Next Great Food Town

Is Austin the next great food city? National magazine weighs in

Is Austin the next great food city? National magazine weighs in

Contigo_Austin restaurant_patio bench_food_2013
Travel + Leisure has named Austin the "next great food town." Contigo Austin/Facebook

Eating in Austin is no longer just about breakfast tacos and barbecue. We've experienced a culinary explosion that is constantly garnering national attention.

And a recent piece from Travel + Leisure tells us what we already know: that our dining scene is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that we're "America's next great food town." 

In a piece that spotlights everything from our pitmasters to that famous sushi spot, T+L writer Peter Jon Lindberg examines how the Austin food scene has evolved into a hotbed of fine dining, celebrity chefs and killer innovation.

Of course his culinary tour starts with the barbecue. Lindberg, like many, has been absolutely wooed by the meaty lineup at Franklin Barbecue.

"The more of [Aaron Franklin's] barbecue I eat — his brisket, his ribs, his juice-bursting links — the more I'm convinced he's a cosmic smoke-sorcerer sent to save us from our boring Earth food," he says. But Franklin doesn't get all the props — nods to Micklethwait Craft Meats, Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ and La Barbecue highlight a new guard of meat masters.

Moving on from smoked meat, Lindberg discusses a growing trend toward hyper-local cuisine, a focus of many of Austin's forward-thinking chefs. "Austin chefs are relying more and more on regional farms and foodstuffs, forging new collaborations with small-scale Texan farmers," says Lindberg.

He cites Bryce Gilmore, Jesse Griffiths, Todd Duplechan and Andrew Wiseheart among those taking the locally grown movement seriously. The result? The "new, proudly Texan cuisine" you see find at Barley Swine, Odd Duck, Dai Due, Lenoir, Contigo and Gardner.

But to "truly understand the evolution of Austin dining, you have to pay a visit to both Tyson Cole and Paul Qui," he explains. Lindberg calls Cole, and the opening of Uchi in 2003, "the foundation of New Austin Dining." Cole's protégé, Qui, "is clearly its apotheosis, with a career that mirrors the city's own freewheeling trajectory." 

Lindberg champions the Top Chef winner's many successful ventures, from trailer fare to high-end dining, and deems Qui "the most homegrown Austin chef of all." 

For a more in-depth taste of T+L's trip through the Austin culinary evolution, go here