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Local and Organic

Hi everyone,

I am new to Austin and looking to eat in some restaurants that emphasize local and organic food. Free range meat, veggies sourced from local farms, a bit of emphasis on the greener, more sustainable side of cuisine. That sort of thing. I guess I am looking for a little Chez Panisse in Austin.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

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  1. Check out Eastside Cafe. I believe they put a lot of emphasis on local and organic fare, although I don't know if it's only that. The food is pretty good - not gourmet, but well prepared, tasty.

    1. Eastside Cafe on Manor Rd has a garden, on site, that is nice to stroll through. If you're going at lunch, try making a reservation to cut down on the wait. Wink on Lamar Blvd. is another restaurant that features local food. The tasting menu with wine pairings in the evening is incredible. The dishes show subtlety with many layers of taste. They use salt well. The wine pairings are what I look for: the food and the wine sort of meld and become a whole new flavor.

      1 Reply
      1. re: austinfoodie

        Also... Opal Devine's, Whole Foods Market, Mother's Cafe (after they re-open) and Kerbey Lane Cafe. RuBy's BBQ on Guadalupe has natural beef.

      2. Never been, but there's a macrobiotic place over on Toomey called Casa de Luz ( http://www.casadeluz.org/ ).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Twill

          Definitely check out Eastside Cafe especially for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. You have to try the blueberry blintzes, they are heavenly. They have a nice big garden where some of their produce comes from. They also compost all of their kitchen scraps for their garden. Really nice, laid back environment.

        2. Thanks for the suggestions! I can't wait to go try all these places.

          I actually just happened to drive by East Side Cafe today and noticed their beautiful garden!

          1. Try the Farmer's Market on 290 South in the Toney Burger Center Parking Lot. It opens around 9:00 am every Saturday. Several restuarants and food entrepreneurs bring their goodies to the market. Don't neglect the "roast chicken man" truck with fresh organic spring chickens roasted on site,
            Enjoy!

            1. My wife went to the Bull and Boar in Del Valle recently and was quite impressed. She said the pork pie was very good. (pork,apples, onions and crust made with lard ). Sorry for the short review but I didn't go. Hopefully I can make it out there soon. There was an article in the statesman within the last month. They specialize in local food. Anybody out there tried this yet?

              1. I'll second the Casa de Luz mention. Check out their website.

                Also, the downtown Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings (till 1pm) is quite good and has a wide range of locally grown or raised everything.

                1. Austin Chronicle has an article about "green" restaurants.

                  Bull and Boar in Del Valle and Leaf on west 2nd

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: rollledspleen

                    I'd love to read the article -- do you remember when it ran?

                    1. re: hungryintexas

                      It is in today's Austin Chronicle in the paper or online.

                      Tried to attach a link and it isn't working for some reason, but just google austin chronicle. Enjoy.

                  2. Though not a restaurant per se, Dai Due is a cool local dining experience like no other
                    http://www.daidueaustin.com/
                    They do a supper club that features exclusively local produce and products, and the locations vary but include Boggy Creek Farm (another cool source for a localvore.) Jesse Griffiths, half of the couple that runs Dai Due, chefed at Vespaio for some time before starting his own venture with Tamara.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: tipsytexan

                      In contravention of an article of my personal credo regarding attending social events in completely unfamiliar environs, I allowed my SO to persuade me into attending a Dai Due Supper Club on Saturday, and, in spite of my counterarguments, I had an unforgettable experience.

                      The particular theme of this Dai Due centered around the date itself, Saturday being both the 14th of July and Bastille Day, so we knew in advance that the meal would focus on French fare, and based on what we already knew about Dai Due, we expected a kind of rural simplicity to the food preparations, while hoping for a complexity of tastes.

                      The process for securing a place at the table, as it were, is much the same as similar supper clubs–a date and theme are set, a notice is posted, and the early comers get first dibs. Those who make the cut are asked to provide a deposit (refundable up to, in this case, four days in advance of the meal), and a "bill" for the balance is provided at the meal's end. Libations are BYO, and Dai Due provides a list of Texas-sourced pairing suggestions. It seems the dinner is usually relegated to around 20 chairs making for a relatively intimate setting and allowing owners/chefs Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield to focus on each individual plate. The locus of meals varies, but three particular sites seem to get the lion's share of attention: Boggy Creek Farms, Rainlily Farms and the location of this Bastille Day feast, the Dragonfly House, a private residence just off the far east end of Cesar Chavez, right at the shore of Town Lake.

                      We arrived at the scheduled time of 7 p.m. and were greeted at the door by Dragonfly House "proprietor" Tom and his master gardener of a wife, Emily, who welcomed us in and told us to spend the time before dinner exploring the house and grounds and getting acquainted with our eventual dinner companions. An assistant to Jesse and Tamara offered up a light and delicious summer cocktail of plum infused Tito's topped off with Topo Chico, pointed us to a binder of past menus for perusal, and again urged us to explore the property.

                      One of the most important aspects of the meal creation at Dai Due is utilizing that which is available in the most local of local resources, in this case being the expansive gardens surrounding the house. Pathways were lined with virtually every herb imaginable that can grow in our climate, and there was a 15-ft tall fig tree nestled in the front yard whose fruits we hoped would be part of our coming meal.

