Best coffee in the downtown/SOCO & best local speciality food item to puchase
Looking forward to our 1st visit to Austin at the end of April.
We will be staying in the downtown area and hoping to find "serious" indie coffee spots. Also require suggestions for *local* speciality food items to take home to remember our trip! (Things that do not require refrigeration - driving down from Canada!)
hanks in advance
Some ideas for coffee (in addition to Patika, which is excellent)
Houndstooth at 4th and Congress. Excellent coffees, particularly anything roasted by Tweed.
Medici at 2nd and Congress. Also very good coffee, though not quite as good as either Patika or Houndstooth.
Ideas for take-home items that won't melt or require refrigeration:
Cocoa Pura: cocoa and vanilla covered cocoa beans. Delicious and only slightly less addictive that crack cocaine.
Chocolate Makers Studio - very good chocolate bars. I'm partial to the Orange Confit with Cherries, my wife likes the Espresso. Good balance between the inclusions and the chocolate itself. Might have to eat these before you get home to Canada.
Tweed coffees, particularly Timepiece. Available at Houndstooth. Technically, roasted in Dallas, but only available here in Austin (I believe, anyway!)
Barton Springs Soda Company: good sodas, not sure they are worth schlepping across the border.
More ideas as I think of them!
Or one of the farmers markets. The downtown one is Saturdays at Republic Square.
Honestly though, I have a really hard time coming up with specialties from Austin to bring friends when I visit them because the main things are fresh and don't travel well. I've brought different kinds of dried chiles before. Fiesta, a big grocery store with a Mexican focus, might be fun if you don't otherwise have access to something similar.
There are lots of small batch local hot sauces and salsas available that make great souvenirs - grab a selection. And even if you can't take home a brisket from Franklin's BBQ, you can easily take home his sauces. Franklin's Texas Style, Sweet Pork and local favorite Espresso sauces are all available at HEB food stores.
I know that Whataburger isn't small (but it IS only available in the southern United States) and that ketchup isn't haute cuisine, but I love Whataburger Spicy Ketchup (also available at HEB).
Austin is surrounded by pecan and peach orchards, so there are a lot of great items that use them - pecan pralines and brittle, spiced roasted pecans, pecan oil, and jalapeno-peach jelly come to mind.
And of course, don't forget something to drink. St. Arnold brewing company makes a nice cane sugar root beer, and the Dublin Bottling Works make a selection of cane sugar sodas. There are a lot of great wines coming out of the hill country surrounding Austin, from the double gold winning Bending Branch Cabernet Sauvignon to the more modestly priced wines from Duchman Family Winery and Pedernales Cellars. There are lots of local beers like the extremely popular Real Ale Brewing Company's Fireman's 4 or the dark and tasty Ranger Creek Mesquite Smoked Porter. For something a little harder, take back some Deep Eddy Vodka or Treaty Oak Rum.