February 27, 2014

The Austin Chronicle unveils the 2014 First Plates awardThe Austin Chronicle recently released its list of winners of the 2014 First Plates awards. Critics looked at restaurants all over Austin and picked out their top choices. Throughout the year, food writers keep an eye on the local culinary scene and keep track of any special changes or trends that develop. Austin culinary arts school can help you stay up to date on the latest and greatest developments in the industry.

Because there are so many contenders, the critics separated the winners by neighborhood. Here are just a few of the winners from the prestigious list:

Downtown Austin is always bustling with life and is filled with a variety of restaurants from which to choose, from high-end eateries to hole-in-the-wall joints that boast an impressive selection of food and drinks. But if you’re in the mood for a slice or two of pizza, there’s only one place to go, according to critics.

The Backspace: This pizzeria boasts an intimate and cozy atmosphere with pizzas cooked to perfection in custom oak-fired ovens. Contributing to the warm ambiance is the thousand-degree fire where customers can see their Neapolitan-style pizzas being cooked right in front of them. Some critics even call The Backspace’s pizza the best in town. The dough is proofed for three days before it’s used to create a pizza, and the pies are small in size but big on flavor. The toppings are always fresh and delicious. Try the margherita pizza, which is topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil, or opt for the fennel sausage pie with roasted peppers, garlic and mozzarella. Don’t leave without getting a sweet taste of dessert either. Choose from a decadent menu including ricotta cheesecake, hazelnut chocolate budino and tiramisu.

Much like downtown Austin, you can choose from a trendy bar with custom cocktails or a family-style restaurant with inventive seasonal dishes. But if you’re in the mood for something different, make your way over to this location:

Epicerie: This restaurant is owned by chef Sarah McIntosh, and boasts a menu of Cajun and French cooking. McIntosh is always changing things up on the menu and offering a unique array of flavorful dishes. Stop in for Sunday brunch and enjoy the eggs benedict made up of housemade buttermilk biscuits and sausage, poached eggs and hollandaise, or come in for dinner to feast on the slow-simmered oxtail stew over cheddar grits, roasted tomato and pickled turnips. The establishment even made the list of Eater’s 38 Essential Austin Restaurants.

You won’t find too many fine dining establishments in South Austin, but there are a few restaurants hidden away that are definitely worth checking out.

Rosita’s Al Pastor: Food Trucks are huge in Austin, and Rosita’s Al Pastor seems to be among the top of the pack. The chefs specialize in tacos al pastor made on a traditional trompo rotisserie. This taco stand even made Taco Journalism’s list of Top 10 Tortillas in Austin because of the food truck’s handmade flour tortillas. The sides aren’t to be forgotten either – Rosita’s refried beans are known for their thick texture and delicious hint of bacon.