Austin Trip

Jeff and I took a trip to Austin last week.  I would say it was to see the sights, but it was really hot... so the actual reason was to eat the food.

Day 1

We took the red eye and arrived around 5:30am Friday morning.  By 6:30am we made it to Round Rock Donuts.  We had a regular glazed donuts, an apple fritter, and some donut holes.  All were every bit as delicious as they looked on tv.

Post donuts, we walked around Walmart to kill some time before heading to get in line at Franklin Barbecue.  I feel like it's important to note the way Austinites wait for their barbecue - since barbecue is a cook ahead food, there is only so much available per day.  People line up hours before lunchtime to be sure they'll be able to get some food.  To my surprise, it was almost like tailgating since people bring chairs and coolers full of beverages.  We got there a little before 8am and the line was already stretching into the parking lot.  Thankfully, we made friends with the people in line in front of us, so the wait wasn't atrocious.  We finally made it to the counter to order around 12:30pm.  Let me tell you, it was every bit worth the wait.

We had a pound of brisket, two pork ribs, and a sausage link in addition to personal sized bourbon banana and lemon chess pies.  Everything, especially the brisket, was every bit as tasty as it looks on tv.  I think the pies surprised me the most.  My banana bourbon pie was to die for and Jeff had nothing but good things to say about his lemon chess pie.  I wish I could order one to be shipped to our house.  There is no doubt that we will be making a return trip to Austin since this meal alone made the trip worth it for me.

After lunch, we headed to our hotel for a shower and food coma fueled nap.  After recharging, we were ready for dinner.  I had been hearing about Shake Shack on the Elvis Duran Show replay channel, so we decided to check it out since there was one in Austin.  It was a fairly neat place with a pretty large menu.  We got burgers, cheese fries, a coffee shake, and a cold shot cement.  Everything was pretty good, but I really enjoyed that the shake and cement were made of frozen custard - so creamy!  I would go back again, but would probably want more custard than food.

Day 2

Saturday morning, we took a food tour by Austin Eats.  We met up with our group at Republic Square park where there was a farmers market being held.  We had a wonderful guide, Scott, and guide in training, (also) Jeff.  Over the course of the next few hours, they shuttled us around Austin checking out great food trailers as well as brick and mortar restaurants in a very nice air conditioned bus.  Here are the things we sampled:

1.  Golden Egg cookie from Walton's Fancy & Staple (not pictured because I was hungry)

2.  Migas breakfast taco from Tacodeli

3.  Kakawa cocoa bean from Cocoa Puro

4.  Brisket, sausage links, and pulled pork from La Barbecue

5.  Prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, arugula, and chipotle aioli puccia from Lucky's Puccias & Pizzeria

6.  Monte cristo from Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?

7.  Lemon bar and s'more bar(not pictured) from Sugar Mama's Bakeshop

Jeff and I agreed this was by far the best food tour we have ever taken.  The tour was well planned, guides extremely knowledgeable, and the bites were huge (not to mention the fancy air conditioned bus)!  Definitely worth the money and an activity worth doing.  We will be looking this company up again when we go back to Austin to do a private tour, which is where they do most of their business.

For dinner, we had to try Torchy's since we'd heard about it from so many Austin friends.  We started with chips and queso followed by multiple tacos (Migas, wrangler, green chile pork, trashy trailer park, crossroads) and street corn.  The hype was definitely warranted.  All the tacos were delicious.  I also enjoyed the doppelganger soda (not to be confused with Dublin Dr. Pepper - I'll get to that later).  I found it to be equally delicious as regular Dr. Pepper, but it's made by a company called Maine Root.  If I can find it nearby, you bet I'll be buying some for off keto times.

After Torchy's, we decided to head to Lick where they're known for interesting ice cream flavors like mint beet, Texas au lait, and something with carrot that I can't remember.  Jeff got a scoop of hill country honey w/vanilla bean and roasted beats w/fresh mint.  I got Texas au lait.  While the flavors were great, the texture was icy and not creamy enough for me.  In all honesty, this was a slightly disappointing stop.

