My Four Favorite Hidden Gem (food) Orders in Austin, TX

My level of expertise with food is similar to my level of expertise with coffee.  i.e. I am an enthusiast; I am not a connoisseur.  Austin has so many amazing options – a plethora of little pockets to explore that each have their own gems to discover- it’s almost paralyzing just to think about where to eat on date night!  One could literally spend a lifetime exploring all of the great restaurants and eating establishments in our city and you would barely scratch the surface.  (If you ever need a good recommendation in any part of town, holler at me!)

In the interest of staying true to form (haha), I must preface this post with a few disclaimers/caveats:
  • This is a post about a few of my favorite orders in town.
  • This is not a post about my favorite restaurants- although there is some overlap.
  • There is no way I have even sampled 10% of what Austin has to offer.  I want to hear about your favorite orders too!
  • I am not a vegetarian, vegan, etc.  I don’t have any food restrictions (except that I’m allergic to quinoa…WHAT?!).  So, apologies in advance if I’m alienating my non-bread/carb/meat/whatever-eating friends.  

In no particular order, here are four of my favorite things to order in Austin:

#1 Home Slice Pizza– 1415 S Congress Ave (The Italian Sub w/Cherry Peppers)

Fun fact:  Right after I graduated from UT, I worked at Home Slice Pizza…for two weeks!  The amazingness was too much for me to handle.  So, I went back to working at coffee shops for a while.  During my training at Home Slice, though, I had the opportunity to try almost everything on the menu.  (It’s all good.)  My manager at the time, an awesome guy from Philadelphia named “Nano”, recommended that I try the Italian sub with cherry peppers.  He said, “Dude, I’m from Philly- the land of the sub sandwich.  I’m telling you now:  this is the best sub I’ve ever had.  The first time I bit into it, I literally cried.  It was that good.”  He wasn’t kidding.  Here’s what you do:

Ira can’t not order pizza at Home Slice!

Get the full-sized sandwich (not the half-size).  Only eat half of it at the restaurant (which will blow your mind) and ask for the second half to-go.  Go home and put the remaining half in your fridge and leave it there overnight.  The following day, for lunch, take the sandwich out, eat the rest, and write me a “thank you” card afterward.  It turns out, after the juices/flavors have had time to mix and blend with one another overnight, it’s almost like you’re eating a completely different sandwich.  I’ll stop there…I’m getting hungry.

#2 Chez Nous– 510 Neches St (The Prix Fixe Menu)

“In the late 70s, three friends came from Paris, France to Austin, Texas with their hearts full of hopes and their minds set on opening a true, simple, independent French restaurant in the “Violet Crown City”.”  This quote comes from Chez Nous’s website.  All I can say is:  Mission ACCOMPLISHED!  This is truly one of my top 3 favorite restaurants in town.  Go and get a glass of wine and enjoy the prix fixe menu options.  You will not regret it!  

Date Night at Chez Nous!
Last month, I had a freaking amazing glass of Les Galets de Sauveterre (red wine) and the prix fixe, which included Soupe du jour, Bifteck haché au poivre (Ground ribeye and sirloin steak-pepper sauce-spiral potatoes), and Profiterolles for desert (TWO FILLED PASTRY PUFFS•AMY’S VANILLA ICE CREAM•WARM CHOCOLATE SAUCE), which was a couple dollars extra.  Our server, who has been waiting tables there for 13 years (!), said after I ordered, “Get ready for the most amazing hamburger steak you’ve ever dreamt of having.”  


Of course, you don’t have to go with the prix fixe menu.  However, I would argue that there is a reason they have paired these dishes together.  Trust them.  They know their stuff.

#3 Cenote– 1010 E Cesar Chavez St  (Turkey Avocado Sandwich w/Bacon)

Cenote is about 0.5 blocks from the GoodLife Realty office.  Therefore, I am there, on average, about 0.5 times per day.  I even frequent this place on weekends when I don’t go into the office.  (Try their breakfast!)  The first day I walked into Cenote, they were playing Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (Cold Roses) on the speaker system.  So, I knew I’d like this place.  I told the barista I was really hungry for lunch and asked what she eats when she’s on shift.  I also said I couldn’t decide between the BLT and the turkey/avocado sandwich.  She said, “Get both!  Get the turkey/avocado with bacon.  That’s what I get.”  

Kristen going yard on some Cenote breakfast last fall.
I almost wish my tastebuds had never tasted this majestic sandwich…because now every sandwich tastes…lame.  (except for the Italian sub at Home Slice, of course!)  I’ve heard a rumor that they put a different (thinner) type of bacon on the sandwich if you order online.  So, in order to prevent that potential tragedy, I have only ever ordered in-person.  Therefore, I can neither confirm nor bust this myth.

#4 Julio’s Cafe 4230 Duval St (1/2 Chicken Special w/Extra Tortillas and a Mexican Martini)

Cash only!  Julio’s in Hyde Park is another one of my favorite restaurants in town.  This place is just good good good Mexican food.  I have no idea what they do to their roasted chicken to make it taste so amazing.  (I used to have a theory that they sprinkle crack on it.)  But I don’t care.  It’s incredible.  Our process is this:  take a tortilla and stuff some chicken, Spanish rice, pinto beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa into it, take a bite, and let the comfort overtake you.

Julio’s!  Kristen just loves helping me research for these blog posts.  🙂
My wife, Kristen, and I always order a Mexican martini shaker and two glasses.  One martini split in two is plenty…for most people.  When you consider the price of this tex-Mex goodness, you will be sure to return again and again.  You can also walk over to Quack’s or Dulce Vida for desert!

Again, let me know what your favorite ATX hidden gem/secret orders/off-the-menu specials are!

Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403


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