Having relocated the base of operations to the great state of Texas, I am now beginning to see the realities of a year round love affair with Carts, Tacos and Beers. Reflecting on the last few months of food-scapades I am suddenly jerked into the realization that I have only just begun.
This is certainly not what I am used to associating with winter, but the new smells and surroundings of Austin are ever more seeming like home and less like an extended holiday. I realized that this Christmas we wouldn’t be eating the same way we have in past years. So instead of the usual blathering on about some titanic gorge fest, I think I will list my top 10 must eats and drinks of Austin TX(so far).
10. Chilantro – http://www.chilantrobbq.com/
A Korean twist on a Texmex classic, the Chilantro truck swaps marinated pork for Bulgolgi and jalapenos for Sriracha. This unlikely duo seems to please on many levels, the heat lover, the asian cuisine lover, the wild man and the late night snack attack.
9. Old school BBQ – http://www.oldschoolbbqandgrill.com/
Texas and BBQ are in fact somewhat synonymous. And there are many great places to get a full plate of BBQ at. This little spot is something of legend for everyone as the BBQ is so high regarded that it is often hard to get anything that you want because someone ahead of you just bought 20pounds of it. This issue forces me to leave it close to the bottom of the list.
8. Mighty Fine Burgers – http://mightyfineburgers.com/
Cheeseburgers are nothing short of an American miracle, and in a place where beef is king, there was bound to a be a place that is not only fresh but fast. Mighty Fine practices what it preaches and offers burgers made from the finest ground beef (which you can watch them grind) and a In & Out menu that focuses on the basics, burger cheese fries and shakes. Make sure you ask the staff how they are
7. El Chile – http://www.elchilecafe.com/
Old reliable. I think of El Chile and I realize that the consistency and accessibility out weigh any of my inhibitions about returning to the usual place. I love that everything is really good and that the flavors of each dish reflect the progress of Texmex cuisine. Nothing can be more refreshing than a Shalongo (frozen spicy margarita) and a Charlie’s Lunch Special.
6. Gourdoughs Doughnuts – http://www.gourdoughs.com/
Doughnuts are something of a phenomenon here. Denver could barely pass mustard in terms of quality for the yeasty fried treats but Texas has a strong tradition of amazing fried confections. Gourdoughs is more than an exceptional trailer, it’s the standard that desserts in general should be measured. Doughnuts do not adequately describe the excellence that is available at Gourdoughs.
5. Upper Crust Bakery – http://theuppercrustbakery.com/
Gluten of the wheat variety can’t possibly be this delicious. I know that I can’t compare this bakery to an elits french patisserie but, there is a sense that this place is filled with a wealth of breads, pastries and even quiche built from the essentials of butter, eggs, milk and flour. A site that is the undisputed authority of all things baked fresh.
4. East Side Kings – http://www.eastsidekingaustin.com/
Somewhere in the back of my mind there is a place that combines the gritty punk rock of a dirty concert and the flavors and smells of my favorite Asian snacks. East Side Kings is that place. Tucked behind a bar in a trailer that cannot possibly hold more than 3 people, beef tongue and beet homefries are being served to me on beds of delicious rice. I hate to say this but the average Japanese man would find this place a paradise.
3. The Draught House – http://www.draughthouse.com/
Even though I have left the warm bosom of the Colorado craft beer network, I have found a new pride in this local pub’s ability to not only serve things that I know with regular celebrity but introduce me to new fresh concepts both foreign and domestic. The Austin craft beer scene is a burgeoning one on the edge of volcanic eruption. This gentle beer garten’s a testament to the really educated palette of Austin’s beer lover.
2. Torchy’s Tacos - http://torchystacos.com/
Without going into the rant that I am prepared to give about this local gem, it is safe to say that if you want something that is not only consistently amazing but satisfying, you don’t have to look any farther than Torchy’s. Although the ravenous fanboydem in Austin would elevate the appearance of this humble product, the fact remains that they consistently have some of the most delicious tacos that could be dreamed up by mere mortals.
1. Odd Duck farm to trailer – http://oddduckfarmtotrailer.com/
A gourmet chef whipping up sustainable trailer food that would make parisian chefs blush at the quality and price. Nothing really beats fresh meats and vegetables roasted, braised or otherwise grilled over the warm glow of a wood fire to fill you with a healthy flavor of the natural land. If this is a sign of the coming dystopia that everyone fears, I only hope to quicken the pace of its arrival.