Imagine this: today is last day on Earth (or just Austin, but... same thing), and we're going to eat only the very best & baddest food this city has to offer in the 24 hours before we leave. But just what meals would those be? Before we begin, let’s assume a few things. First, money is no object. Second, our appetite is insatiable. And third, we can magically beam anywhere in Austin in a matter of seconds. Here's what we're getting...
Houndstooth Coffee (address and info)
Your last cup of coffee should come from Houndstooth Coffee. Houndstooth is home to the best beans, the best equipment, and the best-trained staff in the land. Order an espresso or three. You’ll need it.
Veracruz All Natural (address and info)
East Cesar Chavez
Don’t let the modest trailers fool you, this place means serious business and it's a favorite of Paul Qui. It makes a migas taco that is out-of-this-world good; think crunchy tortilla strips, eggs, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheese all wrapped up in a homemade flour tortilla. It goes best with its watermelon agua fresca.
Fixe (address and info)
We aren’t going to start listing nerdy Middle Earth foods, but we will get ourselves over to Fixe for its mouthwatering biscuits. They are thick, still hot from the oven, and served with preserves and a dollop of 'nduja (a spicy, spreadable pork sausage).
VOX Table (address and info)
For this meal, we’d pop over to the new South Lamar spot, VOX Table. Its brunch menu is available Saturday and Sunday from 11am-2pm. What’s good? This: Olive Oil Pancakes with fig/walnut butter, and maple syrup. And... since you’ll be dead tomorrow, go ahead and add the $14 seared foie gras on top. Wash it down with its take on the margarita: the “Danny Trejo” (Olmeca Altos plata tequila, Lillet Blanc, lemon, smoked pineapple ginger shrub, grapefruit oleo saccharum, and Fire & Damnation bitters).
La Barbecue (address and info)
East Cesar Chavez
We’re still not full (because, magic) so we’ll head over to La Barbecue. One pound of fatty brisket, a side of Buttermilk Potato Salad, and a Lone Star will do.
Clark’s Oyster Bar (address and info)
For happy hour, we’ll need something revitalizing and fresh. Clark’s Oyster Bar is sunny and colorful and it makes a mean cocktail. Its M-F HH special offers 50 cents off oysters, half-price burgers, and $5 martinis. (On weekends, half-off bottles of wine!) So, we’ll have an assortment of fresh East and West Coast oysters, and a couple of gin martinis. Stirred, never shaken.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya (address and info)
With so many amazing choices, dinner was a really tough one, but we feel very strongly that this was the right move. First, a meal at Ramen Tatsu-Ya is hands down one of the best meals in town with umami profiles that are second to none. Order the #1 Tonkotsu Original -- it’s a creamy pork bone soup with chashu (sliced pork), an ajitama egg (aka marinated in goodness), wood ear mushroom, and scallions. Also, don’t skip the Sweet & Sour Yodas; these fried Brussels sprouts tossed in apricot vinegar and curry spice are stunning.
Launderette (address and info)
Launderette’s Executive Chef, Rene Ortiz is a magician in his own right -- but we’re here for dessert. Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki’s creations are playful and visually beautiful, especially her Pistachio Rosewater Parfait, served with grapefruit, fennel, candied pistachio, yogurt, and tahini. Or you can go with her Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwich, a fun throwback to childhood.
Justine’s Brasserie (address and info)
Hands down. Vinyl playing, beautiful women everywhere, the buzz of a hundred interesting conversations -- atmosphere is everything at Justine’s. (Plus, the kitchen and bar stay open until 1:30am.) It’s like walking into a sensuous alternate reality. If the good Lord decides to takes us now, we’d die happy -- with a Sazerac in our hand and Charlie Parker in our ear (and maybe some steak frites).
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1. Houndstooth Coffee Downtown401 Congress Ave, Austin
2. Veracruz All Natural1704 E Cesar Chavez, Austin
3. Fixe500 W 5th St, Austin
4. VOX Table1100 South Lamar Blvd, 2140, Austin
5. La Barbecue: Cuisine Texicana902 E Cesar Chavez in the Good Life Food Park, Austin
6. Ramen Tatsu-Ya8557 Research Blvd, Austin
7. Launderette2115 Holly St, Austin
8. Justine's Brasserie4710 E 5th St, Austin
9. Clark's Oyster Bar1200 W 6th St, Austin
Houndstooth Coffee wows the addicts with roasters like Kansas's PT's and Portland's Coava, plus a new fancy single-origin siphon brewer, which produces a smoother cup of coffee without sacrificing any of the oomph.
Owned by sisters born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico, this trailer (with a few locations across the city) serves tacos, tortas, and smoothies. The migas -- cloud-like scrambled eggs mixed with house-made tortilla chips, pico de gallo, cheese, avocado, then served atop a fresh tortilla -- are the stand-out dish.
Fixe, with its very experienced chef/management team, is doing upscale-Southern with a dedicated grits menu and a barrel-aged craft cocktail program.
Vox Table is known around Austin for their killer New-American style small plates and lively craft cocktail bar, but this South Lamar restaurant serves up a serious brunch on the weekends. The must try of the menu is Olive Oil Pancakes with fig/walnut butter and maple syrup. If brunch isn't your thing, stop by and try dinner menu, featuring a wide variety of meat and fish entrees, or happy hour specials.
This is a no frills barbecue joint is known for their hand made sausage and mean slabs of meat. Behind La Barbecue's fire is veteran pitt boss (which is basically like the General of the BBQ world), John Lewis, who can also churn out whole briskets and racks of ribs to go if you're in a hurry. And did we mention the live music? Yes, every Saturday and Sunday, as it should be in the live music capital.
Nothing compares to the lovingly simmered broth made at Ramen Tatsu-ya. The gang here has managed to create a cult classic with their menu. Try their signature bowl of ramen is a rich, complex, pork bone broth filled with thin noodles, tender chashu pork (soy braised pork belly), a marinated soft boiled egg, wood ear mushrooms, scallions, and your choice of add-ins. There is often a line but service moves lightning fast.
Executive Chef Rene Ortiz and pastry chef Laura Sawicki are fearless in the kitchen. The flavor combinations on the menu at Launderette are both complex and approachable, featuring favorites like the charred octopus, plancha burger (quite possibly the best burger in Austin), roasted parsnips, birthday cake ice cream sandwich... scratch that. Everything. Try everything on this menu. Stop by for dinner, weekday lunch, weekend brunch, or for their weekly happy hour specials.
Situated in East Austin, Justine's Brasserie is a sexy French eatery and social club specializing in "very late night dining." Classic bistro fare (steak frites, ratatouille) and daily blackboard specials make up the bulk of the menu. Super boozy cocktails, lots of red wine, and the company of friends may make it hard to leave this lounge-y, chic bistro.
A small neighborhood seafood joint, Clark's Oyster Bar, prides itself on simple, sustainable seafood with a cozy ambiance. The maritime cache is fully stocked with house-made breads, burgers, and an extensive brunch menu, but the oysters, which come in a breadth of both East and West Coast options that rotate out with availability and season, are an essential order.