Local Focus: Austin

posted in: Food, Guides, Travel | 0
Hope Outdoor Gallery graffiti park at Castle Hill in Austin, Texas

It’s hard to walk around central Texas without seeing or hearing the phrase “Keep Austin Weird.” The food and drink within the state capitol certainly take that motto to heart, preparing culinary dishes that offer (sometimes outrageous) twists on old classics. Music plays a big part in the makeup of the city as well; if you’re indulging in a spot that doesn’t feature some sort of catchy tunes, consider that place as rare as a unicorn. Here are a few spots worth a visit on your next trip to Austin.

Photo courtesy of Easy Tiger.

Easy Tiger

The first thing you’ll notice when stepping foot into Easy Tiger is the undeniable aroma of freshly baked bread. The bakery offers some of the finest pastries and breads around, made right in-house. Downstairs, guests can sip on a number of craft beers from local breweries while playing a game of table tennis or merely taking in a beautiful starry evening. While the artisanal sausage offerings in the beer garden are quite inviting, the real winner is the pretzel with housemade beer cheese. You’ll wonder how something so simple can be so incredible.

709 E. 6th St, (512) 614-4972

Pinthouse Pizza

Pinthouse Pizza pairs two of the most wonderful things in the world: pizza and beer. All pizzas are made in-house, by hand, with ingredients sourced from local vendors. The result is a perfect thickness pizza oozing with flavor. Try a more subdued classic like pepperoni, add a little twist with goat cheese, or go completely wild with the monthly Off the Map Pie, which explores the boundaries of pizza toppings. To quench your thirst, more than 40 beers are on tap, like the just-released Nitro Seal Dry Irish Stout.

Lamar Location: 4236 S. Lamar Blvd, (512) 502-5808; Burnet Location: 4729 Burnet Road, (512) 436-9605

The Continental Club

The “granddaddy of live music venues,” The Continental Club has been a staple of live music in Austin since 1955. The classic flashing neon sign can be spotted blocks away on Congress, and visitors can often spot vintage cars lined up nearby the club. Inside, you can enjoy some of the best blues, jazz, and rock around while watching people swing dance their hearts out on the makeshift dance floor. The Continental Club is also a go-to spot for traveling acts wanting to play a more intimate secret show – like when The Killers performed for a small 250-person crowd during this year’s ACL Fest.

1315 South Congress Avenue, (512) 441-2444

Photo courtesy of Firehouse Lounge

Firehouse Lounge & Hostel

Come for the craft cocktails at Firehouse Lounge & Hostel, stay for the night if you drink too much. Both the lounge and hostel are located in the oldest firehouse in town, built in 1885. A sliding bookshelf serves as the entrance to the lounge, which brings together all the finest speakeasy elements: cozy booths, old-timey films playing on television, and prohibition-era drinks. You’ll also often find a local Austin artist playing some music, where you’ll hear everything from jazz to hard rock.

605 Brazos St, (512) 201-2522


For doughnut fans, it’s hard to beat Gourdough’s. Seriously – every single menu item features a doughnut of some sort. The Ron Burgundy burger rests between two fried dough buns, while the Mother Clucker is a twist on the old chicken and waffles combo, using – you guessed it – chicken and doughnuts, topped with a delightful honey butter glaze. There are plenty of dessert options as well, like the Freebird: cheesecake filling, cream cheese icing, graham cracker crumbles, and fresh strawberries and blackberries. At the brick and mortar establishments, bold drinkers can order an entire tower of their favorite beer.

2700 S. Lamar Blvd., (512) 912-9070 (brick & mortar); 1503 S 1st St. (trailer)

Pasta at Emmer and Rye. Photo courtesy of Emmer and Rye.

Emmer & Rye

Just off the corner of Rainey Street, Emmer & Rye curates a daily menu based on the season. That means milling grains in house, butchering hogs regularly and taking advantage of robust fermentation. One of the typical standouts are the Short Rib Carnitas, combining slow-cooked beef with hominy broth, jalapeño and daikon, and freshly baked naan that serves as a soft taco-esque accompaniment to the dish. While the standard menu is already quite varied, you’ll interact with dim sum carts throughout your meal. If something catches your eye, grab it and enjoy.

51 Rainey St, Suite 100, (512) 366-5530

The Flying Carpet

Austin’s best spot for Moroccan cuisine is a bit hard to find – after all, The Flying Carpet looks like any other house on the street. But tucked behind that homey exterior is a kitchen that makes every meal to order. The restaurant’s motto is “food translates.” Owners Maria & Abderrahim Souktouri believe that sitting down to a meal with friends and family is one of the most important things and that food is a language everyone speaks. Though once you’ve been served, there probably won’t be very much talking going on at all.

504 West Oltorf, 512-744-5651