We hope you’re hungry because in this special edition, host Rocky Dhir sits down with the staffers from the State Bar of Texas for insider tips on the best spots to eat in Austin. They cover the top spots for asian comfort fusion food, classic burgers, next level tacos, and the best sweets you can find, like gourmet doughnuts and specialty chocolate confections. And, no shock here, they definitely cover the food truck scene. Tune in at the State Bar of Texas’ 2019 Annual Meeting for a mouth watering conversation with Amy Starnes, Hannah Allison, Jennifer Dunham, and Eric Quitugua.
Amy Starnes is the public information director for the State Bar of Texas.
Hannah Allison is the pro bono programs administrator for the State Bar of Texas.
Jennifer Dunham is the web content specialist and webcast coordinator for the Texas Bar CLE website
Eric Quitugua is the assistant editor for the Texas Bar Journal.
Special thanks to our sponsor, LawPay.
State Bar of Texas Podcast
State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting 2019 Fooding in Austin
Intro: Welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast, your monthly source for conversations and curated content to improve your law practice, with your host Rocky Dhir.
Rocky Dhir: Hello and welcome to a very special edition of the State Bar of Texas Podcast recorded from the Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. This is Rocky Dhir and I am the host for today’s show, which is being sponsored by LawPay, trusted by more than 35,000 law firms to accept legal payments online. It’s the only payment solution offered as a member benefit by the State Bar of Texas.
Joining me now I have some of my favorite people that I get to hang out with at the Annual Meeting every year. It’s the State Bar of Texas staff, they are the ones that make this place run, they keep everything on time, everything — everybody knows where they are supposed to go, they are just phenomenal. They are amongst my favorite people and I have got four of them here with me.
And we are going to talk about something very important, we are going to talk about Austin because this year’s Annual Meeting is in Austin, we are going to talk about food in Austin. So that way next time you find yourself in this lovely, lovely wonderful Texas City, you’ll know where to go.
So let’s first start out by meeting our State Bar of Texas staffers. So let’s start over here.
Amy Starnes: Hi, I’m Amy Starnes. I’m the Public Information Director for the Bar.
Hannah Allison: I am Hannah Allison. I’m the Pro Bono Programs Administrator for the Bar.
Jennifer Dunham: I’m Jennifer Dunham. I work on the Texas Bar CLE website doing webcasts.
Eric Quitugua: I am Eric Quitugua. I am the Assistant Editor for the Texas Bar Journal.
Rocky Dhir: Now, I would imagine that these guys have their preferences and they definitely will have their very, very strong opinions on where to eat. Before we start, I do want to make it very clear that we are asking them for their individual opinions on where to eat, their views are their own. They do not reflect the views of the State Bar of Texas, that should be obvious, but it has to be said because we’re the State Bar and we got a bunch of lawyers.
Now, let’s start with you, Amy, all right? First of all, what’s your favorite type of cuisine and where do you like to steer people when they come to Austin?
Amy Starnes: Oh, I have — I like all kinds of food, but one of the ones that I really wanted to talk about is a restaurant called Olamaie and it does kind of elevated Southern cuisine here in Austin, and actually, their chef was nominated for James Beard Award this year.
Rocky Dhir: Really? Okay.
Amy Starnes: It’s fantastic. And what you need to ask for if you ever go there, by the way you should know this is an upscale place so you save this for a special dinner. This is a little bit pricey.
Rocky Dhir: So you’re telling me they may not let me in. It’s a nice place, Rocky. They have never let me in. Yeah.
Amy Starnes: I only went there on my birthday as a special birthday dinner. So — but you need to ask for the biscuits, it’s not on the menu, it’s a secret.
Rocky Dhir: Really?
Amy Starnes: They are not on the menu, yeah.
Rocky Dhir: Oh, this is insider info, all right.
Amy Starnes: Yes, and I really love Olamaie.
Rocky Dhir: And you guys all live in Austin so you guys would know these things. So do you just find this out on the — like by talking to people or how did you figure out about the biscuits?
