Weekend In Austin Texas – What To Eat

Weekend in Austin - Classic Austin Food Truck Park

I recently spent a weekend in Austin, Texas for a bachelor party and last fall the Fresh Hospitality squad did an epic food trip to Austin where we hit 17 restaurants in just over 24 hours (believe me I was stuffed after that one).

Being in the food business, I often get people asking me where to eat when they spend a weekend in Austin – so I thought it would be a great idea to create a quick blog post that lists some of my absolute favorite spots in Austin.

I don’t want to bombard with you with a ton of places so I’ve created a very selective list of only the best spots and ones that I most enjoyed while in Austin. Don’t miss the BBQ spots at the end! 

Epic Food Trucks

Gourdoughs – Big. Fat. Donuts.

http://gourdoughs.com/ 

Mandatory breakfast/brunch stop in Austin. You’ll get to experience the classic Austin style food truck park and chow down on some epically large and delicious donuts. My recommendation is to get the Mother Clucker for yoru savory fix (donut topped with fried chicken and a honey butter glaze) and polish off your sweet tooth with a delicious Heavenly Hash (brownie bites and marshmallow topped donuts). No weekend in Austin is complete without a stop at Gourdoughs. 

East Side King

http://www.eskaustin.com/

A delectable Thai and Asian food truck in Austin’s “dirty sixth” neighborhood. Warning – this food can be super spicy. It’s a mouth-burning can’t-stop-eating must-take-another-bite kind of heat that lingers for 20 minutes after you’re done eating – but its so damn good. You have to get the grilled bread as well – one of my all time favorite treats. Go here for dinner and enjoy the killer scene at this Austin food truck park.

Beer Gardens & Bars

Weekend in Austin - Bangers on Rainey Street

Bangers

http://bangersaustin.com/

Two of the three bars I recommend checking out are in Austin’s “Rainey Street” neighborhood. These are my personal favorite two, but the entire area has such a cool vibe that you will fall in love as soon as you set foot on the sidewalk. Bangers is a classic beer garden – with over 100 beers on tap and incredible – I mean incredible – sausages and brats. Sit down, enjoy a few beers – and don’t forget to try one of their ridiculous sausages.

Container Bar

http://austincontainerbar.com/

Another Rainey street bar – built almost entirely from shipping containers. This is a great spot to chill during the day. They have 2 sets of cornhole and possibly the most killer Fugees-inspired playlist I’ve ever heard. Between Container Bar and Bangers you will get a great feel for the scene in Austin and no weekend in Austin is complete without hitting up Rainey street.

Easy Tiger

http://easytigeraustin.com/

A uniquely Austin “Bakery and Beer Garden” – Easy Tiger’s baked goods are delicious – but the place really opens up at night when the beer garden comes to life. Sitting outside by the river you can enjoy a huge selection of beers on tap and play ping pong on one of their nearby ping pong tables. Plus, from Easy Tiger you can walk to Austin’s famous 6th street.

Tacos & Burgers

Torchys Tacos

http://torchystacos.com/

What would a trip to Austin be without Tacos? Torchy’s is a classic Austin taco spot with a great variety of delectable tacos. Check out the location on 1st street for another authentic Austin food truck park.

Tacodeli

http://www.tacodeli.com/

Another Austin taco joint that locals rave about – Tacodeli is the favorite of online marketing genius Noah Kagan (who happens to be an Austin native) – he recommends the Cowboy taco.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

http://www.hopdoddy.com/

I had to throw in a few delicious burger joints as well. These are two local burger chains that are both great. Hopdoddy is a very upscale farm-to-table burger type of place with craft beers on tap and a killer atmosphere. If you’re in the mood for a good burger, you can’t go wrong here.

P. Terry’s

http://www.pterrys.com/

P. Terry’s is a much more old school double drive thru type burger joint – but if you want a delicious shake and a classic burger experience P. Terry’s is the place to go.

Barbecue Joints

Franklin Barbecue

https://franklinbarbecue.com/

Considered the premier barbecue spot in Austin. You’ll need fortitude to even attempt this one. The line stretches for blocks and blocks and people bring lawn chairs just to wait. That’s what it takes to eat at what’s widely considered one of the greatest BBQ restaurants in America.

La Barbecue

http://www.labarbecue.com/

Franklin BBQ’s feisty young competitor. La barbecue is considered among many in the BBQ world to be the new up-and-comer challenging Franklin for the best BBQ in Austin (and some of the seriously most insanely delicious beef brisket in the world). The wait is a bit more manageable here, and if you get there early enough you might be able to sneak in without too much of a wait. I still dream of the brisket here.