                      About 30-45 minutes after our arrival and time spent wandering and meeting folks, we were summoned to two long tables each for about 10-12 diners. We dutifully poured our wine and awaited the arrival of the first dish of the six-course meal.

                      The dinner opened with a charcuterie selection of Duck and Rabbit Rillettes, Chicken Liver Terrine and Pâté Campagne, served with Creole Mustard and some pickle vegetables and oil basted, toasted ficelle. The rillettes were tender and succulent, with a great salty-fat taste. The chicken liver terrine was a rustic prep, perfectly moist with tender chunks of meat with very reserved secondary flavors of onion and, I believe, cognac. The best of the lot, however, was the ultra-smooth Campagne, which had a deep, rich smoky flavor that was complemented perfectly by a spot of sweet mayhaw jelly.

                      The next course consisted of a Spanish pickled mackerel set atop halved new potatoes and drizzled with a light oil and herb mixture. The filet was tangy and flaky, the pommes were perfectly cooked-tender without being the least bit mealy, and the oil and herbs kept the dish light and simple, making it a near perfect contrast to the charcuterie and a fitting transition to the salad course.

                      The salad arrived, composed of a bed of Bibb lettuce with a warm goat cheese and herb stuffed ficelle atop. The cool, reserved greens coupled with the warm tang of the cheese and dense consistency French bread made for a great balance of texture and taste.

                      The main course came in the form of a moist leg of lamb roast accompanied by a summer vegetable gratin of zucchini and onions and eggplant. I'll admit here that I had engaged in a bit of conversation with some tablemates, and I remember the lamb as being delicious, though I now realize I wasn't attentive enough to its construct, so I can hardly provide details.

                      A cheese course featuring fromages from three area farms (Veldhuizen in Dublin, Full Quiver in Kemp, and Pure Luck outside of Dripping) and fresh figs from our hosts' tree. Both the Veldhuizen Paragon and Full Quiver Cheddar were good; the Paragon was a bit demure, but the cheddar was mildly pungent with a muted sharpness. Apparently, I was still "yapping" (the term employed by my SO) at this point, and by the time I looked up, the Pure Luck was gone. C'est la vie. The figs were what one would expect; delicious, freshly harvested, perfectly ripe fruit. It took me back to days spent in my grandparents' back yard, climbing a wooden privacy fence to nab figs from the neighbor's tree.

                      Dessert was a simple Red Wine Poached Pear with fresh whipped cream. Again, simplicity and freshness were the order and it was a fitting conclusion to the meal.

                      It was at this point in the service that Jesse took a moment to recognize the hosts and the local suppliers of the food (a list of which occupies the verso of each evening's menu), and spent a few minutes emphasizing the importance of eating from reliable sources and supporting local farmers and suppliers.

                      Dai Due seems to be as much about a philosophy of food as it is about the food itself. Jesse and Tamara are perceptibly passionate about cultivating, utilizing and sustaining local food resources, and it really comes through in the taste of the core ingredients in their creations. They're not shy either about sharing their philosophy, so that a Dai Due meal does, in some ways, resemble a kind of ecclesiastical experience. And having that experience with others–be they friends or complete strangers–who share a love of good food made from quality ingredients in support of local producers, made this an experience that I expect to have again.

                      1. re: Twill

                        I have been considering a Dai Due supper for quite some time now; thank you for the detailed report. I may actually show this to my sig other to convince him we should go. I looked at the web site and the seafood dinner, for example, is only $75; less expensive than Uchi et. al. and I prefer to bring my own wine anyway. And they take paypal, which is convenient. Maybe this is a pedestrian question, but I wonder if they provided wine tools/charged for corkage? In any case, it sounds like an adventure. Too bad they're totally booked for July and there are no scheduled dates for August yet; will have to keep checking back I suppose.

                        1. re: femmenikita

                          No charge for anything. You can either bring your own corker (I like mine for well-earned familiarity) or use theirs, they have big galvanized tubs of ice for chilling and they provide glasses. You need only bring the bottle(s).

                          Actually, don't let a "booked" notation deter you. My SO contacted Tamara, and she put us on a wait list for the Bastille feast, so there you go. I'd love to hear another Hound's take, so please post back if you make one.

                          BTW, the dinner wrapped up about 11:30, and it was $75/person, as well.

                        2. re: Twill

                          Twill, What an excellent, descriptive posting! This is an experience that was unknown to me but is now in my future. Rene'

                          1. re: Twill

                            Thanks for such a detailed write up. I've been wanting to check this out and this review seals the deal. The opportunity to learn more about local sourcing is a further bonus.

                            1. re: Twill

                              Thanks for the very detailed writeup/review. I haven't heard of Dai Due, but their seafood dinner sounds amazing. Now I just need to find a girlfriend to go with me to one of these events!

                          2. for fancier food try Wink near Lamar and 12th. emphasis on seasonal ingredients and locally grown produce. www.winkrestaurant.com

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: porkmuffin

                              Eric at Wink does an excellent job of buying, cooking and respecting seasonal and local vegetables. Happy hour at the wine bar is a great deal - good wine and food, good service.