Let me first start by saying that I think Austin should be renamed from the Live Music Capital, to the best food in USA. Given I haven’t been to every city in USA, it may be a big call for me to make, but you’ll soon find out as to why Austin has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. In fact, the food was so good, it needed its own blog post. In here is every place worth noting that I went to, and you can guarantee I’ll have suggestions for keeping it real, unprocessed and down right delicious.
I got told by more than one person that I would struggle to stick to my food goals in Texas but quite honestly, I didn’t struggle once. During trips overseas I generally just aim for gluten free to keep my gut happy, as well as dairy free as possible. I don’t worry about my carb intake too much, but instead focus on eating good, fresh, whole foods. When you’re overseas, the last thing you want to spend your time doing is worrying too much about food. It was a lot easier in the US to eat gluten free. A few places have a gluten free dedicated menu, or it was easy enough to ask. My advice is to spend a little time before you go checking out the options in your area. I generally search for food blogs done on the area and spend time on Instagram searching local hashtags. Otherwise leaving a couple of hours to explore your options when you first arrive is another great way to find food that suits! Sara and I did this on our first night in Austin after our crazy long flight and we stumbled across a few gems!
THE CAPITAL GRILLE
The Capital Grille was our first stop in Austin and set the tone for the whole trip. The Capital Grille is an upscale steak house renowned for their dry aged steaks, however also have a huge menu with a lot of choice.
We were served immediately when we arrived and were given the option to dine inside or outside. Given the fact it was a warm Texas evening, Sara and I decided to enjoy our surroundings outside. The restaurant was busy, but our service didn’t suffer.
After some time looking at the menu, we went with a selection. We started with their Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, and it was delicious. We hadn’t had a decent meal for a couple of days and this starter really hit the spot!
For our mains, Sara had their Citrus Glazed Salmon and I had their All Natural Herb Roasted Chicken. Both were absolutely perfectly cooked and my chicken was falling off the bone. We shared their Roasted Fingerling Potatoes which were incredible – especially soaked in my chicken jus! We were both in heaven the whole meal and were more than satisfied with the amount of food we ordered.
PRICE: $$$ – this was the most expensive meal we had during our whole time in Austin, but definitely worth the money!
Dine at the Radisson is where we spent most of our time eating in Austin. Not only was it conveniently located in our hotel, but it had excellent food and excellent service. When you are strict on your food like we are, often times we make a few requests, and all of these were handled with ease and nothing was too hard. By the time we left, we didn’t even have to say no toast! They truly had some of the friendliest staff.
We ate breakfast here daily and being able to sit by the window overlooking Lady Bird Lake was the perfect way to start each morning. It was a serene atmosphere, well subtracted from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The cool thing about Dine is that they put on a buffet breakfast when the hotel is close to full occupancy. We had this on our first day and it was fantastic. All of the food was fresh and being constantly rotated to maintain quality. Despite my huge love affair with breakfast buffets (I mean come on, all you can eat bacon!?), my favourite breakfast by far was their Hangar Steak. Perfectly cooked tender steak, poached eggs and potatoes; what a way to start the day! I was a huge fan of their green salsa, which even after a week I still couldn’t remember the name of, and got a serving of that daily too. When I wanted a lighter affair, I went for their Vegetable Omelette with a side of bacon which was also super tasty. They don’t use any dairy when making their omelette either, so neither Sara or myself had to make any added requests when ordering this.
Dine’s atmosphere completely transforms when the evening approaches and it’s popularity with both guests and locals is infectious. They have a killer playlist of background music, something both Sara and I enjoyed whilst having a quiet drink. If you’re a fan of cocktails, I highly suggest trying their Texas Breeze which is a fruity citrus and sage cocktail that was incredible.
We had dinner at Dine on multiple occasions and their varied menu gave us so many tasty options. Worthy mentions when it comes to starters have to go to their amazing Corn Chips and Guacamole platter and their Spinach and Arugula salad with perfectly grilled Salmon. Sara had their Steak and Frites twice, switching the Frites (fries) for a garden salad, and I tried their Pork Chop once, which was mouth wateringly moist, as well as their Mexican inspired Grilled Chicken which came with salad, refried beans and corn tortillas – so good! I got a few extra lime wedges to squeeze over the chicken too. All options we chose were completely gluten free.
Dine is a versatile location for any meal, whether you want something more casual or a sit down meal. They have something for everyone and their pride in their food really shows. I enjoyed everything I ate during my multiple experiences there.
PRICE: $$ – Super reasonable and affordable pricing, for excellent quality food and service.
WHOLE FOODS MARKET
Anyone who follows me, knows how much I adore visiting Whole Foods when I have previously travelled to the US. When I found out I was heading to Austin, one of the first things I did was check out how far we were from a Whole Foods. Needless to say I was pretty excited when we were staying just a 20 minute walk away from the first ever Whole Foods that was ever opened in America.