Day 3

On Sunday, we headed back to Barton Springs Picnic where we previously had the monte cristo from Hey! You Gonna Eat or What? to try Mighty Cone and Chilantro.  The hot & crunchy chicken cone from Mighty Cone was extremely tasty.  I was nervous since I'm not really into slaw on anything, but it complimented the chicken and wrap beautifully.  Jeff enjoyed his burrito from Chilantro, but the 20 plus minute wait really detracted from it.  It was hot out, so we finished up lunch with a small cone at Sandy's Hamburgers as we traveled on (not pictured).

We decided we wanted to do a fancy dinner, but had a terrible time deciding on a restaurant since there were many to choose from.  We ended up going with Uchi and it was a fantastic choice.  We scored a reservation at the sushi bar and got to watch everyone work.  Here are the goods from the tasting menu:

  1. Oysters with cantaloupe sorbet
  2. Salmon, pear, kale, and blueberry salad
  3. Flathead, ocean trout, and Spanish mackerel sushi
  4. Poached halibut with creamy corn and peppers
  5. Tempura asparagus, salmon, and cauliflower puree sushi roll
  6. Clams with Korean chili sauce
  7. Salmon crudo
  8. Pork jowl with Asian pear, brussels sprouts, and creme fraiche
  9. Foie gras sushi
  10. Ice cream with black sesame cookie and sorbet

Let's just say we left Uchi feeling extremely full and very satisfied.

Day 4

We visited a few more food trailers on Monday morning starting with Gourdough's.  We shared the black out donut that had brownie batter, fudge icing, and chocolate covered brownie bites.  Chocolate is great, but this was so much we couldn't finish it.  There were several other fruity donuts we wanted to try, but they contained bananas and the trailer was out of bananas.  Given the banana cravings I've been having (and not fulfilling because of keto), the lack of them made me sad.

Next stop, Biscuits + Groovy.  We each had a biscuit and jam.  Jeff's jam was strawberry and mine was bananas foster (which made up for the previous trailer's lack of bananas).  Well made biscuits and heavenly jam make for a wonderful bite.

There had not yet been pizza on this trip, so we stopped by Via 313 to try Detroit style square pizza.  We ordered the Detroiter that had smoked pepperoni under cheese topped with natural casing pepperoni.  The crust was a medium thickness and all things combined, this was a really great pizza.

A few stores down we found Sweet Treets bakery and picked up a few bites including a mini carrot cupcake, a mini chai latte cupcake, and a red velvet cake pop.  These were devoured in just a few minutes.

Jeff had a particular kind of taco in mind for dinner, so he browsed pictures on Yelp until he came across what he wanted.  This led us to the fajita los originales and al pastor trompos tacos at El Tacquito Sabor Mexico.  These were good, but I still had Torchy's on the brain.

For nighttime entertainment, we visited the Alamo Drafthouse, which is a combination of restaurant, bar, and movie theater.  We saw the new Mission Impossible movie and enjoyed the biggest bowl of buttery popcorn ever seen and a giant order of chips and queso.  I wish there was one of these in Seattle because I like it a little more than the iPic in Redmond.

We finished the night with a trip to Amy's Ice Creams which was a huge recommendation from almost everyone we talked to.  I got the "Bats Don't Kill My Vibe" special made for Bat Fest. It was Mexican vanilla with a ton of chocolaty goodness mixed in made to look like a bat. Jeff got strawberry ice cream with strawberry mashed in with a sugar cone on top. This stuff had a miraculous creamy texture and was exactly what I look for in ice cream... much better than Lick.

Day 5

On our final day in Austin, we headed to Tacodeli to try their non-breakfast tacos.  We had el conquistador and al pastor tacos.  The meats and tortillas were great, but there could've been less onion and cilantro in my opinion.  Otherwise, these were more tacos for me to love.

Continuing my banana everything binge, I ordered an afternoon delight from Bananarchy.  It's a frozen banana dipped in a swirl of chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter then rolled in graham crackers.  I was definitely pleased (and amused that the stick was just an upside down spoon)... and might make one at home one day.

We killed some time at a mall to stay cool since we had already checked out of the hotel before our flight.  For our final meal before heading home, we hit up In N Out since it's not possible for the two of us to be within driving distance of one and not eat there.  Fatty goodness as always.

With that, we were off to the airport to return to Seattle.  We'll definitely be back for more of your offerings, Austin.  Thanks for a great vacation.