“It’s my first time in Texas!” I told my Uber driver as I left Austin’s airport.
“This ain’t Texas,” she paused. “This is Austin.”
There are many things that separate Austin from the rest of the Lone Star state: live country-punk-rock at The Continental Club, rowdy daytime dance parties on Rainey Street, and aerial bat shows on Congress Ave bridge are just a few of the special spectacles in this city.
And then there is the food, which is perhaps Austin’s most memorable attraction.
For a first-timer, such as myself, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of delectable and one-of-a-kind dining options. I knew I had to try some Tex-Mex, craft brew, and BBQ, but overwhelmed by the amount of restaurants and food trucks, I didn’t know where to begin.
As a food tour guide myself, I know that taking food tours is perhaps one of the best introductions to a new place. So, I researched the best food tours in Austin and came across Austin Eats. I knew what I needed to do.
To make sure I checked my bases and tried all of the “must haves” in Austin, I signed up for the Brunch/BBQ/Brewery/Bus/Walking Tour.
Starting at 10:15 sharp, I walked into Lazarus Brewing Company. Eric, our tour guide for the remaining 3 and a half hours greeted each of us with a warm smile and two cold beers. The brewery offered an extensive selection of beers to choose from, including IPAs, coffee infused golden ales, and red ales with koji rice cultures.
To make this start of the day even more glorious, breakfast tacos arrived at our table. Our next difficulty lay in choosing which salsa to pair with our eggy and cheesy taco. I alternated between the red (super spicy) and green (medium spicy) salsa, which offered oscillating tastes of sweet and spicy mouth feels.
Saying goodbye to this cozy spot, we hopped in a cushy bus and drove towards the smell of BBQ. Austin (and Texas) hosts a seemingly infinite amount of BBQ joints, so I was thankful Austin Eats did their research ahead of time to find the best spot for a big group. We just got to roll up and eat.
I started to smell the smoky and peppery scent of BBQ in the air as I walked into what felt like someone’s backyard. Long picnic tables scattered the faintly green grass. Behind the food truck, where our guide picked up the order, sat big smokers to make the long racks of ribs and peppered brisket.
Eating family style, the mountain of food passed from one end of the table to the other. We each had a generous slices of the Prime Angus brisket, pork ribs, blue cheese coleslaw, jalapeno dill potato salad, and kolaches. Wide eyes and ambitious stomachs got everyone to load up their plate. Some brave persons even reached for seconds, of which we had plenty. Tender, fatty, and well-seasoned, we embraced the robust BBQ flavors presented before us.
Only at our second stop on the tour, and I knew nobody would leave the tour hungry.
Full of BBQ, we then bussed over to the next restaurant. As we walked in, I noticed the most impressive lineup of Bloody Mary ingredients and add-ons I had ever seen.
Just moments after sitting down, prickly pear mimosas arrived at our table. Next, the waiter came out with an impressive stack of (starting from bottom to top) grit waffles, fried chicken thighs, a fried egg, ginger-honey syrup, and butter.
Please hold your gasp as I admit that I’ve never eaten chicken and waffles. Yes, the “famous” Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles was a popular destination brunch spot when I lived in college, but coming short of excuses, I never went. Yet here, I instinctively dug my fork and knife into the layers of crispy chicken, gooey egg, and textured waffle. I’m officially a convert.
Full, happy, and ready to move a bit, we then headed outside and walked along the hip and rapidly gentrifying East 6th Street to a gelateria. Using organic dairy and produce to make creamy, seasonal gelatos, the scoops here rounded off our food portion of the tour with a sweet finish. I may have tried 5 flavors before setting on hazelnut, which had actual pieces of hazelnuts enrobed in the dairy-licious confection.
We fittingly ended our tour at a brewery. We each selected two types of beer to taste, which came with generous pours. Since I came with two other people on the tour, we each ordered 2 different beers so that we could sample 6 different home brews. I liked them all.
The the tour ended at 1:30pm, but we ended up carrying on and staying until 2:30pm. In no rush to leave, and perhaps needing a moment to digest the generous portions of food from our 3+ hours of eating, we finished our tour happy, relaxed, and excited to explore more of Austin’s distinct food scene.
This tour was sponsored by Austin Eats, however all opinions, writing, and photos are my own.