Join us as we head to Austin, Texas!
With its commitment to keeping weird, some have called it the “Portland” of Texas, but Austin has a flavor all its own. The Texas state capital eschews big business and commercialism in favor of the independent, homegrown, and authentic. No wonder that our chef this week fits in so well!
Born into a culinary family–his father is Jack Gilmore, owner and executive chef of Jack Allen’s Kitchen–Gilmore found his calling in cooking and creating. This second-generation Austin chef has a talent that speaks for itself, and critics clearly agree.
Gilmore is a two-time James Beard Award nominee, and a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2011. Both of his restaurants are award-winners, and based on a farm-to-table concept, with Gilmore and his crews visiting farmers’ markets each week to select the ingredients that will appear on their menus.
Using local products is a point of pride for this chef; now let’s check out the local restaurants he says can’t be missed!
Here are Chef Gilmore’s picks for the best that Austin has to offer:
Bufalina has some of the best pizza. It’s also my neighbor, and the combo of the chewy Neapolitan crusts with the smell of rising dough can’t be beat.
Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ breakfast tacos are great. They’re not reinventing the wheel but with a sea of breakfast tacos in this city, Valentina’s stand out. They BBQ in the attached trailer so the smell of smoked meat in the morning will really wake you up.
Ramen Tatsu-ya has hands down some of the best ramen in the city. What’s better than a warm broth with noodles? Ramen is truly a flavor explosion and I can count on this team to always deliver.
The process that Dolce Neve uses for making gelato makes them one of my favorites. I also appreciate their use of seasonal ingredients and changing the flavors as the seasons change.
Jesse Griffiths over at Dai Due is my favorite casual spot. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s family friendly and his commitment to using local ingredients is similar to mine. His food is very Southern in nature but with his own unique vision attached. Think lots of sauces and gravy, like biscuits and gravy topped with chicken-fried venison.
The best outdoor, family-friendly brunch in Austin, hands down. Contigo is that place where there is something for everyone, but extremely thoughtful.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
BBQ. Again, I have to go with Valentina’s. Plus they’ve actually married two of Austin’s iconic food: Tex-Mex and BBQ, and have made it work.
It’s not a food, but the best cure for a hangover is hair of dog at Hops & Grain brewery. It may seen counterintuitive but the smell of a brewery will get you feeling better in no time. The trailer outside, Kick Drum burgers also helps.
The intimate nature of Lenoir makes it the perfect date spot. I love the subtle Indian influences in the food there and the service is great. I wish I had more date night opportunities to take advantage of.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
Jack Allen’s Kitchen. My dad is my friend and it may seem biased but he’s got some of the best food in town.
Thank you, Chef Gilmore, for taking us on a culinary tour of Austin!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!