Amy Starnes: Yeah, just talking to people and word of mouth and picking kind of different places to go, but one of the other things I wanted to talk about too is something that might be interesting to you. In Austin, we have a chocolate confectioner, it’s Maggie Louise Confections and it’s becoming a little bit more popular. People are beginning to learn about this and Maggie Louise Confections is run by a Harvard-trained lawyer who decided to train at Le Cordon Bleu and now opened up a chocolatier, chocolate company on East Sixth Street and makes specialized confections.
Rocky Dhir: So like what kinds of chocolate confections do you get there?
Amy Starnes: Well, I haven’t been there very much but there are all kinds of little dainty chocolate pieces, they have — they are famous for like their lipstick and beautiful confection.
Rocky Dhir: Chocolate lipstick?
Amy Starnes: Well, confections that you might give as a present to someone else.
Rocky Dhir: Wow. Eric, I’m getting you some chocolate lipstick next time I come down here, yes.
Eric Quitugua: Finally.
Rocky Dhir: You’ve been waiting, you’ve been waiting for the chocolate lipstick.
Eric Quitugua: The only reason I come to Annual.
Rocky Dhir: Yes, absolutely, absolutely. Now, Hannah, how about you? What are your favorite places in this wonderful town?
Hannah Allison: So been born and raised here, I’ve definitely seen a change.
Rocky Dhir: Born and raised, you are the unicorn.
Hannah Allison: I am a unicorn.
Rocky Dhir: Wow. Austin unicorn, got to love it. They call me a chupacabra, so I don’t know what that means but go ahead.
Hannah Allison: So living here most of my life, I have seen it change a lot. We’ve had a lot of money come into this city and so it’s changed the restaurant industry quite a bit. Some of the mom-and-pop places have had to move out but we’ve gotten some really good chefs move in here. It’s definitely becoming one of the bigger food scenes.
Rocky Dhir: It’s kind of a bitter-sweet thing. You’ve got —
Hannah Allison: It is.
Rocky Dhir: All right, sure. So what are the places — what are your go-to places?
Hannah Allison: So I really love the Peached Family, we have The Peached Tortilla up on Burnet Road, it’s fantastic, it’s Asian comfort fusion food.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, what’s that like? That’s a mouthful.
Hannah Allison: It’s great. They have a lot of spicier dishes. I wanted to include it because they don’t have a lot of meat dishes, they have a lot of veggie forward dishes, which I think is really important.
Rocky Dhir: Are you vegetarian?
Hannah Allison: I am not.
Rocky Dhir: Okay I am. So this is —
Hannah Allison: I just really love great vegetarian food.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, I am vegetarian, so I am — well, no pun intended, I am eating this up.
Hannah Allison: So the one on Burnet is Peached Tortilla.
Rocky Dhir: Peached Tortilla.
Hannah Allison: It’s also in the airport. So anybody can get it in and out of AVIA, so I like to stop in on my way home and grab their cauliflower bowl on my way to my car because it’s the best thing.
Rocky Dhir: Oh, that is cool.
Hannah Allison: Yeah.
Rocky Dhir: That is cool.
Hannah Allison: They have really good Brussels sprouts also there and then they have a sister location that they opened last year, it’s called Bar Peached and it’s closer to Downtown. It’s on West Sixth Street and they have really amazing happy hour dishes, they have a really good fried fish dish that you can share with someone.
And then their prized thing is they have Korean bingsu, it’s a milky ice dish for dessert. They have different versions of it. I like the birthday cake one, it’s amazing and it’s in this old little house, it’s just beautiful.
Rocky Dhir: Wow. I’ve been coming to Austin on and off for years, I’ve never heard of some of these places, this is fascinating. Okay Jennifer.
Jennifer Dunham: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: Your turn, I know you’ve got some treats up your sleeve.
Jennifer Dunham: And I’ve got some opinions, which is why we’re avoiding barbecue, just everybody I know —
Rocky Dhir: I have been noticing the trend.
