Hopdoddy Burger Bar
There's a (widely debunked) famous quote from Benjamin Franklin that beer enthusiasts love to share, which goes like this: "Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Whether or not Franklin actually said this, it's tragic to think he never had a chance to pair beer with some scratch-made burgers such as those you can get at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. He may have set the bar for God's love too low.
This 17-unit chain—which has three locations in Austin and 10 total in Texas, as well as restaurants in Arizona, California, and Colorado—features premium burgers as its main attraction, with all of the ingredients made right in front of the guests. There are over a dozen burger options, including beef, bison, chicken, lamb, tuna, and veggie burgers, ranging in price from $7 for the Classic Burger to $12.50 for the Ahi Tuna Burger. Guests can order chile con queso or Kennebec or truffle fries as a side, and there are also salads, milkshakes, and, of course, a full bar.
Here's a typical experience at the Hopdoddy on South Congress, which was the first location: Get in (a possibly very long) line; grab a drink from the bar as you file past; watch as employees in the kitchens bake buns, slice potatoes, and grind meat; order your burger (or salad!) at the counter; and take a seat, where your meal will be delivered to you.
Luckily for those outside Austin, the company is in the midst of national expansion plans.
Snap Kitchen is turning the healthy fast casual paradigm on its head, offering nutritious meals in prepackaged, grab-and-go containers. Here's how it works: Guests either order online or drop into a store; browse meals based on daypart, protein, diet, allergen, or size; and order either a single meal or in bulk for the week. A Snap Kitchen app makes the process easy from a smartphone, and customers can even have their meal delivered.
The Snap Kitchen menu features a wide range of culinary styles, with dishes ranging from the Brisket Hash and the Chicken Chile Enchiladas to the Grilled Kale Hoppin' John and the Spicy Dan Dan Noodles. Each meal comes with an ingredient list and a nutrition profile. Along with the entrées, there are also small bites, snacks, desserts, and juices available.
Snap Kitchen now has nearly 50 locations across the U.S., including shops in Chicago and Philadelphia.
Ramen is more or less a recent phenomenon in the U.S. restaurant world, with chefs all over the country interpreting the Japanese favorite and giving Americans a new appreciation for the noodle dish. But no brand has yet packaged ramen into an exciting limited-service concept.
Ramen Tatsu-Ya, though, might finally be that brand. Founded by Austin chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto, Ramen Tatsu-Ya is out to educate consumers about quality ramen, which it emphasizes on its website with seven "Ramen Rules" (rule one: chopsticks only! Rule four: Never share your ramen!). The concept now has two units in Austin and one in Houston, and if local Austinites are to be believed, it regularly has lines out the door.
Tacos are kind of a big deal in Texas, especially in Austin. And while there are dozens of options for tacos in Austin, somehow a conversation with locals about the best tacos in town always comes back to Tacodeli.
Launched in 1999 by Mexico City native Roberto Espinosa, Tacodeli serves a wide range of tacos using top-shelf ingredients, such as local and organic produce when possible, non-GMO organic corn tortillas, HeartBrand Ranch akaushi ground beef, organic pork, and antibiotic-free and vegetarian-diet chicken. Along with breakfast and lunch tacos, Tacodeli also offers soups, salads, and sides like rice and beans, all of it complemented by salsas that have won local awards.
Tacodeli has locations in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, but you don't have to visit a restaurant to enjoy its tacos; the brand partners with coffee shops and gourmet grocery stores in Austin to offer its signature product.