Swift’s Attic

Offering by far the most eclectic lunch fare you’ll find on this stretch of Congress, Swift’s Attic has a menu of dishes that can sometimes be too playful for their own good. This time, though, they were spot-on, starting with charred edamame that came with smoked salt and unflavored pop rocks; it sounds gimmicky and it’s completely addictive.

Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

If you haven’t been to a Larry McGuire joint, you’re likely new to Austin. This spacious seafood spot under giant oak trees is currently the Lady Mary Crawley in his family of restaurants—beautiful and very established. We weren’t quite as taken with our choices this time; the fried calamari was fine but not exceptional, as were the grilled oysters with chewy bits of bacon. Similarly, bouillabaisse, although brimming with shellfish, seemed lackluster.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

We’ve never found it hard to swallow fancy barbecue at the restored J.P. Schneider Building. But the strength of the menu may not lie in the oak smoker. As evidence we cite the deep-fried balls of porky boudin and the broiled oysters with chunks of blue crab, doused in butter and kissed with the flavor of poblano chile. Tender shreds of beef cheeks arrived on a bed of corn in a fiery green chile sauce, with fried okra and a nice apple slaw adding a little vegetable virtuosity. (10/13)

Where To Stay Now 2012: The Ten Best New (Or Improved!) Texas Hotels

As a recent study of hotel booking trends pointed out, us Texans prefer to vacation in Texas. Since our last roundup of the state’s most notable lodgings was in 2004, I thought it was high time to revisit the subject. So I drafted a list of 44 hotels that have opened or undergone significant renovations in the last 8 years. I then winnowed that list down and booked rooms (anonymously) at 24 properties across the state to determine my favorites. Although my full reviews will be available next week (the November issue goes live on TexasMonthly.com on Wednesday and hits newsstands on Thursday), I wanted to go ahead and share my ten favorites (plus the five that nearly made the cut) … . 

Kenny Klimple, Bus Driver

After serving as a police officer for six years in the Brazos Valley, Klimple “burned out” on working with the public and sought refuge in truck driving. He got his commercial driver’s license while hauling oil equipment for Halliburton, never imagining that a year later he’d put it to use cruising the streets of Austin as a city bus driver and falling back in love with the public.

Check Out These Pumpkin Dishes from All Around Texas

Fall is upon us and you know what that means: pumpkins! Yes, these orange gourds are already making their way into local farmers markets and Texas restaurants. I’m pretty crazy about pumpkins and the eclectic culinary creations they inspire, so I decided to reach out to a number of Texas chefs and see what pumpkin dishes they’re planning to put on their fall menus. There were some many gourmet creations hailing from Dallas, Austin, and Houston that I had no choice but to divide this story into two parts.

Wandering Around the Great State of Texas

If you’ve already picked up your copy of Texas Monthly’s September issue, you’ve noticed that the magazine has undergone a top-to-bottom redesign. In the new Touts section, you’ll find the debut of my Texas travel column, the Wanderer (or, as my colleagues like to call it: Breal’s On Wheels), which will be a chronicle of my three-day trip to a different Texas town or city each month. Since joining Texas Monthly in 2005, I’ve had the pleasure of writing about everything from barbecue and camping to fine art and six-man football, and I’ve probably spent more time on Texas’s highways and back roads than in my Austin office. As TM’s head honcho, Jake Silverstein, points out in his detailed rundown of the magazine’s new look, mine is an enviable job.

Salty Sow

A popular east-side locale, this neighborhood spot celebrates all things nose-to-tail, particularly of the swine persuasion, in clever and tasty ways. Hearty dishes such as milk-braised pork shoulder with white beans and bacon-wrapped pork filet mignon with mashed sweet potatoes pull in a formal dinner crowd. We arrived for an early happy hour and were surprised to find a line at the door.

Andrew Zimmern's 'Bizarre Foods' features Austin tonight on the Travel Channel

I first met Andrew Zimmern last fall at Whip In in Austin where the spirited television chef was filming his hit Travel Channel series, “Bizarre Foods.” Though Zimmern has traveled all over the world, he made it clear to me during his stop in Texas that Austin’s culinary scene evoked a

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