Paula and her husband James spent some extra time exploring Austin before and after QuiltCon so they had many opportunities to sample the local cuisine.
While QuiltCon was the highlight and apex of my trip to Austin, the food we ate while there was a close second.
Austin is definitely a foodie town, but a casual foodie town … think BBQ, Tex Mex and food trucks – sometimes combined! And lots of meat … Here are some of the places we ate …
Bacon is a restaurant in a cute little yellow house, specializing in … bacon!
They serve a selection of the usual breakfast items, including the Southern specialties, fried chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy. I had a waffle, with the bacon cooked right in. It was delicious! I think James had a more traditional breakfast with eggs, etc. You could pick the bacon you wanted, from 3-4 different types. They also have a lunch/dinner menu of hamburgers, sandwiches, Southern dishes and salads, all incorporating lots of bacon.
G’Raj Mahal Café
This one is a little hard to explain … but we had some great Indian food here with Paul and Felicity.
The background is this … it seems that in Austin, bars’ licenses allow them so serve nothing but booze. So, unlike in BC, you can go to a bar and have a drink and you don’t have to order food. But you can’t even get peanuts to eat. The flip side is that you can bring in food, BYOF.
So, while we were at a meet-up with the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild and the Austin Modern Quilt Guild, we were starving. So we followed our noses across the street to G’Raj Mahal to order Indian food. Half an hour later, Paul arrived back at the bar with a take-out feast. We had a couple of curries, a biryani and delicious naan bread. Their menu is similar to most Indian restaurant menus in Vancouver, which I think is north Indian, but this food was a step up from the average take-out – it was really good!
Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of G’Raj or this meal, but it had a lot of typical Austin character. Both the bar and G’Raj are open air. Like many bars and restaurants, they have a small temporary-looking building or trailer, and are surrounded by picnic tables. Both were packed, and it was lovely to eat and drink outside in February!
Iron Works BBQ
My Instagram friend, Claudia of machenundtun.blogspot.ca, suggested this one … we were excited to meet in person, and to try Texas barbeque. Iron Works is a block away from the convention centre so we had dinner here. It was great! Counter service only, you grab your tray of meat (and a few side dishes), your drink from a tub of ice, and find a seat. It was busy! We did find a table and had a great time getting to know each other and anticipating QuiltCon starting the next day. We enjoyed our sampler platter of smoked beef, sausage and the biggest rib I’ve ever seen! (Next time we will try Franklin Barbeque, which is the local favourite, and requires more effort. See below.
Frank is a “purveyor of hot dogs and cold beer,” and what a selection of hot dogs! I had a Southern Belle: a blackened, split Vienna Beef Hot Polish link dressed with pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and Cajun remoulade.
It was so yummy! And I don’t even like hot dogs … but I do like good sausage. Frank has lots of specialty sausages including the Jackalope, a smoked antelope, rabbit, and pork sausage.
One of Frank’s specialty drinks is the Red Headed Stranger: bacon-infused Tito’s Vodka, Frank bloody mary mix, dressed with bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapeno stuffed olive and peperoncini. I have the recipe in a magazine I picked up in Austin – e-mail me if you want to know how to make bacon-infused vodka! The menu very helpfully adds that the drink can be made with regular vodka or roasted red pepper infused vodka for veggie option. I’m not sure vegetarians would bother coming to Frank, but it’s nice they can have a drink there.
They also have a yummy-sounding dessert menu, but we didn’t have room!
Gourdough’s is a crazy doughnut trailer, located very close to Stitch Lab, south of downtown. They make their giant doughnut concoctions fresh when you order. The doughnuts have wild names like Cherry Bombs, Blue Balls and Baby Rattler and they are huge! Take look at their online menu to get a full idea of the craziness! (There are life-size colour photos of every doughnut on the menu.) James had a Razzle Dazzle … it is one of the tamer selections, consisting of a huge raspberry-filled doughnut topped with chocolate icing, raspberry jam and chocolate chips.
They also have a newish sit-down restaurant, Gourdough’s Public House, where the specialty is “donut burgers”. It is also licensed and has a full selection of cocktails with wild names and doughnuts for dessert.
Amy’s Ice Cream
Amy’s Ice Cream is a local Austin chain, started in 1984, and slowly growing ever since. We went to the location on South Congress. They are famous for their Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream, but they have about a dozen flavours available everyday from over 350 flavours they make. They also have a full selection of “mix-ins”. I think Canada must be behind on this trend, because we’re just getting mix-ins …
For next time:
We didn’t make it to Franklin’s, but we were told by the locals that it is the best barbeque in Austin. To score some, you have to line up before 10 am. Franklin’s opens at 11 am, and is only open until they run out of meat, which they do every day.
Guero’s Taco Bar for authentic Mexican food on South Congress, Torchy’s Tacos for tacos from a trailer, Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill for southern food, Home Slice Pizza for NY-style pizza – As you can see, I kind of hope that QuiltCon is in Austin again next time!