When Reina Morris relocated to Texas from Argentina in 1997, she quickly impressed new friends with the Argentinean dishes that she brought to dinner parties?in particular, the desserts. That conversational praise inspired her to hone her skills by enrolling at the Texas Culinary Academy. Today, she's the owner and head chef of the award-winning Buenos Aires Caf?, where she earns adoration for puff pastry layered with housemade dulce de leche or rolled strawberry cake laced with Kahlua and coffee. "Morris' pastries, the likes of which are found nowhere else in Austin, are delicacies worth every calorie," wrote Claudia Alarc?n for the Austin Chronicle.
Morris also creates savory recipes as unique and flavorful as her last courses. She fills empanadas with spiced beef and raisins, forms gnocchi from scratch with pumpkin and cinnamon or cilantro and jalape?o, and fashions small plates of tapas for the happy-hour crowd to enjoy with glasses of wine poured into glasses or feedbags. On a whim, she'll concoct specials such as wild-mushroom-stuffed quail with cheddar-bacon grit cakes and broiled tomato. The kitchen stays stocked with organic produce and hormone-free beef and pork from local farmers, ensuring that the dishes are as fresh as they are ready to give directions to the interstate.
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It’s good to be square at Mangieri’s Pizza Café, an inviting neighborhood restaurant with long benches for family seating and a handful of individual tabletops. The Austin mini-chain’s iconic cut-in-to-squares thin-crust pizzas are as popular as they are tasty, thanks to a thick and vibrant homemade tomato sauce, fresh whole milk mozzarella and a dazzling assortment of toppings. Specialty options abound for these whole pies, though customization is available, and anyone looking to skip the pizza train altogether can opt for pastas, salads or hot sandwiches. Wines by the glass and other alcoholic options are available from the blonde-wood back bar, or sit in the rock-patterned, casual dining room, where windows and tall booths abound.
Like many Texans, Todd Ashmore grew up eating barbecue at gatherings with family and friends, but when backyard cookouts weren't enough for him, he began driving for miles in search of the perfect sauces and meats. Eventually, Ashmore decided to create his own supply, opening Opie's Barbecue so that he could consume sauce-covered brisket, ribs, and pork chops with his family and friends at any time. Sunlight pours in over sturdy wooden tables and chairs in Ashmore's clean, casual restaurant, where he often savors the aromas of the eatery's signature sweet and spicy sauce alongside customers while clad in his usual flip-flops-and-shorts ensemble.
Down the rocky bluff and to the many slips that line the harbor, The Grill at Rough Hollow overlooks the marina where water gently laps at the skiffs that float there. On the breezy patio, lunch and dinner is served, consisting of classic American staples from cobb salads and pecan-crusted catfish to bistro steak under swipes of zesty chimichurri sauce. Inside, take a seat at the curving marble bar to sip on house-made margaritas, glasses of wine, and unlimited water cocktails while enjoying live music.
Tug's serves up a menu of savory, smoky Texas-style barbecue. Let hunger be lured to its delicious demise with a plated meal such as beef brisket ($7.99), beef or pork ribs ($8.99), savory sausage ($7.49.), and turkey ($7.99), or reassert dominance over bullying bovines with a 1/3 pound burger ($4.99).