Way before people sold crème brûlée on the sidewalk, there was great street food thriving in Oakland that didn't involve tweeting or "liking" on Facebook. Here's a look at two of the highlights of our tour of the Fruitvale neighborhood. WATCH THE VIDEO
We went to Austin right before the mania of SXSW, and despite working superlong days and freezing half the time, we were reluctant to hop a plane back to the Bay Area. The biggest reason: the people. Everywhere we went, Austinites were friendly, helpful, and fun to work with. Marisela from El Mesón actually offered to loan us warm jackets when she overheard us commiserating about not having packed for the cold snap. We even had a random run-in with Chowhound stellawine at a picnic table in front of the Odd Duck trailer, and had a friendly chat while we were filming that perfect soft-boiled duck egg.
Austin's creative spirit is really evident when you meet chefs like Tyson Cole (of Uchi and Uchiko) who are pushing the perception of the city's cuisine way beyond the barbecue and Tex-Mex stereotypes. We also visit two relative newcomers to the neo-Austin scene: East Side Show Room and Foreign & Domestic. WATCH THE VIDEO
We stopped into Olivia for lunch, having read all sorts of accolades about it, from Eater Austin calling it restaurant of the year to Bon Appétit putting it on the 2009 list of the 10 best new restaurants. Chef James Holmes's menu has all the hallmarks of neo-American cuisine: an assortment of animal parts prepared in tasty ways—familiar enough to not seem intimidating to unaccustomed diners—locally sourced ingredients from produce to cheeses, and the blending of classic preparations (fries, terrines, sabayon) with a touch of modern technique (powders, gelées). READ MORE
While we were filming at Salt & Time, bearded butcher Bryan Butler mentioned that Austin had the only cooperatively owned brewpub in the world, making small batches of craft brew and Austinized pub grub. While other folks who shall remain nameless warned us that it "looked like an IKEA in there," we still wanted to see what Black Star was doing. READ MORE
Austin has a ton of great Mexican food, from old-school Tex-Mex to authentic interior Mexican cuisine. We wanted to see the range, so we consulted Austin Chowhounds for a little guidance. On scrumptiouschef's urging, we learned some of the secrets behind a family recipe for enchiladas, complete with classic brown gravy, served at a bowling alley. There were also breakfast tacos at the tiny El Taco Rico trailer, another Chowhound favorite where every corn tortilla is made fresh, and a taste of authentic home-style Mexican cooking at El Mesón. WATCH THE VIDEO
A visit to Austin would not be complete without checking out the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. This legendary theater chain (there are nine locations across Texas and one in Virginia) is known for serving beer and food alongside its fantastic curated film screenings—like the Lord of the Rings marathon and hobbit feast or a boy cartoon versus girl cartoon smackdown with all-you-can-eat sugar cereal buffet.
Given that Texas is a big meat state, it's not surprising that the local, sustainable trend is catching on. At the center of the local butchery scene is Jesse Griffiths, chef/co-owner of Dai Due. We also check out Salt & Time's cured pig parts just outside Austin, and then cruise up north to the Noble Pig sandwich shop, where the owners flip a duck inside out, cure it, and make a damn good pastrami sandwich. WATCH THE VIDEO
When we heard there was a wine country outside of Austin (the Texas Hill Country AVA), we were immediately intrigued, mostly because, well, we had never really thought about the fact that winemaking was happening in Texas. WATCH THE VIDEO
A town like Austin with lots of nightlife must have all-night diners. But were greasy spoons serving slop from a can the only options? We were tipped off by one of the owners of La Boîte about a diner that actually bothers with stuff like the provenance of the eggs.