It’s the start of a new year and once again, most of us are probably planning out our healthy choice lifestyle options and diets by looking for the perfect meal plan to finally shed off some of those unwanted extra pounds. Last year you might have fallen off the wagon with a few dozen cheat days and probably ate a few thousand more calories than you should have (looking at myself). But were you supposed to say no when you were invited to one of the nearly 100 new restaurants that opened last year? Your healthy eating intentions may noble but at some point you’re going to inevitably cheat on your diet.
Countless studies (fake news) have proven that the key to any successful diet is to include a proper cheat day or two in your weekly meal planning routine. While there are hundreds of fast food options, donut shops and random bags of chips we can pick up at any gas station in town, no one wants to waste any valuable calories on garbage you wouldn’t even post on Instagram. In a city where good food is available just about everywhere at nearly any time you want it, you’ll want to ensure you get the most milage out of your flavor-filled calorie binge. I’ve mapped out a few of my favorite spots in Austin to enjoy a proper cheat meal.
Brunch | Holy Roller
If you’ve never had the cinnamon rolls from Holy Roller, I’ll need you to go ahead and schedule it as your first cheat dish of the year. Acclaimed chef Callie Speer opened Holy Roller, her brunch all day diner, with the hopes of filling your brunch void all day and all week long. Starting at 8am, patrons can order daily specials baked by pastry chef Britt Castro. At 10am order brunch-centric fare such as migas kolaches, burgers and biscuit sandwiches and the late-night menu continues until 10pm. During traditional weekend brunch hours, guests can order from a menu of house specials including their “Sunday School” menu allows diners to choose pastry and cocktail specials from a “seven deadly sins” display. 509 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78701
Pizza | VIA 313
I won’t pretend to know how many calories is packed in to the most beautiful square of pizza in Austin, as Via313’s pies are a testament to pizza perfection. Via’s thick, airy crust accompanies the caramelized cheese coating that spans all four edges of the pie, topped with two streaks of fresh crushed tomato sauce, melted cheese, and simple yet high-quality toppings that are carefully sourced locally. Visit one of four locations in Austin.
Burgers and Fries | Hopdoddy
Picking up a burger and an order of fries from a local fast food joint is one of the easiest and quickest ways to fill up on your calories, but why in the name of Pete would you waste your cheat day on shitty fast food from a drive-thru window. Have a little respect for yourself and get a real burger you won’t eat in your car. The Primetime burger at Hopdoddy features American grass fed Kobe beef topped with melty brie, peppery arugula, caramelized onions, house made steak sauce and a healthy dose of truffle aioli. Pair it with a side of crispy parmesan truffle fries and one of their famous milk shakes for the ultimate cheat day trio, then go home and passout from the food coma. Visit one of Four locations in Austin and Round Rock.
Pancakes | Snooze A.M. Eatery
I’ve got nothing personal against IHOP, but if you’re going out for pancakes before 2 p.m., your one and only choice for proper pancakes should be Snooze. Indulge in their winter special, Nana’s Hot Cocoa Pancake, featuring their famous hotcakes loaded with white chocolate chips, topped with Mexican hot chocolate, a homemade marshmallow and toasted walnuts. Make your cheat day extra drool-worthy by pairing with two additional pancakes for Snooze’s signature Pancake Flight! Two locations in Austin.
Waffles | Wild Chix & Waffles
Let’s not pretend chicken and waffles isn’t one of the country’s most cherished brunch or anytime cheat dishes ever created. Locally owned Wild Chix & Waffles, is pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted in a waffle restaurant. They serve scratch-made savory and sweet waffles, including their signature all natural chicken and waffles using never frozen, all natural chicken from East Poultry. You’ll find sweet waffle selections including a waffle with sliced bananas, Nutella and freshly made whipped cream. They also offer a waffle burger and bacon, egg and cheese waffle, as well as a small selection of beer and wine, and premium coffee and tea. 7714 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX.
Fried Chicken | Tumble 22 Hot Chicken
Exceptionally good fried chicken is not easy to find in Austin, especially if you’re looking for Hot Chicken. Tennessee’s favorite food has quickly become the country’s favorite way to eat fried chicken and chef Harold Marmulstein is successfully delivering on his own Austin-style version of the classic Nashville hot chicken better than anyone else in town. Tumble 22’s chicken is all-natural, sourced in Texas and contains no additives. It’s crispy, juicy and coated in chef Harold’s special secret blend of seasonings then dipped in a choice of four chef-made sauces: Wimpy, Hot, Dang Hot and Fire in the Hole. 600 W 6th St, Austin, TX
Chicken Fried Steak | Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile Austin, TX
Austin has a dozen excellent chicken fried steak contenders, but for my money I’ve got to go with Jacoby’s. Made from the same recipe used at their family ranch in South Texas, their chicken fried steak is the most ideal Southern comfort with all of the savory, melt-in-your-mouth taste that every food lover craves. It’s topped with their signature black pepper white gravy and usually comes with a side of mashed potatoes which could be an entire additional meal itself. Order a slice of strawberry cake for dessert and passout when you get home, you can thank me later. 3235 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX
Tex Mex | Enchiladas Y Mas
Anytime you hear anyone say “a hole-in-the-wall has the best Tex-mex”, they’re usually right! Enchiladas Y Mas lives up to that urban legend with their incredibly huge portions of enchiladas. Every order of beef, cheese and chicken enchiladas arrives in a beautiful pool of their house sauce, topped with mounds of melted cheese. The large portions will easily destroy any diet you’re pretending to be on, so you may want to bring a friend to split the fare. Don’t you dare leave without ordering their signature margaritas. 1911 W Anderson Ln, Austin, TX.
Full disclosure, I’m 100% biased toward Parlor and Yard because I’m in love with the food at Hot Mess, located inside of the popular 6th street bar. Hot Mess is lead by Kyle Burns who’s sole purpose is to slay your hunger with kick-ass food porn like burgers, tacos and mac and cheese. Don’t expect pretty little dishes served on expensive plateware, as it’s not meant to impress the James Beard award judges or snobby foodies like me. You’ll get delicious, chef driven bar food served at a fair price in one of the comfortable spaces on W. 6th. Add a couple of beers or cocktails from the bar and you’ll leave very full and happy until you hit the gym the next day. 601 W 6th St, Austin, TX