New year, new food
It’s natural to yearn for a little self-improvement when a new year starts, but few resolutions are fun — especially when it comes to food. While most of us can benefit from a commitment to eating healthier, this year, resolve to approach dining differently. Do away with the diets and step off the scales and resolve to live 2020 more deliciously.
Drink less alcohol
Austin may regularly wind up on lists of the drunkest cities in America, but low- and no-ABV socializing was a hot topic in 2019. (In fact, CultureMap’s piece about the new alcohol-free Sans Bar was our most-read story last year by a mile.) Spots like Second Bar + Kitchen,Garage, Holy Roller, and Houndstooth Coffee are increasingly paying as much attention to zero-proof cocktails as their higher octane cousins. Those who want a tiny bit more spark can opt for hard seltzers from newly launched local brand Brizzy.
There are many reasons to eat local, ranging from the economical to the environmental, but the most compelling is taste. One only needs to compare a summer tomato purchased at Boggy Creek Farm’s market to the anemic ones bought at a conventional grocery store or taste bread made with Barton Springs Mill flours to an off-the-shelf loaf. Austin is also home to an excellent array of food artisans. Source them from community minded shops like Confituras Little Kitchen, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, or Salt & Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria.
Eat more veggies
Combating climate change, concerns about animal welfare, or working more vegetables into one's diet — eating vegan is a way to do all three. And even those of us who aren’t ready to take the full plunge can still benefit from a meatless Mondays. Luckily, Austin herbivores don’t have to search high and low to find a meal. Classics like Counter Culture, Mother’s Cafe and Garden, and Bouldin Creek Cafe hold it down at brunch with comforting bowls and fluffy pancakes. Tarrytown pub The Beer Plant and the bar-adjacent locations of Arlo’s are ideal for an evening on the town. And the Plow family of food trucks (Plow Burger, Plow-B-Q, and the newly opened Plow Bao) use clever meat substitutes for plant-based beginners.
Go off the beaten path
Deciding what to eat can be hard enough without involving Waze, but those who solely stick to established restaurant rows like East Sixth Street or South Congress are missing out on some of the most dynamic food in the city. Hit up Rosita’s Al Pastor, Taco More, and other unexpected stops on Riverside Drive or explore long-running Asian spots like Ho Ho Chinese BBQ or Din Ho in North Austin. Then, take a road trip to try out the many destination restaurants just outside of the city limits such as the hyper-local Apis in Spicewood or the innovative Inn on The Creek in Salado.
Improve kitchen skills
Though certain local food editors give it the old college try (ahem), one cannot live on take out-alone. This year, rediscover the joy of cooking by taking a class. Ebullient chef and food writer Maggie Perkins covers everything from the basics to handmade pasta through her regular Kitchen Underground courses. Uroko, one of 2019’s best new Austin restaurants, sets aside Thursdays for those who want to try their hand at making sushi. Club Home Made demystifies meal prep and helps locals make the most of their produce delivery boxes.