Published on AustinExpat.com in February 2014.
Whenever I’m in the mood for something sweet (which, I must admit, is pretty often), I thank my lucky stars that this city has so much to choose from. Among Austin’s hidden gems are a plethora of different sweetshops for all tastebuds, and I’ve sampled well over the recommended daily amounts of most of them. From the tried and true Amy’s Ice Creams to the newer sugar sensation that is Royers Pie Haven, Austin’s pretty much got it all.
Any Austinite will tell you that Amy’s is the place to go when those late-night ice cream cravings start to creep in. Since 1984, this popular ice cream parlor has been known for using only the best ingredients (real cream and no artificial flavorings) to satisfy your sweet tooth. There’s also a ton of fun flavors (and toppings!), but I’m a sucker for their simple classics like Belgian Chocolate and Mexican Vanilla. My favorite combination thus far, though, was Coffee with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Mmm mmm, good! If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, however, I’d suggest opting for a scoop of their Avocado-flavored ice cream. Don’t let the name fool you… it’s far from healthy and surprisingly delicious!
But as much as I love Amy’s, Austin is home to a particular food truck that I’d recommend above all else to any dessert fiend, and it’s Gourdough’s Specialty Doughnuts. Before you ask what’s so “special” about doughnuts, let me just say that these are not the same doughnuts that your parents would pick up for breakfast after church every Sunday morning. Weighing in at probably a pound each, these delicious fried pieces of bread are smothered in toppings ranging from cream cheese icing and fresh cut strawberries (Miss Shortcake) to fried chicken strips and honey butter (Mother Clucker). If you’re a chocolate-lover like me, I’d highly recommend the Black Out. That’s what my boyfriend ordered when I took him to Gourdough’s on our second date, and — no surprise here — we’re still together six months later. Not a coincidence, ladies. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, no? So treat your man (and yourself!) to the world’s best doughnuts. (But be prepared to wait in line. These things are in high demand.)
While I tend to reserve Amy’s and Gourdough’s for special occasions, Hyde Park’s Dolce Vita takes the cake for being my most frequented. This hip gelato/espresso bar was one of my regular study spots when I was in college, and it remains a favorite go-to for catching up with friends. Not only are they rich in a variety of both alcoholic and coffee drinks, but they’ve even created their one-of-a-kind Sorberita: a mix between sorbet and a margarita. You can go as simple as the traditional strawberry lime (made with strawberry sorbet, fresh lime juice, and House Tequila) or channel your inner dessert daredevil and try the Dolce Vita Sorberita, complete with chocolate sorbet, vanilla gelato, Khalua, Bailey’s, and vodka. And don’t forget to pair it with their decadent Chocolate Italian Cream Cake. Talk about a sugar high waiting to happen.
If you’re more of pie or cobbler person, Royers Pie Haven on Guadalupe might just do the trick. I visited this one for the first time with two girlfriends in January. This place, I kid you not, is magical. The walls are so bright and cheery that I kind of felt like I was stepping into a Valentine’s Day Card upon entering. After a long inner debate, I finally decided on Bob Pastorio’s Cherry Pie topped with vanilla ice cream (because you can’t eat pie without ice cream) and a regular coffee. My friends both ordered Not My Mom’s Apple Pie like the good American gals they are, and we all gobbled up our slices in less than five minutes. Needless to say, we’ll be going back soon. (I’m dying to try their famous Sweet ‘N Salty Pie next!)
With all that Austin has to offer dessert-wise, it’s a wonder we’re not constantly walking around in sugar comas. But I can’t complain. After all, dessert is the most important meal of the day.