Jennifer Dunham: There is no barbecue, we do not — in Texas, polite people do not discuss politics, religion or barbecue. There’s just too many opinions out here.
Rocky Dhir: Can you discuss Tex-Mex with others, is that —
Jennifer Dunham: Probably, that’s a touchy subject. You really have to check the room, check the room before you really bring up Tex-Mex especially.
Rocky Dhir: You’ve got to know your audience.
Jennifer Dunham: Exactly, that’s it.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, but barbeque is verboten.
Jennifer Dunham: We are not speaking about barbecue today. It will be off the table, so to speak.
Rocky Dhir: That’s fair enough, fair enough.
Jennifer Dunham: My big choice is Sandy’s Hamburgers because she was talking about the new money coming in, the old restaurants going away. Sandy’s has been here since the 40s.
Rocky Dhir: Oh wow.
Jennifer Dunham: It’s the original building, it’s the original sign. I don’t think they’ve cleaned the grill since the 40s but that’s what —
Rocky Dhir: Good to know.
Jennifer Dunham: That’s what makes the burgers taste so good, it’s a flat grill, old-fashioned greasy hamburger on a squishy bun, limited condiments, no weird stuff, walk up to the window, place your order, sit outside, fight off a pigeon or two once they get a look at your French fries. If you ignore them, they will go away. If you feed the pigeons, it’s open season on you. Don’t feed the pigeons just ignore them.
Rocky Dhir: You look really, really serious when you say this.
Jennifer Dunham: It’s capital Don’t, underlined twice, DON’T feed the pigeons.
Rocky Dhir: DON’T feed the pigeons, okay.
Jennifer Dunham: Just let them be, and then top it off with custard because you can afford it because Sandy’s, you had burger fries and a drink for $5.89.
Rocky Dhir: Now, I don’t suppose from what you’re describing, I don’t suppose this place is veggie-friendly.
Jennifer Dunham: You can pick the tomatoes and lettuce off your burger and eat that, but I think other than that, you’re kind of out of luck.
Rocky Dhir: I need to bring my own quinoa patty then, it’s interesting, okay.
Jennifer Dunham: Yeah, and don’t eat the pigeons either, they are not vegetarian either.
Rocky Dhir: Well, the pigeons are — I don’t know the pigeons eat meat, so they’re probably vegetarian.
Jennifer Dunham: They might be, but I would say don’t eat them either.
Rocky Dhir: That’s a new definition for vegetarian food. How about that?
Jennifer Dunham: Exactly.
Rocky Dhir: Coming from a vegetarian.
Jennifer Dunham: Coming from a vegetarian.
Rocky Dhir: You only hear that here on this podcast, right?
Jennifer Dunham: Exactly.
Rocky Dhir: These are the nuggets, no pun intended.
Jennifer Dunham: How many food puns do you think we can squeeze in? This is great. Now, on the other side of that spectrum is the Kesos Tacos, which has only been open since 2014.
Rocky Dhir: I’ve heard of this place though, yes.
Jennifer Dunham: And it’s spelled funny, it’s Kesos, it’s Keso, spelled a little bit differently.
Rocky Dhir: These guys must not like Google very much. They don’t want people to find them.
Jennifer Dunham: I think they lost the Q and the U from their Scrabble game. So they are out of luck, they had to go with the K sound. But they do the best breakfast tacos in Austin per my opinion. So I may be starting some controversies here, but yeah —
Hannah Allison: I was going to say about that.
Jennifer Dunham: No, but they have some really interesting, they have the triple oinker, the Mr. Toro. They do a flight of Keso for anybody who’s a gourmand, you can get your flight of Keso, they do a Keso of the month, but the pièce de résistance is the Churro Bites, little tiny churros with a homemade chocolate sauce with whipped cream with a cherry on it.
Rocky Dhir: Now, here’s a question that has popped up at the Annual Meeting and I’ve been pontificating although it is coming from a place of absolute ignorance, okay, because I’m a lawyer and we will pontificate on something we don’t know about, that’s okay. So breakfast tacos versus breakfast burritos.
