Dining Out Sustainably: 2012 Austin Restaurant Round-up

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My, how this list has grown.  In the four years since I started this blog, the number of restaurants working with local farms, ranches and food artisans has exploded. You can find farm fresh eggs, just picked greens and humanely raised meats on menus that range from diner fare to fine dining.

A number of new faces joined the fray this last year offering a unique blend of casual Austin atmosphere with carefully crafted food.  Contigo, with its expansive outdoor seating, is the perfect place to wile away the evening with friends while sipping a beer or craft cocktail and enjoying their pates, sausages or brunch.

Kome wowed me with its straightforward and carefully crafted Japanese food from the flavorful ramen to the refreshing Endo in NY roll and  the simple pleasure of the Tamago nigiri made with a Haus Bar Farms egg.  If you can get a seat at the sushi bar, you’ll enjoy the experience even more.

Tamago at Kome

The most anticipated opening of this last year for me was Lenoir from my friends Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher.  I will claim all forms of bias because Todd and Jess are two of my favorite people in Austin’s culinary scene, yet I was captivated by each carefully crafted dish and the casually elegant dining room.  Even the finishing salt is thoughtfully blended – yes, the salt.  My favorite part of their prix fixe menu is the ability to pick three dishes from any course meaning that you don’t have to order dessert.  Score one for the savorians (my made up term for people who prefer to skip the sweets).

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Chick pea panisse at Lenoir

Olive & June is the most recent addition to the mix.  Chef Shawn Cirkiel has added another outstanding restaurant to his growing family of eateries which also include The Backspace and Parkside. Named after his grandmothers and with a focus on shared dishes, Olive & June invites you in to enjoy the comfort of a loving Italian meal with family.  There were more than a few dishes over which we negotiated who got the last bite.

I’m excited to see fine breads and pastries take center stage at Easy Tiger and Elizabeth St. Cafe, both of which also offer tasty lunch and dinner fare to accompany their gorgeous baked goods.  The ham and butter sandwich at Easy Tiger is one of my new favorite lunch items. It sounds so plain, yet the contrast between the crunchy baguette and the sweet ham is perfect.  And the pretzel rolls, oh the pretzel rolls…

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Baguettes at Easy Tiger

Showing off the French influence in Vietnames cuisine, Elizabeth St. Cafe has beautiful pastries, like the delicate almond croissant, served side by side with banh mi, bun and pho dishes.  Yes, the food is pricey by Vietnamese food standards, but most pho houses aren’t sourcing from area farms.

Of course no food story in Austin is complete without a few food trailers.  One of my favorite catering companies, Royal Fig Catering, opened The Seedling Truck, a roving food trailer offering up farm to table fare.  I like to catch them for brunch at the Barton Creek Farmers Market while I’m filling up my market bag.

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Hoover Alexander of Hoover’s Cooking has started a trailer and community space with Hoover’s Soular Food Trailer which serves vegetable centric fare from local farms.  Thunderheart Bison, who you may know from the local farmers markets, has also started a trailer and is serving up some of the tastiest chili in town.

Whether you want to hang with your friends at a trailer or enjoy an elegant meal, you have a plethora of good choices where you can also support local farms, ranches and artisans.  Following is my full list of recommendations organized by area of the city.

If you are interested in other facets of Austin dining, be sure to check out the full Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide.

Downtown
The Backspace, 507 San Jacinto, Antipasto and Neopolitan style pizza cooked in a brick oven imported from Italy, average pizza price $12.
Chez Nous, 510 Neches, French Bistro, lunch and dinner, 3 course prix fixe menu $25.50, average dinner entree $25.
Congress, 200 Congress Ave., New American,  Dinner only with 3 courses ($65) or chef tasting menu ($95.)
Easy Tiger, 709 E. Sixth St.,  Bakery and beer garden open breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night with artisan breads and meats available to go or in the beer garden, average entree $10.
La Condesa, 400 W. 2nd St., Mexican, dinner and Sunday brunch, average dinner entree $26.
Manuel’s, 310 Congress Ave., Mexican, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch, average dinner entree $20.
Parkside, 301 E. 6th, New American with an emphasis on oysters and seafood crudo, dinner, average dinner entree $23. Austin Farm to Table profile
Second Bar and Kitchen , 200 Congress Ave., New American.  Lunch, dinner and late night, average dinner entree $22.
SFC Downtown Austin Farmers Market, 4th and Guadalupe at Republic Square, various vendors with prepared food, fresh produce, meats, cheeses and artisan food products, Bola Pizza, Dai Due Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Trio, at the Four Seasons, 98 San Jacinto, New American, breakfast, lunch, dinner, average dinner entree $25.  One of the best Happy Hour deals in town. Austin Farm to Table profile
Trace at the W Hotel, 200 Lavaca St., New American, breakfast, lunch, dinner, prices vary widely between breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Central West Austin
24 Diner, 600 N. Lamar, American diner fare, 24 hours, average dish $11.
Cipollina, 1213 West Lynn, Bistro menu, specializing in pizza, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $15. Austin Farm to Table profile
Counter Cafe, 626 N. Lamar, American, breakfast and lunch, average entree $10. Austin Farm to Table profile
Fabi & Rosi, 509 Hearn St., New American, dinner and Sunday brunch, average entree $20.
Wink, 1014 N. Lamar, New American, dinner, average entree $25 (the wine bar has a separate less expensive menu). Austin Farm to Table profile

