Short recap about my trip to Austin during Labor Day weekend! The food scene here is ALIVE.
SATURDAY: The theme was meat galore. Pork belly, Angus beef, and minimal vegetable consumption. (Unless the beet and carrot ice creams I devoured at Lick count.)
Lunch featured Hopdoddy’s (minus any wait time because I did math and got there early). By the time I left, the line snaked around the side of the building.
These parmesan truffle fries outdid themselves–fluffy, crispy, with dustings of parmesan bits and a sublime, sophisticated truffle dipping sauce. Who needs ketchup?
The ‘Shroom burger–a festival of basil pesto, thick mayonnaise, and sauteed field mushrooms. The patty was whoppingly thick, plus the bun made Franz look tame. I love how everything here is made from scratch.
I also learned that there’s this newfangled Chipotle competitor called Cabo Bob’s (which I didn’t have the pleasure of trying, sadly) but Austin friends insisted that this place could make Chipotle seem dreary. The tortillas looked delicious–large, handmade circles of light, thin dough tinted a shade of green (with cilantro, I think?). On the other hand, the chicken looked less juicy than Chipotle’s.
Still, apparently Cabo Bob’s guac is cheaper.
Dinner was at East Side King, a food truck turned brick and mortar. This place boasted an eclectic array of Asian fusion cuisine with a rather expensive menu but decent, mouthwatering fare.
The pork belly in these Pac-Man buns salvaged the meal. I could eat that for brekki, lunch, and dindin. The sweet hoisin sauce was a delightful contrast to the savory flavors, too.
SUNDAY/MONDAY: The theme was food trucks & brunch. Two of the biggest things in Austin, right?
I ate at Henri’s for brunch on Sunday (no picture provided), which was a light smoked salmon tartine with soft-boiled eggs and a pile of greens. Favorite part of that was the crusty, spongy bread, hands down. The salmon had a salty tang but not enough of that hearty smoked flavor that I love.
For dinner that day I tried Julie’s Handmade Noodles and Korean Komfort, both located in a little dingy food truck pod. Julie amped up her pork chop noodle soup with a dash of chili sauce, and although her noodles didn’t win in terms of presentation, their handmade, authentic quality was satisfying indeed. Korean Komfort had a nice bibimbap with a smattering of vegetables and chunks of chicken. Let’s be honest though, the vibrant sunnyside-up egg took the spotlight.
I treated myself to more dessert and set out for Dolce Neve that evening, enjoying a combination of stracciatella and buttermilk with kaffir lime (which is actually a super gnarly, knobbly-looking lime but hey, the flavor is nicely zesty). Dolce Neve manages to make dessert taste healthy, emphasizing creaminess over sugar. No wonder this place has so much hype.
Favorite meal of the whole trip, however, was Odd Duck. Whoever came up with such a name? No duck was featured on the menu, sadly, but there was a blackened fish ceviche that transported me to elysium. I hate raw things. But this seared snapper with sprinkles of rice cakes and fresh melon cubes, all nestled on an avocado puree–sophistication. The fish had a soft, supple texture that melted in my mouth. I’d go back to Odd Duck just for this dish alone.
The main entree was a variation on the tostada via sandwich form–toasted crusty bread stuffed with pickled corn, green chile sauce, and spicy pulled pork. Everything looked and tasted like they were crafted with the utmost care.
I will definitely be back. Expect more Austin recaps someday, folks!