This guest post is by Steve Duffy.
Best Places to Drink Beer and Eat Pizza in Austin
Much like the horse and carriage, the Captain and Tenille, and Will and Grace, our beloved elixir (that’s beer) goes together with pizza like no other. Legend has it that beer got its start when people steeped leftover bread in water. You had the grain, the yeast, add the water, throw in some herbs for flavor and BAM!, you have beer – or so the Comic Book Story of Beer tells me.
As both pizza and beer hail from the same great tradition, it only makes sense that the two pair so well together. And our hometown is not lacking in places to get the great pizza and places to get great beer. While my favorite style is the NY slice and the finest purveyor of that, imho, is Homeslice, they are not on this list because their beer selection is adequate, at best. And so, it is the A&B intersection of the good pizza/beer selection Venn diagram that we’ll explore today.
Pinthouse Pizza, aka PHP
From the Northside to the Southside and soon-to-open Round Rock location, you never need worry about finding a place to enjoy excellent pizza with a vast range of beers in a building with a nautical theme. I prefer Pinthouse South Lamar, as it’s only a half mile from my house, but both offer up a selection of house-made beers with a large amount of guest taps as well. As of this writing, PHP South has 22 house taps and 15 guest taps, along with three ciders, four wines, and cold brew coffee, with similar results at PHP North except for the wines (see their live tap feed at http://pinthousepizza.com/lamar/beer/live-tap-feed.
PHP is known for having the best juicy/hazy IPAs in Austin and usually has multiple on tap. They don’t skimp on other styles either, serving up pilsners, Kolsches, sours, stouts, porters, saisons, and whatever else they can think of. Throw in a few awards, 27 that is, from the likes of the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Fest, and Austin “Best ofs” and you know you can rely on the experience of their brewers and quality of their beers.
But wait there’s more! The other side of the house kicks out some superlative quality food as well, bringing the craft mentality into the kitchen with handmade and locally sourced ingredients. Their pizzas are all excellent, with a crust that is doughy on the inside and crispy on the outside without being quite as crispy or thin as a NY crust. You can choose from five classic pies that work for everyone or five specialty pies that step it up a notch like the Banh Mi or the Shroomin’ Goat. You can also build your own or request one of their now off-menu specialties like my favorite, the Greenbelt.
For appetizers you can get the classic breadsticks or go rogue with a pretzel, chips and queso, or some nachos. They offer five variations of salad and even have vegan cheese and gluten-free dough for those who desire it. I really like their lunch special which is a pizza roll, full salad and a drink for $11 (get $1.25 off an upgrade to a beer). You get the fine taste of their pizza with a superb salad and don’t fall asleep later at the office.
You can find Pinthouse Pizza on South Lamar, Burnet Rd, and in Round Rock (coming soon).
The Austin Beer Garden and Brewery, aka the ABGB
Just south of downtown on Oltorf Rd. lies an old industrial building brought back to life in the form of, what the Great American Beer Fest ranked the Brewpub of the Year – three years in a row, the best little brewpub in Texas. The ABGB has it all, a low-key industrial interior with huge communal tables, a live music stage, outdoor seating for hundreds with an outside bar, and plenty of pizza and beer to go around.
The ABGB’s beer program slants toward German styles, with six regular beers on tap, three of which are lagers, and a rotating selection currently at four beers. They are best known for their multi-award winning lagers: Rocket 100 pre-prohibition pilsner, Industry Pils, and Hell-Yes Helles lager but they don’t stop there. They run the gamut of styles here with a pale, an IPA, and a red always on tap and a slew of “sometimes” beers like sours, IPAs, browns, saisons and stouts. The pilsners are perfect for those who like their beers lighter and are also the best thing to have on a hot Texas summer day. My wife’s favorite is the easy-drinking Big Momma Red but be careful because at 7.9%, she packs a wallop.
The pizza here leans toward the NY style, with a thin crust under the sauce and puffy crusts on the end, if not quite as crispy. They carry eight standard pies from cheese, to white clam, to Wagyu beef along with four specialty pies that change up relatively often. It’s the specialty pies that steal the show here with some inventive combinations of toppings like a combo of strawberries, broccoli, and blue cheese with other items. Whatever you get, it’s always good though I’ve had some not-quite-done pies here during busy times – but that’s what SXSW does to a place. Be forewarned, if you’re picky you’ll end up with a cheese pizza because you can’t build your own pizza here, you get what you get. You can, however, remove toppings from the specialty pies which gives you some leeway (I also have to add that ABGB’s other food offerings – soups/salads/sandwiches – are all exceptional as well).
You can find the ABGB at 1305 W Oltorf St.
Ah Detroit, who knew you had your own style of pizza? I didn’t until these fine folks opened their first trailer back in 2011. Via 313 can be found in many locations, Campus, the Eastside, Oak Hill, and two locations where their original trailers currently stand. I have only been to two locations and each offers something special; I assume the others are just as good.
While they don’t brew their own beer, the trailer on Rainey St. is located at just about the finest institution for Texas craft beer you can find, Craft Pride. Craft Pride serves all Texas taps from an old house on the south end of Rainey Street, with a cozy interior and a large back yard, where the Via 313 trailer is located. Their taplist currently has 52 entries and is organized by broad type like “On the Lighter Side” for lagers, “Malty” for browns/blacks/reds/ambers and “Hoppy” for IPAs and pales. They also have the other regulars like sours, wheats, stouts along with a couple casks.
In their southwest location at Ben White and William Cannon, Via 313 has a smaller but well curated taplist holding a list of regulars like Lone Pint’s Yellow Rose and PHP’s Electric Jellyfish. They also have a set of 4-6 rotating taps where they bring in local, Texas, and other brewery offerings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a current list online but a review of Untappd for this location shows some standards like 512 Pecan Porter and Thirsty Goad Amber, along with brews from Suds Monkey, Hi Sign, Zilker, Estrella Damm, and Rahr & Sons.
