The man: Andy Potter, cofounder of Austin Eats Food Tours, Austin’s original food tour.
The mission: Introduce you to quintessential Austin, one food coma at a time.
The commitment: “My wife and I started the business one year ago. As a side effect, I gained 30 pounds.”
Top 3 ways he’ll change your life:
- Explore your city the way God intended – with a hand-picked tour of six to eight local restaurants, a healthy dose of day drinking, and fellow citizens who appreciate a darn good meal. (Or eight.)
- Dazzle your friends with insider knowledge of the best eats in town.
- Great conditioning for next year’s Thanksgiving feast.
In sum: The world over, people celebrate around food and drink. And in Austin, whether we’re hovering over a bowl of queso or waiting hours in line for barbecue, we’re a city of food fanatics. So put on your stretch pants: It’s time to take your appetite to the streets.
Behind the scenes
It is 11:52 a.m. and I am surreptitiously unbuttoning the top button on my jeans.
Ahead of me, Andy Potter is waving our group into Woodland restaurant on South Congress. As I pony up to our reserved table, I tell myself there’s no shame in quitting.
To wit: We’ve already had coffee from Jo’s; morning buns from La Patisserie; Tamago Yoko (sort of a Japanese egg pizza) from Snack Bar; queso, tamales, and margaritas from Guero’s; and two bite-size burgers apiece (Texas yak meat!) with a milkshake kicker from Hopdoddy.
If I have to pass on this sample, I rationalize, there’s still pizza and beer waiting at Home Slice.
But then the manager brings out Woodland’s signature shrimp and grits, and I retract the thought. I’m no quitter.
A prescription from Doc’s
Potter and wife Lindsey were a couple kids from small-town Tennessee when they met in business school, fell in love, and got hitched. They moved to Austin six years ago for corporate jobs.
Then fate (and food) intruded, in the form of a birthday trip to Los Angeles. The couple went on a walking food tour of Santa Monica. When they came back, they looked around Austin and wondered why there wasn’t anything similar.
“Over a couple beers at Doc’s, I wrote on the back of a receipt: I’m going to start Austin eats Food Tours,” Potter says.
Austin Eats Food Tours went on its first tour in January 2011. A year later, it’s an Austin establishment. Our Sunday South Congress tour took place on a rare rainy day – usually enough to scare off the locals – but it was still packed with an enthusiastic mix of Austinites and out-of-towners. Everyone left smiling, if in need of sweatpants and a good nap.
Dinner, and a show
Austin won’t quit growing, and it’s hard to stay informed of the evolving culinary scene. Austin Eats Food Tours takes the guesswork out of it.
Soon, Potter will add an East Austin food tour to the roster. When that happens, the business will offer six different neighborhood tours, spanning 65 local restaurants. Plans are also being hatched for an-all vegetarian tour (although, let it be noted that the vegetarians on our tour were accommodated with special substitutions).
In the process, Potter is creating lasting partnerships with local restaurants. (He is also acquiring an impressive store of food-related Austin lore. Did you know that the owner of Way South Philly on East 6th will give you two sandwiches, two tots, two soft drinks, and a marriage certificate, all for $39.99?) The restaurateurs are eager to connect and tell their story. Bethany, the effervescent owner of Snack Bar, brought her husband out to meet our group. Guero’s manager distributed a print-out of famous patrons, and put on a tortilla-making demonstration.
Enjoys long walks and multi-course meals
By the end of our three-hour stint together, our group of 12 – from Austin, Idaho, Boston, and west Texas – had reached an easy level of conversation, mostly on the topic of food. We locals had all tried something new, and perhaps gained new insight on old standbys like Guero’s. The out-of-towners would return home bona fide savvy travelers, boasting about seven eclectic Austin restaurants.
The day was an all-out success. Well, almost.
“I’m still waiting for a couple to meet on one of our tours and get married,” Potter grins. “At some point, I may need to manufacture that.” Single birds, you read it here first.