A Meat Lover’s Guide to Eating in Austin, Part 1

June 1, 2015

Most of us on the Niman Ranch team like to make sure we’re eating at the right restaurants, whether at home or while traveling. This includes restaurants that follow some or all of the following criteria:

  • Are small or locally-owned
  • Serve up sustainable meat and produce
  • Offer a creative menu

Searching for these types of restaurants can take time, though, so it’s best to find a comprehensive guide that does all the work for you.

We spent some time touring Austin, Texas, building you a list of the right restaurants. Lone Star Foodservice, our local distributor, pointed us in the direction of Austin’s finest and funnest eateries to achieve this task. From pork belly sushi to cheeseburgers and pork chops, this two-part food adventure series is the perfect guide to eating in Austin!

 Counter Cafe

Counter Cafe Steak and Eggs

Steak & Eggs at Counter Cafe.

Counter Cafe has two locations, one on Lamar and the other on 6th Street. Both bake their biscuits in-house daily and cook their eggs just like mom used to. Their Niman Ranch steak is seasoned with a simple dash of salt and pepper before being sent to the grill and cooked how you like. With high quality meat, you don’t need any extra spices or seasonings to achieve superior flavor.

The cafe itself has a warm ambiance like the diners of the past, with the grill and griddle kitchen situated right behind the counter. If you’re looking for the perfect little breakfast spot, look no further!

 East Side Showroom

East Side Showroom Ribeye

Ribeye at East Side Showroom

The food at East Side Showroom is served a la carte – order a large, center-of-the-plate item then add some starters or sides for a full meal. You’ll find this low-key eatery and craft cocktail bar as part of a trendy line of establishments on East 6th Street.  It’s a great choice for any group getting ready to hit the town. What makes it even better? They have live music. And the deal breaker? They cook a Niman Ranch ribeye to perfection.

 El Naranjo

El Naranjo Pork

Iliana de la Vega, owner and executive chef at El Naranjo on East Rainey, hails from the kitchens of Mexico. She has focused on using the best ingredients her entire career – very fresh, very natural. It’s her passion for quality that makes the food at El Naranjo taste so good.

We recommend trying the Salbutes de Cochinita Pibil. This slow cooked Niman Ranch pork dish features in-house pickled onions, black beans, fresh tortillas and habanero salsa. The simplicity of the accoutrements allows the subtly spicy, savory flavor within the pork to truly stand out.

 Fork & Vine

Fork and Vine Ribs

White Barbecue Pork Ribs at Fork & Vine.

On the more comfortable edge of fine dining, you’ll find Fork & Vine, located on Austin’s north side off West Anderson Lane. An extensive craft beer and wine selection accompanies a well-rounded menu, and the atmosphere is incredibly warm and welcoming.

We love ribs, but we never loved them as much before trying these White Barbecue Pork Ribs. Owner and executive chef Camden Stuerzenberger has a unique ability to mix flavors. For example: white barbecue sauce, barbecued peanuts and cilantro. It’s quite the combination! To top it off, his staff is fully prepared to help pair any dish with the perfect beverage.

Oh, and did we mention? They just won the Tastemaster’s Award for Best New Restaurant. Stop in to see what the fuss is all about!


Austin TX Bacon and Beer 324

Grilled Pork Chop with Kimchi at Mettle.

Mettle is another location on the up-and-coming east side, tucked away on Calles Street. They offer live music on the weekends and make most of their food from scratch. This includes their homemade kimchi. We’d never think to pair it with a grilled pork chop, but we’re so glad they did! The bacon vinaigrette makes it all the more compelling, adding a salty balance to the sweetness of whatever seasonal fruit accompanies this mainstay dish.

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