In a new segment called “Mike’s Likes” I’m going to keep track of my favorite of Austin’s whatever. This is NOT a list of the best but rather a list of my favorite. I want to be clear that I cannot possibly say “This is the Best [fill-in-your-food-item here]”. I have not had ALL, or even most, not to mention personal tastes make it a completely silly conversation. As this list evolves, I’ll update it with my new favorites. With that said, let’s get into my favorite burgers!
Well it happened again. More family came into town and self-restraint went out the window. Both of our moms came to visit as well as my sister Jackie. We ate a ton, so let’s get to it.
Even before they arrived, froworker Tyler and I grabbed lunch downtown at Swift’s Attic. I’d been touting their “Bowling Alley Burger” as one of my Top 3 Burgers in Austin, so the time had come to try it. I’m not sure if I had hyped it too much in my own mind, but it didn’t quite live up to my own expectations. Very good! But probably not Top 3-worthy (keep reading).
Swift’s Attic Bowling Alley Burger
The family arrived and got settled at their hotel while we were finishing up at work. We picked them up and headed to Fonda San Miguel for some Interior Mexican. After some menu translations for the inexperienced palates, we all ended up with some fantastic meals. I had the Camarones Adobados, loosely translating to six huge grilled shrimp on top of corn tortillas, peppers, onions, and a chipotle-black bean sauce. Ev got the biggest Chile Relleno either of us had ever seen. And, for obvious reasons, we passed on even looking at the dessert menu…
Fonda San Miguel Camarones Adobados
…because from FSM we zipped over to Cow Tipping Creamery. Who didn’t see that coming? Since they had already sold out of the daily special, I got a Salty Sweet stacker and Jackie got a Gimme S’mores. Due to a mix-up in the truck, they also brought us a Whiskey Rivers on the house. It was a lot of ice cream…
Saturday we ran some errands downtown and found ourselves at Clark’s Oyster Bar for lunch. I’ve had it before, and couldn’t resist ordering the burger this time too. A thick, juicy patty topped with gruyere and a smear of fancy mayo (called Sauce Gribiche). On the side come some of the most addictive matchstick fries. My sister Jackie got the same thing and both were demolished. This burger pushed Swift’s Attic out of my Top 3.
Clark’s Oyster Bar Burger
Six hours later, after running more errands and still barely hungry since lunch, we had reservations at Olivia in South Austin. We’d heard good things, and my mom found it listed on several “Top Spots” lists in her Austin research. How was it? “Blown away” would be a good start. The highlight appetizers for me were the Brussels Sprouts and the Lamb Tongue. My pork loin entree, paired with grilled watermelon, was good but didn’t stand up to Jackie’s Mushroom-Truffle Cream pasta. We almost didn’t get dessert … until my mom ordered three out of the four on the menu. I rarely order it, but the Creme Brulee had to be the best I’ve ever had.
Sunday morning we took it easy before heading to la V for brunch. Before the waiter could finish telling us about the special Sweet Potato Doughnuts, I cut him off and ordered some, along with large French Press of Blue Bottle Coffee*. The doughnuts took forever, attributed to making sure the kitchen could execute them perfectly. Anyway, eventually they arrived and were incredible. I panicked when he took our ordered and got the scrambled eggs with trout roe and brioche toast, which was very good, but not memorable. We rounded things out with very cute mini eclairs. Also good, but they didn’t hold a candle to the doughnuts.
*it was tasty, but why not serve some amazing, local Austin coffee?
After brunch we enjoyed a lazy Sunday at home and watched a movie before ensuring the family got excellent barbecue before heading back to Florida. We headed to Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ to show-off our hidden gem that happens to also serve dinner. I ordered a whole spread including 5 chicken tacos, 3 brisket tacos, a beef rib, guac, and queso. The tacos, on homemade flour tortillas, in my opinion have no equal. The chicken is my favorite. It’s the best chicken I’ve ever had, on the best tortilla I’ve ever had. Everything was devoured.
And no trip to Austin is complete without visiting Whole Foods downtown, so we stopped by for dessert. After a quick walk around the store I decided on blueberry cheesecake gelato while the rest of the family went to town at the chocolate case. Ev also snatched up a tres leches cake to share with Jackie, which turned out to be my favorite.
It’s always fun to host people when they’re in town… because that means showing them our favorite places to eat. And no one ever leaves hungry.