This Week’s Eats: 04/26/13

shrimp and grits

Saturday brunch: shrimp and grits at Yellow Jacket Social Club. I can’t resist some shrimp and grits.

radiatore

Jamie Oliver’s Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone & Parmesan recipe, with quinoa radiatore.  Mmm.

And now, the Disappointing Meal of the Week: we went to the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek to watch Liverpool vs. Chelsea (which, sigh), lured by the giant screen, potentially fun crowd (which, as it turned out, was about 80% Reds, so there’s that), and a “traditional English breakfast,” advertised as including two fried eggs, pork sausage, seared tomato, grilled mushroom, baked beans, and toast.”

Imagine my disappointment when, upon arrival, our server informed us that there was no English breakfast that day.  But, dry your tears, as it turns out, there is an English breakfast today!  We duly place two orders for the English breakfast.  Meanwhile, we order coffee.  We wait.  We start watching the game.  We wait.  The people in front of us get served and enjoy their migas and omelettes.  We drink more coffee and wait.  After about 35 minutes, the people on either side of us, who arrived 20 minutes after we did, get served their chips and queso.  After 45 minutes, when the people sitting behind us also get their food, we remind the server about our orders.  He mumbles something about getting it.  We wait.  And wait. We wait through half time.  It’s now been more than an hour since we initially placed the order, and everyone else in the theater has finished their food.

Finally, as the second half starts, our breakfasts arrive.  I am not impressed.English breakfast

I wasn’t expecting any blood pudding, but no toast?!  Watery beans? Anemic tomatoes? Boring frozen sausage links?  And no bacon whatsoever?!  Blasphemy.  I can’t even.  For real, y’all.  The Alamo Drafthouse usually has good food, and often has great special menus.  What were you thinking?

Also, they didn’t deduct our $10 ticket vouchers from our ticket, and we had to send it back.  I think we’ll be watching EPL from the comfort of our own living room from now on.  Or, you know, go to Fado.

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Lunch at Taco Joint: two tacos, one beef sirloin street taco, and one al pastor. They have the best tortillas, and a great selection of salsas.

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Continuing the breakfast theme… Homemade Horseradish Cheese Grits with Cholula, real bacon bits, and Hal’s Hot Love. This was my attempt to ameliorate my allergy-induced nasal congestion. It didn’t work, but it did make me feel better, because it was creamy and delicious.

sausage and grits

Yes, more grits. This time with those delicious Niman Ranch Uncured Apple Gouda Sausages, which I sliced, pan-fried with onions, then let simmer in white wine for a while. Served over reheated, leftover horseradish grits. Amazing.

breakfast tacos

And more breakfast! Homemade breakfast tacos with eggs, black beans, and more Hal’s.

tacos

And, finally, more tacos. Homemade tostadas with beef, Hal’s, Monterey Jack, and sour cream. I really need to think about varying my diet, no?

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This Week’s Eats: 04/19/13

Another big post!  Apologies to all of you who really hate scrolling through pictures of delicious food.  Oh, wait…

First, Easter eats!

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Work lunch: tuna salad, Dr Pepper, Cadbury Egg

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Cheese enchiladas with sour cream sauce, Spanish rice, refried beans – El Mercado Uptown.

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Lunch by Wheatsville Deli: macaroni and cheese; chicken and biscuits; ham in apple jus; Sweet Leaf sweet tea.

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To belatedly celebrate my Dad’s birthday, we went to the County Line on the Lake.

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We started with a sausage plate…

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…then we had some of their delicious, homemade bread with whipped honey butter. Mmm…

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…and beers.

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I had a loaded baked potato.

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My dad had a whole plate of ribs.

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On Easter Sunday, we went to Hoover’s. My dad had the Cajun roast pork with mushroom rice pilaf, macaroni and cheese, and green beans, which was one of the Easter specials.

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I had the fried chicken breast with creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fried okra. Also pictured: cornbread, sweet potato biscuits, sweet tea. Why don’t I eat fried chicken more often? This was so good, I’ll go back to Hoover’s specifically to order it.

