My Favorite Things

 I started this list a long time ago. Chris has since teamed up with the Austin Food Blogger's Alliance, and, oh, also started Citygram. So really you should check out the pretty sweet guide the AFBA put together that now has its home in Citygram. But if you're here, here are *my* favorites.

Instead of blogging about a new favorite restaurant I'll just add it here -- that is, of course, unless there was something spectacularly blog-worthy about it!

Eats

Breakfast
Tacos, Pacha on Burnet has great everything, including breakfast tacos. With all-natural, local ingredients, you can't lose. 
I loove the black bean breakfast taco at Jo's Coffee. It's pretty much a LOT of black beans in a tortilla. Add some avocado and it's heaven.
Juan in a Million. The Don Juan is the stuff of legend.

Coffee, I love the Pacha Latte at Pacha and the espresso at both Genuine Joe's on Anderson and Walton's on 6th is good enough to stand on its own (or with some steamed milk). I recently discovered Once Over Coffee on S 1st and ohmygoodness. It wins best [plain] latte and best French press.

Pastry, The Upper Crust bakery has an awesome ham & cheese brioche that I've never had anything like before. Their coffee, however, is just not good.

Brunch
My favorite place for brunch in Austin is South Congress Cafe. I try to get something different every time we go, and I've always been more than happy.
Frank: OMG. Their biscuits and gravy. Everything they do is great. This might beat SoCo Cafe for a group if you've got people who aren't into Southern brunch or want a more "white tablecloths and three forks" kind of deal.
Olivia: Always good. The best thing I've had there was (weird warning) the pig ear sandwich. It sound dihs.gusting, if you don't do the "weird bits" thing, but it's so so yummy. And messy. Not a first date sandwich, unless your aim is to prove how badass at ordering you are. Then go for it!
I also like Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill and Galaxy Cafe for brunch.

Lunch
Walton's Fancy and Staple is one of the most perfect places for a weekend lunch that I've found. It's got a killer chicken salad that stands up to my grandmother's and the Turkey Sweet is Chris's favorite (of course...it has bacon).
Perry's Steakhouse has the most amazing pork chop that I've ever laid eyes lips on. Go on a Friday for the pork chop lunch and you'll thank our friends Eric and Iris for ever introducing us to this glorious place.
Lulu B's has great Bhan Mi sandwiches. 
Flip Happy Crepes are worth the very long wait. Bring cash.
24 Diner next to Waterloo on 6th is great. As the name says they're a 'round-the-clock diner, so they don't really fall into a breakfast, lunch, or dinner category. Get the lamb burger. It's my favorite burger anywhere. Everything they serve is pretty great.

Dinner 

Nicer:
Uchi. My fav of the two sister Uchi* restaurants. 
Uchiko. Also some of the most inventive food you'll ever eat, and more laid back than Uchi. Get the pao (cocktail). Oooooo so good.
La Condesa - Some legit interior Mexican food. Mmm!
Fonda San Miguel - This place just seems like old-world Dons and Doñas would come here on Sundays for lunch. It's Austin-y, Mexico-y, and luxurious all at the same time.


Austin Musts:  
The Salt Lick (Driftwood, TX). 'Nuff said.


Low-key & Cheap Eats
Booklyn Pie Company has the best pizza we've found in Austin. It's not cheap, but it's good stuff. They'll sell you dough if you want to make your own pie at home.
Backspace has opened downtown and claimed the title of Best Pizza in Austin. They have a wood-fired pizza oven and crust that makes me want to eat an entire round of crust after I've scarfed down my pizza.
Edit: We've heard sad news that Backspace has fallen off drastically, so check with someone who's been recently before venturing there. I am crushed beyond words.
Koriente is our recently-discovered hidden gem. From what I hear, you can't go wrong with anything you order. I got the DIY hand rolls, and they were so so good. I
Habana is my favorite place for congris. Chris would never put this place on his favs, but where else can I get plantains and beer?


Dessert
It's surprisingly hard to find a "dessert place" in Austin. This list is kind of an exhaustive list of places we go if we don't want to get dressed up and go to a nice restaurant just to eat good dessert.

