Max's Wine Dive is renowned for its culinary-chutzpah-filled dinner menu, which turns chili dogs and burgers into gourmet flavors. Their fried chicken was deemed one of America's Best by Travel + Leisure. Try the signature Texas haute dog (a Strube Ranch Wagyu hot dog topped with your choice of beer-braised sauerkraut, Dijon mustard, pickles or chili, jalapenos, and cotija cheese, served with fried onion strings and frites; $14). Or opt for the Kobe beef burger (a Strube Ranch Wagyu Kobe beef burger with Belletoile triple-cream brie, in-house pickled jalapenos, local hothouse tomatoes, and organic Bibb lettuce, served with frites; $17), another favorite. If you're feeling ravenous, hang a fang in the all-you-can-eat fried chicken and waffles (chicken thigh, leg, and breast with jalapeno and buttermilk marinade, deep fried, served with a waffle; $19) during Sunday brunch. Woman's Day once named Max's grilled cheese (Gruyère, provolone, and roasted red pepper, served with a cup of tomato soup; $13) one of the 10 best in the nation.
Today's Groupon gets you $60 worth of French cuisine for $30 at Aquarelle Restaurant Français, the elegant restaurant the Austin Chronicle calls "one of a handful of restaurants bold enough to offer rabbit, sweetbreads, and other organ meats to the sometimes squeamish Austin palate." It serves gourmet cuisine, such as black truffles and fresh duck foie gras, in a romantic turn-of-the-century home in downtown Austin.
Tired of simply dressing up her rooms, designer Kerry White needed a way to engage clients on a deeper sensory level. Adopting the motto of “wine, art, and song”, she opened House Wine to match her eye for interiors with the refined tastes of vintages and the lilting sound of live, local music. Sporting both an earth-toned dining area and sun-dappled outdoor lounge replete with cushy, white couches, the wine bar leaves plenty of space for guests to explore an extensive wine list, sample cheese plates, and clasp handheld bites of pineapple-cinnamon empanadillas. Bards from across Austin fill the space with tuneful sounds, and local artists bring life to walls with their paintings of abstract landscapes or other, more beautiful walls.
After 22 years in the air force, Water 2 Wine–founder John McFadden established his first custom winery in San Antonio nine years ago. Already the business has spread as far as Milwaukee to the north and Denver to the west, bringing the country's vinophiles more than 100 wines, each of which are fermented on site and available for tastings every day. Those who want to get more involved in the crafting process may sign up to make their own wine and steep themselves in each step of the operation, from selecting the grape varieties, beginning the fermentation process, withstanding a wait of about 45 days, and finally christening their creation by smashing a tiny boat against the bottle. All custom-made wines are plastered with personalized labels made from one of Water 2 Wine’s templates or images that customers design from the ground up.
Apothecary is a delicious lunch spot, a cozy coffee house, and a wine bar in one humble package. Apothecary offers locally brewed and homegrown coffee and espresso, as well as green, black, and herbal teas to soothe a dry throat. The all-day menu offers a bevy of nibbling options, including prosciutto macaroni and cheese with goat cheese and truffle oil ($9) and a monthly-rotating Antonelli's artisanal cheese plate ($15) side-kicked with cheeses, olives, crackers, honey, and fruit. Snack on french bread and olive oil ($3), served with black pepper and a dash of truffle oil, or delve into the delectable delicacy of peanut butter and Nutella ($6).