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.
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.
Chewy pearls of tapioca enliven the creamy teas and fresh juices in The Tea Lounge's colorful range. A special infusion of dark-brown sugar and caramel gives the Lounge's tapioca bubbles a singular flavor without resorting to hot sauce or cheeseburger extract. In addition to traditional green and black teas, guests can enjoy signature cream-tea blends, iced coffees, and tropical juices. Other bubble pearls, or "sinkers," lend robust flavor in 19 flavors such as peach-yogurt gelatin, herbal jelly, and glitter pudding.
Equipment: Ringside heavy bags, speed bags, kick bags, kettle bells, dumbbells
Students should bring: Workout clothes and water bottle
Registration required: No
Good for beginners: Yes
Average class length: 60 minutes
Number of Staff: 5?10 people
Class location: Indoors only
Guests allowed: Yes
Parking: Parking garage
Pro Tip: Parking is validated in The Quarters parking garage. No need to feel intimidated. No contact boxing
Exercise is challenging, and people frequently give up on their fitness routines. How do you keep clients motivated?
Clients love Fight Club because no two classes will ever be the same. This makes class always exciting and prevents boredom. Clients can see results in as little as two weeks, so the quick improvements motivate return. Our trainers know every client by name and will always give personal and positive feedback. We offer many classes a day to accommodate all schedules.
Do you run your gym according to a particular exercise philosophy?
Music is everything. We workout to loud, motivating, and upbeat music to "pump-up" clients. Fight Club has been described as "a dance party where you get to beat stuff up." It's very judgement free ? clients are only focused on their own workout and everyone works at their own level. We have a philosophy that clients who don't feel at home the second they walk in our gym for the first time won't come back. Because of this, it's our top priority to show new clients around, teach them the basic punches, tell them where to put their stuff, etc. right when they walk in the door so that they feel welcome and comfortable with everything when class starts.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
Many people feel intimated upon trying their first class. It's important for prospective clients to know that we have at least five newcomers in every class who are in the same boat. We teach new clients everything they need to know before class starts, so they'll never feel lost or out of place. It's an intimidating environment at first glance, as the front of our facility has an elevated boxing ring. We always tell clients that there's no person-to-person contact in class ? the only things you hit/kick are bags. It's also important that people know our gym is strictly a fitness class. We incorporate all aspects of kickboxing, but our primary focus is a full body workout rather than teaching self defense or any specific type of boxing skill.