Restaurants We Luv

Restaurants We Luv: Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew – Austin, TX

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With Franklin BBQ getting so much national attention, you may not have heard about one of the newest additions to Austin’s booming BBQ scene. Opening in December of 2011, Stiles Switch BBQ is definitely the new kid on the block, but they’re serving up  delicious BBQ. Maybe that’s because Pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick, formerly of historic Louie Mueller BBQ, has been putting out great BBQ for years.

I heard about Stiles Switch when it was mentioned in February’s Texas Monthly Article “Of Meat and Men”  (which is a fantastic article) and decided we’d have to try it out. When we arrived at Stiles Switch BBQ, the first thing I noticed from the outside was how nostalgic the building looked. Located in the old Violet Crown shopping center, they really did a good job of creating that 50’s feel.

The inside was spacious, with a few flat screen TVs showing college basketball games. The walls were covered with photos and neon signs. I really liked the vibe of the restaurant. The staff was super friendly and even took us out back to see the pit. Most importantly, it passed my first test for a BBQ joint. It had to smell like BBQ!

We ordered as much food as we possibly could. We tried the Brisket, Switch Original Sausage, Pork Ribs, Turkey, Potato Salad, Pinto Beans and Lemon Vinaigrette Cole Slaw. The food was awesome.

I especially liked the pork ribs, which were seasoned and cooked perfectly. The moist brisket was outstanding. Not too fatty, with a nice seasoned crisp bark (the outside part of the brisket). The lean brisket was a little dry, but BBQ is not meant to be a health food. Order the moist brisket for Pete’s sake! The turkey was fantastic. The sausage was good, but I’d like to try the jalapeno cheddar sausage on our next trip. We really liked all of the sides. The Lemon Vinaigrette Cole Slaw, which was really refreshing and light. A nice change from most heavy mayo based Cole slaws. For dessert, we tried the banana pudding, which included whipped cream, chocolate pudding and Oreos. Disclaimer: I may be slightly biased here because I love banana pudding and Oreos. When they put the two together it kind of blew my mind.

All in all, I’d have to say we really enjoyed our visit to Stiles Switch BBQ and would highly recommend it. It’s hard to believe they’ve only been open for a few months and are probably still working out some kinks. Stiles Switch BBQ is located over in the historic Violet Crown Shopping Center at 6610 N. Lamar. For more information visit StilesSwitchBBQ.com.

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Restaurants We Luv: La Boite Cafe – Austin TX

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Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, macarons are made from a combination of egg whites, sugar, almond powder and food coloring. The cookies are filled with butter cream frosting, jam or ganache and come in a variety of colors and flavors. These small cookies have become a world-wide favorite.

Recently, I heard about La Boite Cafe on Twitter. Built from a re-purposed shipping container, La Boite features not only macarons, but also french style baked goods, fresh beverages, and sandwiches.   With a green mindset, this company really puts it’s mark on the Austin foodie scene.  We tasted a number of things on the menu but really enjoyed the macarons. In fact, we ended up taking a dozen home with us to share with our family.  The variety of colors and flavors were very exciting to try.  I recommend this creative cafe to anyone who has a desire to indulge in these heavenly little bites.

[box type="info"]Insider tip: Take some home, pop them in the fridge, and enjoy after the filling has hardened.  We actually preferred them when they reached their refrigerated temperature.  It was tastier and less messy![/box]
[image type=”frame-css3″ align=”none” width=”300″ caption=”La Boite”]http://www.luvs2eat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/La-Boite-Front.jpg[/image]
Featured macarons: (changes frequently)
[list]
  • Fleur de sal
  • Pistachio and Chocolate
  • Orange Blossom
  • Coffee and Chocolate
  • Peach
  • Bananas Foster[/list]
[image type=”frame-css3″ align=”none” width=”199″ pad=5 caption=”Macarons. Yum!”]http://www.luvs2eat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/La-Boite-3.jpg[/image] [image type=”frame-css3″ align=”none” width=”300″ caption=”Chocolate Brioche”]http://www.luvs2eat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/La-Boite-4.jpg[/image]
Location:

1700 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704

Restaurants We Luv: Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX

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Recently featured in Bon Appetite as the best BBQ in America, Franklin BBQ has quickly become the talk of the town. With lines forming at 9 a.m. and BBQ selling out as early as 1 p.m., I was extremely excited to get the chance to try it out. Think five year old kid on Christmas Eve excited. My wife and I both had a random Thursday off together, and what better way to spend time together than to eat great food!

