An Artisan's Guide to Austin
With the Austin Food & Wine Festival right around the corner (April 24-26), we've got the Texas city on our minds. So we asked potter and Austin resident Keith Kreeger to share some of his favorite local spots with us. Kreeger's porcelain dinnerware is a favorite of chefs like Paul Qui in Austin, Jenn Louis in Portland, Oregon, and Matthew Gaudet in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "It's funny because I never used to make plates; I actually hated it. I was making a lot of the accessories that went around plates, like big platters and other serving pieces," Kreeger says. "It changed when Paul saw my work as he was getting ready to open Qui. We started talking, and I started making plates." Kreeger's work is available through his studio, as well as a number of boutiques around the country. Here are some of his favorite places to eat, drink and shop in Austin.
Qui, not just because they use my plates. We all know Paul is a great chef, but it's also just such a fun experience. Paul is so gracious and loves having guests, and it shows.
Sway has really interesting modern Thai food, and they do takeout now also, which is great. Fun spot when you have a group of people.
Olamaie is pretty new. It’s modern Southern, one of the best meals we’ve had in Austin. Everything was solid, and I had the best biscuits of my life.
Gardner—it's fun to see a place focused on vegetables, since it’s pretty different from most of the other places that have opened recently.
Justine’s is way east in the middle of nowhere, across from a gas facility. It’s like walking into another world. It’s classic French food with a daily, changing, ingredient-driven menu. And it serves late-night, which is great, especially during the Austin Food & Wine Festival. You can pretty much get tacos any time of day here, but knowing you can get good steak frites or a pork chop at midnight is great. Not that midnight meals happen that often for me anymore.
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There are two or three spots that I love for cocktails: Whisler's, Weather Up and Half Step. I love the special menus at each, but I also like knowing I can get well-made versions of favorites like a Negroni, Boulevardier or old-fashioned. I’m a big fan of brown liquor.
For dive bars, The Liberty is one of my favorites. That’s a grab-a-beer-and-some-whiskey place. It’s a big industry hangout. Pearl Snap Pilsner from Austin Beerworks is my go-to.
My favorite is Houndstooth. They just started roasting their own beans up in Dallas under the brand Tweed, which I really like.
I also really like Cuvée Coffee. They’re roasters and they’ve just opened their first shop, which, happily, is near my studio.
Coming from the northeast, where creative communities don’t always talk to one another, I appreciate that Austin is really open.
Nannie Inez is a great interiors and home design store. The owner brings in lots of stuff from Europe. I feel like you walk into a lot of stores and see the same things over and over again, but she searches out different work and finds really unique pieces.
Métier is kitchen store that the husband-and-wife team behind it call a shop for cooks. They have antique tableware, handmade knives, everything that home cooks and industry people like.
By George sells high-end men’s fashion. If you walk to the back of the space, you can find some good deals. It's a beautifully merchandised space, and I’m a sucker for that.
Stag Provisions on South Congress is another great men’s shop. They carry so many fantastic American brands.