Hannah Allison: Oh tacos.
Jennifer Dunham: Breakfast tacos.
Rocky Dhir: But what’s the difference?
Jennifer Dunham: Once a taco and once a burrito.
Rocky Dhir: You’ve got a soft taco with the flour tortilla and then the other one —
Hannah Allison: Burrito is a lot more tortilla.
Jennifer Dunham: Yeah, burritos are big and a breakfast taco is going to be just a few ingredients. They don’t really wrap it, they just kind of squish it in foil. But a burrito is going to have that nice little roll to it with the ends tucked in really nicely, real full, probably got some guacamole in it.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, so I’m an accidental genius because that’s what I was telling people about the tortillas and the thickness of the flour, so okay.
Hannah Allison: That’s more of the California thing.
Jennifer Dunham: Yeah.
Rocky Dhir: Okay.
Jennifer Dunham: Yeah, we don’t go for burritos around here, no.
Rocky Dhir: We don’t talk about that here in Texas. No, there is a Lone Star State for a reason.
Hannah Allison: Right.
Jennifer Dunham: Lone Star State, we stick with the tacos.
Rocky Dhir: That’s right. We eat alone, yeah. Now, Eric, what are your go-to places?
Eric Quitugua: I just want to start off by talking about my top three favorite places to get barbecue.
Hannah Allison: Oh.
Jennifer Dunham: Oh.
Rocky Dhir: He is going down. Due to a reason you went last. Oh my goodness. Wow.
Eric Quitugua: No, I won’t do that. I’ll go with what I’m thinking about now and I’ve been thinking about it since I woke up, Mrs. Johnson’s, the classiest best donut place in all the world.
Rocky Dhir: Is that where you’re going after work today, after the meeting wind out?
Eric Quitugua: At some point that I will be at Mrs. Johnson’s, that is a promise. You can get glazed donuts there, which is what I go for, really simple or you can get like a raspberry filled one if you’re feeling crazy. I don’t usually go to like the places where you can get like fried like Oreos onto a donut and like bacon, all kinds of stuff that doesn’t belong on a donut, but —
Rocky Dhir: He is just — he’s stoking all kinds of controversy. You ruined your chances for public office ever. You are never going to get elected.
Eric Quitugua: Keep it classy like glazed donut, they strike the perfect balance between fluffiness and sugariness without being too sugary and too cakey, and you can have one donut and you’re not going to feel like you’re going to just topple over just you’re out for the evening, and they’re $0.80 a pop and the sweetest older couple, they run the place and they’re super-duper nice, and if you’re nice to them they won’t give you extra donut holes. You will order like one donut and you end up with like another donut and then also a bag full of donut holes.
Rocky Dhir: Is that why you are nice to them for the donut holes?
Eric Quitugua: I am nice in general.
Rocky Dhir: Well, I mean, you’re stoking controversy here on the podcast, then you are talking about barbecue, and then you are talking about being nice in getting donut holes.
Eric Quitugua: I didn’t want to talk about barbecue, but we can do that.
Rocky Dhir: Oh!
Hannah Allison: No, no, no. No, we can’t, you are outnumbered there.
Rocky Dhir: It is for fun.
Amy Starnes: I was going to — I was going to counter Eric’s donut place with Gourdough’s Public House.
Hannah Allison: There we go.
Rocky Dhir: Do we need to start a poker game here?
Amy Starnes: Gourdough’s Public House, just to mention it briefly, they have an Airstream and they have a location in actual physical building and at the Airstream they do a lot of kind of normal, well, basic donuts, but nothing is basic about Gourdough’s if I could say that. They are more dessert-type, breakfast donuts.
Jennifer Dunham: Oh my —
Rocky Dhir: These are decadent donuts.
Amy Starnes: Right. For example the Fat Elvis, which is grilled bananas, bacon, peanut butter and honey, this is all on a donut.
Rocky Dhir: Wow.