Franklin BBQ 3

The one to two hour wait sounds terrible, but time seemed to pass quickly. I’ve waited in longer lines at Disney World with the end result being much less satisfying than Franklin BBQ. We met some interesting people while waiting including folks who’d driven in from Houston just for lunch and Diana even made a new four legged friend. It’s all part of the Franklin BBQ experience.

Most of the line was in the shade, but the worst part of the wait was the 15 minutes we had to spend standing in the sun shortly before we made it inside the building. Thankfully, there were waitresses selling reasonably priced Shiner and Lone Star (it’s OK to drink beer before noon in Texas) as well as other cold beverages. Once arriving at the counter, you are greeted by Aaron Franklin himself. Friendly and enthusiastic, you can tell he takes pride in his food and it shows.

Did the BBQ live up to the hype? Absolutely. The thing that amazed me the most about all the meats was that I made it half way through the meal before I realized I wasn’t using sauce. If you are a BBQ sauce lover, they do have a variety of tasty BBQ sauces including  an espresso sauce with a distinguished flavor. The meat was all so moist, well-seasoned and had such a great flavor there was no need for sauce (even though all their sauces are delish).

  • The brisket was moist, perfectly seasoned and had an enjoyable smoky undertone that doesn’t overpower the meat.
  • The turkey (my wife’s favorite of all the meat options) was probably the best turkey I’ve ever eaten.
  • The ribs fell right off the bone and had a mouthwatering flavor.
  • The sausage was great, but it would be hard to order sausage as a substitute for the ribs, brisket or even turkey. I’d recommend ordering an extra link on the side instead of as a substitute for the other meats.
  • The pulled pork sandwich combined pulled pork, coleslaw, pickles, onions and tasted as good as it looks.

The sides were a great compliment to the meat.

  • The potato salad was simple featuring a mustard base, perfect for non-mayonnaise eaters like my wife.
  • The coleslaw was tasty. At first glance, it looks like your average creamy coleslaw, but looks can be deceiving. The coleslaw includes a tangy flavor with a hint of vinegar.
  • The beans were good for beans, but I’d have a hard time passing up the the other sides.

I would highly recommend Franklin BBQ to anyone. If you’re going to go through the trouble of waiting in line, plan ahead. Bring a camp chair and have a cooler in the car. Order a ton of food and then pack your leftovers in the cooler on the ride home. My wife and I did this and we’ve been eating off of our leftovers for a couple days. It reheats very well.

Franklin BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

To find out more about Franklin BBQ, visit their website at http://www.franklinbarbecue.com/.

Restaurants We Luv: Torchy’s Tacos – Austin, TX

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Starting from humble beginnings, you have to luv the story of Torchy’s Tacos, but we luv their tacos even more. Starting out as a food trailer down on South First, Torchy’s has grown into a must visit Austin establishment.

The menu includes a wide-selection of tacos featuring slow-roasted pork, fried avocado, chicken, steak, tuna and much more. The tacos are moderately priced range from $3.00 to $4.50 (plan on eating at least two). Torchy’s also features award winning salsas that we highly recommend. We haven’t tried every taco on the menu (yet), but we haven’t ever been disappointed with any of our selections.

Just a heads up, if you’re going during a peak eating time be prepared to stand in line. We aren’t the only people in Austin who luv Torchy’s tacos. I think you’ll find they’re well worth the wait.

You can view the full menu online at http://torchystacos.com/food/tacos/.

Green Chile Pork Taco: Baja Shrimp and Fried Avocado Tacos