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Austin Cookie Guide

by on February 28, 2012 · 24 comments

This year I was invited to contribute to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2012 City Guide. And while my post focuses specifically on cookies, other Austin food bloggers have covered everything from fine dining to food trailers. If you’re coming to Austin in the near future, make sure to check out the guide.  All the posts will be live on March 1.  For now, let’s talk cookies!

Austin Food Bloggers' Alliance City Guide

For this guide, I’ve made a list of places I’d feel comfortable sending a true dessert lover.   And since so many visitors to Austin stay in the downtown area, I’ve limited this to the downtown area (with a couple of exceptions).  Feel free to add recommendations for cookies all over town. Believe me, I will get to them.

Okay, here we go. As mentioned, a couple of restaurants are farther out and San Francisco Bakery on Anderson Lane is one of them.   Their cookies aren’t big and flashy, but homey and similar to what you’d make if you had the time. The chocolate chip cookies are okay, but the snickerdoodles and sugar cookies are better — soft, chewy, and full of flavor. As a bonus, they stay fresh for a while. My husband bought my cookies early in the day and by evening they were still perfectly chewy and flavorful.

San Francisco Bakery

Just north of downtown is an old favorite, The Upper Crust Bakery. Upper Crust is known for fat, fudgy, nut-studded cookies so good that even Recipe Goldmine posted a copycat.
Black Gold Cookie

But I also really liked their chocolate chip cookies. While not the fanciest or prettiest at the ball, they have this great flavor I can’t quite pin down. Plus Upper Crust is not shy with the nuts. Try to get the cookies while they’re fresh (which I guess could be said for any bakery, right?).

Another Austin downtown area favorite is Sweetish Hill. Their chocolate chip cookies are okay (they call them Toll House cookies and they taste like it too).

But in my opinion the peanut butter are slightly better.

The real star here are the oatmeal cookies. They’re fat, soft, not-too-sweet and I could rationalize eating one for breakfast. Sweetish Hill also makes good granola.

In downtown, a good choice is Bakerman’s. Skip the chocolate chip and go for their snickerdoodles. Unlike San Francisco bakery who serve them flat and chewy, Bakerman’s makes theirs big and fat.

snickerdoodle from Bakerman's in Austin

Okay, so where IS the best chocolate chip cookie? As I write this, I’m going to have to say it’s in the Whole Foods Bakery. You’ll probably stop here for something anyway, so consider it a bonus that they have the winning chocolate chip cookies. And if you’re vegan, then it’s a double bonus. Whole Foods cookies are called Vegan Big Johns. They’re so good I’ve been trying to copy them at home. What makes them so good is the chewy, thick, flavorful, burnt caramel texture and the special chocolate they use called Oro Chocolate Ribbons, made from a uniquely flavored singly source chocolate out of the El Oro region of Ecuador. They’re also a bargain, at about 99 cents a cookie.

If warm cookies are your thing and the convenience of having cookies delivered to your hotel, office or house are key, another Austin favorite is Tiff’s Treats. Started years ago by college students who delivered their cookies in pizza boxes, Tiff’s has now expanded to multiple locations in Austin and Dallas. Todd says his office orders Tiff’s at least twice a month and everyone has their favorite. In fair disclosure, I still haven’t tried Tiff’s, but I’ve been told by other local bakers their brownies are good.

Moving on. More good cookies can be found at Quackenbush’s aka “Quack’s”. I used to stop by the West Campus location back in college.  I never felt cool enough to be there then, nor do I now. Quack’s has kind of a reputation as being, I don’t know, kind of hipster? Just go and find out. The bakery is worth it. Order the ginger cookie.

Or if you like peanut butter, order that.  Quack’s makes a decent peanut butter cookie, though I think they could improve it with peanut butter chips or candy of some kind.  Maybe they’re too cool for that.  Whatever ;).

Oh, and speaking of being too cool, South of Austin on Congress is a popular area for tourists thanks to the good restaurants, funky shops and Liz Lambert’s empire.  Okay, not “empire” necessarily, but she’s got a neat little hotel and one of my favorite coffee shops, Jo’s.  If you stop at Jo’s, get the granola.  That’s kind of a cookie, right?

Another stop in the south Austin area should be Sugar Mama’s.  While I can’t personally vouch for their cookies, their cupcakes are excellent and if the cookies are as good as their cupcakes you’re in business.  I need to get over to Sugar Mama’s and sample a cookie, but the cupcakes just keep getting in the way.

