Writing by Natalie Paramore
Photography by Natalie Paramore and Chris Perez
Austin is known for its unique ways to cool down in the sticky, hot summers–from Barton Springs to paddleboarding on Lady Bird Lake. But there is no better way to beat the heat than with a few heaping scoops of ice cream. We wanted to know: Who is taking this al fresco treat to the next level?
The sizzling restaurant scene is ripe with robust, seasonal flavors and we are diving into some unique homespun creations from the most talented pastry chefs in Austin. Each chef has their own inspirations behind their creative spin on this classic indulgence.
The Eastside of Austin is a bustling hotbed of restaurants and watering holes where casual remains king. Amongst the hipster vibe lies laV, a stately queen of class, that whisks patrons to the fields of Provence with a carefully curated wine list and an impeccably designed restaurant. LaV is a dining destination defined by its elegance, from the intricate glass tear drop lighting to it’s peaceful garden patio where guests enjoy a finer meal beneath a trellis.
Behind the bar lies the kitchen, where Pastry Chef Janina O’Leary creates her masterpieces.
The James Beard Semi-Finalist is responsible for desserts like Snickers macarons, brioche doughnuts and an array of house-made ice creams. Growing up, O’Leary’s favorite ice cream was creamsicle. Her love of sweet and tart still plays into her dishes today. It is her dedication to perfect consistency and balance of flavors that keep diners coming back bite after bite. Unafraid to push the envelope, she is crafting house-spun ice creams like blue cheese with port figs and foie gras with champagne to grace the dessert menu at laV this summer.
Did you know?
LaV uses buttermilk to make both the ice cream and butter in-house.
The W Hotel Austin is a pillar of chic, modern style that will find any excuse to have fun–from the pool deck to the restaurant to the dark, sultry corners of the Living Room bar that invite playful after-hour soirees. Housed around the corner from it is TRACE, an equally as wanton space that also happens to pump out some of the most swanky New American dishes in town.
Pastry Chef Angel Begaye grew up eating rainbow sherbet, now she channels her love of ice cream into sweet and tart creations at TRACE. Her flavor profiles are inspired by achieving perfect textures — the silky smooth praline ice cream topped with the crispy crunch of malted chocolate is an excellent an example. The seasonal sorbets, like the raspberry and mango, are all house-made with a delicate balance of velvety tartness. Not a detail overlooked, the ever dog-friendly establishment even created an ice cream for the pooches made up of peanut butter, bananas and yogurt.
Did you know?
Dogs get brainfreezes, too. Eager to devour anything in one bite, the dogs on the patio often get a rude awakening when the icy treat kicks in.
Funfetti Tres Leches
Unwed to any particular genre, Swift’s Attic is truly a chef’s playground. The three year old establishment sits atop a jazz bar in a semi-revitalized shotgun style room with exposed brick. The kitchen is known for their uninhibited take on small plates which include the likes of squid fries, poprock edamame and pork cheeks. Boisterous and lusty, the playlist, the vibe and the menu are just asking for a party. Inspired by throwback desserts, Callie Speer is the creator of Swift’s Attic famous Popcorn & A Movie dessert, which includes elements of housemade candy bars, caramel corn and even a root beer gel. More recently, Speer has been taking over the kitchen at Delish Bakery where she incorporates her love for childhood favorites into Fruity Pebble Buttercream Cupcakes and Captain Crunch Macarons. It’s hard to believe, but this pastry chef doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. You’ll find savory elements in most of her creations, including the Funfetti Tres Leches at Swift’s Attic this season.
Rhubarb Blondies with Ginger Ice Cream
Sesame Lavendar Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwich
Walking into Odd Duck is like walking into your best friend’s mother’s kitchen, if that mother also happens to be a James Beard Finalist. Floor to ceiling windows are draped on the outside with lush vines and inside, the horseshoe-shaped space wraps around the open kitchen. A hodge podge of second hand chairs and wooden tables give a vibe that feels more like an open-concept living room and kitchen than a restaurant.
Blossoming lemon verbena, honeysuckle and jasmine are the scents of the seasons that are inspiring Pastry Chef Susana Querejazu. Whatever is blooming around town is what usually catches her eye and somehow makes it way onto desserts plates at Odd Duck. Susana has an appreciation for savory elements in desserts when it’s right. One of Susana’s favorite ice creams as a kid was pineapple sherbet with lots of tart, fruity chunks. Sesame lavender strawberry ice cream sandwiches and rhubarb blondies with ginger ice cream are the tastes of the season at Odd Duck right now.
