After our big city feeds in Houston we didn’t think we could ever eat again. It’s true… everything is bigger in Texas, and food was certainly no exception.
Except it was in Austin. Austin felt more organic and homespun than its big city sister and we fell in love with 4 very special eateries during our 3-night stay.
Address: 79 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701
In a sweet neighbourhood, roads line with large shady trees and cyclists around every corner, sits this unique restaurant. Banger’s is the epitome of the Austin dining scene.
Large outdoor benches, live music, a crawfish boil (on the afternoon we visited) and super friendly staff. It’s both pet friendly, with a dog run at the back, and kid friendly with bean bag toss (although the kids never got a chance to use it, because of the adults having so much fun).
The menu can be described as Texas BBQ meets Cajun and Creole cuisines with a creative gourmet twist. Home made sausages are paired with toppings (instead of wine or beer as traditionally done in restaurants), and the “Special Sausages” portion of the menu offered more creative interpretations of the definition of "sausage". Classic Austin originality.
We bravely tried pig ears, which most members of our family were not a fan of. But everything else was delicious.
Although the food was good, the atmosphere was the winner here. The whole place felt electric and we wanted to stay all day sitting in the sun, relaxing, and chatting to our fellow bench neighbours in the beer garden.
And when our waiter brought out the jar Snickers dessert, we were sold – I could have kicked back and stayed forever.
With a name like that you can expect good food. I mean, who else but a confident chef would demand that you eat. And not just any chef, but Chef Eric and his famously rude food truck.
Yup, when you order here don’t expect kind words and flowery compliments. What you can expect is an Austin icon serving tasty sandwiches with a Texas twist.
Chef Eric incorporates sophisticated flavours and attention turn to detail normally reserved for Michelin star restaurants. Starting from Southwest influences he boldly takes them where no other chef is willing to go. And all this from the back of a truck.
Chef Eric personally brought out each plate to the picnic benches and passionately shared with each diner details about the ingredients used and lay out expectations of flavour profiles. He's an artist and the plate is his canvas.
And he had a right to be proud. Those sandwiches were amongst the best I’ve had anywhere in the world.
This independent neighbourhood pizza joint serves New York-style home made, hand tossed pizza by the pie or the slice.
The waiters had us so confused when we asked for the most popular items. They had so many! It was a tough decision.
We ended up with a Greek salad, an award-winning Rueben and a large pie. All amazing. My favourite though was the taste tester of a new type of pizza called the Sicilian they were trying out. It was to die for!
What I really loved about this restaurant, despite the great food and the fun, outdoor atmosphere was the simple pleasure they gave our kids. As soon as we sat down they presented each child with their own pizza dough to play with. I have never seen my kids so busy at a dinner table. It wasn’t to make a pizza, it was just to play with and they were entertained for hours. In fact, my daughter claimed it was her favourite restaurant in the United States.
Couple this with a fun, casual outdoor bench-style seating with no fears of floor mess and the venue was the ideal family dining destination.
Adcrdress: 1287 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130
Ok, so technically not in Austin, but this place can not be missed when visiting Austin. We drove to the historic town of Gruene (pronounced “green”) on a sunny Friday after a morning at the Natural Bridge Caverns Wildlife Ranch (LINK TO ARTICLE). This cute town looked like it was lifted straight out of a travel magazine. Settled in the 1840’s many of the beautiful buildings are included in the National Register of Historic Places, including the three-story brick boiler room built in 1878 which was renovated into The Gristmill restaurant in 1977.
This very popular restaurant is situated on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River under the shade of towering oak trees.
The views were both impressive and relaxing with a soothing Texas rural vibe. I felt like I could have spent the whole day there just chilling and drinking their signature cocktails. Most of Austin’s eateries felt like this. Like time was not an object and you had all day.
Oh, and the food was incredible. I met other diners who’d drive several hundred kilometres just to visit this restaurant, and I found out why.
What Did We Miss?
With only 3 nights up our sleeves it was a hard choice to narrow down only 4 eateries, but we feel we made the best choices. How about you? Have you been to Austin? What did we miss? What are your favourites?