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We also had coconut cream pie.

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…and chocolate cream pie (my favorite).

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…and pecan pie.

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When I got home, I had a glass of wine… and another Cadbury egg! And there ends the Easter feast. Amen.

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Back to work. Loaded beef nachos at Qdoba.

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Recipe developing (because what this blog needs is more taco recipes): creamy cilantro chicken tostadas.

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Another work lunch: banana; Stilton and Brie; almonds; dried apricot. This was surprisingly filling.

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I’ve also become a bit of a biscuit fiend.

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We now consider this a reasonable dinner. (Homemade biscuits and homemade cream gravy with bacon fat. Yes.)

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Friday afternoon at Dog and Duck.

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I also made a trip to Houston, which means a stop at Hruska’s!

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Mmm… warm cream cheese kolaches.

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On the way back, we stopped at Ooh La La Sweets in Katy. Where I ate another piece of chocolate cream pie. Deal with it. (Note: the have a whole array of gluten free baked goods, and do catering, including cakes!)

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Just because.

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Fancy bangers and mash with grilled onions and red pepper, plus homemade Irony red wine onion gravy.

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Hal’s Hot Love, a creamy garlic jalapeño salsa by Shanita’s Salsitas, and chips. This was dinner. Hal’s is so addictive, y’all!

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Three tacos al pastor – mixing it up, flour tortillas! – at Burrito Factory. So delicious.

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Cucumber lime martini (Don Julio Blanco, Cointreau, fresh lime, and cucumber) at Manuel’s at the Arboretum. I love their courtyard. Lovely.

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Bean and cheese flautas, with salsa verde and sour cream, also at Manuel’s.

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Two cocktails, the Flip Envy (Angel’s Envy bourbon, Disaronno, lemon, chicory syrup, and egg white); and Eric’s refreshing vodka-spiked ginger beer with lime and mint. Freedmen’s in West Campus, which was also the site of our Austin Food Blogger Alliance cookbook launch party! Learn more about our cookbook here (hint: it includes one of my most popular recipes!). The building has a fascinating history, which I wrote about this winter for the End of Austin: West Campus project.

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Freedmen’s sausage plate. Goodness gracious.

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Brunch migas by Eric.

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Dinner by Eric: quinoa penne with with sage butter sauce, garlic, and homegrown spring onion.

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Homemade lamb burgers.

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Tex-Mex lamb taco-burgers… ? Basically my Mediterranean Turkey Burgers recipe with lamb, substituting flour tortillas for pitas, and served with homemade garlic and mint sour cream sauce.

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Vegetable fried rice at Thai Spice on the Drag. Really good.

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The best breakfast tacos in town (Taco Joint on San Jacinto) with the best salsa in town (Hal’s Hot Love).

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Roasted chicken thighs with kaffir lime and chili spices, on a bed of my Horseradish Cheese Grits, topped w/red wine mushroom sauce.

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Lal Toofan (a sweet concoction loaded with four types of rum,mango and pineapple juices, and a float of grenadine) at Clay Pit.

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Clay Pit’s Peshwari Naan, stuffed with nuts, raisins and cherries.

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Crushed coriander-breaded calamari, flash fried and served with a creamy garlic-cilantro sauce. Amazing.

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How Eric ended the week.

Speaking of kolaches, please join me in making a donation to the American Red Cross, Heart of Texas Chapter (Waco), to help the victims of the West fertilizer explosion disaster.

If you are able, please also consider donating to the Boston One Fund.

E pluribus unum, y’all.

Peace.

This Week’s Eats: 03/29/13

Okay, so, this is more like “three weeks’ eats,” but what can you do?

And, yes, I did eat this many tacos.  My coworkers and I recently decided that approximately 75% of our diet consists of tacos.  Deal with it.

Profiteroles

Sagra Trattoria and Bar is open!  Their new location at 1050 East 11th Street is really nice, too.  These are the profiteroles (basically, a profiterole ice cream sandwich with chocolate and caramel sauce!).

Salumi plate

Oscars salumi platter.

