No matter what strict diet you follow, whether it’s paleo, gluten free, low carb or no carb, everyone needs a cheat day once in a while. And in a city like Austin that’s as passionate about food as it is about music, there’s plenty of deliciously inventive options to satisfy your every craving . So forget calorie counting, put down the pedometer and try these amazing gourmet ‘junk foods’ in Austin.
Right in the center of the ultra hip SoCo district is neo-southern style Little Barrel & Brown. This south Austin gem opened in 2013 and has been innovating and reimaging the concept of comfort food ever since. Their eclectic menu has deliciously inventive items like Coffee Rub Beef Tenderloin Kabobs and Texas Free Range Buttermilk Fried Chicken along with snacks like Gravlax Deviled Eggs and Sloppy Joe Sliders with duck confit. But the star of their junk food offerings has to be their take on the classic cheese fries, which include rich, decadent cheeses like cheddar and smoked gouda. These cheese fries mean business.
Located inside the W Hotel in downtown Austin, Trace offers an upscale dining experience with expertly curate menus from renowned chef James Zoller, who cleverly mixes Mediterranean, Southern and Southwestern influences to create one-of-a-kind tastes. Their gourmet food lists range from brunch and lunch to dinner and special occasions. Among their daily offerings are Crispy Fried Oysters and Sweet Potato Linguini, but for something with a little more sweet-home nostalgia, try their creamy, heavenly Brown Butter Mac n’ Cheese with taleggio, provolone, gruyere and deer creek cheddar. Not quite like Mom used to make, but you definitely won’t be disappointed.
This cute south Austin café serves homemade bites for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even late night snacking. Launderette is a trendy new addition to the Austin food scene that mixes all kinds of worldly flavors from French and German to Italian and Mediterranean, and everything in between. Whether you’re looking for pasta, pastrami or pastries, you’ll find it at this decadent diner. For something exotic, you can try their Beluga Lentil with Labneh or Tandoori Prawns with Cardamom. Or you can go for a more traditional flavor like their Pastrami or Fried Chicken Sammie. For an updated version of everyone’s favorite crunchy snack food, try their homemade Potato Chips with house pimento cheese. They’re so satisfyingly salty and savory and, in the true fashion of chips, one just isn’t enough!
Triple Fried Duck Fat Fries at Salty Sow
Located in the up-and-coming east Austin district, Salty Sow serves up fantastic locally sourced, hand crafted farm-t0-table fare from veteran chef Harold Marmulstein. This modern American gastro-pub mixes southern, new American and local agricultural influences to elegantly recreate our favorite dishes including Candied Pork Belly, Truffled Deviled Eggs and Crisp Chicken Thighs. Even their sides are deliciously familiar yet totally inventive, like their Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with neck bone gravy and Collard Greens with smoked Ham Hocks. But for a totally worth it calorie fest that will leave you drunk with satiation, try their Triple Fat Duck Fat Fries with 110 minute egg and cold béarnaise. Seriously fatty, seriously savory, seriously…order them.
Chicken Nachitos at Jack Allen’s Kitchen
A treasured Austin favorite for years, Jack Allen’s Kitchen embodies the spirit of Texas in its food, culture and community. Executive chef and co-owner Jack Gilmore is dedicated to making and serving fresh, locally-sourced cuisine with a true local flare, and his passion for food is evident in his delicious dishes. This southern gem offers a modern take on traditional American comfort food and Tex-Mex fare, serving calorie-loaded yet thoughtfully created foods like 5 Cheese Macaroni and Chicken, Chorizo stuffed Pork Tenderloin Medallions, and chicken fried anything. TBH, nothing on this menu is very diet-friendly. But after one bite of JAK’s delicious Chicken Nachitos with Slow-Roasted Chicken, American Cheese and Cotija Cheese, you’ll forget about calorie-counting and surrender yourself to the fantastically fattening flavors of Texas.
Poblano Fries at Frank
Known for their ludicrously loaded hot dogs and local cold craft beers, Frank is a south Austin finger food favorite. With new flavor combinations, eclectic food influences and hand-crafted ingredients, this grub joint is totally changing the hot dog game! Not only do they pack their dogs with fresh, locally sourced goodies, they also cater to all dietary restrictions and palette preferences. You can have your pick of meaty dogs, gluten free dogs, veggie dogs, or all-in dogs! Some of Frank’s more interesting offerings include the Jackalope with custom-made smoked antelope, rabbit and pork sausage dressed with cranberry compote and Sriracha Aioli and the German Currywurst with Smokey Denmark locally made bratwurst, curry BBQ sauce and curry powder. Whatever your fancy, Frank offers the perfect opportunity for foodies to step outside their comfort zone and try something new and amazing. And even if you’re someone whose not that into hog dogs, you should definitely try their Tex Mex creation: Poblano Fries loaded with pepperjack cheese, poblano peppers, house made chorizo and Cholula crème-fraiche.