Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sandwiches! Sandwiches! Sandwiches!

Need a new lunch place? Food Heads has won several local awards in regards to sandwiches, and the Upper Crust Bakery has held the titles of similar honors in regards to bakeries.

We're talking some serious breads and sandwiches, people.

Let's start with Food Heads. First of all, it's quaint and settled in a renovated house, so you automatically have associations of good, homemade food. It's close enough to campus that it's often overrun by students, but it's worth waiting in line (although if you avoid peak times, it's not a bad wait).

The best sandwich, by far, is the grilled salami and fresh mozzarella on toasted sourdough, although other combinations of meats and cheeses on artisinal breads make for a pleasant experience no matter what you order. There's the mouth-watering garlic and herb roasted leg of lamb sandwich on ciabatta. There's also the grilled chicken and eggplant served with goat cheese on a toasted baggette.

In true Austin fashion, Food Heads has plenty of vegetarian options, like a grilled squash and fresh mozarella sandwich. It's so flavorful, you don't really miss the salami. And you can't go wrong with any of the salads or soups. Plus, the cafe offers a wide range of iced teas and fresh coffee all day. Did I mention it caters?

In the same vein of fresh ingredients and homemade bread, Upper Crust is a family-run European style bakery that offers delectable pastries and has a thorough lunch menu. You build your own sandwich, with choices of meats, salads, and veggies and then pick from their choice breads. Whole grain, croissants, sourdough and others all make for a good sandwich no matter what you decide.

The stand-out chicken salad, full of celery, green onions, grapes and pecans, has flavor and texture to spare. Try it on a fresh, airy crossaint with side of chips and salsa for a near-perfect lunch. Or opt for a homemade soup. My favorite is the cheese soup, a creamy blend of cheese, onions, garlic, and celery. It's made with half-and-half, so it's a little bit better for you than other cheese soups (but only a little...)

Upper Crust is renowned for its cinnamon rolls, which have a blend of cinnamon and sugar, noticeably without icing. This makes for a sweet treat that is not overwhelming but pleasant and filling and probably won't send you into a diabetic coma.

The basics:
Food Heads
Location: 616 W. 34th St., just past the intersection of 34th and Guadalupe
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Accepts: All major credit cards
Rating: 4 stars

The Upper Crust Bakery
Location: 4508 Burnet Dr., at the intersection of 45th and Burnet
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Accepts: All major credit cards
Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Bottom line: Bring on the bread!

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