Sausage sandwich

Homemade sausage sandwich with butter-toasted sourdough, apple- and gouda-stuffed sausage, English cheddar, and shreeded red cabbage.  Delicious.

Burrito Factory

Two tacos al pastor (my usual), from the Burrito Factory in Dobie Mall.

Curried pork

Homemade curried coconut pork with shredded red cabbage, carrots, homegrown cilantro.

Dad's Beef Tacos

Dad’s Beef Tacos

Roast potatoes

Potatoes roasted in duck fat.  Remember that time I roasted a whole duck.? Yeah.

Taco Joint

Potato, egg, and cheese breakfast taco from the amazing Taco Joint on San Jacinto (my second favorite taco joint after Burrito Factory!).

Veggie samosa

Veggie samosa at Clay Pit. Addictive.

Peshwar martini

Peshwar Martini at Clay Pit: Stoli Vanil, Frangelico, Chambord, cherry.  My new favorite.

Macaroni carbonara

Macaroni carbonara with homgrown wilted arugula.

Bearded Seal Stout

Bearded Seal Stout at Pinthouse Pizza – really good.

Pinthouse Pizza

The Cannonball at Pinthouse: sauce, cheese, crumbled sausage, bacon, pepperoni, Canadian bacon.

Texadelphia

Standard cheesesteak at Texadelphia on the Drag.  I could drink that mustard sauce.

Kerbey Lane Cafe

Eggs Francisco at Kerbey Lane Cafe on the Drag: English muffin (subbed homefries!) piled high with scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado slices, and queso. Served with two sides (bacon and sausage!).  Whoah.

Breakfast tacos

Homemade breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, and hot sauce.

Grilled salmon tacos

Homemade grilled salmon tacos with homegrown cilantro, grilled mushrooms, and sour cream.  Drool.

Dad's Beef Tacos

Dad’s Beef Tacos (again)

Austin's Pizza

Half and half pie at Austin’s Pizza: half Pesto A-Go-Goat (my favorite) and half Super Pep.

Beef and broccoli

Homemade beef and broccoli.  A recipe I’m working on.  Turned out really, really good, especially considering the only ingredients were beef, broccoli, broth, and seasonings.

Breakfast

Breakfast with leftover taco meat.

Bearded Brothers

Bearded Brothers Might Maca Chocolate Energy Bar.  Delicious and highly recommended.

Mexican martini

Y’all know what this is.

Dai Due breakfast

Breakfast from Dai Due at the Mueller Farmer’s Market: Fried egg and sausage with diced potatoes; pork belly sandwich.  Yes.

Venison tacos

Dad’s Tacos (again – with venison from Dai Due!)

Homemade biscuits

Homemade biscuits.  First time ever.  Turned out amazing.  Inspired by weekly biscuit-making badass Jessica Luther.  I made Smitten Kitchen Cream Biscuits, sans sugar.

Breakfast

Leftover biscuits for breakfast.  Pan-fried in butter and bacon fat.

Matzocrack

Matzocrack, courtesy the amazing Laura!  Chocolate, white chocolate, salt and chocolate, coconut and chocolate, almond and chocolate… Chag Pesach sameach, y’all!

Food Trucks of SXSW

For the first time in seven years, I took time off work during Spring Break, and went to some SXSW stuff.

My main objective, in addition to enjoying a four-day weekend, was seeing Frightened Rabbit (!).  I even stood in line for three hours.  Other acts I caught included Amanda Shires (if you’re from Texas, I dare you to listen to this and not cry), Henry Wagons, Alt-J (whom I somehow hadn’t heard of!) Lucius, Joe Banfi, The Staves, Akron/Family (a very exciting surprise, as I’ve liked them for years), Helado Negro, and All Tiny Creatures

Of these, I thought Lucius put on the best show.  Performing in the historic St. David’s sanctuary (also one of the best venues, for my money, which was zero dollars), they concluded their high-energy, tight-harmony set by sitting on the floor in the center aisle, amid the congregation of music-lovers, and doing a short, unplugged piece, during which the drummer tapped on the wooden floorboards and pews.  I’d go see them again anytime, anywhere.

