Lunch in Austin: Easy Tiger
I’ve lived in Austin for, well, let’s just say a very long time. In all of those years 6th Street has been known for many things but great food wasn’t one of them. When Parkside moved in five years ago there was some hope that 6th Street might become more than just a corridor of late night bars offering cheap shots and hidden corners for canoodling (something I know nothing about, really, I swear). And while the evolution of the street hasn’t come as quickly as we’d all like, the addition of Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden Gives me hope. Open from 11:00 am to 2:00 am to feed the 6th Street crowds, Easy Tiger is a great downtown lunch spot because they are an easy walk from the 6th and Congress hub as well as the Convention Center. And the food – well it’s downright good. Most of the menu is house-made, from the breads to the meats and even the mustard, so it has the satisfying taste of artisan cooking, created with care and attention to detail.
Restaurant style: Get lunch to go upstairs or head down to the ample space for table service
Location: 6th Street, just before the freeway
Good for: Casual lunch for groups of any size; good option for out of town guests interested in Austin’s artisan food scene
Parking: Metered street parking available in the vicinity as well paid parking a couple of blocks away in the convention center parking lot
Special diets: Limited vegetarian options; gluten free companions can easily find a full meal that doesn’t involve gluten even though Easy Tiger is a bake shop
Price: Expect to spend $10 – $15 although the Easy Lunch special is $8
The Easy Tiger menu starts with pretzels so you know they take their baking seriously. Having tasted the pretzels, I can understand why they are worthy of their own section on the menu. Chewy yet soft, with just the right amount of salt – they are what big soft pretzels should be.
When you’re done oogling the pretzels and their various companions (cheddar, smoked gouda, salted whipped butter) you can move on to the Snacks section of the menu. While any cheese plate from Antonelli’s Cheese is tops on my list, I have to say I’m enamored with the house-made Chex Mix. It’s all of the fun of Chex Mix but without artificial flavors or questionable ingredients. As a note, I’ll be adding oyster crackers to my next batch of homemade party mix.
Once you’re past pretzels and snacks you can get on with the business of eating lunch. Their artisan and baguette sandwiches feature house-cured (there’s that word again) meats on house-made bread. While it sounds almost too simple, the ham and butter on baguette is sublime. You’ll experience just about every flavor and texture, from the crusty outside of the baguette encasing the soft crumb to the salty ham that blends with the sweet cream butter.
If you feel compelled to have a more complex sandwich try the Smoked Turkey Breast on Pan au Levain with Avocado.
Moving on from sandwiches you’ll find Easy Boards, themed combinations of meats, bread and condiments. The Hill Country board includes game sausage, venison pate, pickled vegetables, and house-made mustard. It’s rich and great for sharing.
You can also get any of the house-made sausages on their own or on a pretzel bun – blending the start of the menu with the end. You should also have a look at the Add-Ons (aka side dishes) to mix a few veggies into your lunch time fray. I love good collard greens and the ones at Easy Tiger are made just awesome with bacon, beer, and onions.
On your way out of Easy Tiger be sure to stop for a fresh loaf of bread to have with dinner and for breakfast the next day. You’ll be sharing your Easy Tiger experience with your loved ones who will both appreciate you and be a bit cranky that you didn’t ask them to join you for lunch.