This small morsel of Burnet Road, one of Austin’s busiest thoroughfares, has morphed into an ultra-cool neighborhood, boasting everything from a yoga studio and camp for pets to a vintage furniture store and tattoo parlor.
To best enjoy the area, we suggest you park the four wheels and stroll on your own two legs, stopping in for a nibble or sip at the amazingly diverse food and drink venues we've selected below.
Since 1978, this diner has been serving some of the city’s best pancakes (this place started the gingerbread craze) and eggs. We like our made-to-order huevos scrambled, fried or sunny-side up. Of course, a trip to this keep-Austin-weird flashback just wouldn’t feel right without an omelet — try the Guacamole (avocados, tomatoes and cheese) or the Vegetarian (sautéed mushroom, onion and bell pepper plus tomato, avocado and cheese).
4811 Burnet Rd., 512-453-5062
Apothecary Café & Wine Bar
This relaxed, tiny spot packs in a crowd for shareable plates such as Avocado and Charred Serrano Hummus or Pecan-Crusted Baked Brie. We like to sit at the bar and pass around the Apple & Gorgonzola Dolce Salad — mixed greens with prosciutto, sun-dried tomato, red onion and Gorgonzola-dolce vinaigrette. A nice Albariño seals the deal.
4800 Burnet Rd., 512-371-1600, apothecaryaustin.com
Sambet’s Roadside Cafe
Thank goodness we live in a mobile society. A fire shut down the brick-and-mortar space on Spicewood Springs Road back in 2011, but this trailer — which serves Cajun classics such as po’boys, gumbo, rice and beans and muffuletta (house-baked bread) — is open for business. Go for the crawfish étouffée. We’re predicting it — and this reincarnation — will soon reach cult status.
4801 Burnet Rd., 512-258-6410
Long communal picnic tables in one enormous dining room encourage socializing — as do the craft beers. Here flavor and drinkability rate high. Head brewer Joe Mohrfeld searches for the best ingredients and most creative flavor combinations to produce pale ales, stouts and IPAs with names like Iron Genny, Bearded Seal and Man O’ War. Build your own pizza or try the Milano — olive oil, cheese, artichokes, Kalamata olives, prosciutto and fresh oregano. And did we mention the gluten-free options?
4729 Burnet Rd., 512-436-9605, pinthousepizza.com
Blue Star Cafeteria
The ultra-modern interior is an unlikely, yet successful, complement to the comfort food served in this space that kindled the area’s food renaissance. Actually, we’d like to be more specific and add the word “gourmet” before “comfort.” Think grilled cheese but to the next level — imported Swiss, provolone, cheddar and Gorgonzola with apple and dried fruit chutney and Dijon mustard. Other must-haves include: the Godfather Pizza, the Cafeteria Meatloaf and Pasta Carbonara (spaghetti, green pea, red onion and bacon tossed with an egg and Parmesan sauce).
4800 Burnet Rd., 512-454-7827, bluestarcafeteria.com
Gusto Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar
The interior feels like a contemporary Tuscan villa — relaxed yet stylish. The menu follows suit with everything from Italian Hummus (garbanzo beans and sun-dried tomato pesto on grilled flatbread) to Rigatoni Arrabiata (pasta with spicy tomato sauce, eggplant and fresh mozzarella) to a Shrimp Pizza topped with arugula pesto, goat cheese and peppers. We like to start with a glass of Cava, nosh on a Beet Salad (mixed greens, shaved fennel and orange supremes dressed in citronette), and do something simple like Meatballs in tomato sauce with Parmigiano. If the weather holds, finish with a rosé on the patio.
4800 Burnet Rd., 512-458-1100, gustoitaliankitchen.com
Phoenicia Bakery and Deli
Looking for pure butter ghee? Or fresh olives and cheese? Perhaps dried moughrabiah? The grocery store inside this bakery and deli shelves hard-to-find Middle Eastern products and sells everything from yogurt to salmon trout. Make your way to the back and order an Eggplant Sandwich, Gyro or Falafel. While you wait, meander through the offerings and listen to clerks chat with customers in another language. Do not leave the premises without some bread from the bakery.
4701 Burnet Rd., 512-323-6770, phoeniciabakery.com
Maru Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
We might just work our way through the entire menu at this unassuming family-owned spot. Start with Nigiri Sushi — we recommend the Masuro Tuna or the Toro Uni — and then try one of the specialties, such as the Love Joy Roll (spicy tuna, cucumber, shrimp and avocado) or the J-Bomb (jalapeño stuffed with cream cheese, spicy tuna and crab with a special sauce). Everything here is spot on, from the super fresh food to the friendly service to the smart prices.
4636 Burnet Rd., 512-458-6200, austinmaru.net
Purple walls, mix-matched chairs, tables dressed in colorful prints — this tiny spot oozes funk. Patrons tap on tablets, sip on organic cups of Joe and talk about the day’s offerings. The PachaLatte is the gig here — amazingly light yet rich (a secret recipe) — but then again, we find most all of the coffee drinks to be stellar. Nibble on a chocolate chip cookie or go for a pancake, smoothie or slice of pie. You’ll want to grab a chair, chill and cherish this sweet spot.
4618 Burnet Rd., 512-420-8758, pachatx.com