Sunday, January 4, 2015


 Artful walls in the parking lot at Vintage Heart Coffee

Our trips usually revolve around sips (coffee, breweries, etc.) and snacks (local specialities, authentic farm-to-table cuisine, etc.), with some sightseeing in between. Austin is no different, with its share of local delights and delectable dishes. In a town where endless BBQ houses, coffee shops and taco taverns abound, there simply isn't enough time to try every single one! Keep reading for the succulent standouts...

In line at the coffee bar at Vintage Heart

Always appreciative of a good breakfast brew, my honey and I have a habit of trolling the town for cozy cafés. In multiple rounds of 'taste and tell,' Austin surprises us with two caffeine coves worth mentioning. For the most part, "corporate coffee" dominates Austin's downtown, however, with a little digging, we discover excellent espresso at Flat Track coffee. Enter at the door under the "coffee" sign behind Farewell Bookstore. Despite the small space, the self-roasted blend used for Flat Track drinks packs enough punch to appease the espresso aficionado.  

Off the beaten path (at the back of a bookstore) Flat Track Coffee is my top choice for espresso in Austin

Streets away, Vintage Heart Coffee is a larger venue serving brew from Third Coast Roasting Co. Vintage Heart offers classic and fancier drinks (think flavor lattes and hot cocoa) along with the option of light bites. Representative of southern hospitality, the staff is exceptionally efficient and amenable. Local coffeehouse Halcyon is also one worth mentioning--we did the S'mores for breakfast one morning!

Small space, but good coffee!

 A hearty meal at Salt Lick BBQ--Brisket + Sausage + Baked Beans + Potatoes for my honey; a side of Peach Cobbler + potatoes for me

The highlight of Texas is the BBQ! Between brisket (he's a carnivore!) and baked beans (I'm vegetarinan!), we sample 10 BBQ spots. Despite the prevalence of "must try" BBQ joints, my honey and I both agree that the best food is from lesser known mom & pops places (just about every gas station has a BBQ restaurant attached); my favorite is Hinze's BBQ in Sealy, TX. Hinze's BBQ sauce is unmatched and their sides (Fried Okra! Mac & cheese) are especially delicious. Of the list of critically acclaimed establishments, we did manage to visit the original Rudy's BBQ, Black's BBQ and Salt Lick. Particularly notable is the potato salad (no mayo!) at Salt Lick.

 The BBQ Pit at Salt Lick

To complement its smoked meat, Texas has its fare share of craft breweries. Traditionally open to the public on Saturdays between 11AM and 2PM, we stop at No Label Brewery for a tasting and tunes. For $8, visitors receive a wristband with 4 tabs--good for 4 tastings-- and a souvenir glass. Not a huge fan of beer, I was pleasantly surprised by No Label's Black Wit-O (seasonal). Other breweries on our list (that we didn't have time for) include Austin Beerworks, Adelbert's Brewery (Belgian style ales), Thirsty Planet Brewery (cute glasses! I'm a sucker for packaging) and Live Oak Brewing Co.

Over 100 beers are on tap at Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden on Rainey Street

With heavy rain in the air, we spend an evening exploring the establishments on legendary Rainey Street--a historic district where rows of bungalow houses have been transformed into eateries and beer gardens. Catching wind of the 100+ beers on tap and variety of both meat and vegetarian sausages, we stop into Banger's Sausage House after a couple scoops of Amy's hand-made ice cream (the Guiness + Gingerbread is Awesome!) and a drink at the Container Bar (America's first bar made from shipping containers!). Banger's offers the largest sausage selection in Austin including seasonal (Turducken!) and vegetarian (the Vegetarian BLT Sausage is pretty exciting)! varieties and an assortment of appetizers (cheese curds! poutines!). 

Seasonal Specialities--Turducken, Drunk Chicken, Duck + Bacon + Fig

Royer's Pie Haven

For pie lovers, Royer's Pie Haven takes the cake for home made sweet and savory pie options. The quaint café is thoughtfully decorated and offers coffee and other treats in addition to pie. Stop by in the spring/summer to enjoy your treat outdoors!

So many options!

Beto's Alt-Mex as featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

On our drive through San Antonio, we stop at Beto's--the "Alt Mex" eatery featured on Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives. Billed as a slightly healthier version of Tex-Mex, Beto's boasts the "best fish taco in San Antonio." Well known for their tacos, Beto's serve up some excellent empanadas as well! That's all for now... Where to, next? 

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