Local Life: Austin, Texas

We love our Amazonian superfoods and Chinese herbs, but when it comes to recent trends in nutrition, nothing beats the ‘local’ movement! We get an over-sized thrill out of taking a trip to the farmers’ market or making dinner sourced from producers within our own community. It would probably puzzle our great-grandparents, who knew no other way, but for many in our generation, being in touch with where our food comes from is something of a novelty! It’s in that spirit that we’re asking our friends and readers from around the country to share their favorite local resources with us!

Just in time for the music, movie and media mecca that is South By Southwest, we’re packing our bags and heading to Austin, Texas to soak up some southern hospitality, up-and-coming bands and the hot spots that make this town feel like home to locals and tourists alike. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during SXSW, make sure to add these to your itinerary!

THE CITY: Austin, TX

THE LOCAL: Kristin Vrana, food blogger at Foodfash.com and Austin aficionado

TOP NATURAL GROCERY: Central Market has a great produce department, an extremely large bulk section, a good balance of natural/regular products and is much cheaper than Whole Foods.

BEST FARMER’S MARKET: SFC Farmer’s Market (downtown) is as central as it gets and bike-friendly. There is also a good balance of prepared foods and produce.

TOP OUTDOOR RECREATION LOCATION: Barton Creek Greenbelt. I couldn’t believe this place existed when I moved here. It’s Austin’s Runyon Canyon (for you LA locals!) and so easy to fall in love with. It’s especially beautiful after a few days of rain when the creek is full.

SOURCE FOR GRASS-FED BEEF, FREE-RANGE CHICKEN, WILD FISH OR THE LIKE: Whole Foods HQ. This place is a dream. Not only is the meat as fresh as fresh can be, but the staff are about as knowledgeable and friendly as it gets.

BEST LOCAL CHEESE/WINE/BREAD ARTISAN FOOD SOURCE: Antonelli’s Cheese Shop is the best stop for unique cheeses. They supply a ton of local restaurants with their cheese, which is awfully convenient when you find a cheese you can’t live without and need to know where to find it.

BEST RESTAURANT UTILIZING LOCAL RESOURCES: Wink. I have a moth-to-flame attraction to a place that has more than a special that changes daily. The fare at Wink is super fresh and elegant and the chef’s five course tasting menu is out of this world good.

BEST JUICE BAR/ FAVORITE JUICE: JuiceLand. If you haven’t felt the Austin vibe before, you’ll feel it the second you walk in JuiceLand’s doors. Funky, quaint and some darn good juice. I love The Moderator juice.

BEST GYM/STUDIO: Black Swan Yoga (5th St location). Offering power classes about as often as you can imagine, I had an instant crush on Black Swan. It’s donation based, so it’s more affordable than most studios in town. The instructors also do a good job of playing a variety of tunes that compliment each practice.

FAVORITE LOCAL EXPERIENCE LIVING IN YOUR CITY: Lake Austin, paddling on a Dickie Board. If you find yourself at The Cove, keep a look out for the Dickie Boards sign. These folks are friendly and will certainly offer to let you ride.

BEST LOCAL RESOURCE UNIQUE TO YOUR TOWN: Greenling offers organic food delivery from local resources you might not otherwise have the opportunity (or the time) to purchase from.

FAVORITE RECIPE FROM LOCAL RESOURCE: I love anything and everything from Edible Austin, which promotes local food in Austin and Central Texas. Try this recipe by Lucinda Hutson, from her book The Herb Garden Cookbook:


  • Ingredients:

    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 small shallot, minced
    2 Tablespoons whole-grain mustard
    1 1/2 Tablespoons agave syrup or honey
    1/2 cup Texas Tarragon Vinegar
    1 Tablespoon fresh Mexican mint marigold leaves, removed from stems and chopped
    1 dried chile de árbol, freshly ground (or about 1/4 teaspoon dried cayenne)
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup walnut oil
    salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Instructions:

    Mix ingredients together, whisking in oils to emulsify.
    Chill before serving.

    For a scrumptious salad, place organic arugula and field greens on chilled plates. Top with roasted turkey, pork medallions or grilled salmon with avocado slices. Sprinkle with mint marigold petals, chopped green onions, and pomegranate seeds.

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