What Everybody Ought to Know About Austin’s Food Culture

As the fastest growing city in the United States, there has to be something cool about Austin. This city is an oddity within Texas. The locals are always trying to “Keep Austin Weird,” and everyone else is trying to fit into its unique culture.


So, what is it that makes Austin such a magnetic destination? Besides Austin City Limits, Formula 1, and SXSW, which draw international crowds, even on an average day Austin seems to rival the vibrancy of the biggest cities.


Though it’s hard to know exactly what makes this city tick, you can hazard a guess that it has to do with the culinary scene. There are plenty of books supporting this hypothesis that explore the city’s gastronomic offerings. Maybe reading a few will help illuminate the reasons that Austin has become the foodie destination of Texas. Perhaps it will even persuade you to make Austin your next vacation destination.


A New Breed of Culinary Artisans


Austin is a foodie haven. Nestled in the middle of the Lone Star State, this city is garnering interest for the regional dishes being created there that are simultaneously simple and extraordinary. Innovative chefs are adding gourmet twists to Southern classics and using organic, regional, and seasonal ingredients in new ways.


The enthusiastic push toward artisan dishes with flair in the Austin restaurant scene is bringing attention to a new generation of chefs with unparalleled ingenuity. Everyone from the Food Network to Thrillist is venturing to the city to see for themselves what all the fuss is about. Not only are these foods pleasing local crowds, but they are also being lauded by critics.


The Food Trailer Trend


What is so fascinating about the Austin foodie movement is that it does not have one definitive direction. This is the city where food trailers and food trucks shine as beacons of mouthwatering nourishment even when they stand next door to three-star restaurants.


In fact, the quality and popularity of the trailer park food culture is such that it is not uncommon to see people opting to go to the nearest trailer park to get a four-course meal. As implausible as this sounds, it really serves to underscore the sheer amount of good food that is available in Austin. The demand for this food has steadily increased and has prompted trailer-owning entrepreneurs to compile some of their more popular recipes in the Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook: Austin Edition, Volume 1.


In this cookbook, you will find recipes that will help you transform classic street foods into gourmet artisan dishes. Join fourth generation Austinite, Tiffany Harelik, on a tantalizing taste adventure where she meets the faces behind the food as they share their recipes. From cake balls to the iconic breakfast taco, these recipes will inspire you to throw a dinner party that will thrill your guests’ taste buds.


Making Room for Vegans in Cattle Country


For carnivores, Austin is a sight to see. Renowned for eateries like Franklin’s Barbeque and Huts Hamburgers, Texas’s cattle history is well-represented in the locals’ food choices.


However, even vegans have a place in Austin now. Not only is there an abundance of vegan food available, but there is also a thriving anti-animal cruelty culture.


Vegan restaurants, vegan barbeques, and vegan festivals are readily available in the Texas capital that has fully embraced vegan awareness. Long-time Austin resident Carolyn Tracy dives into this not-so-counter culture in her book Vegan Survival Guide to Austin, where she shares the history, heart, and hot spots of Austin’s lively vegan landscape.


Traditionalist Comfort Food


If you’re a traditionalist or simply like the familiarity of home-cooked food, Austin has plenty to offer you. With home cooking at Hoover’s, and traditional Texan fare at the Texas Chili Parlor, there is no shortage of comfort food.


However, if you want to get really traditional, you may want to check out Austin’s First Cookbook: Our Home Recipes, Remedies, and Rules of Thumb. In this book, author Mike Miller comments on the city’s first published cookbook. Written in 1891 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, this compilation includes early recipes for all manner of things like peppered mangos and cucumber catsup. This interesting cookbook reflects both the cultures and resources available to the early Austinite. With an infusion of German, Czech, and Mexican tastes, you are sure to see something that will pique your culinary curiosity.  


Austin’s Craft Beer Movement


Now that you’ve had your fill of food, surely you are going to need something to quench your thirst. Luckily, Austin has you covered. Since the 1860s, Austin has been at the forefront of craft brewing. German immigrant Johann Schneider began this trend with his brewery on Congress Avenue, which employed innovative brew vaults that satisfied the thirst of Austinites everywhere.


In the early years of the 21st century, inhabitants of Austin decided they wanted something more versatile than Lonestar, and the craft beer movement really took off. Today, beer enthusiasts, home brewers, and micro-breweries are a common sight in a city where a meal goes best with a beer.


So, if you are thirsty and are looking for beer recommendations, or searching for the nearest watering hole, look no further than Austin Beer: Capital City History on Tap.


If you really cannot decide which food you want to try first, wait for April, and you can try them all! To really be blown away by what is being offered within the food world, grab your folding chairs and buy a ticket to the annual Austin Food and Wine Festival. This festival will gather the best of the best from all corners of the city and corral them within easy tasting distance of each other.


As a fast-growing community with a diverse population, you can bet that what this city is bringing to the table now will only become more eclectic and inventive in the future. Now is the time to learn all you can about Austin’s culinary roots and be part of its future direction. It’s likely that the city that lives by the phrase “Keep Austin Weird” is now reflecting that fierce independence and desire to be different in an edgy culinary scene.  


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