Two of our editors have been tirelessly crawling Austin to find the best food the city has to offer. And hordes of people are about to descend upon the place... 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.
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
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.
After scoping out Barley Swine while interviewing Chef Bryce Gilmore about his trailer Odd Duck, we wanted to go back and actually eat dinner at the month-old restaurant.
Barley Swine is in South Austin, in a low-key brown brick building—we missed it the first time we drove by. The interior is also simple, with high wooden tables and a little bit of a pub feel. Definitely seemed like a natural extension of Gilmore’s trailer ethos of cooking locally sourced stuff with a few fancier presentations, but serving it in a nonfussy environment and keeping it affordable.
In Hyde Park, we visited Austin’s only dedicated cheese shop, Antonelli’s, on the suggestion of Chowhound amysuehere. John and Kendall Antonelli, the shop’s owners, sell cheeses from all over the world, including some made in Texas, as well as cured meats from artisan salumi-makers (local and national) and preserves from Austin-based Confituras like a salted caramel pear butter and Rio Star grapefruit marmalade. READ MORE
Before our trip to Austin we hit the phones and the Web, calling around, researching, and posting to Chowhound to figure out the places we should cover. One of the most knowledgeable people we had the pleasure to chat with was Virginia B. Wood, food editor of the Austin Chronicle. Here’s some of the insight she shared with us on Austin’s food scene after living there for 40 years and covering local food for the paper for nearly 20. READ MORE
Austin, you are keeping it weird. And that’s exactly why we are excited about visiting you on CHOW Tour: Handmade. The first place we’ll be filming is a winery tucked away in the Hill Country where the owner does everything by hand and talks Texas terroir with pride.
We’ll hit the big meat state for a barbecue road-trip with the Franklins of Franklin Barbecue, but also bring you a look at the salumi and butchery scene, from Dai Due taking a whole hog and transforming it into sausage for biscuits and gravy, to a sandwich shop that makes everything—from mustard to bacon—from scratch.
We’re taking Chowhound scrumptiouschef‘s recommendation and heading to a bowling alley for a taste of old-school Tex-Mex, where the chef who’s been making the enchiladas for 38 years will show off some of her secrets (but not the secret spice mix!). And we’ll bring you a look at some of the new wave of chefs who are taking Austin’s cuisine beyond Tex-Mex and barbecue.
Check back! Austin videos start running February 14.