As is tradition, in late 2020 Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry guys, and local bloggers for their views on the past year of culinary delights in Austin. Given the madness of this year, Eater has turned the standard survey into a survey that reflects the new realities of takeaways, restaurant stores, and a shaky industry. All answers are published before the end of the year – cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited and in no particular order. Question number one:
What were your takeaway, delivery, and outdoor eating goals in 2020?
Pat Sharpe, editor-in-chief and food writer for Texas monthly
I’m a huge fan of Tacodeli, an Austin favorite that has been rock hard since the pandemic started. The shrimp salad (with guac and sour cream) is great. My latest crush is Kalimotxo, the youthful, eclectic, Spanish-themed restaurant / bar run by Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph – you can get a steak, burger, smoky shishito peppers or a fabulous slice of Basque cheesecake.
Nicolai McCrary, Austin staff writer, The infatuation
I’ve found myself in the Arbor Food Park on East 12th about as many times as I went to the grocery store – and I’m not entirely sure if this is a healthy reflection of my take-out consumption throughout it all. The Food Park has become something of a treasure trove of excellent food trucks and trailers, and it was really exciting to see it grow. It started with Cuantos Tacos – one of my favorite spots in Austin – all by myself in this huge field. And now Dough Boys, Rosarito Cevicheria and a few new spots have been added that I wasn’t even allowed to try.
Lenny Dewi, @eats_n_noods and Eater contributing writer
My takeaway and delivery destinations are all my favorite places where my favorite foods are served because I want to support them as much as possible. Some examples: Julie’s Noodles, Ho Ho Chinese BBQ, Pho Phong Lus, Broth and Basil, Little Mamas and more. Most of these foods can be reheated at home and there is always plenty left over for work days.
For al fresco dining: Mainly breweries as most have plenty of seating, great food trucks, and great beers. Some of my favorites are Hopsquad Brewery and While Brewing.
Robert Jacob Lerma, photographer for Eater Austin and others
Contract oak distilling. Solid food, killer cocktails, and wide open spaces under the oak trees made for good times while taking care of others.
Jane Ko, blogger, A taste of Koko
To take away: Old Thousand, 101 from Tea Haus, Sazan Ramen and Loro. I consistently ordered takeout from these places because the food was still very tasty after sitting in a take-out container.
For al fresco dining: Bar Peached, Loro, June’s, Aba, Hank’s and the Arbor Food Truck Park for Cuantos Tacos and Dough Boys.
Katie Friel, Editor, CultureMap Austin
Tamale House East, Baby Greens, Fresa, Mi Trailita, Quality Seafood, and Better Half were my favorite pastimes. The Paper Route Bakery was also a cute pandemic. The desserts are over the top and the friendly owner addresses every customer with such kindness and warmth.
For cocktails, the Irish coffee from Nickel City (paired with a pound of hot wings from the Delray Cafe, of course). And bottles of wine to go from LoLo and Quickie Pickie, which has a fantastic deal for three bottles for $ 40.
For al fresco dining, Bufalina and the Cavalier have created safe patio experiences. The Summer House on Music Lane feels safe and is delicious too. The whipped feta and the forager bowl are * Chef’s Kiss * and the Bloody Mary is the best in town – bold words I know.
Sarah Engstrand, who contributes to this writer, Eater Austin
Bird Bird Biscuit take away because I have a problem. There was no reason for it, plus I’m totally in love with these sandwiches. I literally almost cried when I saw them opening a second location.
Outdoor dining: June because it’s smaller than some of the larger decks and I played it safe.
Erin Russell, Associate Editor of Eater Austin
My takeaway regulars haven’t changed much compared to before, although my taste is more casual these days. I still order so often from Better Half that it’s almost embarrassing because I always want to try a dish or drink (and if not, there’s this breakfast sandwich). Xian Sushi & Noodle is a great choice because the hand-drawn noodles are so consistently good. Bufalina is my pizza relationship. New additions to the rotation are Little Ola’s Biscuits (for both the heavenly cookies and Erin Ashford’s cocktails), Nixta Taqueria (duck confit taco! Come on!) And Sala & Betty (best burger and fries to take away in town) .
I’m not ordering delivery or not eating enough outside to have favorites there.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
Before the pandemic, I usually ordered a lot to take away anyway, so my habits haven’t changed too much in that regard. If anything, I’ve expanded my go-to list this year. These are also among the places I generally recommend to people.
For groceries: Veracruz All Natural (especially the one on Manchaca Road), Better Half / Bummer Burrito, Sichuan River, Bufalina, Julie’s Noodles, JewBoy Burger, Home Slice, Abo Youssef, Giovanni’s Pizza Stand, 888, Via 313 (plus pick-up) Beer at Craft Pride), Seoulju, Tso Chinese Delivery, Taco Joint, Kome, Peach Tortilla, Halal Gurus, Patrizi, Himalaya Kosheli, Bombay Dhaba.
For coffee: Radio Coffee, Patika, Fleet Coffee.
For drinks: Nickel City, Little Brother / Better Half, Drink.Well, Roosevelt Room, Tigress Pub, Small Victory.
I also turned to retail stores / wine bars / restaurant wine lists during this time for my home wine needs. This means LoLo, Apt. 115, Bufalina (I’m part of their wine club), Saba San’s, and I’ve ordered bottles of Southold Farm + Cellars, Crowson Wines, and Lightsome Wines direct from the wineries or looked for them in restaurants / bars.