Anyone who’s spent a late night carousing with friends in downtown Austin usually faces the same conundrum when leaving the bars: What the hell are you going to eat?
Depending on where you are, you might stick with the convenient choices, like a slice of Roppolo’s on Dirty Sixth. You don’t need anything fancy; it just needs to satiate that specific drunk appetite at the end of a bar crawl.
It’s a shame the bagel bites are only available late at night, because everyone knows that when pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat it anytime.
But why should you lower your standards for food when you’re a bit inebriated? And why play it safe with a standard slice of pizza or Whataburger?
The options dramatically improve for Rainey Street revelers if they head to Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden for what surely will be a game changer in late-night Austin bites.
Premiering in late July, the new late-night menu may first come off as a novelty, but it’s adventurous in all the right ways.
One winner, especially for fans of Cajun cuisine, are the boudin balls — a handy way of delivering the juicy, spicy goodness of boudin sausage in a crunchy, panko-crusted package. Other offerings include fried bacon mac & cheese balls and chili cheese nachos, which are simply an alternative to Banger’s chili cheese fries.
If you really want a blast from the past, then try some housemade pizza bagel bites, Banger’s take on the childhood classic you likely ate while watching some Legends of the Hidden Temple. But unlike the bagel bites of your childhood, these are made fresh in-house — a definite improvement over the frozen variety.
It’s a shame these bagel bites are only available late at night, because everyone knows that when pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat it anytime.
That brings us to the main-course portion of the late-night menu, which adds some heft and variety with sandwiches. Two examples are the chicken-fried chicken biscuit and the fried bologna sandwich.
It’s understandable to be put off by the idea of a bratwurst filled with gummy bears, but it’s worth a try.
The chicken-fried chicken biscuit is a patty version of Banger's fried chicken sausage (a regular menu item) served on housemade biscuit and doused with milk gravy. The fried bologna sandwich also sends you back to childhood, only better: Homemade bologna is fried in lard and topped with field greens, sliced tomatoes, onion aioli and spicy mustard. The sandwich is served on cheap white bread, because Banger’s is confident that its bologna speaks for itself.
The menu becomes more epic thanks to new sausage selections. First is the turkey and bacon sausage on pumpernickel, which is topped with bacon and avocado garlic aioli and drizzled with Tabasco. According to Banger’s, it’s the “healthier” option on the late-night menu, so even drunk health nuts have choices.
But the real crowning achievements are Banger’s new stoner sausage and the gummy bear brat. The former is a banger sausage wrapped in a pancake, stuffed with bacon and topped with a fried egg. Plus they throw in a heap of shoestring potatoes and drizzle it all with sriracha maple syrup. It’s a winner from top to bottom, but here’s hoping that demand gets crazy enough for Banger’s to start bottling that sauce.
And all that’s left is one of the more insane sausage concoctions from Banger’s to date — which is saying a lot for a place that serves duck, bacon and fig sausages — the gummy bear brat. It’s understandable to be put off by the idea of a bratwurst filled with gummy bears, but it’s worth a try, especially because the gummies provide a sweet and fruity foil to the savoriness of the brat.
The new late-night menu is available after 11 pm, Thursday through Saturday. It could be the best way to top off your Rainey Street misadventures. Being drunk isn’t a requirement to enjoy the meal, but it’s a good excuse.