The chefs at Kerbey Lane Cafe have spent decades combining locally sourced ingredients to craft a menu brimming with eclectic breakfast fare, Mexican-tinged entrees, and rotating seasonal dishes served all day long. Batter craftsmen flip stacks of Kerbey Lane's signature homemade pancakes ($2.99–$5.39), dressed up in a full wardrobe of adventurous flavors including gingerbread, apple whole wheat, vegan, and crushed velvet. The SoLa enchiladas pack tortillas with portobello mushrooms, spinach, and cheddar-jack cheese under a downpour of your choice of sauce ($7.99). Groups can scoop through an appetizer of the Kerbey queso ($8.09)—guacamole blanketed with queso and pico de gallo and served with tortilla chips for dipping and flinging at open-mouthed dinner dates.
Owned and operated by Austin native and bakery veteran Russell Millner, Russell's Bistro whips up an eclectic array of dishes designed to make elegant dining accessible to all. A friendly neighborhood café and bakery during the day, Russell's dims its lights at 6 p.m. and transforms into both an intimate dinner hotspot and a more owl-friendly environment. The dinner menu features a variety of Southwest- and Italian-inspired dishes crafted from the freshest ingredients. Warm up with appetizers such as the shrimp-and-scallop brochette ($9), featuring bacon-wrapped sea meats skewered and marinated in garlic and serrano, or dive right into an entrée list ranging from pecan-crusted tilapia ($13) to a parmesan-kissed grilled chicken-and-asparagus penne ($12). Russell's is also open for brunch and lunch and serves the same quality desserts and made-from-scratch pastries made famous at the cross-town Russell's Bakery.
Owners Chris Courtney, Kelly Chappell, and Jay Bunda designed Zocalo Cafe to be directly rooted in service to their community, even going so far as to name the restaurant after the Spanish word for "meeting place." This goal is evident in their participation in a locally run recycling program and use of compostable, eco-friendly to-go packaging, as well as their dedication to displaying work by local artists. Furthermore, their eatery boasts high vaulted ceilings, enormous floor-to-ceiling windows, and a bright garden patio, all of which create a space as open and inviting as their community mission.
Zocalo Cafe's chefs craft a Mexican menu as deliberately light and fresh as the restaurant's minimalist decor. The selection of classic, yet updated, interior Mexican cuisine includes crispy stacked enchiladas as well as turkey, beef, and mahi mahi tacos prepared using housemade tortillas and salsas. The weekend brunch menu unleashes modern twists on traditional breakfasts, such as eggs benedict with sweet potato biscuits and chilaquiles.
Modeled after the Italian "bella vita"-style café, Tèo romances the taste buds with scrumptious all-natural gelati and aromatic espressi in a tranquil setting. Caffeine-cravers will find that the menu packs an abbondanza of Tuscan java concoctions, from the straight-up cup of Palazzo ($3.25+) to the silky vanilla latte ($3.45) that soothes throats scratchy from swallowing pineapples. Tèo is best known, however, for its daily-changing gelato arsenal, which features flavors like organic peanut butter & Nutella, and salted caramel. Picky dessert connoisseurs will insist on indulging in a small cup ($3.40), then grabbing a three-flavor quart ($15.99) to enjoy the thick, creamy dolce treat-a from the comfort of their home or camel caravan. For more solid fare, fill groggy stomachs that just hit the colon's snooze button with one of Tèo's breakfast items, especially the homemade croissants ($2.50) filled with raspberries or chocolate. Tea lovers and British anachronistocrats, meanwhilst, can take a stately sip from the café's bounty of leaf-bud stews, with black, herbal, and green varieties available ($1.85+).
Waterloo Ice House was named best restaurant in the Austin Chronicle Best of Austin 2010 Readers Poll. Yelpers give the Escarpment Boulevard, 38th Street, Southpark Meadows, Bull Creek, and Burnett Road locations an average of three stars.
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.