11.09.2012

FoodHeads is anything but ordinary - A Review

Wow. What a hectic morning. I’m not even kidding. I won’t get into the details, but there was a LOT of deep breathing and, “It’ll all be OK” moments with some, “God knows what he’s doing” chatter sprinkled in. And at the end of the day, He does know what he’s doing and yes, all is more than OK.

After my near-crisis was averted, I realized how extremely hungry I was. But where would I get some much-needed amazing grub? I happened to be in the North Campus neighborhood of Austin, TX, and there happens to be more than just a few options in that area that more than fit the bill for “much-needed amazing grub.”  

What is it about stress that makes me so hungry anyway?? That’s a whole other post…

Anyway, my mom and I glanced through the various listings for restaurants in the area on our phones. How high-tech of us. After reading several reviews and scanning menus for about 5 different places, we both settled on a place that really stood out from the rest: FoodHeads. 

Apparently, FoodHeads has been making sandwiches in Austin for over 20 years, and the reviews my mom and I quickly glanced over basically said that if you want an awesome, original and high quality sandwich on fresh bread, this was THE place to go. Well, since my favorite food is sandwiches, I figured that this would be just right.

Source: Me

As soon as I laid my eyes on this place from the passenger seat of the car, I knew we’d made a good decision on coming here. I could feel it in my bones. I trust my gut feelings when it comes to eating and restaurants and I had a very good gut feeling about this one.

FoodHeads is sited in an old converted house, right off Guadalupe next to the UT campus. I must say, this place is plain adorable. I can almost see this café being the backdrop in the next nostalgic feel-good movie of the summer. I’m thinking something like another My Girl or perhaps something more like Now & Then.

After we found parking, we made our way around to the front, I was able to properly take in this converted house. The exterior is adorned with stringed lights and something I’d never seen before: free-hanging windows on the outdoor patio.  
 
They have plenty of outdoor seating, which I loved. There’s something about enjoying a delicious meal outside on a patio that is like nothing else. There’s even an area where some quirky old lawn furniture was situated around a mini fire pit, ideal for the brisk nights we’re starting to see here in the Austin area.

Cute, right?
Source: Me

When we stepped inside the old house, the first thing I noticed was what appeared to be organized chaos at its finest.  Little white boxes with colorful tissue paper were stacked around the dining area, and people were carefully setting what I later learned were wrapped sandwiches in the boxes with various sauces and condiments. 

Oh yeah! I’d read that they were a catering company too. My mom asked who we now know to be the owner, what was going on. I wasn’t paying attention, I was exercising my “staring problem”. I couldn’t stop ogling at all that happening. She filled me in later; he explained they were filling a few different catering orders, adding up to over 200 box lunches.  WOW. And no, they weren’t all the same sandwich. They were filling 200 custom orders, and I know one sandwich order went above and beyond and was ordered deconstructed… I bet that was annoying…

So cool
Source: me
After we were done being stunned by how orderly they were filling their catering orders, I was able to notice how beyond charming the café is. It’s full of truly unusual furniture. There are old and new kitchen tables, some painted, some unpainted and some that were once painted but have since faded mixed in with nicked end tables and… I think I even saw an old classroom desk. It didn’t end there. There was quite a bizarre assortment of eclectic, miss-matched chairs. I also loved the exposed hardwood floors… I have a thing for hardwood floors. FoodHeads for sure has that decidedly Austin vibe that is everything but ordinary.

Time to order! Thank GOODNESS we already perused the menu, because all of these sandwiches sounded absolutely amazing. I’m not just saying that, I swear. They all had fresh and interesting ingredients, which seem to have resulted in some truly unique items and all of the sandwiches are built on fresh bread that I learned is delivered to the café daily. 

I ordered from the Fancy menu ;)
Source: me


Since I studied the menu beforehand, I’d already narrowed my options to two and it saved me from getting all overwhelmed and flustered. Yeah, I get overwhelmed when prompted with a large array of sandwiches… and salads…and soups... This generally results in ordering something that I would never think get on a normal day. Being a nervous orderer isn’t one of my best qualities, but I’ve learned how to deal and have adapted.  This is why I do research in advance.

But that’s neither here nor there… Just then, something caught my eye. I had taken my phone out of my purse to capture a quick picture of the interior, when I saw what time it was…. WHAT?? It was only 10:50 a.m.??