Jennifer Dunham: You have a stomach growling noise.
Amy Starnes: It’s the opposite of Eric’s donut place. They are extravagant and at the Public House they actually do donut burgers, donut sandwiches and donut entrées, so —
Hannah Allison: And the salads also have donuts.
Amy Starnes: Yes.
Jennifer Dunham: Oh.
Rocky Dhir: Donut salads?
Amy Starnes: Yes, it’s donut over the top, Gourdough’s Public House.
Hannah Allison: That’s the bread.
Amy Starnes: Yeah.
Hannah Allison: But it’s salad.
Rocky Dhir: Really?
Hannah Allison: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: How does it — has anybody tried this? Is it —
Amy Starnes: I haven’t had the salad.
Hannah Allison: It’s more savory, it’s a savory donut.
Rocky Dhir: Okay. So it’s not a — it’s not the sweet glazed.
Jennifer Dunham: So we’re talking about bread?
Hannah Allison: Yeah.
Jennifer Dunham: Okay. Savory donut. That would be bread.
Hannah Allison: But it’s a donut.
Amy Starnes: But back to Eric’s other — other — look, I just had to jump in with my — my donut option.
Hannah Allison: Oh my Round Rock Donuts.
Eric Quitugua: Oh no.
Rocky Dhir: Okay.
Eric Quitugua: It’s good.
Jennifer Dunham: Never mind. It’s good. Also, it’s an institution.
Eric Quitugua: At Gourdough’s I do like the Cherry Bombs. It’s like the donut holes and it’s like a cherry glaze, but that’s like a once a year thing for me.
Hannah Allison: We like donut holes.
Jennifer Dunham: Theres enough lot of calories in the Gourdough’s Donut to like sustain you for like a week.
Eric Quitugua: It’s yeah.
Amy Starnes: Yeah.
Eric Quitugua: It’s pretty intense.
Rocky Dhir: Well, now what about food trucks, because Austin is big on food trucks? Are you guys food truck connoisseurs?
Eric Quitugua: I have a Puerto Rican truck I go to on Cesar Chavez in Pleasant Valley, it’s called El Coquí, and I go get just like regular, just like street fair, like I get Pastelillos, which is just the Puerto Rican version of Empanadas, and it’s just deep-fried, you could use tortilla, but just deep-fried flour and like a disc and you put just like regular ground beef.
Whenever I make it, I put like olives, I put sofrito, but they keep it kind of simple. It’s really hardy, really filling super not healthy, but tastes amazing and you also can get like a stack of Platanos or you just get like a Platanos and just like kind of chop it up. Tostones, this is what they call it in Puerto Rico and then if you talk to a Panamanian, they’re called Patacones, but you can get them for like I think under a buck.
Rocky Dhir: I’m learning so much.
Jennifer Dunham: And I just learned that Eric cooks. So, I think my favorite place to eat now it going to be at Eric’s house.
Rocky Dhir: It’s going to be Eric’s house. So, here is a logistical question. Let’s say you want to have — you want to go to a food truck and you want to get Puerto Rican food, and what’s the name of this place again?
Eric Quitugua: El Coquí.
Rocky Dhir: El Coquí. So you want to get that, but then you also want to Gourdough’s Donut. So do you first go to the food truck, eat and then drive to Gourdough’s to get the donut or do you take out from both places so that that way you can eat them both together in one sitting?
Jennifer Dunham: Two words.
Hannah Allison: I don’t think Gourdough’s is very good if you bring it away.
Amy Starnes: Oh.
Jennifer Dunham: Oh.
Hannah Allison: No, let me rephrase. You have to eat it fresh.
Amy Starnes: It sounds like you have to eat it on site.
Hannah Allison: Gourdough’s is delicious but it’s hot and it needs to be hot.
Amy Starnes: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: Oh they are hot donuts, okay.
Hannah Allison: Then it gets all like, sticky and glaze crackles, and that’s not pretty.
Jennifer Dunham: I am going to be controversial. I’m going to say Uber Eats, because I eat at a lot of food trucks at my office, 00:15:00 is my favorite dining place.
