Eating My Way Through Austin with VERTS

Hi, guys! I had SUCH an amazing time in Austin last week. What an awesome city. I already want to go back!

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I had the opportunity to visit (and eat my way through) Austin, thanks to VERTS Mediterranean Grill. VERTS? Never heard of it? It was new to me too, and it’s because VERTS is an Austin-based fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant. They serve healthy, customizable pitas, salads, and bowls, and all of their food is made from scratch daily using fresh, all-natural ingredients– everything from sauces and toppings to meats and falafel.

 

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In 2011, just days after graduating college, co-founders Michael Heyne and Dominik Stein launched VERTS with the simple idea of recreating the popular food they missed from their native Europe and making it available for American consumers. Since then, VERTS has grown to 33 locations across Texas with a goal of expanding to 200 restaurants by 2020 in cities including Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

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Ok, so I bet you’re wondering why I went all the way to Austin to experience VERTS firsthand. Well, VERTS is debuting in Boston THIS FRIDAY, November 4th. That’s right, a new location will open its doors at 95 Summer Street in downtown Boston.

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***In celebration of the Boston opening, VERTS will offer guests one free, full-size entrée from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The first 200 guests to arrive to the Summer Street restaurant will also receive complimentary swag bags including VERTS t-shirts, recipes, coupons, and more. Guests who opt to purchase additional sides, drinks or entrées on opening day will benefit a worthy Boston cause. As part of its commitment to serving the surrounding community, VERTS will donate 100 percent of sales on Friday, November 4th to a local non-profit.

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Ok, recap time! And you’re probably not surprised that my trip to Austin kicked off with a visit to the very first VERTS location, right off-campus at the University of Texas.

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The interior was pretty standard of your usual fast-casual restaurant, but I assure you the quality of food and variety of ingredients at VERTS is what really sets it apart.

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In 2015, the original location received a facelift, but its original space is commemorated on the floor.

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This location also includes a test-kitchen to support the ever-changing, seasonal menu.

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After meeting some of the VERTS team, it was time to dig in and, boy, they had quite the tasting for us. Holy cow, there was so much food, and I was so impressed with the quality, freshness, and flavors of everything I tried. My top favorites:

  • Braised Pork Rice Bowl with fried Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, pickled red onions, spicy cilantro sauce, aleppo pepper, and lemon <— totally obsessed
  • Falafel & Quinoa Tabbouleh Bowl with pickled red onions, herbs, pita, hummus, and lemon <– EASILY the best falafel I’ve ever had!
  • Spicy Chicken Pita with grilled vegetables, pickled jalapenos, romaine lettuce, hot harissa sauce, and spicy red pepper sauce

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After lunch, we headed out for some kayaking on the river. Pictured below: Georgina from A Noted Life and Talia, our PR host from Boston.

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It was so nice enjoying the sights, scenery, and SUNSHINE. It was definitely tough going back to Boston’s chilly temps.

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After our kayaking adventures, we went back to our hotel rooms, freshened up, and then headed out again for dinner at Emmer & Rye with some of the VERTS team.

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Emmer & Rye is a seasonally-inspired, farm-to-table restaurant that serves American cuisine in a Dim Sum style, and, not surprisingly, our meal was absolutely incredible. It was so fun trying all of the different dishes!

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After a seriously unforgettable meal, we had the opportunity to meet, Chef Kevin Fink, who was recently named Best New Chef by Food & Wine. So cool!

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Day 2 started with breakfast tacos at Torchy’s.

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I immediately fell in love with them and vowed to eat breakfast tacos more often. Yummmmm!

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Yep, they were “damn good tacos,” no doubt.

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After breakfast, we visited the VERTS offices to meet the rest of the team and chat with Dominik via conference call.

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One of the office walls was covered with photos of each of the VERTS locations.

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And at the end was a bunch of empty frames for new locations coming soon. Very exciting!

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After that, it was time for lunch at la Barbecue, which is a top pick for barbecue in Austin.

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The place was hopping at lunchtime with lengthy lines, but we planned ahead, so we had a SPREAD of delicious eats in no time at all.

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I feel like we ordered one of everything from the menu– beef rib, brisket, sausage, beans, potato salad, coleslaw… and, guys, it was so friggin’ good.

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I honestly don’t think I’ll ever forget this dining experience for as long as I live!

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Before I knew it, I was saying goodbye to Austin and getting on a plane back to Boston. Austin is a place that I’ve always wanted to visit, and it totally surpassed my expectations, especially in the food department. I definitely ate well in the 48 hours that I spent there! 🙂

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A big THANK YOU to VERTS for inviting me to Austin. I can’t wait to check out the first Boston location and enjoy that incredible Braised Pork Rice Bowl once again!

Questions of the Day

Have you ever visited Austin? Where’d you eat? 

20 Comments

  1. Torchys! So good…I visited Austin one month ago and also ate my way through the city (how can you not?!)
    I thoroughly enjoyed the city for it’s sights, climate, craft brews and the hugest Whole Foods I have ever seen, I was in heaven.

  2. Yay for Austin! I’m bummed I couldn’t come find you, but y’all were busy! I don’t eat a ton of fast casual, but we love Verts. And I finally just tried Emmer and Rye for my 5 year anniversary last week – good choice! Glad you enjoyed ATX and hope you’ll be back soon.

  3. Love Austin! My brother had his Rehearsal Dinner at the Boathouse and we watched the bats fly off as the sun went down…a very unique Austin experience!

  4. This was so fun to read!! You were in my neighborhood all last week and I had no idea! So glad you enjoyed the city I call home and love so much 🙂

  5. you made me a little homesick because i lived there for almost 30 years
    The food is only getting better. Take that cut family with you next time

  6. My best friend lives in Austin and I go every year for SXSW – finding meals there is always a fun adventure. I haven’t had a bad meal in that city yet. Salt Lick is my fave…

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