Food tour offers unique taste of Austin

Daniel Northcutt, co-owner of Frank, a hot dog eatery downtown, pours a beverage for participants of a food tour in May. Austin Eats Food Tours partners with local restaurants to sample menu items during the tours.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Bathurst

Austin is famous for a lot of things — music, Sixth Street, liberal voters and food. From cute cupcakes to creamy queso, the city offers more eateries than anyone could ever fit on their bucket lists.

Taking cues from cities like San Francisco and New York City, foodie-duo Andy and Lindsey Potter are taking Austin’s food scene to the next level with their Austin Eats Food Tours. The first of its kind in the area, Austin Eats offers three-hour walking tours that promise stops at six to eight restaurants in various areas of town. Currently, there are three available options: South Congress, downtown and the newly added Upscale Happy Hour, which is also downtown.

And don’t worry — there are no Olive Gardens or Golden Corrals on the itinerary. Austin Eats boasts partnerships solely with local restaurateurs, making it easy for Austin natives and visitors alike to sample a wide array of local fare.

In just a few short months, Austin Eats has built up quite the clientele. Though almost 30 percent of the attendees are out-of-towners, hotshots like Facebook and Dell have booked private tours for their staff members.

The Downtown Tour: Longhorn Life co-editor Stephanie Bathurst and I attended an Austin Eats Food Tour of downtown Austin one humid Saturday morning in May. We found our fellow tourmates at the Austin Farmers’ Market, located at Guadalupe and Second streets, when we spotted the neon orange bags our tour guide, Olivia, was holding.

After quick introductions, we began our journey into the land of nearby delicacies. On the map: Dai Due, Bola Pizza, Cocoa Puro, Hut’s Hamburgers, Haddingtons, Walton’s Fancy and Staple, Frank and The Ginger Man.

If you haven’t heard of most of these spots, you are not alone — we hadn’t either. That’s the great thing about the food tour: You get to try new places — even some you normally couldn’t afford.

There are some downsides, however. While walking tours are all well and good in San Francisco, trekking through the Texas heat is a little tiresome, though it did help break up the three-hour eating spree. Vegetarians, beware of the downtown tour, as it’s a bit heavy on the meat. Luckily, though, the SoCo tour recently added a veggie and pescetarian option for non-meat-eaters.

The tour was also heavy on something else: carbs. We were served some kind of sandwich at almost every location — Hut’s, Haddingtons, Walton’s. The up-and-coming tour guides may benefit from exploring new options, including foreign eats. Because really, who doesn’t love Mexican food?

The most bang-for-our-buck was the fancy grilled cheese and green tomato soup served at Haddingtons, a tavern that specializes in British-American cuisine. And you couldn’t help but love Frank co-owner Daniel Northcutt, who excitedly told us about his experiences on the Railroad Revival Tour and brought out an array of sophisticated hot dogs. Oh, and chocolate covered bacon! Enough said.

Overall, the Austin Eats Food Tour gets a gold star in my book. Though food in any capacity makes me happy, it was nice to experience Austin in a truly unique (and tasty!) way.