I also tried three food trucks:

Blue Basil

Blue Basil
Corner of 7th and Trinity
Every Thursday night to Saturday night, 11:00pm – 3:00am

Pictured above is the #2, Chicken Over Rice. This delectable bowl included fragrant, fluffy rice topped with succulent, perfectly grilled chicken breast, served with a slight sweet sauce, paper-thin cucumber slices, and Asian slaw, topped with a fried egg. $7.00. Highly recommended.

The boy had the #5, Pork Sandwich ($5.00), and was also very impressed. If you see Alex there, tell her I said, “SHAMON!”

The Jalopy

The Jalopy
15th and San Antonio
Monday through Friday, 7:00am – 9PM
Saturday – 11AM-4PM

This one’s right in my neighborhood, but I’d somehow never been, despite hearing rave reviews.

Pictured above is the Gadd Thai sandwich, with tender pulled pork, coconut milk peanut sauce, sriracha, and pickled onions. I’m a sucker for coconut milk, and I have a longstanding peanut fixation, so this was right up my alley. Eric had the Son Hong: pulled pork with sweet and savory chili sauce, pickled onions, cucumbers, scallions (both $6.50). Washed down with a cold Topo Chico, these made a great meal. The relaxing, shady picnic tables don’t hurt, either.

Johnnye's

Johnnye’s East Texas Soul
Usually outside Holy Mountain
617 E. 7th Street
Check web site for hours

Saturday afternoon, we went to the Home-Tapes party at the Museum of Human Achievement, an art warehouse in East Austin. Stefon would’ve loved it. This place had everything: experimental music, bearded dudes lying on the floor, a papier-mâché skeleton, a child. It also had my new favorite food trailer: Johnnye’s East Texas Soul.

Johnnye’s is one of Austin’s newest food trailers, named for the owners’ grandmother, and founded to share the East Texas country cooking they loved growing up. The regular menu includes fried chicken, fresh greens, sugar snap peas, fried pickles, and some dang good coffee.

We split a “Gay-Fil-A” (did I mention that I love this place?), Johnnye’s chicken tender sandwich with pickles and mayo. The chicken was expertly battered and fried, and the waffle fries were amazing! Johnnye’s is such a great spot, they even offered to give us a free one when we dropped our first sandwich. I can’t wait to go back.

Read more about proprietors Laurel Barickman and David Millner and their food philosophy in this Chronicle piece by Kate Messer.

“We are gonna give 10% of every sandwich we sell to GLAAD to try and do our little part, to throw it out there that you don’t have to eat at Chick-fil-A if you want good chicken.”

I love me some radical East Texans. Solidarity, y’all!

Austin Coffee Guide 2013

Coffee

Welcome to my 2013 Austin coffee guide, part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2013 Austin City Guide.

Austin City Guide

Best Coffee Shops

1. Caffe Medici

Caffe Medici on West Lynn
1101 West Lynn
Austin, TX 78703

The original location of this amazing coffee house is still a favorite with discerning coffee aficionados. Not only do the use Austin’s own best-of-the-best Cuvée Coffee, they have their own blend! Knowledgeable, dedicated baristas making near-perfect coffee. Adorably situated in a renovated house in the historic and quaint Clarksville neighborhood.

Caffe Medici on the Drag
2222B Guadalupe Street
Austin, TX 78705

Hip little spot with the best coffee in town, full hot breakfast menu, and some excellent people watching.

Caffe Medici
Iced coffee with hazelnut, Caffe Medici on the Drag

2. Cherrywood Coffeehouse

Cherrywood Coffeehouse
1400 East 38th 1/2 Street
Austin, TX 78722

Cherrywood is a funky spot on the East Side with ample outdoor seating (a large patio, plus an even larger yard with palm trees!) and intimate indoor tables and booths. Not only do they serve some of the best coffee in Austin (try the Cuban Con Leche), but they also have some amazing food and a great atmosphere. I could stay here all day (and sometimes I do)!  I can’t believe I don’t have a picture, because we go here all the time!  I’ll rectify this soon.

