Column Editors: Nicole Ameduri (Licensing Manager, Springer Nature) and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe (Professor/ Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction University Library, University of Illinois)
Nicole Ameduri, Springer Nature Licensing Manager, loves eating her way through conferences. Through some random twist of fate or luck, she ended up with a number of chefs, restaurant managers, famous sommeliers and food writers in her close circle of friends. They have steered her in the right direction for every destination on her calendar.
Nicole’s Picks — Restaurants
#1. Jacoby’s Mercantile: I’m excited to share this fabulous Austin restaurant with you. I love this restaurant’s atmosphere as much as the food and have been bringing my husband and librarians here for years. Located on a sprawling, tree-lined bluff, guests can sip cocktails from mason jars while looking down on a rolling bed of the Colorado River. This restaurant is equal parts quirky and quality. Creative Director Kris Swift has attended to every detail—from vintage china and glassware, and a bar crafted from chicken wire and bundled firewood.
The food is southern comfort and inspired by co-owner Adam Jacoby’s childhood on a cattle ranch. They serve Jacoby Brand Beef that’s hormones and antibiotic free. It is dry-aged from 21-28 days. If beef isn’t your thing, they offer pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan dishes. My favorite starters are the southern classics−deviled eggs and pimiento cheese, and for the main I have Gulf Shrimp and grits and vegan-friendly pulled barbeque jackfruit. Stop at the boutique on your way out!
Address: 3255 East Cesar Chavez St. Austin, TX 78702, https://www.jacobysaustin.com/
#2. Barley Swine: I had a lovely dining experience at Barley Swine with three of my favorite dining companions at this rustic and chic restaurant. The service was impeccable−our server was knowledgeable about their cuisine’s seasonal ingredients and the restaurant’s local food sources. Local ingredients dictate the changing menu and the cocktail list that uses only garden ingredients. Added bonus−they carry Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve bourbon whiskey from Kentucky. Of Bryce Gilmore’s three restaurants, Barley Swine offers up more experimental seasonal dishes like fried quail with squash hot sauce, Gulf crab and sweet potato mousse and shiitake pasta. There is a chef’s tasting menu available for $95.
Address: 6555 Burnet Road, Suite 400; Austin, TX 78757, https://barleyswine.com/
#3. Jeffrey’s: Established in 1975, this Clarksville restaurant was as one of Austin’s first fine dining establishments. Their posh interior is filled with plush chairs, white tablecloths and a fireplace−perfect for intimate dinners. Their changing menu is based on seasonably available farm to table ingredients, and steaks aged and cut by locals Lone Star Meats is the main attraction. My favorite side dish is the crispy fried brussels sprouts made with serrano honey for a sweet-spicy kick. The menu also features caviar from Petrossian, a French import company established 100 years ago, and a cheese and martini cart.
All dishes pair well with their excellent wine and cocktails selections.
Address: 1204 W. Lynn St., Austin, TX 78703, https://jeffreysofaustin.com/
#4. Launderette: True its namesake, this restaurant was a neighborhood laundromat not long ago. The converted eatery is bright, laid back and undeniably hip. Stop by for dinner, weekday lunch, weekly happy hour specials and weekend brunch−the perfect time for watching East Austin’s eclectic and attractive people.
Executive Chef Rene Ortiz and Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki are great partners in the kitchen. The flavor combinations are approachable and feature my favorites: charred octopus, roasted parsnips, crab toast, brussels sprouts with apple marmalade, whole grilled branzino and BIRTHDAY CAKE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES. The cocktail list is equally fun−try The Press Proof, a concoction of Vida Mezcal, Amaro Montenegro and lemon.
Address: 2115 Holly St., Austin, TX 78702, https://launderetteaustin.com/
#5. Emmer & Rye: Emmer & Rye is located on Rainey Street, Austin’s eccentric Restaurant Row. A dim sum cart circles the space, and at brunch on the weekends they feature an incredible pastry cart. The Chef, Kevin Fink, mills his own grain so it can be transformed into distinctly shaped and flavorful noodles. Fink and his team work magic with simple ingredients such as carrots topped with heritage bene seeds, spaghetti squash, and meticulously arranged green garlic and scallions in matchstick rows.
Their desserts top their unique main plates, which are still amazing. The Meyer lemon tart is buried under a scoop of grapefruit champagne sorbet, the tomato orange preserve tempers the sweetness for those who like savory twists in their desserts and the tres leches is deconstructed. A square of traditional sponge cake is topped with a layer of cheesecake mimicking the standard whipped cream topping, and a vibrant malabar spinach glaze stands in for the cherry.
