As is the tradition as we near the end of 2020, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. Given the insanity of this year, Eater has adapted the standard survey into one the reflects the new realities of takeout, restaurant shutters, and a shaky industry. All answers will be revealed before the year ends — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number one:
What were your go-to food and drinks destinations for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining in 2020?
Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
I’m a huge fan of Tacodeli, an Austin favorite that has been steady as a rock since the pandemic started. The shrimp salad (with guac and sour cream) is great. My latest crush is Kalimotxo, the teeny, eclectic, Spanish-oriented restaurant/bar from Kevin Fink and Tavel Bristol-Joseph — you can get a steak, a burger, smoky shishito peppers, or a fab piece of Basque cheesecake.
Nicolai McCrary, Austin staff writer, The Infatuation
I found myself at the Arbor Food Park on East 12th about as often as I found myself going to the grocery store — and I’m not entirely sure if that’s a healthy reflection on my takeout consumption during all of this. The food park has kind of become this treasure trove of excellent food trucks and trailers, and it’s been really exciting to watch it grow. It started off with Cuantos Tacos — one of my favorite spots in Austin — all alone in this giant field. And now, they’ve been joined by Dough Boys, Rosarito Cevicheria, and a few new spots I haven’t even had the chance to try.
Lenny Dewi, @eats_n_noods and Eater contributing writer
My go-to destinations for takeout and delivery will be all my favorite places that serve my favorite foods, because I want to support them as much as I can. Few examples: Julie’s Noodles, Ho Ho Chinese BBQ, Pho Phong Lu’s, Broth and Basil, Little Mama’s and more. Most of these food can be reheated at home, and always plenty leftover for work days.
Robert Jacob Lerma, photographer for Eater Austin and others
Treaty Oak Distilling. Solid food, killer cocktails, and wide open spaces under the oak trees made for good times, while being mindful of others.
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
For takeout: Old Thousand, 101 by Tea Haus, Sazan Ramen, and Loro. I ordered takeout from these places consistently because the food still tasted really good after sitting in a takeout container.
Katie Friel, editor, CultureMap Austin
Tamale House East, Baby Greens, Fresa’s, Mi Trailita, Quality Seafood, and Better Half have been my to-go go-tos. Paper Route Bakery has been such a sweet pandemic treat, too. The desserts are over-the-top, and the friendly owner approaches each customer with such kindness and warmth.
For cocktails, Nickel City’s Irish coffee (paired with a pound of hot wings from Delray Cafe, of course). And bottles of wine to-go from LoLo and Quickie Pickie, where there is a fantastic three-bottles-for-$40-deal.
For outdoor dining, Bufalina and the Cavalier both have created safe patio experiences. Summer House on Music Lane feels safe and is also really delicious. The whipped feta and the Forager Bowl are *chef’s kiss* and the bloody mary is the best in town — bold words, I know.
Sarah Engstrand, contributing writer, Eater Austin
Bird Bird Biscuit for takeaway, because I have a problem. There was no reason for this besides I’m madly in love with those sandwiches. I literally almost cried when I saw they were opening a second location.
Outdoor dining: June’s because it’s smaller than some of the larger patios, and I’ve been playing it really safe.
Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
My takeout regulars haven’t changed much from the before times, although I suppose my tastes trend more casual these days. I still order from Better Half so often it’s almost embarrassing because there’s always a dish or drink I want to try (and if not, there’s that breakfast sandwich). Xian Sushi & Noodle is a go-to because the hand-pulled noodles are so consistently good. Bufalina is my pizza relationship. New entrants to the rotation are Little Ola’s Biscuits (both because of the heavenly biscuits and Erin Ashford’s cocktails), Nixta Taqueria (duck confit taco! come on!), and Sala & Betty (best takeout burger and fries in town).
I don’t order delivery or eat outside enough to have favorites there.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
Before the pandemic, I usually ordered a lot of takeout anyway, so my habits haven’t changed too much in this regard. If anything, I’ve expanded my go-to list this year. These also count as places I generally recommend to people.
For food: Veracruz All Natural (specifically the one on Manchaca Road), Better Half/Bummer Burrito, Sichuan River, Bufalina, Julie’s Noodles, JewBoy Burgers, Home Slice, Abo Youssef, Giovanni’s Pizza Stand, 888, Via 313 (plus pick up a beer at Craft Pride), Seoulju, Tso Chinese Delivery, Taco Joint, Kome, Peached Tortilla, Halal Gurus, Patrizi’s, Himalaya Kosheli, Bombay Dhaba.
I’ve also turned to retail shops/wine bars/restaurant wine lists to fulfill my at-home wine needs during this time. This means LoLo, Apt. 115, Bufalina (I’m part of their wine club), Saba San’s, and I’ve ordered bottles of Southold Farm + Cellars, Crowson Wines, and Lightsome Wines directly from the wineries or I’ve sought ‘em out from restaurants/bars.