Awesome Austin

I recently took my first trip to Austin proper; it felt, in large part due to the old friends from my LA days who I got to see, more like a homecoming than a first glance. It was a weekend full of really good meals and really great ideas floating around so easily that I wish I could have stopped time and savored the conversations for longer than they lasted. It’s always a treat to hang out with super-smart publishing people. From the weekend, I have three restaurant recommendations to share, places to veg out should you find yourself heading south on I-35. All three are super-casual, inexpensive and, living up to the city’s reputation beautifully, lovably oddball.

Graj Mahal is a food truck, but with a permanent pavilion set up for dining, draped with gauzy white fabric and cooled by fans. While most vegetarians love Indian food, this place spreads the love to vegans, too: Graj Mahal will prepare food with sesame oil instead of Ghee (the clarified butter traditionally used in Indian cooking) upon request. Everything’s served on biodegradable paper plates and bowls. Works of bicycle art from the Austin Bike Zoo are on display.

Pacha is a great organic breakfast spot; eating at Pacha feels like eating at somebody’s house — somebody who knows how to make amazing fresh fruit pancakes, eggs, quiche and breakfast tacos. Regulars keep their coffee cards on file at the front counter.

Home Slice Pizza on South Congress has the best pizza crust ever — really (fairly thin but soft and chewy), and they also make it into garlic knots that are served with the salads or just on their own. The Margherita pizza is fragrant with pools of fresh garlic and a generous sprinkle of sliced fresh basil.