3. Thunderbird Coffee

Thunderbird Coffee on Koenig
1401 Koenig Lane
Austin, TX 78756

Thunderbird
Ridiculously delicious vegan chocolate truffle, Thunderbird Coffee on Koenig.

Thunderbird is, for my money, the best coffee shop in the Brentwood Neighborhood. Truly at the forefront of Austin’s coffee scene, they serve Cuvée, they buy direct trade, and the place is just super comfortable. Oh, Thunderbird also has some amazing snacks (see above).

Thunderbird Coffee on Manor
2200 Manor Road
Austin, TX 78722

Thunderbird’s Manor location is every bit as great as the Koenig shop, and is also a great spot to catch some live music (see their Facebook page for updates).

4. Bennu Coffee

Bennu Coffee
2001 East Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Austin, TX 78702

BennuBennu is tucked away in the dip of a steep valley on East MLK, and it’s a very snug spot! Their coffee is excellent, but the real draw for me is their gourmet mochas menu! I tried The Raven, above (“a luscious dark chocolate mocha topped with home-made whipped cream and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce – go, Ravens!). Delicious.

Honorable Mentions

Houndstooth Coffee
4200 North Lamar, Suite 120
Austin, TX 78756

When telling people that I was writing a guide to Austin coffee shops, Houndstooth is the place that was mentioned the most! These folks take coffee seriously, and this place is the epitome of Austin’s burgeoning upscale hipster cool. Situated on North Lamar amongst our favorite hip establishments and next to a Ferrari dealership, Houndstooth is small, crowded, and always abuzz. Their baristas are true professionals, and coffee is the main draw here. Their original location will soon be joined by a downtown shop, too!

Jo’s
1300 South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704

Jo's
Eric at Jo’s on South Congress.

This happening coffee dealer is among the most beloved in town, not only because of their gourmet roasting abilities, but because the main, South Congress location includes some famous Amy Cook graffiti. Jo’s has a sister shop downtown on 2nd Street, which also serves up their very, very good sandwiches in addition to coffee. Jo’s is a must-visit, practically an institution.

Flipnotics
1601 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704

Another Austin institution, Flipnotics will always have a place in my heart as the place where Luke Wilson once held a door for me. No lie, he held the door for me, and then proceeded to silently sip a large cup of coffee while reading a book, mere feet away. Beyond potential Wilson-spottings, though, Flipnotics is an amazing coffee shop on Barton Springs road that serves up some of the strongest midnight coffee I’ve ever had in addition to an array of locally-produced foodstuffs (like Hoboken Pie!). They also have live music daily. Now that’s Austiny, y’all.

J.P.’s Java
2803 San Jacinto
Austin, TX 78705

J.P.'s Java
Hazelnut latte, J.P.’s Java.

Wonderful, warm coffee shop near The University of Texas (north campus). Cozy indoor seating and a large, sunny patio.

The Hideout
617 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

Latte at the Hideout
Latte, the Hideout.

Cozy little coffee shop affiliated with the Hideout Theatre (which is upstairs) on Congress Avenue. You can even take your coffee into the theater! Good people watching, great coffee, funky atmosphere.

Espression Lavazza
914 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701

Espresso at Lavazza
Espresso, Espression Lavazza.

One of only ten Lavazza retail coffee shops in the USA, the Austin location is a sensory overload of very strong espresso, Italian pastries, gelato, IKEA-like modern decor, and ridiculous artwork (see below).

Lavazza artwork

Spider House
2908 Fruth Street
Austin, TX 78705

A north campus institution, Spider House is just as funky as it was when I was a wee undergrad in the late 90s. They serve an impressive selection of colorfully-named sandwiches (Sam-I-Am-Wich, anyone?) and have a full bar as well as quite a few excellent imported beers, but their coffee is nothing to sniff at, either. A brightly-painted, converted house, this place is a real mecca for students, and is usually very busy during term time. And, trust me, f you get a table, you’ll want to stay a while.

East Village Cafe
1111 Chicon Street
Austin, TX 78702

East Village Cafe
Eric enjoying an americano at East Village Cafe.

