Establishment neighborhood
El Primo
2011 S. 1st St., Bouldin
El Primo is a member of the old guard. Reliably good, affordable, and unchanging, the breakfast tortas and salsas served out the hatch of this teeny-tiny south Austin trailer are the stuff of local legend. Michoacán chef Humberto Reyes has been flipping tacos here for thirteen years, and unlike at many of the other city trucks, the meat to cheese ratio sandwiched into every tortilla is always just right. Stop by for breakfast, pick up a cold brew next door from Once Over coffee like the Austinites do, and take note: El Primo is cash only.
Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon
1703 S. 1st St., Bouldin
Austin is one of the few cities that can pull off a really well done drive-through. Fresa's is all about chicken—tacos, bowls, salads, wings—although there is usually a beef and shrimp plate, and you can order the salads sans meat. The have a handful of grilled sides, including, of course, Mexican street corn. The Downtown location is the original one and is to-go only; in addition to lunch and dinner, they do breakfast tacos until 11am on weekdays and until noon on weekends. The second location in Bouldin is larger; it has a dining room and outdoor patio (plus a full bar) in addition to a go-to window, so you have the option of eating there. They do lunch and dinner here only—the take-out window opens at 8am, though, with dine in starting at 11am.
Spartan (Closed)
215 S. Lamar Blvd., Bouldin
When Austin native Currie Person returned home to settle down, she realized that she missed the thoughtfully curated small art object stores she’d visited in Paris and New York. So, in a space she shares with JM Dry Goods, she opened Spartan, a minimalist but beautiful textile/apothecary/home store with everything from cerulean pottery from Victoria Morris and Kati Von Lehmam porcelain tumblers to sycamore cutting boards and stone-washed Turkish towels. Last year, they launched a fragrance collaboration with Olo called Spartan, inspired by—what else?—the Texas landscape. The boutique is just the tip of the iceberg for Person, though, as she also lends her eye to two other shops: Beam & Anchor in Portland and Voyager in San Francisco.
801 S. Lamar Blvd., Bouldin
James Beard award-winning Chef Tyson Cole serves small and inventive Japanese dishes using a mix of local ingredients according to what's in season, and fresh fish flown in from everywhere. Order the Hot Rock (they bring wagyu beef and a hot rock—hence the dish name—to your table and cook the meat in front of you), and the madai from the sushi menu. If you're a peanut butter person, you have to get the peanut butter semifreddo with apple-miso sorbet for dessert—the combination of flavors sounds strange but taste amazing. If you don't have time for a full-on dinner, come between 5 and 6:30 for sake social, during which a limited, but noteworthy, selection of the menu is on offer (and for a fraction of the cost).
Dolce Neve
1713 S. 1st St., Bouldin
Francesca and Marco Silvestrini are Italian immigrants (Francesca’s fiancé Leo is also involved in the business; he’s another Italian native) who were dismayed that they couldn’t find great gelato in the states. One hot summer in Columbus, Ohio, Francesca quit her doctoral program and bee-lined it for Bologna to attend the Carpigiani Gelato University, which is, in fact, a real place and every bit as wonderful as it sounds. Francesca makes authentic, Italian-style gelato using the mantecazione vertical batch method, which contributes to its creamy texture. While she does the basics like chocolate and stracciatella really well, there are some great Texas-inspired flavors like peach and sweet potato on the menu too.