To give you an idea of how this post is going to go, that^ is a Cuban sandwich on a doughnut.
Austin is an experimental and quirky little city known for custom bites and craft cocktails, so being the foodies at heart that we are, Kristin and I were on a (seemingly bottomless) mission to sample as much of the creativity as possible during our time in town for SXSW. We stuck to the main 6th St., Rainey and University of TX areas because of proximity to the daily events, but between Austin’s native food scene, the #SouthBites food park and amped up pop-ups all around, we covered quite a few selections.
9 food trucks, 12 restaurants, 20+ bars/lounges and and an embarrassing amount of food pics later — mission accomplished! From 10 days of diving head first into Austin’s food scene, here are the 10 best bites of SXSW 2015:
Chilantro – Kim Chi Fries
This Korean BBQ infusion started as a single food truck before expanding to a fleet of four and establishing it’s own brick and mortar on South Lamar. Kim chi fries and k-pops were the first two things I ate in Austin and they resurfaced again later in the week.
Torchy’s Tacos – Queso + Secret Menu
Torchy’s came highly recommended and the mostly eaten queso pictured here was well worth the wait. Why haven’t I thought to put guac in queso before?! Fajita beef, black beans, grilled corn, jack cheese, creamy chipotle + cilantro-full “Mad Cow” off the elusive secret menu pictured here.
Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts + Lucille’s Margarita
These are seriously the best mini-donuts either of us have ever eaten! Little Lucy’s in the Rainey St. Food Truck park makes magic with these soft, moist, chewy, sweet, a tad bit savory and bite-size little nuggets all at the same time. They come in small or large bags and with chocolate, caramel or white chocolate dipping sauce, not that they need any! Lucille’s just a bit further up on Rainey serves the best margarita of the week, that cayenne pepper rimmed beauty on the right.
East Side King — TACO
An obnoxious amount of Mexican food was consumed in Austin, so the “best taco” award is kind of a big deal. East Side King dropped MINT, CABBAGE and ZUCCHINI into this pepper-spiced spectacle and my taste buds couldn’t have been happier about it. Please eat this when you visit here!
Gourdough’s Public House Doughnuts – All Doughnuts
Came to Gourdough’s two nights in a row with multiple people and every doughnut that came out of the front window challenged convention. Each donut is bigger than the size of your palm, some sweet and some savory, warm and topped with tasty trimmings. Pictured here is the PB+J, and the first pic at the top of this post is the famed Cuban… on a doughnut. Grilled banana and cream cheese topped Funkey Monkey, brownie batter fudge and chocolate covered Black Out and powdered sugar and locally harvested honey topped Big E-Z were also at the table. This is the ultimate sweet treat.
Longshot – Aussie Iced Coffee
First time trying an Aussie Iced Coffee! Too much dairy for me personally, but these guys were super friendly and sell Tim Tams near the food truck parks, so hit ’em up for dessert! Pro tip: bite off the ends of both sides, use the cookie as a straw for milk (or Fireball), then eat the rest. The Aussies call it a Tim Tam Slam, and it’s as fun to eat as it is to say — with an accent, of course.
Elizabeth St. Cafe – Beignets + Macaroons
This Vietnamese Korean fusion spot has the sweetest ambiance of anywhere we went. We spent hours enjoying the scene outside in prep before the SXSW madness began, and could have very well stayed longer. Their menu ranges from Bahn Mi, Pho and Bun Bowls to Bon Bons and Vietnamese style Stumptown Coffee (Portland favorite). Beignets + jam and Macaroons shown were our fave treats.
The Container Bar – Venue
6th Street and Rainey have more unique bars and lounges than sprinkles on a kids ice cream cone, but The Container Bar is too cool not to note. Made of four-ton metal shipping containers, this place combines experimental and environmental in the best way. Austin, you’re really starting to look like Portland from this angle!
Icenhauer’s — Cucumber Vodka
Thanks to Icenhauer’s in-house distilled cucumber vodka, that and tonic became my drink of SXSW 2015. Has anyone heard of this before?! I’m going to need wholesale prices. Seriously refreshing.
But wait… there’s more!
At the risk of sounding like a used car salesman about how good all of the food was in this city, there’s still a ton I didn’t mention (or take pics of)!
Shout outs go to Dawn’s Thai Kitchen in the Rainey Street Food Truck Park for Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls, Chef John Watkins’ Carillon on UT campus for a beautiful formal meal, Caffe Medici off W Lynn for an unexpectedly delicious breakfast taco on-the-go and Walton’s Fancy + Staple on 6th for everything in their pastry case and having the cutest little tchotcke decor.
Thank goodness I’m headed off to roam the national parks for most of the next 8 days so I can work some of this adventure off! (100% worth it.)