Because at lunch I get on Uber Eats, I look around and see what 00:15:16, it’s my favorite restaurant. I get on Uber Eats and I look for what’s new, what’s hot, what’s going on in town, what can get there quicker, and then I have the food brought to me, so I don’t stand out in the heat in front of a food truck, I let the food come to me and I eat at my desk.
Rocky Dhir: And then you can have it all at one time?
Jennifer Dunham: I can order as much as I want from wherever and they just bring it right to me.
Rocky Dhir: It just brings it over.
Jennifer Dunham: Exactly, it’s the best.
Rocky Dhir: I guess that’s the great thing about technology these days. I got to give a little shout out to my brother. He owns a food truck here in Austin, it’s a vegetarian vegan food truck called Conscious Cravings.
Jennifer Dunham: I have eaten there.
Amy Starnes: Oh, I have had that.
Rocky Dhir: You have eaten there?
Jennifer Dunham: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: You like it?
Jennifer Dunham: Love it.
Rocky Dhir: Okay. So, that’s actually a family recipe, that was a family recipe and he has turned that into a food truck.
Jennifer Dunham: So we’re going to eat at your house, because you’ve got the recipes.
Rocky Dhir: I don’t know how to cook it. I drink like, Eric.
Jennifer Dunham: Eric, can you get Rocky’s family recipes?
Rocky Dhir: Guys, do you think you look the same? I mean, come on.
Jennifer Dunham: I was just saying you both mentioned recipes and the like men who cook are like a hot commodity.
Rocky Dhir: Yeah, I mean look at me, I’m not a hot commodity.
Eric Quitugua: Good, you can be the Chris Paul to my Blake Griffin, you set the lob and I cook instead of talking.
Rocky Dhir: Look at this.
Jennifer Dunham: He brings the sports in.
Rocky Dhir: Is he like this at work too?
Amy Starnes: Yes.
Hannah Allison: Yes.
Rocky Dhir: Really? Okay.
Eric Quitugua: No.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, so he keeps people on their toes. Well, guys, it does look like we’ve reached the end of our program. I want to thank you guys for being here. Thank you everybody.
Jennifer Dunham: I got to get something to eat, I am starving now.
Hannah Allison: I know.
Rocky Dhir: I know, I’m kind of hungry now. And you know what, I’m actually going to — so my brother obviously owning the food truck, he lives here in Austin, he has never taken me to any of these places, so I’m going to have to give a hard time, yeah.
Jennifer Dunham: Oh yeah.
Rocky Dhir: Yeah, so Rishi, if you’re listening, I’m onto you now.
Jennifer Dunham: Yeah, Rishi, get on it.
Rocky Dhir: Yeah, I am onto you, I am onto you. So, obviously these places can all be found online. If our listeners want to follow up, you guys need to listen to the podcast again, write down the places that you liked, look them up, Kesos is spelled with a K.
Jennifer Dunham: Kesos is spelled with a K, Sandy’s Hamburgers.
Hannah Allison: Bar Peached, The Peached Tortilla.
Amy Starnes: Gourdough’s, Olamaie and Maggie Louise Confections.
Eric Quitugua: Mrs. Johnston’s and El Coquí.
Rocky Dhir: El Coquí. Well, that is all the time we have for this episode of State Bar of Texas Podcast brought to you by LawPay. Yay, thank you, LawPay.
Jennifer Dunham: Thank you, LawPay.
Hannah Allison: Thank you.
Eric Quitugua: Thank you.
Rocky Dhir: This is where the staff guys come in. They all have our back. So LawPay, you got lots of love today. Also, thank you to our listeners for tuning in.
If you like what you heard, please rate and review us in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.
I’m Rocky Dhir, until next time, stay hungry, my friends. Thank you for listening.
Outro: If you would like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Go to texasbar.com/podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts and RSS. Find both the State Bar of Texas and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by the State Bar of Texas, Legal Talk Network, or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.