Chez Zee always has a killer chocolate torte or cake, and it's known for several of its other desserts. I've never had a better apple pie (out) than theirs.
I loathe donuts, but I will scarf down most of whatever I order at the South Lamar donut trailer, Gordough's. Why "most of?" They're giant AND they come with things like fried chicken or bacon strips on top. They're homemade and are not covered in the powdered sugar glaze that seems to inevitably make me sick to my stomach. They just taste like a donut should I guess.
Again, Walton's Fancy and Staple is making my list. The first thing I had there was a cream-cheese filled, super-moist sweet potato whoopie pie that made me very happy.
Coolhaus Ice Cream. You'll have to follow their adorable converted mail-truck to their current location. We had these fantastic ice cream sandwiches at our wedding in lieu of a groom's cake. They have bacon ice cream. My favorite combo is the lambrusco ice cream on a soft gingerbread cookie. Heaven.
Gourdough's (brick & mortar): Chris and I have gone here and split a donut late at night. It's a nice outside atmosphere, and one donut is sweet enough to make two of us feel like we should have stopped half a donut ago. Luckily it's kind of far from our house. 

Drinks
I am not a fruity drinks kind of girl. I love beer, but not all of it. I like dark beers best, but not Guiness. I have become infatuated with spicy Bloody Marys. South Congress Cafe has the best that I've had. I love a good margarita, and after living in MN for three years I can quickly spot a bad one. I'm always on the lookout for something new to my tastebuds.

Honestly, Austin's cocktail scene has exploded since I started this list. It's impossible for me to name my favorites and not feel like I've left some out.

Bar Congress has some of the most swanky cocktails in town. 
Midnight Cowboy is pretty awesome. Just be aware that you have to make a reservation, and you have to order at least two drinks, and you can't stay past your reservation's end.
My favorite Austin cocktail remains the pao at Uchiko. You can get it during their Sake Social, though it's not a special. The sake during the Sake Social is also recommended.
Curras Grill has, for years, before Austin got all frilly and foody, made an awesome avocado margarita. It's a great place to eat, too.

I love cocktails with shaken egg whites. Here are two of my favorites:

The Ramos Gin Fizz 
  • 2 ounces gin (Old Tom gin if you can get it)
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 small dashes orange flower water
  • 1 ounce cream
  • 1 egg white
  • Soda water
Shake all ingredients except the soda water WITHOUT ICE very vigorously for at least one minute, preferably longer -- the longer the better. Then add ice and shake for 1-2 minutes, as long as you can manage, until extremely cold and frothy. Strain into a tall thin glass, or a very large old fashioned glass, and top with soda water. Stir gently.

Pisco Sour
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 1/2 ounces Pisco
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Angostura bitters 
Same as the Ramos Gin Fizz. Don't mix in the bitters, but add a couple of dashes after you've strained this into the glass.




Cats
I am a total cat lady. I love and spoil my cat, and everyone who's ever known me has probably at one time given me a cat-related gift. Here are a few of my favorite cat-things:

Eva, my cat





Running

I've always kind of been a runner, and studies say that if you want to stick with something you have to associate yourself with it, but I can't quite bring myself to brandish that label. Sure, I run as my primary workout, but I think if I tell people I'm "a runner" they think that I am one of those people who have a short run and a long run and know what routes around their neighborhood are that distance...throw back juice shots for breakfast and always have some upcoming race. Anyway...it's what I do and I'm very thankful that I can. Here are some running-related things I can't live without:

My iPod
My Nike+ and the run-tracking
Nike's Running blog & videos (I'm addicted)
Engo blister patches
My "foam" roller



Music

Growing up I was drawn for some reason to classical music and classic rock. My parents are the classic rock influence -- but who knows why I developed a love of Chopin at age 12. I'm going to blame it on the Moody Blues actually. Days of Future Passed. I took piano lessons from 8-19 and played the flute for almost as long. I think everyone was sure that's what I would do with my life, but it wasn't in the cards. I bought an electric piano when I lived in MN but have been very bad about playing it. I love anything silly as well, like They Might Be Giants and the theme song to Animaniacs. I run to The Countries of the World, sung by Yakko Warner and also Johnny Cash tunes like Rusty Cage and Boy Named Sue.  Our church growing up had a great organ and organist, so I grew up really loving anything with an organ in it (iiiincluding the Doors' Alabama Song). My all-time fav organ work is Camille Saint-Seans Symphony No. 3.