My Neighborhood: Austin

Chef Kristen Kish
Chef Kristen Kish

Chef Kristen Kish has spent most of her life in big cities. So when she got the chance to open a restaurant at a boutique hotel in Austin, she was intrigued. The moment she arrived for an exploratory visit in 2018, she was captivated by the city’s creative, bohemian culture. Two months later, she relocated and readied for the opening of her first restaurant, Arlo Grey. She now happily divides her time between the Texas capital and New York City.

“There’s so much culture, creativity, and momentum,” she says of Austin, “but it also feels like a small town. There’s a kindness among those who dine with us that is really genuine—strangers greet each other on the street—and downtown is an extension of that. It feels less like a big-city center and more like a really vibrant neighborhood.” —Shaun Tolson

LOVE AT FIRST BITE
Kish’s Arlo Grey (111 E. Cesar Chavez St., 512.478.2991) at The Line hotel specializes in “comforting food with a twist. It’s focused on technique, and the food is familiar but just slightly left of center.”

You won’t find tacos on her menu, but Kish has an affinity for Mexican comfort food. The best in the city, she says, is the Cochinita Pibil served at Veracruz All Natural (111 E. Cesar Chavez St., 401.372.7162). “It’s gorgeous, braised, tender pork with pickled onions and vegetables sandwiched with cheese and a crispy homemade corn tortilla. It’s savory, salty, tangy, sweet, and it’s presented in this simple tinfoil to-go container. I was completely in love the first time I had it.”

Veracruz All Natural
Veracruz All Natural

For delicious biscuits, try Olamaie (1610 San Antonio St., 512.474.2796 ). “It’s hard to describe how perfect they are. They’re crispy and golden, perfectly square and thick, and when you pull them open you get that nice feel of crunch, and steam billows out of distinctive, flakey layers. They’re unworldly.”

GREAT OUTDOORS

“So much of Austin life happens outdoors, and it’s wonderful how nature and the urban environment converge,” Kish says, referencing Lady Bird Lake, which abuts downtown. “When people are outside all year round, exploring the rivers and lakes, it continuously feeds this new, young energy…and that feeds back into the city.”

South Congress Books
South Congress Books

LOCAL LEGENDS

“Music Lane is a new section on South Congress that’s become a one-stop destination with boutique hotels, restaurants, and shopping. There you’ll find South Congress Books (1608 S. Congress Ave., 512.916.8882 ), one of the quaintest, coolest stores in which to find treasured books. There’s also Allens Boots (1522 S. Congress Ave., 512.447.1413 ), which is famous for its cowboy boots.

Donn's Depot
Donn’s Depot

“Two-stepping is an OG activity of the South, and Donn’s Depot (1600 W. 5th St., 512-478-0336) is the place you hear talked about the most. It doesn’t get more Austin than that.”

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