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Austin Food Bytes – Ladies who Lunch

Austin Food Bytes
Ladies who Lunch
By Michelann Oster

Last week the boys got their say, this week it’s all about the ladies. Lunching or brunching with a girlfriend or girlfriends has been an important ritual for me since college. When I was in school in San Francisco, there were a number of genteel little cafes and restaurants, perfect for a leisurely lunch, extended brunch or afternoon tea. I’ve searched long and hard to find similar places here in Austin.

A Ladies’ Lunch spot has to meet several criteria:

  • The food must be excellent
  • The atmosphere must be pleasant and not rushed
  • It must be the kind of place that would make your husband or boyfriend feel significantly out of his element

34th Street Café
This unassuming little restaurant hides some of the better food in town. Beautiful salads, gourmet sandwiches and lovely pastries abound. The décor is eclectic, but bright, fresh and clean. It gets a little crowded at lunch, so go early or late if you don’t want to feel too packed in.

Hyde Park Grill
If you’re more in the mood for some comfort food, then Hyde Park Grill is the place. The décor is comfortable, lighting is sedated. Many of the tables are tucked away in various corners, making it easy to sit back, relax, and enjoy a long conversation over a great meal and maybe a glass of wine. My favorite dishes include the french fries with cheddar cheese sauce (they’re famous for these), the Asian Chicken Salad, and for dessert, Won Kim’s Peach Pudding. A steamed sweet cake with peaches, soaked in cream, this dessert is worth every single calorie.

Cafe Bistro at Nordstrom
This week I’m breaking one of my cardinal restaurant review rules. I’m including a national chain – but only because it’s so damn good. The café at Nordstrom is on the second floor. You often have to stand in line for a short time, then you order at the counter and are seated and waited on hand and foot. The décor is pleasant but bland, and sometimes the music is a bit too soft jazz for me, but otherwise it’s a great choice. The service is good, the food is invariably wonderful. I especially like the pizzas and the white chocolate bread pudding. They have an excellent selection of salads as well. The two most bonding activities women can share are eating and shopping, and you can do both at the Cafe Bistro.

34th Street Café
1005 West 34th Street
Lunch Hours:
M-F 11 AM
Sat 11 AM – 4 PM

Hyde Park Bar & Grill
4206 Duval St
(512) 458-3168
Daily 11am-12am

Nordstrom Café Bistro
(512) 691-3500
2901 Capital of Texas Hwy South
M-Sat 10:00 – 9:00 Sun 12:00 – 6:00

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