Editor’s Note: Independence Fine Foods shut its doors in January 2019.
A unique blend of old world Austin and new world organic welcomes patrons of Independence Fine Foods. The recently burgeoning entertainment district in far south Austin has urban sprawlers from all over the city trekking south of the river to discover the next great bar or cup of coffee. Located across from Moontower Saloon in an unassuming storefront off Manchaca Road, Independence Fine Foods is nestled in the heart of an emerging destination for local libations and chow.
The first time I saw Independence, I thought it was an international food store. It wasn’t until I ran past the restaurant that I sniffed hints of coffee and…is that roast beef?
Naturally, I needed to investigate. What greeted me inside the heavy hardwood entrance was an American diner that bridged the patience of slowly brewed coffee with ready-made organic meals.
Local from the Food to the Furnishings
Independence is Austin to the core. I don’t mean just the new-blood, weird-seeking affluence, but the local down and dirty pre-Mopac-traffic types. Casey Livingston, the restaurant’s proprietor, and his managing-partner and brother Sloan Livingston, grew up just around the corner from what used to be the dry cleaning service their parents used. Mom was a three-decade teacher with tenure at Menchaca Elementary.
For seven years, Casey worked as a Whole Foods chef before leaving to pursue his passion of making high quality food accessible to the community in which he was raised.
The exposed wood that decorates the walls at Independence Fine Foods was repurposed from a local resident’s home whose fence was destroyed by one of our rare storms. Casey and his team cleaned up the home and put the salvaged materials to good use.
The Livingstons share a passion for their craft that you can taste, and Independence represents their effort to bring great food to a community that is peppered with unhealthy options.
“Just because you can’t afford a $500K house doesn’t mean you have to eat crappy food,” says Casey as he explains why he chose to open Independence in growing but still relatively small far south Austin. It’s not surprising that Independence is gaining a following in the community, but don’t be surprised if their oven-roasted breaded chicken starts to draw an audience from north of Ben White.
Getting Social with Dinner
Every Monday through Saturday at 5:30 PM, Independence serves the evening’s dinner feature. They announce the feature throughout the afternoon on their Facebook page, complete with tempting photos of mouth watering whole food ingredients that have been hand selected from the area’s local farmers and growers.
Did you forget to go grocery shopping last night? No problem. Enjoy the slow-cooked pork tenderloin cracked with just enough pepper to add spice to the savor, and don’t forget the creamy mashed potatoes on your way out.
The only reason you’d spend more time here than in a fast food line is because they don’t play Johnny Cash at Whataburger.
Coffee on Purpose
If you thought Independence was only an American diner, you’d be mistaken. Doubling as a coffee shop, Independence brews a slow-pour that can hold its own against anything you’ll find in town.
Between the coffee and a creative breakfast menu boasting locally raised free range eggs, your most difficult decision of the day may confront you before you’ve arrived at work. If you’re coming for coffee, give yourself time. There is no drip option at Independence. Sloan will politely direct you to your French press or slow-pour options, both of which are worth the three minutes you’ll spend drooling over the daily meal selections staring at you through the presentation glass. You’re welcome.
I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered that afternoon on my run down Manchaca Road. Independence Fine Foods provides healthy fare that does not sacrifice flavor for the ingredients. This is palatable fast food with a soul.
1807 W Slaughter Ln
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have your far south Austin adventures taken you into Independence Fine Foods yet?
Mathis Kennington is a local couples therapist and Austin enthusiast. To learn more about Mathis, visit him on Google+.