I’m always on the hunt for a truly unique Austin restaurant experience. With the robust variety our city offers, something amazing can be just right around the corner.
At the same time, it takes a lot to impress when there are so many places that already stand out. Sala and Betty, a farm-sourced restaurant located on Airport Boulevard, is about to celebrate a full year since they opened their doors last February. The dining venue, which takes its name from owner and chef Teresa Wilson’s childhood nickname, effectively delivers a unique twist on high quality and delicious food.
Wanting to create something that combined quality with efficiency, Wilson developed a restaurant accessible to all kinds of schedules, but one ingredient stays consistent: quality.
Dine In or Drive Through
When you think of farm-to-table, what do you imagine? I think of plates overflowing with fresh vegetables and lean meats. I think of a table well-skirted with white linen. I imagine a server describing the day’s pick or a fresh catch.
What I don’t imagine? A drive-through.
Don’t get me wrong, Sala and Betty is a classic American diner that trends to upscale. If you’re expecting moderate quality and flavor sacrificed for speed, you need to go somewhere else.
Sala and Betty’s Unique Austin Style
Wilson and her culinary team have managed to capture something unique. Without sacrificing the ambiance and intimacy of a beautiful restaurant with clean lines and modern flare, she held onto the drive-through feature already present in the building because…why not?
This, to me, is quintessentially Austin. Why waste something because it doesn’t fit the mold? Why not bring this delicious and organic food to people who want quality food, but don’t have time to sit down at a diner?
Sala and Betty offers a unique approach with their menu. Drive through and enjoy delicious, yet more limited, options. Some ingredients don’t lose quality when prepared in bulk or with more speed. The “Ready to Go” menu includes items like sandwiches, grilled veggie sides and cage-free smoked chicken.
During the evening, Executive Chef Charles Mahle prepares the dinner menu with more dynamic offerings, like the alluring mushroom meatloaf, sautéed shrimp and black drum.
Creative Flavor Meets Classic Boldness
I’m kind of boring when it comes to checking out new restaurants. My foodie friends always go after the signature dish. If my realtor friend Kimberly were with me, she’d probably order the sautéed shrimp, quinoa cake, avocado puree, carrots and pickles. And why not? That’s a pretty sexy selection.
Me? I know the signature dishes will be great. But I want to know how well you do the thing that everybody does. I want to know if your burger stands out. And in this case, I was not disappointed.
Sala and Betty’s gourmet hamburger includes a healthy portion of locally-sourced organic beef, topped with pickled onions, all the necessary accouterments and the surprising flavor of a tomato jam that will blow your mind. It was the most pleasant mixture of savor and sweetness I’ve had in a burger in a long time.
Aaron Franklin Approved
If you’re still wondering whether you’re ready to give Sala and Betty a try, don’t take my word for it, just ask the legend himself. I caught Aaron Franklin sitting outside the restaurant, nursing a brew while he waited for a meal with his family.
I cannot fathom a better endorsement than that of local culinary icon and recent winner of the coveted James Beard Award eating at your table.
I started talking to Franklin because we’re practically best friends by now, and I asked him what he thought of Sala and Betty. He looked at me with those big brisket brown eyes and said, “It’s a super-great restaurant run by super-great people who make super-great food.”
I don’t know if you can get any more eloquent than that.
If you haven’t ventured out to try Sala and Betty, now’s the time to try it. The intimate dining space can only hold so many folks, and I can’t imagine this well-kept secret will be a secret for very long.
5201 Airport Blvd. – Website
@ATXtherapist wants to know:
What’s your favorite Sala and Betty dish?
Disclosure: Sala and Betty covered the cost of my meal for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.