Austin meals you'll regret eating in the morning

Taste buds: we sure hear a lot about these pesky little things: how to tantalize them, ways to ensure their happiness, how to avoid burning them out. But when was the last time you let these little buggers run wild? Probably the last time you woke up in the middle of the night screaming for antacids.

As a naturally curious town, Austin loves its foods contemporary, fresh, delicious, and often heavy, even if it makes us suffer. Still, there's no point in being a damned fundamentalist about it; sometimes, you just have to say what the hell and let your taste buds guide your path—Maalox on standby.

Burgers on a Doughnut? For Real
Most people like to treat themselves to an occasional donut or two as a healthy kick-starter for the day. Texans love upping the ante, though, and there's no better way to red-line it to near-instantaneous coronary than a trip to Gourdoughs. Load up on a donut sandwich like the Bacon Me Crazy or cram it in with a donut-based entrée like the Mother Clucker (vegetarian options available). If moderation wins, nibble on one of their dozens of dessert donuts. The heavy-duty eatery now has two brick and mortar locations, including South Lamar and downtown, as well as two food carts.

Beyond the Local Fire

Image credit: Kari Sullivan

Texas and chili peppers go together like hipsters and ridiculously well-kept facial hair. So it's no surprise that, as Austin grew in size and diversity, other cultures with a love for the heat found themselves right at home. Kicking it up a notch around town (bam!) is easy, as each cardinal direction represents the picante equally. Fire up a Fire in a Bowl at Ramen Tatsu-ya; sizzle on over to A + A Sichuan China for fish that'll tear you a new one; or burn your britches off with Sway Thai's unique jungle curry assault. Just don't forget to order an extra glass or three of ice water.

Texas Knows #&@* BBQ
Even if you weren't born and raised here, you know Austin is a barbecuing mecca. You haven't lived until you've stood in line for eighteen consecutive hours, working your way from a buzz to a black-out as you belly up to Franklin Barbecue's tantalizing slow-charred flesh. Local meat-crafters Micklethwait Craft Meats know how to pit char a brisket, while South-siders can also dig into Brown's trailer-based meats or chillax outside at La Barbecue while awaiting some smoky flavors.

Done with Your Meat Ma'am? Here's More Meat
For foodies, there's only one entendre for Brazilian: steakhouse. Carnivores around Central Texas have a cornucopia of gaucho-inspired grub hubs, such as Estancia Churrascaria, Fogo de Chao, or newly-opened Fumaca Gaucha. Prepare for round after round of lamb, pork, chicken, and beef on skewers, delivered sizzling hot to your face. Make sure you save a little space for a salad (or not).

Germans' Know Heavy Food
Credit: Bangers Sausage House by Regina Rodriguez (Flickr)

David Hasselhoff and bouncing back from fascism aren't the only things Germany knows how to rock; they also have a solid, progressive economy and some of the heaviest food nature ever intended to slither down the gullet. Since Central Texas was settled by scores of West-Central European immigrants, we know how to dish up the Deutsche delights. 20-year mobile purveyors Best Wurst will serve you sausages as you stagger up and down Sixth Street. Or, for that authentic Oktoberfest feel, strap on your lederhosen and swing around a stein while bellowing Teutonic tunes at Bangers Sausage House or longtime UT fave Scholz Garten. Both are perfect for all your schnitzel needs.

Heavy Vegetation
Yes, it's Texas. Yes, meat is big. The University of Texas' mascot is a friggin' longhorn steer. That doesn't mean veg heads have to pony up (sorry) for sides of corn and rice. Austin is loaded with vegetarian havens like Mother's Café, which serves up phenomenal finger foods like Bueno Burgers or veggie Reubens. Recent arrival Counter Culture also serves up guilt-free (animal killing-wise, anyway) plates of Southern Baked Seitan or all-veggie pizzas on whole wheat or gluten-free crusts. Also, if you're popping into Spider House Ballroom for some hipster-watching or a show, you can also sail into the Vegan Yacht for some vegan Frito pies or any of their other marvelous animal-friendly fare. Veg-heads can also pad their pints with a stop at Arlo's (next to Cheer Up Charlie's) for fantastic fake Bac'n Burgers and fries.

Comfort Foods
What stopover in the South would be complete without a taste of home-style, hospitable comfort food. Lucy's Fried Chicken is exactly what you'd expect for comfort food, dishing up heaping dollops of chicken, biscuits, and gravy. Don't expect to leave longtime favorites Threadgill's without a grinning gut stuffed full of chicken-fried steak or meatloaf. Southern Hospitality and Hoover's Cooking also won't let you leave the restaurant without culinary satisfaction. Vegetarians looking to get heavy can even hit up the Biscuits and Groovy food trailer for some hearty good eats.

Comida de México

Image credit: Jeff Kramer

Seeing as Austin practically invented Tex-Mex (slow your roll, San Anton), no tour of Central Texas would be complete without a taste of native foodstuffs. To the uninitiated, it doesn't get much more potent than properly seasoned authentic Mexican fare, and you can't turn down the street without hitting a taqueria, ristorante, or food truck (not literally, hopefully). Chock full of diced chili, savory meats, manteca (lard), fresh chopped salsa, and served with fresh tortillas, it doesn't get any better than hot food and warm ambiance. A few of spicy local favorites include Sazon, El Naranjo, Taco More, and Licha's Cantina.

Bar Food to Pick You Up or Put You Under
Pub grub is really just a nice euphemism for culinary-inclined bars and grills looking to corral the long-haul drunks and the day afters for some stomach-settling greasy spoon fare. Whether you're heading out for the night or just trying to stop the throbbing in your head, pub crawl artisans like the Hi Hat Pub (delightful cheese steak or duck nachos), Whip In (kicking Indian fusion fare like Mumbai migas), or the Easy Tiger (Germanic standards like kielbasa or a veggie brat) are some of the most interesting and best places to start things off.

Would You Like Some Dessert?
What? No more room left? Too damn bad; You're on the acid reflux food tour. There's nothing sweeter a meal topper like a Chez Zee crème brulee, or classic regional treat like a churro done many ways over from the Churro Co. They're only wafer thin (okay, maybe not). What about classic soft serve ice cream with all the toppings from Cow Tipping Creamery. Too much dairy already? Get a lick of the vegan ice cream at Sweet Ritual (inside Juiceland).

See, don't you feel better already? *Hands over the Tums*

Andy L. Kubai writes about travel and pop culture for a variety of websites. As a transplanted Austinite, he's been exploring the wonders of his new home for the last 6 years. Find out more about Andy on his website.

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