Whole Foods is like the Mecca of real food. Not only is it a grocery store, but this one also includes several eateries from tacos to BBQ, a seafood eatery, pizza, a juice bar, sandwich station, salad bar and more! It also includes a seafood market, butchery, deli and baking counter. They also had ready-made meals if you wanted to pick up and go! Sara and I spent two hours there on our first trip; exploring the aisles but we also sat down for a meal. My personal favourite is their 5 aisle long salad bar. It’s priced by weight and as you can see they have every fresh ingredient imaginable! From salad greens, to different vegetables and fruit as well as meats, flavoured rice, hot items and even a kick ass vegan Pad Thai. I can’t forget about their dressing station either! This was perfect for sticking to our food guns. At just $8.99 a pound, it was affordable as well. My favourite thing to do was pick up Beef Short Rib from the BBQ counter (hands down the best I have ever eaten!) and then get a side salad from the salad bar. Perfect lunch.
As I mentioned, Whole Foods is also a grocery store and they had some incredible products that you just don’t find at home. On one of my previous trips to the US, I found Kite Hill Cream Cheese which is actually a cream cheese made from almonds, which means its completely dairy free and therefore a product I love. The cool part? It legitimately tastes like cream cheese! I introduced it to Sara, and we had it with crackers we also got from Whole Foods that were also paleo. She couldn’t get over how it actually tasted (and resembled!) cream cheese! A must try. They also have loads of granola, a huge nut butter section, a variety of paleo bars and loads of delicious snack foods. Can you tell I was in my own personal heaven?
If you’re heading any place in the US, check your area for a Whole Foods. Sure it can get a little more expensive if you start doing groceries there, but Sara and I ate lunch there frequently and both absolutely loved it. Whole Foods is one of my favourite parts about the US, which would seem weird to anyone who isn’t a major foodie like me!
PRICE: $ – for a meal! Although you can definitely pay more. I’m always happy to at Whole Foods though – the quality is worth the price!!
SALT LICK BBQ
Well, by now you all know that I am a certified BBQ Addict. I would say I ate something BBQ almost every day of my Austin trip! On saying that, it was one of the main reasons I was super excited to head to Texas for the first time.
As soon as I found out I was heading to Austin, I immediately started looking at all of the best BBQ joints in town. I was quickly recommended a few; from the legendary Franklin’s with its queue that starts before it even opens to the smaller Mickelthwaite Craft Meats, or downtown’s La Barbecue, there is certainly no shortage of places to find slow cooked, tender, juicy BBQ. One name I had heard pop up a few times, was Salt Lick BBQ.
My friend Ken from Discovering Paleo was also heading down to Austin from LA for Paleo(f)x and had organised for a group of us to head to Salt Lick. I was super excited to say the least!
Salt Lick BBQ is a 1000 seat eatery about half an hour outside of Austin and boy is it well worth the trip! We made our way out there on a Friday evening to get amongst locals and tourists alike. The casual atmosphere was fantastic and the staff were very hospitable. They noticed us taking photos of their Grill Pit when we walked in and then told us we were more than welcome to head behind the counter and get right beside the grill. It was pretty awesome to get up close and personal with it all!
The food itself was delicious and very simple. You could order from the menu or go for the $25 all you can eat option. Naturally the majority of us went with the latter. Everything except the bread (and desserts) on their menu is gluten free and since we were all Paleo folk, we were happy to decline the bread! Everyone gets an empty plate and they bring out the meat platters for the table along with your sides. The meat platter consists of Ribs, Sausage, Brisket and Burnt Ends all topped off with Salt Lick BBQ Sauce. My personal favourite was definitely the Burnt Ends; so tender and juicy! Just incredible. Their sides were coleslaw, potato salad and pickles which is pretty traditional when it comes to BBQ.
The food in the pictures pretty much does the talking. It was delicious and an incredible experience that I definitely won’t forget! They keep bringing out plates until you’re full, at which point they tell you to order your favourites and then they bring you all a takeaway container. Yup – you heard me right; an all you can eat restaurant that gives you extra to take home! I was thoroughly impressed to have BBQ for lunch the next day too! Salt Lick is a must visit if you’re in Austin!
PRICE: $$ – at $25 for all you can eat, this is not a price you can beat!
My general experience when it comes to dining out in America is that the staff are always so kind and willing to go the extra mile to ensure you have a good experience. I always make sure to tip well if customer service was particularly good, too!
Needless to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to eating at Austin. We went to a few other places (Hello, In-N-Out!) but these were the main places I wanted to mention. I have a whole list of other places I want to visit next time I’m in town. Austin is an incredible foodie destination and I could seriously go there just for a food tour alone!
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my experiences in Austin and that its inspired you for your trip too.