AUSTIN (KXAN) - Every week Austin is topping some lifestyle list, and the Live Music Capital of the World is doing it yet again with its food scene.
Three Austin restaurants made it on Bon Appetit Magazine's top 50 best New Restaurants.
Out of hundreds of restaurants from across the country, Jeffery's and Josephine House came in eighth place while Ramen Tatsu-ya and Sway made the list of top 50 nominees. It's a growing trend to see new Austin restaurants gaining national praise for its food, presentation and atmosphere.
"It's been interesting for Austin. We have an innovative community where people feel inspired to try things that maybe they've been entertaining for years," explained Mariam Parker, executive director for Austin Food & Wine Alliance. "I think a lot of these restaurants are inspired. They're trying new things, new concept ideas. They're going above and beyond, maybe, their personal comfort levels, so we're seeing some really inspired dishes."
Some dishes even started out in food trucks and evolve into restaurants. Health and Human Services officials said there are about 1,416 food trucks in the Austin-Travis County area -- almost doubled since 2004 when there were 726.
There are some food trailers that have had tremendous success, such as Torchy's Tacos, that are now full-fledged restaurants expanding across the state.
"A good example of that would be Bryce Gilmore's Odd Duck concept," said Parker. "He did upscale dinning in a trailer, and it was so successful and got so much attention. Now, he's opening up restaurants this fall."
Austin cuisine, which is a variety of many different dishes, has gained a lot of media attention in the last several years. Many people find out about the new eateries by going on food tours and spreading the word.
"I would jokingly say we go to the places that the visitors center and the guide books don’t know about yet, and I think that’s one of the reasons why guests love it so much," said Andy Potter, owner of Austin Eats Food Tours. "We’re going to brand new places that just opened. They’re starting to get a following, and it’s really just starting to grow as we grow our businesses as well.”
Potter started the company three years ago and has seen his business boom in the past two years. He said about 65 percent of his clients are locals.
While he does get out-of-town business, he said many Austinites are fascinated with how the cuisine scene has changed and don't necessarily know where to go.
People can take a bike tour and van tour -- along with private and corporate tours -- exploring the well-known food places and even the secret ones.
He said he's noticed a big boom in all the entrepreneurs, especially on the east side of Austin. Many chefs are taking chances, and as the area grows, so does the diversity.
“I think we’ve done our job well when I have my food partners contact us and say, 'We have six new regulars now because of that tour you brought last week,'" said Potter. "So we are all about keeping it local and letting people experience what we say is 'quintessential Austin.'”
The restaurants don't pay Potter. Instead, he brings customers in during the morning or afternoon when businesses tend to be slow.
"I think one of the things people love about our tour is we’re going to those next-Franklin-type places," said Potter. "Everybody knows about Franklin now, but does everybody know about Blue Ox BBQ on East Riverside?"
It's through these businesses the Austin food industry is creating that keeps fueling the fire on the city's luster and growth.
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