Hyde Park — home to an eclectic mix of über-cool families, students and creative types — has kept Austin weird for years. A walk down any boulevard in the neighborhood reveals stately mansions juxtaposed with tiny homes boasting funky yard art, twinkle light displays and sculptures. Tucked inside this mélange is an enclave of restaurants and grocery stores, barber shops and a day spa.
The neighborhood is also a dining destination in its own right. We like to park, walk and take it all in. And, of course, eat.
Hyde Park Bar and Grill
When was the last time you got to choose between fried chicken, chicken-fried chicken, chicken-fried steak or chicken-fried pork? When you see that huge fork on the road (well, in the parking lot), you know you’ve come to the right place. Serving up comfort food and decorated with throwback mod furniture and colors, Hyde Park Bar and Grill has been serving good eats since 1982.
When you see that huge fork on the road (well, in the parking lot), you know you’ve come to the right place.
The menu also features grilled salmon with lemon basil butter and a homemade black bean and rice vegetarian burger. We’re partial to something light like mixed greens so we don’t feel as guilty when our huge plate of Hyde Park fries arrives.
Antonelli’s Cheese Shop
This wildly popular spot, which opened in 2010, is known for its expertise in all things cheese. Passionate cheesemongers happily pass samples of from the jam-packed display case. We thought rather highly of the Ticklemore (a goat cheese from Dartmoor, England) and the Midnight Chèvre (a fresh goat cheese wheel coated with charcoal; it supposedly makes the cheese firmer). A small but impressive offering of wines and other specialty items add to the charm.
Curl up with your tablet, order up a latte and stay awhile at this funk-meets-chic spot that serves a variety of coffee drinks and more. Curb your sugar craving with a slice of tiramisu or cup of gelato; our favorite flavors are the guava lime, jalapeno berry or prickly pear. Dolce Vita also offers a small breakfast menu including Italian eggs: red onion, tomato and greens sautéed with two eggs and house-made pesto. For lunch or dinner, pick up a panino, like the prosciutto and provolone on rye topped with roasted red peppers. We’d be remiss not to mention the martinis and sorberitas — a delightful combination of sorbet, gelato and liquor.
Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery
Quack’s is short for Captain Quackenbush’s Intergalactic Dessert Company and Espresso Cafe, which originally opened in 1983 on Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas campus. The menu has expanded since the bakery’s humble beginnings (patrons can get a cup of French-pressed coffee now), but the philosophy has stayed the same: homemade goods, fresh ingredients, Austin vibe. Offerings include gigantic cookies; handmade espresso; and hazelnut truffles, scones, breads, pies, Texas pecan bars and a variety of cakes. There is also a variety of vegan options. This spot has a loyal following for a reason.
This no-frills spot has an outdoor patio great for people-watching, but locals flock to this tiny cafe for the succulent roasted chicken. The house-made chicken and vegetable soup is a favorite too. Breakfast tacos — chicken, bean, veggie, rice — offered à la carte make this spot a no-brainer for Saturday mornings.
Mother’s Cafe and Garden
This cozy, colorful spot has been ahead of the game since it opened back in 1980, serving only vegetarian and vegan food. It has now added gluten-free entrées like the Southwestern stuffed pepper — a fresh roasted poblano filled with organic brown rice, green peas and organic soy tempeh, which is baked and topped with Jack cheese. Other specialties include mushroom stroganoff, tofu lasagna and garden stir-fry. Weekend brunch features myriad eggs dishes made with organic eggs from cage-free, pasture-raised hens.
We like to hit this fashionable spot for lunch and treat ourselves to a delicious pizza like the Bianca — mozzarella, fontina, and provolone with fried sage and a drizzle of truffle oil. Not in the mood for pizza? Try the caponata risotto with eggplant, basil, tomato and ricotta. The shrimp polenta dotted with sweet corn, cheery tomato, basil and Fresno chili is also popular. Make a meal of it and indulge with a glass of bubbly from the impressive wine list.