It is time once again for the AFBA city guide! I drew the difficult task of bringing you the cities best desserts. It is such a broad category, I decided to give a shout out to some of my favorite pastry cases and trailers available at any time your sweet tooth might be calling you and then focus on the high end dessert porn available at Austin’s finest restaurants.
One of my first jobs was as a baker at a small chain that specialized in cinnamon rolls located at the Lincoln Village shopping center. The same little store is now an independently owned bakery called Cinnamon’s run by French Chef Loic Duchesne. The cinnamon rolls are huge, buttery, and delicious, just like the ones I remember from the summer I gained 10 pounds. Chef Loic does a booming business with the soup and salad crowd as well as American favorites like chocolate chip cookies but just like a corner patisserie in Paris, there are a rainbow of pastel macarons and chocolate croissants ready to whisk you away on a virtual visit to the City of Lights.
Another one of my favorite dessert cases is at Vespaio Enoteca. While Vespaio is one of the best Italian places in town and worth a long leisurely visit, more often I find myself in a rush and the case here carries a nice assortment of European style desserts and breads as well as charcuterie and antipasti perfect for a picnic on the go. Just need a bottle of Pinot and you are ready for whatever Austin adventure awaits you.
Hillside Farmacy could also be known as Chef Sonya Cote’s favorite things. The walls are lined with local products, most of which have little in common except that Cote likes them. And she does have great taste. The pastry case is an assortment of local bakers and their best products, many of which are usually found only at the weekend farmer’s markets. So sleep in on Saturday and check out Hillside instead.
The Flying Pig, a giant fresh fried donut covered in bacon and maple icing, has long been one of my favorite indulgences courtesy of Gordough’s, one of the first trailers to start the current dining craze in Austin. I have not had the pleasure of visiting their new brick and mortar, Gordough’s Public House, which offers sandwiches and burgers made from donuts as well as craft cocktails and a fine assortment of beers but I have heard great things. Even the salads are served with a “piping hot garlic donut.”
My other trailer pic is Holy Cacao, which is most famous for its yummy cake balls but I am in love with the frozen hot chocolate. Most shakes I find too thick and cloyingly sweet but the folks at Holy Cacao start off with a European style super thick hot chocolate, add it to Bluebell chocolate ice cream, and top it off with enough ice to keep it slushy without watering it down. SO. FREAKING. GOOD.
One of my favorite desserts last year was the Popcorn and a Movie by Callie Speer at the wildly popular Swift’s Attic. I was also impressed with a seasonal apple dessert I had but unfortunately the lighting is not exactly photographer friendly. The food at Swift’s is imaginative and flavorful and so are the desserts. They recently started a brunch on Sunday’s with Foie Gras PB&J Pancakes that I must try. Mmmmm, foie!
Yet another Austin chef as a semifinalist for a James Beard Award Rising Star is Janina O’Leary from Trace. O’Leary has a long list of prestigious chef’s she has worked with like Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, and Pichet Ong. But she brings her own sense of color and balance to the desserts she crafts at Trace. With all of her prestigious training, I am anxious to watch this talented hand blossom into her own super stardom.
Jodi Elliott is the pastry genius behind Foreign and Domestic. She has recently started a Bake Sale on Saturdays at the restaurant. The sale starts at 10am and lasts until they run out, which means, get in line by 9:30 and be happy with whatever you get. But try especially hard to get some popovers if you can.
My top 4 dessert places, well, the pictures pretty much tell the story. Fantastic, creative, blending of the savory with the sweet, gorgeous, works of art.
First up is Steven Cak at Parkside
Next up is Philip Speer and Andrew Lewis from Uchiko-
Next is the delightful Erica Waksmunski of Congress
Finally, one of my favorite people in the pastry world, Plinio Sandalio from the Carillon.