EAT THIS CITY takes us to the 15 best places to eat in a different city each week. This week, we’ll eat our hearts out in Austin, Texas, with Chef Callie Speer! Clear eyes, full stomachs, can’t lose.
Pretty much smack dab in the middle of the big hair, big boots, pickup trucks, loose gun control, hot weather, hotter chili, and a whole lotta hootin’ and hollerin’ state of Texas, sits the city of Austin. Austin is both the state capital and the cultural mecca — seeming to exist in its own autonomous world. Sure, Austinites still swell with Texas pride, but the political leanings swing the opposite direction, and the city is an eclectic mixture of music, art, culture, and now… food.
Callie Speer, Executive Pastry Chef at Geraldine’s in the Hotel Van Zandt, is a born-and-bred Austinite — which makes her something of a unicorn (self-proclaimed). She’s also been in kitchens since she was fifteen, when her dad pushed her to get a job. In that time, she’s seen her hometown radically change, mostly due to the influx of transplants. Say what you will about new people two-steppin’ their way into a place and switching things up, but one thing that has moved in a positive direction is the emergence of Austin as a premier food destination.
As the city grew, so did a movement called Keep Austin Weird. Speer says that Geraldine’s tries to maintain this mentality and really encompass the fun local vibes. They have live music nightly, a diverse staff, and a killer view of the city. She told us one story about a woman who came in with her service animal — a bird who sat across from her at the table and reminded her how pretty she was the whole meal; and another about a woman who took off her top before entering the kitchen and tried to persuade a line cook to come back to her hotel room.
(In related news, Geraldine’s doesn’t have a shortage of line cook applicants)