Great…. I was totally afraid that they were going to force me into a muffin or a breakfast taco. I am NOT a breakfast person, unless of course that breakfast happens to be a sandwich…

So, in a totally whiny voice I asked the woman taking our order if I HAAADDD to have breakfast. She smiled and told me that I could have anything off the menu.

Whew. Close call!

I placed my order for the Chicken & Eggplant sandwich, filled with grilled chicken breast & roasted eggplant on toasted multigrain bread with goat cheese, basil pesto, spinach, tomato & blackberry balsamic vinaigrette. I had never heard of chicken and eggplant on the same sandwich and I learned my lesson a few weeks ago about passing up pesto. Never again. This time I’m too far away to just swing by and remedy my mistake! I also requested both the homemade ice-box pickles and salad slaw on the side.

My mom ordered the Chicken Special, stacked grilled chicken breast on toasted telera bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, feta cheese and tarragon mayonnaise.  She ordered the mayo on the side, as she tends to do.

She chose coffee for her beverage and I decided on Topo Chico Mineral Water. I love Topo Chico and I love places that have it as an option. The glass bottle with fizzy water just makes me so happy.

My mom and I made the executive decision to sit outside since it was a TRULY lovely morning. The sun was out and filtered nicely through the trees that lined this once residential street. On our way out the door to find a spot on the porch, we noticed a bookshelf full of cooking magazines. 

Ahh, what a lovely morning! And I do love the hanging windows.
Source: Me

 GASP!!! Taste of Home?! I hadn’t seen a Taste of Home Magazine for a long time, and yeah, I got excited. What can I say? I’m a unique individual.  We scooped up a few magazines and settled in to our seats at a heavy wooden table.

After a short wait, our sandwiches were delivered to our table and my goodness! They don’t skimp here. There was PLENTY of chicken, a generous quantity of veggies, and a copious amount of cheese all stacked high, nestled in the beautiful bread.

Chicken & Eggplant Sandwich
Source: Me


My sandwich was constructed between thick slices of light multi-grain bread that smelled wonderfully nutty. The chicken was grilled and golden, speckled with cracked black pepper. The meat was stacked on top of a thick slice of marinated eggplant. The spinach was a dark emerald green and contrasted beautifully with the bright and juicy tomatoes. The basil pesto’s aroma was beyond intoxicating. The seductive smell of sweet basil with salty Parmesan melded with the tangy goat cheese in such a distinctly inciting way. 

Another view of Chicken & Eggplant
Source: me

The first bite was packed full of flavor. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and not at all dry. The spongy eggplant soaked in the blackberry balsamic vinaigrette, adding a sweet and tart element that was a perfect pair with the bright veggies and pungent sauce and cheese. The bread was chewy and held up nicely to the pile of ingredients packed in between. 

Mmmmm
Source: Me


My mom’s sandwich was built between thick slices of Terla bread. The bread had nice golden crust that was dusted with flour. It resembled a French baguette in both smell, and appearance. The chicken was piled on top of some fresh avocado and some of the same bright red tomatoes that adorned my sandwich. Under the tomatoes was a thick layer of tangy, crumbled feta cheese. 

The Chicken Special
Source: Me


Tip: If you want sandwich slaw & pickles as your sides, request these when you order, otherwise you’ll get a scoop of what appeared to be creamy and delicious homemade potato salad. But if you, like my mom, really want the slaw and pickles, a server will gladly bring them to you. 

Icebox Pickles & Salad Slaw
Source:me


Anyway, I was lucky enough to get a bite of hers, and wow! This sandwich lacked nothing when it came to flavor. The buttery avocado contrasted with the warm and juicy chicken, and the cheese added a sharp, tangy and tasty element to the other flavors. This sandwich didn’t need anything added from the tarragon mayo, but I bet it would have provided a nice herby and creamy component as a backdrop to the other flavors.

As we fell into silence over these beautifully crafted sandwiches, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude for that moment. This day started out in a really stressful and potentially horrendous way, but my lunch at 10:00 a.m. gave me a chance to breathe, and look at how truly blessed I am. 

SO stuffed! SO good!
Source: Me
I hope to get the opportunity to get back up to the North Campus area soon, for another wonderful experience and truly amazing sandwich at FoodHeads.  




Wanna Go?
616 W. 34th St.
Austin, TX 78705
When?

Mon-Wed: 7AM – 4PM    
Thurs – Sat: 7AM – 9PM
Call.

512-420-8400
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