East Village Cafe comfortably inhabits an old, renovated storefront in the Rosewood neighbhorhood, and makes a lovely cup of coffee! Friendly baristas, two patios, JFK art, and a great sunset view make this small place extra special.

Austin Java
1206 Parkway (12th & Lamar)
Austin, TX 78703

Now at seven locations, including the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Austin Java has been serving up great coffee and hearty meals for years. The all day breakfast is good, but I have to recommend the Thai One On Salad and Spicy African Peanut Soup. The front patio is another great spot for people watching, situated as it is on Lamar Boulevard.

Mozart’s Coffee
3825 Lake Austin Boulevard
Austin, TX 78703

Mozart’s is just a treat. It’s a great place to hang and study or read, but it’s also a bit romantic. Right on Lake Austin, they regularly schedule live music shows and serve some truly decadent coffees, pastries, canoli, and homemade cheesecake. Especially intimate after dark.

Bouldin Creek Cafe
1900 South First Street
Austin, Texas 78704

Long a hole in the wall on South First, vegetarian hotspot Bouldin Creek Cafe moved into sweet new digs a few blocks away from their original location a couple of years ago. Famous among vegans for their amazing scrambled tofu with nutritional yeast (I still order it, even though I now eat two dozen eggs a week), Bouldin Creek has preserved its funky charm while moving a bit upscale. This is a place you could hold an anarchist book club or take your out-of-town parents. Serving locally roasted Black Velvet Coffee, Bouldin offers both cow’s milk and vegan options including rice, soy, and almond (mmm!). This place is plain addictive.

Halcyon
18 West 4th Street
Austin, TX 78701

When I told Eric I was writing the City Guide post on coffee shops, the second thing he said (after, “Cherrywood!”) was, “Oh, good, you can tell everyone about how much better Halcyon used to be.” It’s true. I loved the old (pre-2007) Halcyon. They did a renovation and made the place a lot smaller and less comfortable, but it’s still one of the best coffee houses in Austin, and a day/night chameleon. Alongside expertly roasted standard coffees, they feature brilliant menu items like the chocolate espresso martini and tableside s’mores (complete with fire – and a favorite of mine back in the day). Open till 3:00am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Epoch
221 West North Loop Boulevard
Austin, TX 78751

North Loop. Delicious coffee (especially the iced mochas). Free, reliable wifi.  They’re open 24 hours.  And it’s a good thing, because this is the type of coffee house where you’ll want to hang out all day (and night).

Hidden Gems

Driskill Bar
604 Brazos Street
Austin, Texas 78701

Driskill

Nestled inside the back of the historic (and hyper-Texan) Driskill Hotel, the Driskill Bar is not only one of the very best people watching spots on this list, but they also serve pretty damn cheap Irish coffees alongisde the ridiculously priced happy hour menu (half-price bar snacks, including Angus beef sliders and bacon-wrapped medjool dates, both highly recommended).

Arturo’s Underground Cafe (Yelp)
314 West 17th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Arturo's

Texas Pecan Roast, Arturo’s Underground Cafe.

A real hidden gem between campus and the Capitol, serving up amazing breakfast tacos, sandwiches, and wraps every morning and lunchtime. Basement and sidewalk seating, friendly staff, and amazing Texas Pecan Roast coffee.

Dobie Market
2025 Guadalupe Street, Suite # 142
Austin, Texas 78705

This is going to sound crazy, but my favorite cup of coffee lately is the plain, small, black coffee at Dobie Market, the new convenience store in the bottom of Dobie Mall (enter from the corner of 21st and Whitis). They serve freshly roasted beans from Texas Coffee Traders, and, well, it’s just excellent. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also cheap, they’re always open, the owner is super friendly, and they stock a wide selection of foodstuffs, including Capitol Grill breakfast tacos, the entire Blue Bell range (in pints), Krispy Kreme doughtnuts, beer, and wine. Seriously, go check it out.

For a round-up of Austin coffee roasters, see Eli Catro’s blog, Grubbus!

To see the complete 2013 Austin City Guide, click here!