Austin. An enchanting land that is a Disney Land for any foodie. A place where you can be calmly strolling from savory to sweet food trucks and later find yourself clenching your steering wheel while driving the scenic, yet overly hilly roads to Lake Travis. It’s the kind of city where you just want to eat everything and wish that there were more meals in a day. Our first stop was to find a relaxed brunch cafe where we could start off the day with a hearty dish. Many restaurants had outside seating and added their own zing to it like hanging up rows of string lights along trees paired with striped red and white chairs below for that pop of color.
Others had a covered ceiling which is perfect for avoiding that beating sun, while still being able to enjoy that occasional breeze.
Of course, when in Austin, you are bound to pass by more than just a few food trucks. This one screams Arizona and desert with its rustic chalkboard, bright yellow exterior, and of course the one thing no one can miss-the three cacti right outside which complete this food truck.
Yet another food truck find, but this one was sadly closed. Give me a crepe any time of day and I will be sure to take it. I loved the funky and creative font used on this food truck. The little aliens on the left definitely help with the whole futuristic vibe that I’m getting here. Food trucks are no longer what they used to be- a plain white van selling tacos on the street- rather they now bring novelty to the food truck scene, attracting a whole new type of consumers.
Let’s jump right into our first meal at South Congress Cafe.
- South Congress Cafe
1600 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78704
First off, expect a wait if you will be coming here around brunch time as it was about a 30 minute wait for us. With our stomachs screaming for food, we had the menu up on our phones and decided what we were ordering before coming in. I settled on the Carrot Cake French Toast which consisted of carrot cake, cinnamon vanilla egg batter, cream cheese-pecan syrup, along with a medley of fruit. It was a little deceiving because I thought that the dish would be french toast that was flavored as carrot cake. Rather, it was a carrot cake that was soaked in a batter to resemble a french toast… Regardless, it was a flavorful cake and me and my friend polished all three slices off quickly!
Next up is the Jalapéno Venison Meatloaf with charred poblano demi-glace, garlic whipped Yukon potatoes, and sautéed collard greens. This one definitely won the award on presentation and just looked too good to eat! I sampled a bite from my friend and it has got to be the best meatloaf yet that I have tasted at a restaurant.
If you’re into seafood then you will love the Crab Enchiladas. With a combination of crab lump meat, jalapeño, shallot, house made corn tortillas, cilantro lime sauce, refried black beans, and lime sour cream, this dish packs great flavor and has different textures that complement each other. I am usually used to having beef or chicken in enchiladas, so this dish was a nice twist by using seafood.
2. Halal Bros
2712 Guadalupe Street Austin, TX 78705
Warning: Do not share this dish with a friend if you value your friendship. You’ll end up ordering a second plate or god forbid, your friend may eat more than their fair share. This didn’t happen to me, although me and my friends were contemplating the idea, which yes… quickly died once we stepped foot inside. This is the Chipotle heaven of Mediterranean food. The juicy grilled chicken complemented the fragrant basmati rice perfectly, along with their legendary white sauce. I would suggest getting any of their rice plates, which come with a meat of your choice such as beef shawarma, tender chopped lamb, or even a combination plate for the sampler within you. If you’re not too fond of hot sauce, mention that to them beforehand so that you don’t have half your chicken drenched in a fiery condiment.
A heavenly plate of chicken kebab over rice covered with a magical sauce. I would ask for extra sauce, because it is really just that good!
3. Stile’s Switch and BBQ
6610 North Lamar Boulevard Austin, TX 78757
BBQ is a must in ATX or anywhere in Texas for that matter. Our tray was brimming with beef brisket, beef ribs, mac n cheese, and a loaded Frito pie.
Frito Pie? It’s not just some Fritos simply covered with chili cheese. It’s tender beef brisket marinated in barbecue sauce and mixed with Fritos, spicy Jalapeño garnish, a moundful of cheese, sweet beans, and topped with crunchy, fresh onions. This is one time that you definitely should go for the extraordinary rather than simply brisket alone, unless you choose to order both of course like we did. The brisket was juicy & charred to perfection and the beef ribs were humongous & Fred Flintstone sized. Inside it was very spacious, rustic looking, and just the place where you could enjoy the quintessence of barbecue. The employees were friendly and even gave us some free brisket on the side and super-sized our Frito pie after seeing our indecisiveness on what to order. No matter what mood you come into this BBQ joint with, you will leave a changed, satisfied, and happy person.
The old fashioned general store feel of Stiles Switch even came right down to the drinks. Creamy vanilla with a touch of bubble gum was a must have to complete this meal.
In between all of that eating, a little exploring doesn’t hurt. Nothing like climbing up a mountain for a scenic view to burn off those extra calories. Well, it’s actually more of a steep, and rocky hill that only took us a few minutes to climb up. Located right before the famous 360 Bridge, this climb leads you to a mesmerizing view overlooking the Austin Country Club golf course, 360 Bridge, and the classic rolling hill country. It’s a surreal feeling to just stand there and take in the gorgeous sights. It’s a free attraction so why not add it to your plans?
4. 360 Bridge
Loop 360 and Lake Austin
Austin, TX 78746
And that’s not it, only the end of Part 1! Check soon for Eating through Austin Part 2 where Arpeggio Grill, The Hideout CoffeeHouse, and Graffiti Park will be featured next.