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!

Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook Pre-Sale!

AFBA Cookbook

The Austin Food Blogger Alliance cookbook is being published by the History Press in April, and I’m so excited to have one of my most popular recipes included!  If you want to know which one, you’ll have to buy the book! But those mouth-watering images above are a sneak peak of a few dishes contributed by my fellow Austin foodie bloggers.

And lucky for you, we’re currently doing a pre-sale to raise money to buy a bulk quantity of books to sell directly to members and supporters.

Addie explains:

From AFBA:

During the pre-sale campaign, books cost $25 each, plus tax, and we’re offering a sizable discount on each book if you buy at least five. We will be hosting pick-up events around the time of the book’s official launch, but we also will be shipping books to people who can’t make it to one of those events.

So, what will we do with the proceeds from the book sales? Like countless community cookbook projects before us, our cookbook will support the AFBA’s mission, which is to educate our members on how to be better bloggers, give them an opportunity to network with one another and create opportunities to raise money and awareness for other nonprofits in Austin. (We’ve raised more than $5,000 for local nonprofits, including SafePlace and Bake A Wish, in the past two years, and with the cookbook proceeds, we’ll be able to host even more of these kinds of events.)

Eventually, we’d like to add a scholarship program that gives budding food writers, photographers, bloggers and even aspiring chefs the opportunity to kickstart their careers.

AFBA Cookbook

Click here to place your order now!

Save Sagra!

Friends,

This afternoon, the Judges’ Hill / Arts District community received terrible news: Sagra Trattoria and Bar will be closing on November 18th, due to the failure of their landlord, Granite Properties of Texas, to renew their lease after five successful years.

Here’s what Sagra owner and chef Gabriel Pellegrini said today on the restaurant’s Facebook page:

See the restaurant’s full statement here.

This is ridiculous, and sad news for not only the hardworking and talented staff of Sagra or for those of us who are neighborhood regulars, but also for the entire Austin foodie community.  Sagra has been a leader in Austin’s farm-to-table and local food movementThey have their own greenhouse, supplying a large proportion of their vegetables and herbs, and an in-house horticulturist.  And their food is among the freshest and best in Austin; they have a casual yet elegant dining room, a cozy and romantic bar, and two patios (one in the front, on San Antonio street, and one in the back).

As residents of the neighborhood (I’ve lived on the next block over for six and a half years), my partner and I are regulars at Sagra, both for weeknight happy hours and for special occasions (in fact, I’ve spent two of my own birthdays there, as well as that of my best friend).  Contrary to what their landlord seems to think, Sagra’s presence in the Judges’ Hill neighborhood is warmly welcome, including their wonderful, European-style sidewalk patio.  There are not even any residential units near Sagra—in fact, the view from their front door is of a multi-story UT parking garage.  Far from being a nuisance, the Sagra patios provide a beautiful oasis in the middle of a heavily used pedestrian and cyclist route between campus and downtown.  As residents, we had hoped that Sagra’s success would lure more, similar outdoor establishments to our little corner of town.

I have written to Sagra’s landlord, Granite Properties of Texas, who are already listing the property for lease, to share my opinion as a Judges’ Hill resident and Sagra regular.

Please join me in contacting them and asking them to renew Sagra’s lease.

Company Principal
Bill Roland, CPM, CCIM
(512) 469-0925
billr@graniteproperties.com

Commercial Property Management
Kim McGregor
(512) 469-0925
kimm@graniteproperties.com

Commercial/Residential Management
Lisa Bowers
(512) 469-0925
lisab@graniteproperties.com

SAVE SAGRA!

Join the Save Sagra Facebook page.

Sagra – Gabriel Pellegrini, Chef & Owner from Christian Remde on Vimeo.

Review: Dog and Duck Pub

I can’t believe I haven’t written a whole post about the Dog and Duck Pub yet!

When I moved back to Austin from the UK in 2006, I chose my apartment based on proximity to the Capitol and the University (one of which I hoped to be employed by, both of which I have worked at in the past six years)… and Dog and Duck.

I’ve been a quasi-regular since 1998, when I was underage and enjoyed Cherry Cokes, fish and chips, and the Anglophile ambiance of the place.  Since moving into the neighborhood, I’m a fixture; the boy and I stop in at least twice a week on average.

Not only is the place cozy, unpretentious, and shockingly pub-like, but they also have the best staff in town, excellent food, a great jukebox, and an unrivaled selection of draught beers (about 40 at recent count, plus another 30 bottles and cans).

Rather than do a traditional review, I’m just going to present a photo essay of Dog and Duck’s greatest hits.

Here’s a basic grilled cheese with a huge pile of french fries.  They also do a deluxe grilled cheese with fresh basil and three cheeses.  Fancy!

The bar.  See the current beer selection and specials here.  Don’t miss Tuesday pint night—all regular beers are on special, $3.00-3.50 per pint.  They also serve wine and a selection of soft drinks (free refills on the latter!).

Shepherd’s pie.  I had never ordered a shepherd’s pie at Dog and Duck until a few weeks ago, believe it or not, but it was really great, so now I’m on a shepherd’s pie kick.  Perfect for cool nights.  Mmm.

Best fish and chips in town, hands down.  There’s a reason they regularly win the Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll “Best Pub Grub” award!  Crispy batter, flaky white fish, lemon wedges, malt vinegar—served on a bed of expertly fried fries.  What could be better?  That’s right—nothing.  Available as a full or half order!

I am also a big fan of the lamb gyro.  This constitutes a light meal at Dog and Duck!  The tzatziki is cool and refreshing; the feta is crumbly and generous; and the lamb is perfect!  Succulent, flavorful, and a little crunchy around the edges.  I want one right now just thinking about it.