Did you know?
Susana’s favorite ice cream flavor creation is her coconut rum raisin.
Warm Pecan Pie wth Caramel Sauce and Brown Butter Ice Cream
Peche is a timeless haunt tucked into 4th Street’s vibrant nightlife scene. Upon entering the dimly lit corridor, it’s hard to decipher whether or not one has walked into a time machine back to the roaring 20’s. A long bar sits to one side of the restaurant and behind it are shelves filled to the ceiling with absinthe. The prohibition era cocktails are what initially brought attention to Peche, but the food is what has made it a mainstay.
It’s the farm fresh eggs that make guests melt for the brown butter ice cream from Yolanda Diaz. She whips brown sugar and eggs, then slowly incorporates browned butter while its still. The method may be a little unconventional, but the result is a creamy, rich perfection. Yolanda likes working with sweet vegetables like beet and fennel, so some of those flavors will make their way to her menu. She is working on some duck fat cookies that will make heads spin.
Lenior house-made Chai Tea Ice Cream
Malted Date Ice Cream
An unassuming cottage on S. 1st street is what houses Lenoir, the award-winning, go-for-a-special-occasion culinary destination. White wood slats nailed criss-crossed on the front of the teal building lead into a cozy room adorned with geometric brass light cages and breezy curtains. Lenoir is the passion project of a chef couple looking to make the best dishes using ingredients that are native to hot climates, like Austin.
Playing around with seasonal ingredients is one of Thomas Calhoun’s favorite parts about the job at Lenoir. He gets creative and mixes flavors to see what goes well together. As a kid, Thomas loved coffee ice cream and still loves sweets. He liked the contrast of savory in a sweet dish, which comes through on the dessert plates at Lenoir. He makes his own chai for the ice cream and his number one tip is don’t forget the tea steep in the ice cream!
Did you know?
Thomas’s malted date ice cream is inspired by California Malted Date Shakes (we didn’t even know that was a thing).
Part butcher shop, part restaurant, Dai Due is the newest old favorite restaurant to open in Austin. Born a farmers’ market stand, it turned into a supper club, and now Dai Due creates a hyper-local menu everyday of whatever is available to them that day. The meat hangs in the airy kitchen where diners can feel as close to the cooks as they can to land where their dinner is from.
Everything at Dai Due supports local foodways, so each day is a bit of a puzzle for Pastry Chef Abby Love. She once received a Yelp review that read, “Vegetables are not dessert,” it was meant as an insult, but Abby now uses it as a daily inspirational mantra as she combs the walk-in figuring out what to make that day. Growing up Abby would eat chocolate on chocolate dipped in chocolate with a little chocolate on the side. These days she’s using non-traditional ingredients like mesquite, locally foraged loquats and mulberries to make her desserts. She loves sweets and never misses dessert. That love shines through in the desserts at Dai Due.
Need more reasons to cool off?
Try some of these great local ice cream shops
Vegan and gluten free options
4500 Duval Street, inside Juiceland
Espresso gelato & bella vita
1206 W. 38th St.
Famous frozen custard
603 Bartin Springs Rd.
Gelato from Boston to Texas
1009 East 6th Street
Frozen custard food-truck style
Central Market, North Lamar
Amy’s Ice Cream
The Mexican vanilla is a must have.
South Austin, Central Austin, East Austin, North Austin
Try flavors like olive oil & chocolate sheet cake
2032 S. Lamar Blvd.
Cow Tipping Creamery
Classics with crazy toppings
2512 Rio Grande St.
Texas inspired gelati all the way from Italy
1735 S. 1st St.
Natalie Paramore is a freelance writer, food blogger and photographer, she also works as a PR and Social Media director for a local hospitality group.
Her writing and photography has been featured on The Today Show Food, Good Day Austin, Culturemap, Zagat and more. Natalie is a burger fanatic and will put an egg on just about anything.
When she’s not writing or snapping instagrams of everything delicious, you can find her blogging about restaurants, travel and recipes.
New to Citygram Austin magazine?
Click to download a free issue today and see why we’re the #1 City Guide app in Austin!
Our mobile issues are designed specifically for your smartphone or tablet and are loaded with interactive features that connect you to the best of local Austin.