A few months back, my petite French friend Agnès and I spent a day driving around Austin in search of the most authentic croissant. This important research gave us an opportunity to drink coffee, eat pastries, and chat all day long! We liked it so much, it’s no wonder that we decided to do another “research” project: this time for the best macarons in Austin.
I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is we couldn’t find authentic French macarons anywhere. Some were very close, but not quite the same. The good news is you can find a lot of delicious macarons in Austin that will make your day brighter.
Two Important Notes
- On our croissant crawl, we tried the same simple, unflavored croissant in every bakery. But it proved difficult to find the same flavor of macaron in all the cafes we visited in Austin. We aimed for traditional chocolate and pistachio flavors, but some locations only offered more creative flavors. Which is a good thing if you want to try something special, but not when you want to make a fair comparison.
- The interesting thing about all the cafes we visited: different flavors of macarons in the same cafe usually have different textures. So if you taste one and don’t like it, give other flavors a try. You might change your opinion.
Here’s What We Looked For in Macarons
Because our goal was to find an authentic macaron and not simply a tasty one, I need to describe the criteria for a perfect French macaron. Macarons consist of two halves (let’s call them cookies), glued together by filling.
- The cookies-to-filing ratio should be between 1:1 and 2:1. The filling shouldn’t ooze out when you bite a macaron, nor should it be a thin layer you can hardly feel. Insufficient filling makes for a sad macaron.
- The surface of the cookies should be smooth. Bumps indicate the almond flour wasn’t ground well.
- There should be no air bubbles inside. Macarons are quite small in size. An air bubble means a good chunk of your macaron is simply missing.
- The cookie should have a thin crust that’s easy to bite into. Under the crust, the cookie should be light and slightly chewy.
- The color should be close to natural.
- Too much sugar is not a good thing.
- A macaron should not be sticky when you chew it, nor should it crumble into pieces. When you finish, your hands should be clean.
All these factors are important. But what’s even more important, in my mind, is the feeling a proper French macaron gives you: being light and airy, and almost flying off the ground holding on to a bunch of balloons. Not a very scientific criteria? Perhaps, but once you experience it, you will chase that feeling forever. So let’s see where we can get some delicious macarons in Austin!
Elizabeth Street Café
Elizabeth Street Café had two macaron flavors on the day of our visit: pistachio raspberry and hibiscus. These macarons were really pretty and gave me the opportunity to take an Instagram-worthy picture. Although the pistachio macaron had a little bubble in the top cookie, texture-wise the macarons at Elizabeth Street Café were some of the closest to authentic French macarons we found in Austin.
The cookie-to filling ratio was perfect. Pistachio pieces on top of the macaron played well both for looks and for texture, giving additional crunch to the shell. The hibiscus flavor was truly unique, slightly reminiscent of birthday cake and chewier than its pistachio counterpart.
1501 S. 1st St. – Website
Mañana Coffee, Juice & Bakeshop
Mañana Coffee, Juice & Bakeshop at South Congress Hotel is another café without your traditional vanilla and chocolate, but their creative flavors like grapefruit Prosecco, lemon ginger, and chocolate peanut butter and jelly will leave you in awe. We tried the grapefruit Prosecco macaron that boasts almost 1:1 cookie-to-filling ratio and a wonderful texture. A perfectly smooth shell gives a slight crunch when you bite into it, revealing a light, soft cookie inside. It stays together well, without crumbling.
Price: $2.50 (before closing, macarons are half price)
1603 S. Congress Ave. – Website
Walton’s Fancy & Staple
At Walton’s Fancy and Staple, we finally had a chance to try simple chocolate and pistachio flavors, and they turned out to be completely different in texture. The chocolate had a big bubble inside that left us with pretty much half a macaron to eat. It fell into pieces at the first bite, leaving my hands full of crumbs. Though it was nothing like an authentic macaron, it tasted wonderfully delicious.
The pistachio macaron lacked a crunchy layer of shell, was excessively chewy, and left us with a sticky feeling in our mouthes. The taste would be good, if not for the overpowering sweetness that took away from the pistachio flavor.
609 W. 6th St. – Website
One of the most famous cafés for macarons in Austin, La Pâtisserie offers a wide range of flavors, including traditional chocolate and pistachio. The chocolate macaron had a nice crunch to it and an intensely rich chocolate flavor like no other chocolate macaron I tried. It had great texture and, overall, it was one of the best macarons we tried during our research. The pistachio macaron was on the chewier side, with a slightly disappointing shell that was too soft and revealed unnaturally bright green coloring inside.
602 W. Annie St. and 7301 Burnet Road #102 – Website
My search for the most authentic macaron in Austin is not complete. I strongly believe an authentic French macaron is out there somewhere, waiting for me to discover it.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which bakery makes your favorite macaron in Austin?