas (not corn) for their tacos. I ended up eating a whole bunch of meatl. The marinades and salsas were good though. If you take a low-carb paleo approach, then this might be your place. I am sure there are many other amazing food trucks, but this is all we had time for.
Franklin’s BBQ – So, this place is only open for 2 hours (11-1, closed Mondays) and they have sold out of their brisket everyday that they have been open. This means, you have to be in line by 10AM. We arrived right at 10 and there was already a significant line, we were somewhere in the middle. By the time we got up to order it was 12. It ended up being a 3 hour mission, by the time we ate. We figured whatever, we’re on vacation, we have time. The brisket and the Espresso BBQ sauce were definitely worth the wait. We got the brisket both ways (lean & fatty), pork spare ribs and sausages. Ribs were bomb! We also tried, Salt Lick BBQ, which has received a lot of press, it’s been featured on the Food Network, etc. They use a mustard-base sauce, it was good (I figure probably any BBQ you have in Texas will be good though), but I didn’t think it compared to Franklin’s.
deviled eggs @ 24 Diner
Foreign & Domestic – If you are into eating fresh, seasonal food and nose-to-tail cooking, you have to go here. Every single thing we had was phenomenal. One of their specials of the night, was half a pigs head! Make sure you ask questions about the menu, the description of the appetizer I got didn’t mention anything about bread, but it came on top of some crostinis. I had squid stuffed with chorizo for an appetizer, and I had the pork belly special with roasted vegetables for my entree. Both were fabulous. My dessert may have been the real topper though. It was a basil custard (I am so figuring out how to make this) with fresh strawberries and ginger ice-cream. I think that this was the best dinner out, that I have ever had and the dessert was worth every bite!
East Side Show Room – As far as design and aesthetics, this was by far our favorite place. Every detail was done so well. We loved the ambiance, it felt like we were in an old-timey burlesque cabaret. There was a band playing music from old hollywood movies, which was so much fun. They seem to have live music almost every night. This place, wasn’t just aesthetically pleasing, the food was also great. They offer a changing menu, built around locally grown produce and sustainable farm-raised meats. For an appetizer, we shared a plate of house-made duck, beef, and pork pates & mousses with house-made mustards. For dinner, I had the grass-fed burger with no bun. There were lots of other choices, such as pork-chops, short-ribs, venison mignon, etc… But, a burger just sounded good.
*Dinner pictures are limited and terrible, it was dark & I am a rookie with the camera, but here is what i have anyway…
pork belly @ Foreign & Domestic
Places we wanted to try, but didn’t have time for…
- odd duck Farm to Trailer (gastrotruck, local, organic)
- uchi & uchiko (sushi, japanese farmhouse dining)
- Lamberts Downtown BBQ
- Justines Brasserie (french bistro, parisian comfort food, very cool scene/ambiance)
- Salty Sow (not open yet, scheduled for May, but looks amazing!) [UPDATE: I finally got to eat here on my last trip to Austin and it is soooo GOOD! Triple duck fat fries, anyone? I definitely recommend checking it out]
- Wholly Cow Burgers (grass-fed beef)
- Eastside Cafe (gluten-free menu, food fresh from their garden)
Hope you enjoy eating in Austin as much as we did!