Salt Lick BBQ

https://www.saltlickbbq.com/

A world famous BBQ destination about 45 mins outside of Austin. The kind of place you go all afternoon for the live music, the killer gardens, and to soak in the scenery – but don’t miss the incredible BBQ as well.

Louis Mueller Barbecue

http://www.louiemuellerbarbecue.com/

An absolutely classic barbecue spot in Taylor, Texas (about a 45 min drive out of Austin) – Louis Mueller has been open since 1949. The beef brisket and the burnt ends are insane! Absolutely worth the drive for some truly authentic old-school Texas BBQ.

Matt Bodnar - Weekend in Austin

I hope you enjoyed this list – please let me know in the comments some of your favorite food spots and where you would eat for a weekend in Austin!

Five Lessons We Learned Spying on Denver’s Top Fast Casual Concepts

This is the last piece on Fresh Hospitality’s scouting trip to Denver  – I will wrap up the major lessons from our trip and go over what we learned.

Our trip to Denver provided Fresh Hospitality with a wealth of information and ideas not only about our competition but also ways we can improve our own concepts. The Denver trip was a whirlwind of activity – we visited a ton of restaurants and scoped out a lot of potential real estate for new businesses in the Denver area.  While we ultimately visited over 15 restaurants in Denver (admittedly not all fast casual) – these lessons are from what we considered the strongest competitors.

Here is a quick summary of the major takeaways from our trip.

  • Focus on Fresh, Healthy, Local Food – a number of our competitors are very “in your face” about how fresh and healthy their food is – to the point of having the words literally plastered all over the walls in giant font
  • Fresh Baked Pita – a theme we saw at Roti also – Garbanzo has fresh baked pita coming out right in front of the customers eyes – it’s hard to go wrong showing the customer how fresh and scratch made your food is
  • Free Food Samples – giving away fresh and healthy food samples to customers not only lets them sample new and exciting menu items but also drives home the message of the foods freshness
  • Excellent Use of Awkward Interior Spaces – we saw some great examples of innovative design using cramped interior spaces (specifically at Tokyo Joe’s)
  • Effective use of In Store Micro-Brewery – really cool concept of creating an in store micro -brewery and something we might look at for some of our concepts

Denver is a strong market for Fast Casual concepts (and the birthplace of Fast Casual itself) and there are a number of major areas in Denver that would be great locations for the expansion of all of Fresh’s concepts.  As always it was a great learning experience and really helped us think about how we are going to move some of our concepts forward.

Let me know what you think about these lessons and stay tuned here and on Twitter to keep up with Fresh Hospitality’s adventures.

To read the rest of our trip report from Denver click the below links.

Part 1 – Garbanzo

Part 2 – Tokyo Joes

Part 3 – Marketing Secrets

Part 4 – Build Your Own Brewery 

BYOB: Be Your Own Brewmaster – Lessons From Fresh Hospitality’s Denver Trip

This is the fourth post in a series about Fresh Hospitality’s latest trip to Denver, Colorado to scout out some big competitors and learn more about them. These are just the raw facts and our thoughts from the trip – hope you enjoy. (Find Part One, Part Two, and Part Three  here)

In Store Micro Brewery

We incidentally visited a little restaurant next to Garbanzo named “Dad & Dudes Breweria”  which was a pizza and beer spot. The most interesting find here was an in-store micro-brewery that could produce 14 kegs a week (2 per day) of micro brewed beer. The entire brewery was behind the bar and visible from the stores entrance.

They had 2 temperature controlled environments (one for fermentation one for storage) and 2 kegs for producing the actual beer. The build out is relatively inexpensive (~20k) and doesn’t take up a huge amount of square footage.

Shot of the micro-brewery from the front door

Shot from the bar

You can see clearly in this picture – storage is on the left, fermentation on the right and the production kegs can barely be seen in the foreground.

I think these mini-breweries offer a great alternative for restaurant’s that want to serve handcrafted beer without all the trouble of having a full in house brewery operation. You can really bring a unique experience to the customer and deliver them a great product – for a fraction of the buildout and cost of a traditional in-store brewery operation.

While on the theme of beer – we also stopped by The Alehouse at Amato‘s – a new venture from Breckenridge Brewery in the popular Highlands region of Denver. Their sales numbers are outstanding. I just wanted to share two shots of their tap wall in the kitchen (for serving beer to the dining room) and their keg room.

 

Let me know what you think about these lessons and stay tuned here and on Twitter to keep up with Fresh Hospitality’s adventures.