Howdy folks! If you recall my last post, I left you at Hops and Grain, where our bicycle tour group with Austin Eats Food Tours got to enjoy some refreshing beer samples. So…what’s a fun thing to do with a belly full of food and beer? Pedaling up a steep hill, of course! Doesn’t that sound awesome?! After leaving Hops and Grain brewery we had a slight hill to cycle up, but it really wasn’t that steep – I just found it amusing that the one hill of the entire day had to come at that particular time in the trip. After flexing our calf muscles, we arrived at Blue Dahlia Bistro on East 11th St. Blue Dahlia is a cafe with a European flair and my favorite part is the secluded garden patio in the back. We enjoyed a wonderful picnic of breads, fruit, various cold cuts and cheeses, as well as a glass of wine. Sitting on the back patio while surrounded by lush greenery was so relaxing. It was hard to pull myself away from that place. But we still had three more stops, so back on the bikes we go!
This next place, I must say, really captured my heart. Way South Philly, located at 6th and Waller, specializes in authentic Philadelphia cheese steaks. Philadelphia and its culture has always held special meaning for me. My dad is from Philadelphia and when I was young, my family would travel up there, by motor home, to visit my grandparents. The owner of Way South Philly, Willy Pearce, is from Philadelphia so when it comes to east coast comfort food, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s got a Rocky Balboa theme going on, with sandwiches named after Rocky movie characters. He hosted The Italian Stallion Challenge, in which the contenders had 36 minutes (that’s twelve 3 minute boxing rounds) to finish an Italian Stallion sandwich, which is the size of four of his Balboa sandwiches! The first person to finish the entire sandwich in 36 minutes was crowned The Champ and got to create and name their own sandwich. Willy takes his sandwiches seriously and wants them to be as authentic as possible – so authentic in fact that he has the bread (called Amoroso rolls) shipped in all the way from Philadelphia! Now that’s dedication. I was very excited to see Tastykakes on the menu – the east coast version of Twinkies, but way better. I haven’t had those since I was a kid! So I will definitely be back to this trailer, with my parents in tow (my dad is already talking about it). Oh, and one more thing – Willy is ordained, so if any of you want to get married in front of a bright red food truck over a couple of cheese steaks, you now know who to call.
At our next stop, located next to Way South Philly, we also got sandwiches. But these sandwiches were just a tad bit colder. Cool Haus is an ice cream truck and they specialize in delicious and inventive ice cream sandwiches, made to order. You pick your cookie and your ice cream flavor to make one awesome ice cream treat. With ice cream flavors like sweet potato and marshmallow, balsamic fig and mascarpone or bananas foster, you are going to get some very interesting combinations. The ingredients used are all natural and the dairy products are growth hormone free. Very cool indeed.
The final stop on our tour was Buenos Aires Cafe on East 6th, a colorful and warm space with beautiful and eclectic artwork adorning the walls. Owned and operated by Argentines, they use fresh, organic ingredients and support local farmers whenever possible. We were offered wine and got to try two different dishes. The first was their gnocchi quartet, which consisted of four different flavors – pumpkin-cinnamon, cilantro-jalapeno, potato-herb and sweet potato-chipolte. All four were delicious. The second dish was the pork tenderloin with chimichurri sauce. It just melted in your mouth, it was so tender. I found the food here to be of excellent quality and will be coming back.
I had such a nice time on this tour. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, I got a little exercise and I got to experience so many different eateries that I didn’t even know existed. But what I enjoyed the most was meeting new people. Usually one would think that a culinary food tour would be a good way for out-of-towners to get to experience Austin, and it is. But I would say that this tour is also a great experience for us locals – a fun way to rediscover your own city and make new friends. Thanks Andy, Scott and Rachel for such a fun day and to everyone else – sign up with Austin Eats Food Tours. You won’t regret it.