South Austin
Barley Swine, 2024 S. Lamar Blvd., New American, dinner, average dish $14.
Elizabeth St. Cafe, 1501 South First St., Bakery and Vietnamese cafe, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average entree $15.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen, 7720 W. Hwy 71 (this place is a jaunt from downtown, but worth the drive), casual Texas cuisine, lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, average entree $13. Austin Farm to Table profile
La Boite Cafe, 1700 S. Lamar Blvd., baked goods & sandwiches, sandwich du jour $6.
Lenoir, 1807 South First St., New American, dinner, prix fixe only with 3 dishes for $35, extra dish for $10.
Olivia, 2043 S. Lamar, New American, lunch (Friday & Saturday only), dinner and Sunday brunch, average dinner entree $30. Austin Farm to Table profile
Perla’s, 1400 S. Congress, Seafood, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, average dinner entree $25.
Snack Bar, 1224 S. Congress Ave., diner and lounge, daily brunch, lunch, dinner and late night, average dish price $9. Austin Farm to Table profile
Taco Deli, 1500 Spyglass, Tex Mex, breakfast and lunch, average taco price is $3.
Thai Fresh, 909 W. Mary, Thai, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $10. Austin Farm to Table profile
Uchi, 801 S. Lamar, Contemporary Japanese cuisine + sushi, dinner, average small plate $15, average roll price $12.
Whip-In Parlour Cafe & Market, 1950 S. IH-35, Indian, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $11.

East Austin
Blue Dahlia Bistro, 1115 E. 11th St., French Bistro, breakfast, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $11. Austin Farm to Table profile
Contigo, 2027 Anchor Ln., New American, dinner and Sunday brunch, average entree, $15.
East Side Show Room, 1100 E. 6th St., Bistro, dinner, average dinner entree $20. Austin Farm to Table profile
Eastside Pies, 1401B Rosewood Ave., Pizza, lunch and dinner, large pizza averages $20.  Try a slice of their Farm to Table pizza – it’s my favorite (naturally).
Campus/Central
ASTI Trattoria, 408-C E. 43rd St., Italian, lunch and dinner, average dinner entree $20. Starting March 1st, ASTI is offering a happy hour from 4-6 pm, Monday-Friday featuring a $5 selection of wines and small bites.
FINO, 2905 San Gabriel, Mediterranean/Spanish, lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch, average dinner entree $22. Austin Farm to Table profile
Foreign+Domestic, 306 E. 53rd St., New American, dinner, average entree $19.  Austin Farm to Table profile
Kome, 4917 Airport Blvd., Japanese, lunch and dinner, average dish $9.
Olive & June, 3411 Glenview Ave., Italian, dinner, average pasta dish $16,  average entree $27.
Taco Deli, 4200 N. Lamar, Tex Mex, breakfast and lunch, average taco price is $3.
Uchiko, 4200 N. Lamar, Japanese farmhouse dishes and sushi, dinner, average small plate $15, average roll $13. Austin Farm to Table profile
Vino Vino, 4119 Guadalupe, New American, dinner, average dinner entree $18.
Trailers
Hoover’s Soular Food Trailer, 1110 E 12th St, Southern, breakfast and lunch.  Check Facebook and Twitter for updates on hours.
The Seedling Truck, roving food truck, New American, check their schedule online for brunch, lunch, dinner locations, average dish $6.
Thunderheart Bison Trailer, 201 W. 5th Street, American/Southern, dinner and late night, average dish $6.
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