Austin Food & Drink Travel Guide
When deciding on a honeymoon, most people envisage pristine sun drenched beaches and luxury resorts where every whim is catered for on your first holiday as a married couple helping to encourage conjugal bliss. Not so much in our case. Where did we want to go? Why West Texas of course!
Having longed for many years to check out the food truck scene in Austin, this was a perfect chance to munch our way around this unassuming city that also happens to be the live music capital of the world. Hearing from a friend that Austin is all about patios, Margaritas, Barbeque and food trucks sealed the deal. We were hooked. So where to start? As well as amazing restaurants and patio bars, Austin has over 1000 food trucks so choosing where to go can cause some logistical issues. Suggestion: get on your bike!
The beauty of the food truck scene is that they cover all meals of the day. Below are some of the best that we sampled.
Veracruz All Natural
Austin does some damn fine tacos being so close to Mexico and breakfast tacos are practically a religion in Austin with so many food trucks fighting it out to be the best. Veracruz comes very close to having this title. Two sisters run the show and make all ingredients from scratch. Super fresh and outstanding flavour.
Focusing on breakfast only with a great selection of international newspapers, Paperboy serves delectable sandwiches, maple french toasts and wholesome breakfast bowls with a very serious coffee program making this a perfect spot to kick off a sweet sunny day in Austin.
East Side King
Specialising in pan Asian fusion small plates, East Side King is like a crazy uncle. It’s a little unrefined and brash but it works so well. Beetroot home fries, fried brussel sprouts and pork bao buns under no circumstances should be missed.
The neon electric Chicken sign give away only half the menu. Mrs P rules the roost in this southern style comfort food airstream truck. Think truffle mac n’ cheese, waffles and hen scratch sliders.
If you want to eat clean this is a great little paleo coffee shop famous for butter coffee and bone broth with a really nice vibe and cool staff.
Austin has an embarrassment of smoked meat goodness. We could dedicate a whole section to BBQ but I have to say you can’t go wrong with most of them. Most enjoy crazy queues arriving at lunchtime to eat is a non-runner. One of the best we tried was La Barbecue. This is a hopping BBQ joint where pit master Esaul Ramos smokes ribs, brisket and sausage. Expect to arrive at the food trailer about 9-10am and you should be eating by 1pm. They give out free beer on Saturdays which makes the queue a little bearable under the Texan sun.
Hey You Gona Eat or What
A bright red trailer decorated with sarcastic annoying slogans, makes you wish that the food is rubbish. This is not the case. These guys are famous for the Monte Cristo. First, they fill this huge sandwich with cheddar, provolone, smoked turkey and pit-smoked ham. Then, they roll it in a local amber ale batter and deep fry it. And if that isn’t enough to fully clog your arteries, they dust it with powdered sugar and serve with cherry-fig jam on the side. Oh.my.god.
Gourdough’s Big Fat Doughnuts
Austinites think of the most outrageous desserts that must be commended and of course tried at least once. The doughnuts at Gourdoughs are enormous and ridiculously decadent. We loved ‘Fat Elvis’, a big fat donut filled with grilled bananas & bacon with peanut butter icing & honey and ‘Black Out’, a donut with brownie batter, fudge icing & chocolate covered brownie bites.
Cow Tipping Creamery
An extraordinary ice cream food truck that does much more than ice cream. The menu is divided into sundaes, shakes and speciality cones. When I say sundae I mean a sundae filled with hand toasted marshmallows, semi-sweet chocolate chips, birthday cake crumb, molasses graham crackers and homemade peanut butter sauce. There are no words…
Once you become a little tired of eating on picnic benches under large oak trees, Austin has hands down some of the best restaurants in the States. Austin restaurants truly keep it local with the farm to table movement. Miss these award winning joints at your peril.
Do you ever have that moment when you eat something that makes you smile, followed on by a full on laugh as you realised you have just experienced something incredible? That moment for me was with the Parker House Roll at Odd Duck. A baked dough bread dumpling filled with luscious pork. The menu is divided between small and large plates with a heavy focus on vegetable-forward dishes which we loved. I would happily buy a flight from Ireland to Austin for a couple of hours just to have the chance to eat here one more time.
Located in the hip and happening east side of Austin, the building was originally a petrol station and laundromat hence the name. Today it is slick and retro with a lovely outdoor patio in which you can savour a pre-dinner house cocktail. This James Beard 2016 finalist (US version of the food Oscars) serves modern southern fare with a Mediterranean twist. It is fun and quirky making you feel you are hanging at a friend’s trendy apartment. Don’t miss a signature on the menu – a birthday cake ice cream sandwich which sums up laundrette’s easy going vibe nicely.
This restaurant should carry a warning – eat here and all other sushi experiences will be ruined forever. Fish is flown in from Japan a couple of times a week. I loved the fact they have a valet service and you walk in to be greeted by Austinites in shorts and tshirts enjoying sake happy hour. One staple on the menu was the hama chili which was an incredible display of oranges and yellowtail served with soy and lemon juice and topped with fiercely hot Thai chilles. Also good to note that daily specials are called special for a reason.
Lucille is where you would like to go on a first date. A beautiful historic house in the centre of Rainey Street, it is rumoured that the house was previously inhabited by a lady of the night called Lucille and plenty of late night entertaining and parties being held at this residence. Today Lucille’s spirit is kept alive with sexy lighting and glamourous 1920’s chandeliers. The drinks are exquisite all using local handcrafted liqueurs. Don’t miss their spicy margaritas. There is no food sold here however Lucy’s Mini donuts is right next door selling delicious smelling treats.
If you want a killer cocktail around Rainey, the Half Step is a must.
The bar itself projects a sulky vibe, enticing you to try a sweet Manhattan over murmured conversation but the outdoor patio with its white string lights and picnic benches, makes you want to order a prescription julep, a speciality made from cognac, rye, mint and sugar for that extra buzz. If all else fails, just tell the bartenders what you like and let them surprise you. It’s like a lucky bag, you never know what you will get..
Craft Pride is unique craft beer bar that serves Texas only craft beers. With Texas state having 100’s of breweries, the selection is monstrous and the tunes are killing. A busy little spot, this will be loved by beer aficionados that know their pale ales from their saisons.
Besides walking around in a food coma all day long, there are plenty of other options of what to do in Austin, here are some recommendations; Catch a movie in the coolest cinema ever – The Alamo Drafthouse, take a dip in Barton Springs which is Austin’s made watering hole, try some vintage shopping on South Congress Ave, chance your arm at some Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Lake Travis or take in a Brewery tour, Austin has hundreds! So get planning a trip to Austin, I’ll only tell you once.
Ciara comes from Killarney in the heart of The Kingdom and runs the family business The Ross, which is a quirky cool boutique hotel located in the town centre, just across the road from Killarney National Park. Every winter Ciara and husband Daire take off in search of heat and fantastic food experiences and love bringing back ideas for the The Ross which comprises of Cellar One Restaurant, The Lane Café Bar and The Pink Lounge Gin & Champagne bar. It’s a tough life!