The CHOW Guide to Eating and Drinking in Austin, SXSW edition

OTHER EATS

$ = Under $10, $$ = $10-$25, $$$ = Over $25

Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas
409 Colorado St., 512-476-1320
1120 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-476-1320
Call for showtimes.

A movie theater with table service offering beer, wine, mixed drinks, and really good food, Alamo brings up the question: Why hasn’t this concept taken off across the country? Food like pizza, burgers, and brownies with espresso in them is served at a narrow table that runs the full length of the row. Movies are mainstream (at the time of this writing, Casino Royale was showing), and big-name directors often prescreen flicks here and take audience questions afterward (Quentin Tarantino makes regular appearances). Watch for special theme nights when food is paired to a movie’s subject matter. There are several locations, including one downtown, but the original, biggest, and most popular theater is on South Lamar Boulevard in South Austin. (Downtown and South Austin)

Amy’s Ice Creams
3500 Guadalupe, 512-458-6895
Sun.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–midnight; Fri.–Sat., 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m.

An Austin institution with 13 locations (including shops on Guadalupe, Sixth Street, and South Congress, all in the downtown area), Amy’s serves fun flavors like Guinness, honey ginger, and chipotle peanut butter. As in the national Coldstone Creamery chain, servers flick and smack around the ice cream with mixed-in ingredients on a marble slab before giving it to you, which some (like children) find delightful. Others find it annoying. All will forget about it when they take their first bite. (North Austin)

Central Market Flagship Store
4001 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-206-1000
Daily, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. Central Market Cafe: Sun.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat., 7 a.m.–10 p.m.

Austin’s Central Market, the flagship location of the popular Texas grocery store chain, is big. How big? It has a 75-foot-long seafood counter with 100 varieties of saltwater and freshwater seafood, 18,000 square feet of fresh produce with over 600 varieties of fruits and vegetables, 800 cheeses from around the world, 2,500 different wines, 350 different beers, 100 varieties of flowers, 70 varieties of artisanal breads baked fresh daily, and a meat counter with 30 varieties of house-made sausage. Given these stats, it’s no wonder that Austin’s 70,000-square-foot Central Market is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Whether you’re taking a cooking class, kicking back in the café and listening to live music, or shopping for treats, like most of Austin, you’ll find yourself staying awhile. (North Austin)

Whole Foods Market Flagship Store
525 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-476-1206
Daily, 8 a.m.–10 p.m.

The massive flagship of the Whole Foods grocery store chain, which first opened in Austin in 1980, is 80,000 square feet and features a chocolate café with a chocolate fountain you can dip fruit and cookies into, a Pike Place Market-esque fish market, an ice cream/gelato shop, a smokehouse, a wine bar, a massive prepared-foods area, and over 600 cheeses. Like the San Francisco Marina Safeway of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, this WF is a notorious Austin pick-up scene for 20- and 30-somethings, as well as a date spot where couples move from mini-restaurant to mini-restaurant and make a night of it. While you’re in the neighborhood, check out Book People across the street, the largest independent bookstore in Texas, and the famous indie record shop Waterloo Records nearby at 600A N. Lamar Blvd. (Downtown)