Two opinions are better than one.
In GREAT PLATES we also offer two stories for you to enjoy. Get the gluten / dairy-free perspective from Jess, get the non-dietary restriction perspective from Chris. Read one article, or read them both, either way you’ll get a better feel for the atmosphere and food before you make a reservation or walk through the restaurant’s doors.
Contigo, an Austin eatery with a perfectly casual ranch concept and the friendliest atmosphere in town, will make you feel right at home.
It’s the ideal place to kick your heels up and enjoy great food while enjoying the (mostly) perfect Austin weather outdoors. I’ve visited Contigo many times with groups both big and small. The I order up Contigo’s house pickles as soon as I sit downbest partner I most regularly take with me to Contigo is Griffin, my 6 year old cocker spaniel. Suffice to say, the furry friend loves the dog-friendly joint as much as I do. Any company, at any amount, will all be pleased with the Contigo experience.
As a gal with Celiac disease (which prohibits any gluten in my diet), I order up Contigo’s house pickles as soon as I sit down. They’re a rotating selection of local, seasonal veggies, and My go-to entree selection is their musselsthis time, I happily crunched on okra, green beans, daikon and (wait for it…) butternut squash! The butternut squash, while out of the ordinary, is my absolute favorite.
My go-to entree selection is their mussels. In a big bowl, they’re heaped high with perfectly steamed mussels, permeated with a creamy coconut milk yellow curry and garnished with mint.
The popcorn is another favorite order of mine and it always seems to disappear fast. This somewhat unconventional treat boasts some serious flavor. In this case, cayenne shacks up nicely with the sweet and salty cinnamon to make a quite an addicting kick.
I loved seeing a gluten-free/dairy-free dessert option and loved even more that it was of the chocolate variety. Contigo’s pastry chef has mastered the art of the Buckwheat Chocolate Cake. A housemade nutella adds a light hazelnut flavor and a sweet cranberry coulis is just the right touch. I ordered the (dairy-filled) ice cream on the side and very easily pawned it off to Chris. Caramel pecan frozen nougat ice cream? It clearly didn’t take much convincing.
Contigo is a dangerously likable place, especially with a glass in hand, preferably their tried and true bloody mary. So, cheers my friends! Hope to see you soon at Contigo Austin!
Contigo, for some reason, is one of the first restaurants that comes to mind when I’m trying to figure out where to go eat on a particular night.
Maybe it’s the laid-back and casual atmosphere of the open air setting. Maybe it’s the cozy comfortability of wood and leather the furniture handcrafted by Brian Chilton provides. Maybe it’s the soft glow of yellow string lights you sit beneath. Maybe it’s the fact that you just might run into a good friend passing through. Maybe it’s all those things. But then again, maybe it’s just the food.
At Contigo, you’re in good hands with co-owner Ben Edgerton and chef/co-owner Andrew Wiseheart. Friends since childhood, Ben and Andrew treat everyone who steps foot into Contigo with the mutual respect they hold toward each another. I’ve never seen them without a smile on their face or a twinkle in their eye. They love what they do, they feel a passion and responsibility to do They love what they do, they feel a passion and responsibility to do things right, and it comes through in every plate of food you order.things right, and it comes through in every plate of food you order.
Contigo’s menu changes daily; they let nature and the season’s crop dictate what goes on or off of it. But there are a few staples I always gravitate toward.
Right when you sit down, order up a side of crispy green beans and a bright refeshing cocktail like the Nor’easter – which gets its bite from fresh ginger, and its edge from bourbon and all-spice dram. Look over the rest of the menu as the salty, flaky tempura of the green beans melts in your mouth. You’re going to get addicted to these, but don’t eat them all too quickly. There are more tastes and flavors to explore.
if you get one thing at Contigo, make sure you go on Saturday and order up the PorchettaAnother great snack to order is the Pork Cheek – served as delicate, tender slices you’ll want to scoop up with the puffed rice chip they’re served with.
When it comes to entrees, you may enjoy the Dewberry Hills Chicken, a perfectly cooked and beautiful plate of poultry that is complemented with salt-roasted fingerling potatoes and a luscious bordelaise. But, if you get one thing at Contigo, make sure you go on Saturday and order up the Porchetta. It’s the type of thing that even excites chef Wiseheart — he invited us into the kitchen to marvel at what just finished roasting.
The Porchetta is a large center-cut pork loin wrapped in crispy skin-on pork belly and seasoned with fennel, oregano, and other spices. It’s beautiful and represents what Contigo is all about — creative takes on locally-sourced ranch-fare that glows from the care and time taken to prepare it.
At Contigo even dessert, like the gluten and dairy-free buckwheat chocolate cake, is memorable. Savor each bite. Hang out long enough for the day to turn to dusk — and to watch the string lights twinkle under the moonlight.
Pretty soon you too will find yourself coming back to Contigo.
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Gluten-Free Dining Columnist
Jess Simpson is a passionate baker, cook and gluten-free eater.
As a lover of all that’s local, seasonal and full of flavor, she loves to create things in her own kitchen and sample all the gluten-free & dairy-free eats Austin has to offer.
She shares her photos and recipes on Forgiving Martha.
Photography: Aimee Wenske + Chris Perez