Aromas of baking sourdough, amber rye, and brioche bread waft from the ovens of Texas French Bread, winner of the Austin Chronicle's Restaurant Poll Readers award for Best Bread in 2009, 2010, and 2011. For the past three decades, these ovens have been churning out artisan breads, pastries, and desserts made from scratch, and under the helm of brothers Ben and Murphy Willcott, the ovens now cook a dinner menu of local and sustainable rustic French fare, earning a place in the top five on the Growers Alliance of Central Texas's Truly Local 2011 restaurants survey. Yet neither of the brothers set out to be bakers. Murph, a Harvard law-school graduate and lawyer, and Ben, a student of English literature, both enjoyed staying up late, cooking, and coordinating aprons with spatulas so they decided to take over Texas French Bread with the goal of turning it from bakery into bistro because, as Murph claims, "rock star and/or Hollywood movie mogul seemed like a stretch."
In the kitchen, Ben crafts a weekly rotating menu hewn under the guidelines of famed chef Alice Waters, with local, fresh, and simple ingredients from the urban farms of Boggy Creek and Angel Valley, served in season at their peak. Meanwhile, the pastry chef sculpts key-lime tartlets, cupcakes, and cream puffs to accompany cups of coffee or espresso drinks made with locally roasted beans from Anderson's Coffee Company. The house blend combines premium East African beans with a Costa Rican hard bean, barrel-cooked to a medium-brown, full-city roast to jump-start mornings without licking a car battery.
The first thing you notice while approaching Gonzo Juice is a giant rooster head perched atop a vintage 1949 trailer, which flashes multicolored feathers painted on its sides. The gargantuan bird and his towering coxcomb cast an imposing shadow over Gonzo's wooden picnic tables and grassy lawn. The food hut's eccentric façade hints at what to expect on its menu: either an inventive spin on classic American cuisine or an omelet made out of the world's largest rooster egg. Gonzo's chefs festoon made-to-order hot sandwiches, wraps, and salads with a variety of unique, all natural ingredients including slow-braised meats, tangy carrot slaw, fruit jam, and hawaiian rolls. Earning the spotlight of 365 Things to Do in Austin, Gonzo's freshly squeezed juices catch taste buds by surprise with a tasty blend of unexpected flavors such as ginger and jalapeño.
On the corner of South Congress and James Street, Jo’s Hot Coffee – Good Food might be just as well known for its photogenic exterior as it is for its caffeinated drinks. The shop is immediately recognizable: a giant red sphere on the roof lets passersby know they are, in fact, at Jo’s, and the phrase “I love you so much,” scribbled in cursive on the side of the walls, is a popular spot for lovebirds and friends alike to pose for pictures. Inside, Jo’s serves Cuvée Coffee, roasted in Austin, and when the weather heats up the Iced Turbo is a refreshing blend of coffee, espresso, hazelnut, chocolate and cream. Diners can order homemade sandwiches like the BBQ pulled pork or Frito Pie, or simply relax on the vibrantly-colored outdoor patio while noshing on a variety of fresh pastries from Quack’s 43rd Street bakery.
For almost 30 years, the owners and baristas at Trianon the Coffee Place have satisfied Austin's craving for caffeine with an ever-growing array of single origin coffees. The team acquires their beans from around the globe, then deliver them to their in-house roaster, Emile, who prepares each country's uniquely flavored coffee for drinking, then delivers them fresh to Trianon at least twice a week. In the end, the baristas can pour a regular cup of coffee in just about 40 flavors, and pair it with breakfast tacos or sandwiches from local businesses. With such a bounty in hand, customers can retire to the comfy chairs with a good book, head the patio to enjoy sun or shade, or access the free WiFi to finally prove to their friends they know how to use the internet.
Juicers turned to high speeds whizz inside of JuiceLand, wafting the fresh aromas of crisp apples and ginger into the air. Guests sip on elixirs that moments ago transformed from solid to liquid, enjoying flavor combinations that work to satisfy taste buds and fortify bodies with leafy greens and their health benefits. In addition to serving refreshing juices and smoothies, JuiceLand also curates five-day juice cleanses that equip guests with a gallon of freshly squeezed juices each day; the juices are designed to clean livers, improve skin texture, and provide enough light energy to complete the first transatlantic jog.
At Turtle Dragon Health Services, four licensed practitioners apply their healing hands to guests while administering traditional Chinese medicine. In addition to providing acupuncture, the clinic also sells tea, feng shui supplies, and Asian antiquities. Turtle Dragon also stocks a veritable bounty of Chinese medicine, such as 600 types of raw herbs, 300 kinds of patented herbal formulas, and three boxes full of the sound of one hand clapping.