Though most famous for their fish and chips and other pub grub, Dog and Duck also has one of the best burgers in town, for my money.  I order a burger half the time, probably!  This is a standard cheeseburger and fries.  Their burgers are made from scratch; I don’t know the actual weight, but very often I suspect it’s a half pounder, because I can’t even finish it.  Eric and I actually split a burger and fries quite often.  They also have a really good veggie burger, which we order on occasion.

Dog and Duck is a great hangout for watching the English Premiere League; most games are on if they’re on air during their opening hours.  And they also have a dart board and pinball machine.  BYO chess, though.

Another classic British dinner: bangers and mash (I can’t believe I don’t have my own recipe up; must rectify that shortly!).  This is a huge, huge plate.  Don’t order it unless you are ravenous, plan to be there a long time, or have a friend to help!  It’s so good, though.  Three pan-fried sausages topped with onions and gravy, served with a scoop of mashed potatoes, a large side of baked beans, and two giant slices of Texas toast.  You can’t go wrong with this, mate.

Didn’t I tell you the atmosphere is pretty nice?

Here’s my favorite speciality hamburger: the Spicy Black and Blue Burger!  It comes with bleu cheese, bacon, and adobo sauce.  To.  Die.  For.

On the lighter side, you might also fancy a nice salad, like this Caesar with chicken.  The salads are large enough to make a whole meal, and are always fresh and tasty.  You might not think of this when considering lunch at the pub, but I highly recommend you try one!  They have several big, hearty salads on the menu.

Dog and Duck also puts on the largest St. Patrick’s Day party in Austin.  It’s an institution.  Here’s KUT’s beloved Ed Miller and the amazing Rich Brotherton on stage at this year’s celebration.  I have to say, though I enjoy this raucous day and night at Dog and Duck, I don’t understand why they don’t do anything for St. George’s Day, or have a regular EPL schedule.  Since they’re an English pub and all…  The place becomes Irish for one day a year.  It’s pretty funny.

Finally, they also have amazing lunch specials.  Many state and UT workers head over on their lunch break to take advantage.  I had this soup, salad, and sandwich combo last week with my friend Phillip: spicy potato and chipotle creamed soup; bacon, cheddar, and arugula melt on sourdough with onion and a sriracha sauce; side salad. Including a soft drink (free refills), it’s a steal at $8.50!  I already posted a closeup of the bacon sandwich in last week’s This Week’s Eats, but check it out.  This was the best bacon sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.

If this post made you drool, get on over there right now!  Today’s lunch special is a pesto turkey pita melt: grilled turkey with bacon bits, balsamic tomatoes, arugula, parmesan pesto spread, mozzarella, and Romano cheese on a toasted pita. Served with chips, fries, or lightly battered asparagus—$8.50!

You can find out about daily specials by liking Dog and Duck’s Facebook page, following them on Twitter, or checking their web site.  It’s usually announced on Facebook first.

Cheers, and see you there!

Dog and Duck Pub
406 West 17th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 479-0598

Autumn Soup Round-Up

Well, it’s finally cooling off here in Austin, Texas, and that means it’s time for soup!

Until I was about 25, “soup” meant a watery, salty concoction from a can. The only soups I’d had were along a narrow spectrum of grocery store awfulness: chicken noodle, potato, vegetable.

In 2008, I received a copy of Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites, by Food TV chef Giada de Laurentiis as a gift. Laurentiis is my actually favorite of the new breed of television cooking celebrities. Italian food is my favorite regional cuisine. I’m not a food snob; I write a food blog, but, as you may’ve noticed, the meals I make are comparatively uncomplicated, as well as affordable. I like junk food and make no apologies. Laurentiis’s style is approachable and her dishes are simple, healthy, and delicious. I also like her because, like me, she’s short!

The first recipe I made from Giada’s Kitchen was her Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup. It’s a straightforward recipe: butter, onions, garlic, herbs, beans, broth, and cream. But it introduced me to the real possibilities of soup.

After I realized how ridiculously tasty and filling this simple soup was, I started experimenting. I made a potato soup on the same template. I made creamy vegetable soups. I made my soup a little fancier, and complex, by adding toasted nuts. I made it healthier by adding a huge batch of pureed greens. I realized the possibilities are endless! And soup is so budget-friendly, too. As long as you keep the basics on hand (onions, herbs and spices, broth), you can make virtually anything into a great soup. It’s also a great dish to warm up for lunch when you’re at work on just in a hurry. And it freezes brilliantly. Eventually, I even made Julia Child’s french onion soup!

It’s about time for a trip to Wheatsville, and I know what I’ll be stocking up on: soup fixins! I like to keep the following items on hand:

Vegetable broth
Mushroom broth
Chicken broth
Beef broth
Garlic
Shallots
Onions
Salt
Pepper
Heavy cream

I use boxed, organic broths. I do not have the time to make my own broth; hopefully, I will someday. Here’s a basic introduction to making your own chicken broth.

I also find that shallots add a depth of flavor you can’t get from plain old onions, though I use those, too.

Use fresh garlic.

Cream makes everything better. Sometimes, if I have any, I’ll also use a little sour cream, especially with chicken- and/or greens-based soups.

Another tip: use your saved bacon fat as a base for sautéing the onions and garlic.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite soups. Make some of this easy no-knead bread, get busy cooking, and start enjoying soup!  Click on any link or picture to go straight to the recipe.

Amazing Asparagus Soup

 

Roasted Acorn Squash and Red Lentil Soup

 

Creamy Greens Soup with Hot Italian Sausage

 

Quick and Cheesy Corn Chowder

 

Creamy Garlic Zucchini Soup

 

Broccoli and Pine Nut Soup

 

Stella’s French Onion Soup


 

Zucchini and Red Pepper Soup


 

Summer Squash (and Corn) Soup

 

Stella’s Pumpkin Soup