When I was younger, I imagined I'd be middle-aged (at about 35), and I'd be a writer. I'd sip on tiny cups of nuclear espresso. I'd ride my candy apple red bicycle down the sidewalks, my straight ashe-blonde hair pulled back in an insouciant ponytail, streaking behind me in the wind. I'd wear wools and flannels and leather, because you know how frequently Southern women wear wools and flannels and leather, I'd be effortlessly chic, because I'd read that in my mother's
I'd stop, first, for a bottle of champagne, and sample port with the wine stewards before I leave. I'd cycle on for charcuterie, then bread, and stay a bit too long for the jazz, then on to pick up cheese, maybe fish--and a chat about politics, perhaps a dessert. Of course every stop along the way I would have nibbled and sipped and snacked, so that when I slowly rolled myself home--edible treasures tucked securely in the wicker basket attached to my bike, I'd be almost full before dinner. I'd slip into some vinyl Edith Piaf crackling on the turntable, and finish the evening curled up early with a luscious cashmere lap blanket and a book, a flute of chilled champagne, and a plate of my favorite light nibbles. And oh, yeah. I'd be French.
And here I am at middle age (which is way older than 35). Among the aprons I wear and the pens I carry, I'm a writer. A food writer by trade. A writer who drinks too much espresso, probably. I don't have long, straight hair, I don't wear wools and flannels very often (I've never lived anywhere north of South) but you might catch me dressed in a little leather rebellion occasionally. I tote all kinds of diaries and journals around, I'm on my third Kerouac, And in the pocket of my cardigan, you'll find at least one slightly crumpled, hastily sketched grocery list (and likely those stars and the hearts, too.)
I have that vinyl Edith Piaf, and the turntable with which to spin her. I have a pretty blanket, so soft, not cashmere. I never seem to call it an early night, and champagne is a rare treat (but I stash an emergency bottle. A girl should never be too cautious about champagne). And I have that candy apple red bicycle with a wicker basket attached to the front in which I tuck the treasures of shops like those that populated my younger dreams, Imported Cheese and a fresh baguette for dinner? Sure--just a bike ride away. You'd think, just maybe, my dreams had come true. Well, I live in Austin, Texas. My dreams have come true.
And I'm Southern. Not French. Kinda like it that way.
I'd like to welcome you to Austin, if you're visiting, and congratulate you, if you're a resident. This city guide, My Favorite Austin Specialty Food & Wine Shops, is just one in a collection of many culinary guides written by members of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, to which I proudly claim membership. Do yourself a
With proximity to the action in mind, I've curated a list of my favorite food and wine specialty shops in the area where you can grab a nibble, collect a picnic lunch, or pull together an impromptu after-concert dinner for friends. Some even serve prepared meals-- look for their restaurant hours, which may be different from retail shops, along with menus, at the links provided below. Not an exhaustive list, certainly, but spots that are easy to get to from downtown or the UT campus, providing quality food and service. I've left off of the list anything that was a little out of the way, is a national chain, or is service-challenged. Those below are top-notch choices that won't disappoint.
Antonelli's Cheese Shop
artisanal cheeses, cured meats, bread & sundries, wine & craft beers.
Hyde Park Area
4220 Duval St
Austin, TX 78751
Hours: Mon-Sat 11-7 Sun 12-5
Con' Olio Oils & Vinegars
premium olive oil tasting bar serving complementary samples of fresh extra virgin olive oils and aged traditional balsamic vinegars
2ND Street District
215 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701
Hours: Mon-Fri 11-7 Sat 10-8 Sun 12-6
grass-fed beef, pastured pork, feral hog, free-roaming venison, goat, lamb, fresh chicken, quail and more, sourced from local ranchers, restaurant
2406 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
Hours: Butcher Shop - Tue-Sun 10–10
house-made bread, pretzels, sausages and corned beef and hand-selected cheeses, craft beers, wines, and spirits.
709 E 6th St
Austin, TX 78701
Hours: Bake Shop 7a-2p Beer Garden 11a-2a
henri's cheese & wine
gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, fine wine, craft beer, coffee and tea, and cafe' fare
2026 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Hours: cheese and charcuterie 11:00 am – close
Mandola's Italian Market
imported salumi, cheeses & antipasti dishes, authentic Italian cookies, cakes & pastries, imported groceries, wine, restaurant
4700 W Guadalupe St #12
Austin, TX 78751
Hours: Store Hours Mon - Fri 11 - 10 Sat 9a - 10p Sun 9-9
Quality Seafood Market
fresh, high-quality seafood, filleted in house, FDA-approved fish processor, restaurant, oyster bar, food truck open for breakfast
Highland Mall area
5621 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Hours: Market open 8-8
Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria
full service butcher shop, salumeria, restaurant, fresh cut meats from local sustainable ranches, house-made sausages, salumi and charcuterie, fine artisan foods, coffee, beer and wine.
Address: 1912 E 7th St,
Austin, TX 78702
Hours: Butcher Shop Tue - Sat 10 - 8 Sunday 10 - 6
Texas French Bread
freshly-baked artisan breads, pastries, and desserts from scratch, homemade sandwiches, soups, salads, locally roasted coffees. French country bistro fare for eat-in.
2900 Rio Grande St
Austin, TX 78705
Hours: Mon - Thur 7a-9:30p Fri-Sat 7a-10p
If you found this guide helpful, you might be interested in the additional guides I'm working on-- the 2015 Guide to Austin's Farmers' Markets, and coming later today, A Creole Crawl-- The 2015 Guide to Cajun & Creole food in Austin, and the 2015 Guide to Barbecue East of Austin. Don't forget to check out the complete 2015 City Guide: The Best Places to Eat in Austin, #ATXBestEats.