Address: 51 Rainey St., Austin, TX 78701, https://emmerandrye.com/
As a self-confessed “foodie,” Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe is always on the lookout for new gastronomic experiences during her travels. From food truck to fine china, Lisa takes every place on its own terms and enjoys the range of hospitality the world offers. Lisa’s research skills as a librarian serve her well in finding the best spots in every conference city. Joe Esposito says: “If you are meeting Lisa somewhere, always let her choose the venue.”
Lisa’s Picks – From Coffee to Cocktails
#1 – Houndstooth Coffee
With multiple locations in Austin, Houndstooth Coffee is a great choice for your morning coffee or tea along with great space if you need to do some laptop work – or maybe even sit and read a book. I’m a huge fan of the cortado and the execution here was perfect. You’ll find an array of pastries from a local bakery to complement your beverage. Houndstooth offers wine and beer as well for when your afternoon break turns into an early happy hour.
Address: 401 Congress Avenue #100c, Austin, TX 7870, https://www.houndstoothcoffee.com/
(Cortato, Houndstooth Coffee, Photo Credit: Lisa Hinchliffe)
#2 – Epoch Coffee
Living in the Midwest, where January is more likely to feature snow or freezing rain, I recall fondly my last visit to Epoch Coffee. My social media check-in says: “I’m sitting outside in the sun and drinking an iced coffee … in January. Happy.” Of course the coffee is also available hot if you prefer but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pretend is was summer! You will find a variety of quick breakfast options, from pastries to oatmeal, as well.
Address: 221 West North Loop Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78751, http://epochcoffee.com/
#3 – Voodoo Doughnut
You don’t just buy a doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut, you have a complete doughnut experience. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed on my first visit. So many choices! I needed some time to figure out which one I would choose from the 50 options on display. Solution – I got two! I judge every doughnut shop by its execution of the simple glazed yeast doughnut. This one was perfection. For my second I went with the spicy-sweet option – the Ring of Fire (chocolate cake doughnut with cinnamon sugar and cayenne pepper). Swing by on your final day in town and box up a few to bring home. Your friends, family, and/or co-workers won’t be able to thank you enough.
Address: 212 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701, https://www.voodoodoughnut.com/
#4 – Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden
The coffeeshop that is also a wine/beer lounge is notably common in Austin and Easy Tiger might be the most well-known of this genre in town and for good reason. I was disappointed to not need any full loaves of bread given the impressive array of options! Hearty breakfast sandwiches are on offer as well as pastries. As breakfast gives way to lunch, you’ll find hot and cold sandwiches as well as homemade sausages. But, what really steals the show all day long are the homemade pretzels. I noticed that Easy Tiger also offers “Pretzel Parties” – a class in making these amazing pretzels that is suggested for birthday parties or organizational team-building that can be complemented with appetizers and drinks. Now that would be a great conference “workshop”!
Address: 709 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78701, https://www.easytigerusa.com/
#5 – Lamberts
You can’t go to Texas and not have bar-be-que. Or, at least I can’t. One is spoiled for options and, given how serious Texans are about their bar-be-que, it isn’t surprising that everywhere I’ve tried as been great. But, Lamberts stands out as offering a more extensive menu with some entrees not often seen. Specifically, I have to recommend the Whole Black Angus Short Rib. You’ll need to be dining with at least one other person – maybe a whole group – because this is not a small serving. Plus, you’ll want to try appetizers and sides. Get the deviled eggs, grits, mac and cheese, and ranch beans. You’re definitely overdoing it so go all the way and get the Lambo’s Barrel Aged Old Fashioned. You can’t dine like this every night but you should at least once!
Address: 401 West 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701, https://lambertsaustin.com/
(Pecan Pie Vending Machine – Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company, Photo Credit: Lisa Hinchliffe)
Bonus Recommendation! – Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company
You’ll need a car, or a friend with a car, but if you have the ability to drive a bit out of town and visit Berdoll Pecan, you will not regret it. It’s your quintessential “country store” – offering up pies, cakes, candies, and, of course, pecans. Fun facts from the website: in 2018, they processed 32,469,750 individual in-shell pecans, used 40,000 cups of shelled pecans for making pecan pies, and made 32,000 pounds of honey glazed pecans. That’s just nuts! Family owned and operated, Berdoll Pecan also offers the only known pecan pie vending machine. You got it – even if the store is closed you can pick up a pie!
Address: 2626 TX-71, Cedar Creek, TX 78612, https://www.berdollpecanfarm.com/