It happens every year. A slight cold front hits, the sweaters come out, and Austinites proceed to lose their minds. Even though we know we will soon be back in the upper 80s, we can’t help dreaming of cooler days ahead. But just because we don’t get changing leaves, doesn’t mean we can’t pretend that fall has arrived. Need a break from November fun in the sun? Grab your fuzziest cardigan, sit near an air-conditioner vent, and order one of these comfy fall dishes.
Central Standard — Sunset Salad
Yes, we know, salads read summer. But not this one. Starting with a base of Napa cabbage, new Central Standard chef Casey Wilcox adds crisp radish, thin beets, pomegranate seeds and bacon to make a salad that matches the jewel-like colors of the fall sky.
Épicerie — Chicken Thighs
We here at CultureMap have a strong belief that you should eat what you want. But if you are wasting your time on chicken breasts, expect us to give you the side-eye. Thighs are where it’s at, and Épicerie's lovely version served with seasonal root veggies, mustard greens, and gravy will remind you that chicken should taste like, well, chicken.
Jacoby’s Restaurant and Mercantile — Vegetarian “Meatloaf”
With shorter days and (occasionally) crisper weather, fall is naturally when we want to cozy up with comfort food. It’s even better when those classics are given subtle twists. Take Jacoby’s “meatloaf,” a new vegetarian classic from a restaurant mostly known for its family brand beef. Served on a parsnip puree and a fig and pecan quinoa and slathered with cream gravy, it’s like a hug on a plate.
L’oca d’Oro — Kabocha Squash Traingoli
Squash is a mainstay on fall menus, but the Mueller restaurant doesn’t play with basic butternut. L’oca’s ravioli-like pasta instead uses kabocha, a much sweeter winter squash sometimes called Japanese pumpkin, tossing it with sage brown butter, and polenta cookies. The result is a dish that is delicate enough for Austin’s warm autumn weather, but with flavors that will remind you that seasons aren't a figment of your imagination.
Olive & June — Charred Sweet Potato
The season isn’t the season without sweet potatoes. And even though Olive & June’s version is meant as a side, we like to make it the main event with an order of salami or roasted acorn squash crostini. Far from an afterthought, the dish from Shawn Cirkiel’s neighborhood Italian joint stands alone with toasted walnuts, Texas goat cheese, basil, and a dressing of complex smoked balsamic.
Red Ash — Cappelletti
Is there anything more autumnal than brown butter? During fall, we pour it on popcorn, slather it on toast, and sometimes even use it as a moisturizer. We made that last one up, but the point is we really love the stuff. And one of our favorite ways to have it is drizzled on bishops hat-shaped pasta served with spinach, ricotta, sage, and walnuts — a combination cozy enough to make us forget it is still warm enough to wear Birkenstocks.
Three Little Pigs — Pork Belly Sliders
Against all reason, chef Raymond Tatum’s food truck at the Aristocrat is still an Austin underdog. But as long as they keep serving enticing dishes like these sliders glazed in maple and soy and topped with tart green apple and fried onions — we will talk about them every chance we get.