And how about that pizza? Detroit style takes a thick rectangle of Sicilian thick-crust pizza dough and piles on the toppings first, meat, veggies, and cheese, and then ladles the sauce on top of all of it allowing the sauce to bubble down to the dough. It’s a great affect that makes for a chewy center mass with shallow, crisp outer crusts with square pieces. They also offer a bar-style pizza with a thin crust for those afraid to have all their carbs for a week in one pizza.
For toppings, they make available some of the classics like the Herbivore, Carnivore, and Omnivore and then have some Detroit-themed toppings like Ambassador Bridge and the Cadillac which has Gorgonzola, fig preserves, Prosciutto, Parmesan, and a balsamic glaze and is absolutely to die for. The thin crusts are named after musicians like the MC5 with five cheeses, and the Temptation(s) with bacon, sausage, and pepperoni. At the trailers you can only get pizza but in the brick-and-mortar locations you can find a selection of five salads, of which the beet is my favorite, and four appetizers like roasted artichokes and meatballs. The service is quick and the staff is friendly and at the southwest location they have large tables for bigger groups; we usually go with two families of four.
You can find Via 313 at five locations: Oak Hill, Campus, East 6th, Buford’s Backyard, Craft Pride.
Probably the most well-known brewery in Austin on the national level, and certainly one of my favorite places to take a pint and relax outside on the property of a former farm of 58+ acres, Jester King offers a slew of fine beers and delicious pizzas. They were the pioneers of farmhouse and sour style beers in Austin, leading the trend as early adopters and championing mixed culture and spontaneous fermentation whenever and wherever they can.
Jester King’s beers never disappoint. From their deep fruited seasonal sours like the apricot Aurelian Lure to their lighter (not sour) farmhouse ales like the 2.9% ABV Le Petit Prince, everyone should be able to find the perfect beer to fit their palette. What’s more, if their beer isn’t quite your thing, they have beers from other breweries like St. Elmo’s, De La Senne, and Deschutes on tap to choose from. With three bars and 49 taps you won’t likely find a line and currently they have 16 of their own beers and eight from other brewers on tap. Add to that a few ciders and ten taps of wine and you’ve got something for everyone.
The pizza game has changed slightly in the last year here. Previously, Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza ran the adjacent pizza barn but Jester King purchased Stanley’s and the property it sits on last year (2018) and took over the kitchen. They make gorgeous wood-fired pizzas with a thick, chewy outer crust that gets a lot of char bubbles (love the char bubbles) and has a thin crust under the toppings. Pizzas are only 12″ here, and come in eight different varieties though you can add eight additional toppings like nduja, picadillo, and Calabrian chilies, as well as other classics. Get the Classico cheese and add toppings or step out of bounds with the Terlingua which has charred tomato, picadillo, queso fresco, creme fraiche, and cilantro or spice it up with the Calabrese sporting red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, mozzarella, caramelized onions, Calabrian chilies.
The menu also has the eight other items like pretzels and grilled veggies and a green salad as well as four deserts. They source their ingredients locally, even from their own farm so you know it’s fresh. At Jester King you’ll always get high quality food and drink which you can enjoy while taking an evening stroll through the grounds.
You can find Jester King at 13187 Fitzhugh Rd.
East Side Pies – aka ESP
Okay, this one is a bit of a stretch because they don’t actually sell beer. They do, however, allow and encourage BYOB and their Anderson Ln. location is situated about as close to one of the best bottle shops as legally allowed by the zoning commission; Sunrise Minimart. You can park at ESP and make the ~75 foot walk over to Sunrise and choose from an amazing selection beers, both in quantity and quality. With a large amount of singles, bombers, and six packs to choose from, and often being able to find beers on the rarer side of distribution, you will have no problem finding just the right beer to hit that pizza/beer nirvana.
With beer selection secured, head back over to the small stand-alone building that houses East Side Pies, which is on every “Best of” list in Austin. They have a display up front that houses their pizza-by-the-slice, and a few tables to sit at to eat in-house. They make a NY style pizza with a thin crunchy crust under the sauce and a crunchy outer crust with that nice doughy inside. Their menu is broken out into six different sauces, from classic red to ricotta, black bean, olive oil, and even chimichurri. Unlike many places around town, the ESP large is a whopping 18″, with a 14″ medium (a large most places) and a 10″ small. Nothing beats folding a large slice and chowing down.
As for toppings, they have 39 standard pies to choose from named after just about every pop reference possible. You can get a Chimi Hendrix with jerk chicken, roasted red bell peppers, and gorgonzola, a Moontower Pie with ricotta sauce, feta, goat cheese, and fresh mozzarella, or a Homer, a Buscemi, a Royal Blue, the Old 97s and a Xanadu, among many others. If the selection of pre-built pizzas gives you analysis paralysis, you can also build your own pie with a choice of 24 “artisan” toppings and another 20 classic toppings. ESP also has the classic sides like garlic knots, pepperoni rolls and cheese bread, they have three salads on offer and a handful of delicious desserts.
You can find East Side Pies in four locations: Rosewood Ave, Airport Blvd, Anderson Ln, and N. Hwy 183.
Steve Duffy has been on the hunt for great beer since 1992 when his brother returned from England with tales of flavorful beer and Michael Jackson’s Pocket Guide to Beer. He has traveled with Renaissance Festivals, lived in a hippie community, and currently is a manager of analytics. He lives in Sunset Valley with his wife and two kids and spends his little free time homebrewing, making sausage, and riding bikes.