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Paula Forbes is a food and restaurant writer based in Austin, Texas. She was the founding editor of Eater Austin, and is a regular contributor to GQ.



Paula Forbes, with photography by Robert Strickland

The Austin Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from Deep in the Heart of Texas

Harry N. Abrams

Hardcover, 978-1419728938, 240 pages, $29.99

March 20, 2018

Reviewed by Angelina LaRue



Good food and Austin are synonymous. We often think of little restaurants around Austin with brightly colored oil cloths covering the tables. Fajitas sizzling on a hot cast iron plate, or long lines outside popular barbecue joints and food trucks, are all part of the Austin experience, as well.


No matter what your Austin looks like, author Paula Forbes says she hopes it is found in the pages of The Austin Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from Deep in the Heart of Texas. Forbes lets us in on the recipes for some of the city’s most sought after cuisine.


When Forbes was just 22 she took off from Iowa to Austin in her Honda Civic. She had plans to stay in Austin for a year and take a waitressing job before heading off to grad school, but she never left.


Forbes tells a passionate tale reflecting the people, the various cultures, and the food that goes along with it that kept her there. From brisket, to chicken-fried steak, to breakfast tacos, she enables us to prepare the food that makes Austin what it is right in our own kitchens.


Stock up on items from Forbes’ Central Texas pantry list to prepare recipes like Jalapeno Dill Potato Salad the way Kerlin BBQ makes it. How about frying up a batch of Lucy’s Fried Chicken with hot sauce in the dipping batter? Or, maybe a Bakra Goat Burger like the ones made at Whip-In is what creates your own Austin experience.


Forbes takes readers along on her journey through the streets of Austin revealing Tex-Mex dishes like the famous Bob Armstong Dip served at Matt’s El Rancho. And there is no shortage of Gulf seafood, and steaks from cattle country. She shows us that Austin food is that, and so much more.


Books about regional food, full of local restaurant recipes are quite popular, but The Austin Cookbook ranks high on a short list of exceptional cookbooks on the subject of authentic Texas cuisine. The book is a thoughtful melting pot of cultures and local product, reflecting the talent, tradition, and innovation found in the kitchens of Austin’s eateries.


Robert Strickland has managed to make the recipes come to life in The Austin Cookbook with his colorful, vibrant photography depicting the full flavor of Austin.


This cookbook is one to keep handy, as you’ll want to have it no further than arm’s length so you can feel like you are right in the heart of Texas. Eat, drink, and live like Austin.


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Angelina LaRue of Idalou, Texas, is the author of The Whole Enchilada: Fresh and Nutritious Southwestern Cuisine and the writer of the weekly column “Food Made Fresh.”


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