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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Chow Down and Drink Up in Austin

2. Where to Eat

Bryce Gilmore translates the charm of his food trailer into a bustling space with an eclectic menu at Odd Duck.  

Sample the cooking of Austin's best-known chef at Qui restaurant. The Philippines-born, Japanese- and French-trained toque, Paul Qui, isn’t a stranger to foodies—he’s a James Beard Award winner and also won Top Chef in season nine. He opened this space last year: all warm wood floors, walls, ceiling, and tables coupled with a sprawling open kitchen, for a sushi-bar-esque minimalism that lets the cooking shine. Qui’s food isn’t exactly Asian or Western; it’s a grab bag of his upbringing and experiences, with some local Texas touches thrown in: Courses ($65 for seven) might include kimchi with daikon, radish blossom, and oxtail terrine; pork blood with okra, chanterelles, and lamb’s quarters; and, for dessert, a coffee cashew semifreddo. The vegetarian menu ($55 for seven courses) is just as delectable, with offerings like caramelized summer squash with sunflower seeds and petals and chanterelles and peaches with Filipino peanut curry.

Admire the delicately chic décor at Elizabeth Street Café, a sunny Vietnamese spot in South Austin. With walls painted in pops of color with complementing floral wallpaper, the vibe feels more Anthropologie than pho joint. The on-site boulangerie turns out airy baguettes for banh mi stuffed with kaffir-lime fried chicken or Texas-raised flank steak ($6–$9), along with treats like sesame profiteroles ($8) and croissant bread pudding with local peaches and miso ice cream ($8). Pho ($12–$22) is highly customizable, with five broths and toppings ranging from Chinese broccoli to toothsome house-made pork meatballs.

Arrive with an open mind to Odd Duck. Now a rustic beauty of a restaurant, it started as an orange, vinyl-sided food trailer by chef Bryce Gilmore (also chef-owner of the popular Barley Swine). Since late last year, he’s cooked an all-sharing-plate menu in an open kitchen framed by the large U-shaped bar, in a space decorated with paneling made of multicolored reclaimed wood slats, gunny-sack light fixtures, and tchotchkes like jars of pickles and colorful gourds. The menu, which changes according the season and the chefs’ whims, might feature eclectic, locally sourced choices like zucchini pancakes topped with cherry tomato, basil, and pickled peach salsa ($6); lamb ribs in a sweet soy glaze with chili and peanuts ($7); or a “quail-fried” half-quail served with green chili cornbread and pinto beans ($11).

Published on Aug 21, 2014 as a web exclusive.