Quaint, unique, warm, charming, delicious, welcoming, inspired--these are just a few of the words I would use to describe Elizabeth St. Cafe, a French Vietnamese restaurant and Boulangerie located off of 1st street in South Austin. The little corner building can be easily missed by the casual observer, but once found, you'll never forget it.
As customers step inside the whimsical pink and teal front door, the smell of hot coffee and freshly baked pastries awaken the senses and instantly brings a sense of belonging and warm welcome. The cheerful staff are always friendly knowledgeable, dressed in an array of colorful floral dresses that lend to the lighthearted atmosphere. Despite limited indoor seating, there is never a lack of patrons happy to rub shoulders with one another at the bar or entryway while waiting in eager anticipation of the delicacies to come.
Elizabeth St. serves a variety of inspired Vietnamese noodles, ramen bowls and Banh Mi sandwiches. The cozy bar serves a surprisingly diverse selection of beer, wine, coffee and teas. The dish below is the Roasted Mushroom and Grilled Tofu Vegan Nuoe Cham Rice Vermicelli bowl. Heavenly.
Although their lunch is absolutely delicious and well worth a visit (or five), my favorite of their offerings is the breakfast/brunch selection, mainly the pastries. Oh the pastries! Their croissants are unlike anything I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The Everything and Cream Cheese croissant is to die for--flaky layers of perfectly rolled croissant dough, warm cream cheese filling the center, garlic and poppy seeds sprinkled on top--what more could a gal ask for? There is also a fantastic savory Niman Ranch Ham and Gruyere Cheese croissant that is absolute perfection (right) and yesterday we tried the Almond croissant (not pictured) whose "wow" factor I severely underestimated.
Other breakfast options include three varieties of Asian-inspired omelets like this Ginger Pork Sausage Breakfast Banh Mi (left) and these Nutella and Banana French Stuffed Crepes with Hazelnuts (right). Word to the wise, the crepes are more of a dessert than breakfast. The crepe is incredibly light and cooked to golden perfection, the cream is fluffy and sweet, the Nutella...well, no explanation needed.
Not only is the atmosphere inside inviting and cheery, but their outdoor patio somehow manages to feel warm and secluded despite its location on a busy and drab main street in South Austin. The colorful blue seating and vine trellises make this busy location feel like a small Parisian garden.
Although the main course often leaves me feeling quite full and completely satisfied, the strategic placement of the pastry case gets me every time. I never seem to leave without perusing and purchasing one or more of the colorful French pastries. From cream puffs to macaroons to this fantastic Canele below (crispy glazed outside, custard-y goodness inside), there is really no wrong choice. The only wrong choice, in my opinion, is choosing to forego a treat altogether.
I really cannot compliment this South Austin gem enough. It has, hands down, become my favorite Austin find. To those living in the Austin area (or just here for a visit), Elizabeth St. Cafe is an absolute must.
With Love, From Austin