Street Eats: Austin Lake-area
What started out as an inn in the hills outside Austin back in the '60s has grown into a posh community that boasts mansions on Lake Travis and upscale retail mixed with a country-resort vibe.
Lakeway is bursting with energy, people, and new construction. The sprawl requires driving — unless you hit the Hill Country Galleria for one-stop shopping, but even that relatively new, mega-retail experience is massive — so we got in the car and did some exploring, stopping for a nosh here and there along the way.
All Star Burger
At this locally owned burger joint, it's all about top-notch ingredients, such as Premium Gold Pure Country Angus Beef and preservative-free buns baked in the Hill Country. Order at the counter at this mod-looking space, which features cozy booths and a communal table strategically positioned near a flat-screen TV. Burger offerings range from the Fireman (cheddar, refried beans, avocado, tortilla chips, pico de gallo and jalapeño mayonnaise) to the Visionary (goat cheese, green leaf lettuce, fresh garlic, rosemary and sun-dried tomatoes). We like the Pacific Coast — a juicy, handcrafted patty with Monterey Jack, red leaf lettuce, creamy avocado and sprouts. Skinny versions (lettuce wraps) are available for those who are counting carbs and eschew bread. Finish with a slice of homemade pumpkin pie or a hand-dipped Blue Bell vanilla shake.
The Grove Wine Bar + Kitchen
This ultra-cool space (a bright, avocado-green bar lines a wall of windows) sits snug on an overlook offering a view of the hills that goes on for miles. Settle in with a glass of prosecco, take in the scenery from the outdoor covered deck and share small plates such as the Spicy Crispy Shrimp with mushroom, asparagus, toragashi spice and ginger sauce; the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna with marinated cucumber salad, ponzu sauce and wasabi aioli; and the Sweet Sourdough Sliders with a choice of ground beef and brisket, pulled pork or crispy chicken. If you are in need of something more substantial (and sometimes we are), try the Saltimbocca Pork Chop with fontina, prosciutto, sage, jalapeño sweet potato mash and vegetables or one of the specialty pizzas, such as the New Mediterranean with basil pesto, artichoke hearts, spinach, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta and mozzarella. Linger a little longer with glass of smooth malbec.
Lola Savannah Coffee Lounge
The folks behind the Grove operate this cool coffee spot that shares space and a menu with its sister restaurant. In the mood for a latte? Or need a double espresso? The barristas are friendly, and the beans are imported and roasted by the Lola Savannah Coffee Company in Houston. Inside is urban-sleek and low-lit (perfect for Mac users); the outside deck offers an unrivaled view of the rolling hills. Nosh on small plates and other offerings from the menu at the Grov
Deep red walls and pushed-tin decor liven up this interior Mexican spot in a strip mall. Start with a hand-crafted margarita or a homemade corn tortilla dipped into the Queso Fundido — Chihuahua cheese mixed with roasted jalapeños, tomatoes and onions and served in a hot skillet. Then move on to one of the house specialties, such as the Pechuga Rellena, a grilled chicken breast stuffed with venison chorizo and vegetables dressed with salsa chipotle, or the Cochinita Pibil, slow-cooked pork shoulder marinated in achiote and wrapped in a banana leaf. This is not the place for those craving yellow cheese.
The League Kitchen & Tavern
Walk in, and you are greeted by a wall with arrows pointing in the direction of the tavern (to the left) and the kitchen (to the right). The tavern is a lively spot suitable for sports watching and deliberating, while the other side boasts a menu ranging from fish and chips to grilled atlantic salmon with Israeli couscous gazpacho. Burgers, sandwiches and salads round out the menu along with an assortment of starters, including PEI Tavern Mussels and decadent truffled mac & cheese. If you can squeeze in dessert, try the simple, warmed chocolate chip cookies with a glass of supercold milk.
We gravitate toward this wow spot that is part French bistro, part wine bar and part bakery. The space is divided into a restaurant on one side and the bakery with an open kitchen, pastry cases, and counter dining on the other. Imagine rows of salted butter caramel crognets, kouign amann, crème brulée crognets and colorful macarons. Oh, my! The bistro is open for lunch and dinner and serves everything from smoked salmon and poached egg salad to confit de canard and sautéed lamb chop Provençal. We recommend allowing for some indulgence when it comes to dessert — perhaps Tarte Fine Aux Pommes (thin-crusted apple tart with salted butter caramel) or the profiteroles (ice cream–filled choux pastry with hot chocolate sauce). Bon appétit.