Next Great Neighborhood: Austin’s South First Street

September 24, 2013 | By | Comments (0)
Photo by Jody Horton

Photo by Jody Horton

A-list chefs, internationally inspired fare, and hip artists have helped blossom this strip of South First Street into one of Austin’s most talked-about scenes. Here, some of our favorite new hotspots in the neighborhood.

1. Roadhouse Relics
Peek inside Todd Sanders’ gallery and you’ll think the vintage-style neon art pieces and modern decor were salvaged from dusty roadside stands. But in fact, every piece is a handmade work of art. (Prices from $2,500.)

2. Lenoir
In an intimate dining room punctuated by glittering chandeliers, chef Todd Duplechan serves eclectic cuisine inspired by France, Spain, and North Africa and prepared from locally sourced ingredients. Dishes such as toasted shrimp ravioli with okra and tasso sauce and fuyu persimmons with radish salad complement clever desserts prepared by his wife, pastry chef Jessica Maher. A three-course prix fixe dinner is $38.

Photo by Jody Horton

Photo by Jody Horton

3. Gourdough’s Donut
Because any shopping trip or evening out is sweeter if it ends with big, fat donuts, amble over to Gourdough’s, a vintage Airstream trailer, for belt-busting, achingly sweet creations like the Funky Monkey ($4.50) with grilled bananas and cream cheese icing with brown sugar.

4. Sway
Years spent cooking overseas gave celebrated chef Rene Ortiz a passion for bold, Asian flavors. Enter Sway: a hip, modern Thai restaurant from the team behind La Condesa. Dishes include fiery Jungle Curry ($19), made with Wagyu beef, and the Son in Law ($16), made with a crispy farm egg, braised pork shoulder, thick soy, and chili vinegar. The theme carries through on the drink and dessert menus with drinking vinegars for sipping and desserts such as Thai Tea Affogato ($9), with condensed milk ice cream, black tea tapioca, and Thai tea.

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Photo by Jody Horton

5. Elizabeth Street Cafe
Austin native chef Lawrence McGuire (Perla’s, Clark’s) spent months researching Southeast Asian cuisine before opening his vibrant French-Vietnamese restaurant with food, drink, and pastries. Spring rolls with poached shrimp, avocado, cilantro ($9); broiled escargots with Thai basil curry butter and baguette ($12); and banh mi with house-made chicken liver mousse, pork pâte, and roasted pork ($8) are prepared with local ingredients. Kick things off with a pitcher of Shady Blonde Punch ($24), made with sparkling wine, Lillet, grapefruit, and thyme.

When Soraiya Nagree was just 10 years old, she went to Paris and was hooked at first bite by French confections. With the opening of her bakery, La Pâtisserie by Luxe Sweets, the engineer-turned-pastry chef realized her lifelong dream. Sip a cappuccino and nibble a flaky almond croissant or pain au chocolate ($2.85), then grab a to-go box of pastel macarons ($2.05) in flavors like cardamom-honey-orange, salted caramel, lavender, or rose.


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