And finally, another convenient place for great cookies is Central Market south or north. A local favorite is the Central Market bakery Pecan Chewy , but again – you really can’t go wrong. While you’re there, look for what some consider Austin’s best brownie, Miles of Chocolate. Mile’s chocolate brownies are somewhat of a cross between a brownie and fudge, but ethereally light textured and of course, very chocolaty. You’ll find them in the refrigerator case. If you can’t , just ask. Miles keeps Central Market well stocked.

Ah, but I’ve only skimmed the surface here. Let’s call this an ongoing list.  I’ll add to it, but if you have a suggestion or an Austin favorite, let me know in the comments.  I’d love to hear your picks.

 

 

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Published on February 28, 2012

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Gloria February 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm

My mouth is watering for cookies now! I have a Whole Foods near me now..I’ll need to check out their CCC-at $.99 that IS a bargain! I did try their sugar free chocolate cheesecake brownies which were delicious!

Sarah February 29, 2012 at 8:33 am

Walton’s! Last time I went, I got an amazing (and quite large) ginger cookie. I know they have actual food there, but I always end up getting a dessert and coffee and it’s the right decision every time.

candice February 29, 2012 at 8:42 am

I would love for you to come up with a clone for cobblestone sweet rolls from Panera Bread. They are so delicious!

Sue February 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

Interesting that you picked snickerdoodles over chocolate chip a couple of times! It’s a great list.

Anna February 29, 2012 at 9:11 am

Sue, some places really did do a better job with basic sugar and snickerdoodles than with chocolate chip.

Candy, I’ll have to try it! I go to Panera all the time. In fact, I just got a brownie there yesterday.

Sarah, Walton’s does have good ginger cookies. Thanks for adding them to the list.

Gloria, good luck finding the Vegan Big Dans. I think they might be a regional thing, unfortunately, since my friend in Dallas couldn’t find them.

Louise February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

WOW, I’m not sure there’s any place here that I’d recommend for cookies.

Anna February 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for putting up with my little typos. I was in a rush to get that up last night, and am just getting around to editing it.

Louise, I think the best place in your town for cookies is your kitchen.

christy February 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Tiff’s Treats are truly outstanding. They sure make me miss Kevin’s Cookies which were similar and equally delicious. Shout out to Lux Bakery for making those really pretty decorated cookies that actually taste good too.

Anna February 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Hi Christy,
Great dessert guide! I loved all the photos from Uchiko. Thanks for mentioning Lux. They’re cookies are small and cute like homemade. They’re down south and we drop in all the time. In fact, I should go ahead and add them to the list. I was hesitant since they are so far south.

Louise February 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Thanks, Anna. That’s quite a compliment.

Mike February 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I can definitely vouch for the Big John at Whole Foods. Hands down the best cookie that I’ve found.

Though not traditional, the cookies at Coolhaus are pretty outstanding, if not a little creative in their flavors. The catch / bonus: they’re wrapped around a giant ball of ice cream :) I personally think they could get by just selling their cookies, they’re that good.

Great post, thanks Anna!

lynn @ the actor's diet February 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm

oh how i wish i was going to sxsw this year!!!

Gloria March 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Just returned from Whole Foods in Minnesota and NO big johns. They did have a vegan CCC, but it was nothing special..It did taste like it was sweetened with some honey? Not sure. Oh well! I guess everything is bigger/better in TX !

Karen March 2, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Try the salty oatmeal at Quack’s – it is the best!

Anonymous March 3, 2012 at 12:48 am

I rifle through all of the Miles of Chocolates to get a corner piece. Don’t tell him it’s me. I’ve been working on a recipe to duplicate that Chewy Chocolate Pecan piece-o-heaven, too. Maybe ought to keep that quiet, too.
Thanks for so many other great suggestions, too. (and double thanks or echoing my feeling, and making me lol, about hitting Quack’s. I’m just too average to feel comfy, sometimes. lol)

Anna March 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

I’ve never met Miles, but I heard he’s really nice. He’d probably rifle through for you just to get you that piece.

Hilah March 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

I really really want cookies now! I haven’t had a snickerdoodle in years. Thanks for the reminder!

Jodi March 10, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Lots of great cookie recommendations, here. I look forward to trying the Big John at Whole Foods very very soon!

Rebecca April 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Yum! I can’t even eat most cookies, but checking out those pecan chewy fudgy things at Central Market- they’re naturally gluten free. Hurray for cookies! Must try them now.

Shefaly April 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Love your detailed breakdown of which types of cookies are good where. I’ll have to try sweetish hill’s oatmeal raisin, because all their other baked goods weren’t too impressive to me. I LOVE upper crust bakery’s chocolate chip cookie. It just has the right amount of crunch on the exterior and chewy on the inside. It’s not thick and chunky, but i love the nuts and they have just the right amount of salt. I am so glad you also put in San Francisco Bakery! LOve that place!

Anna April 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Rebecca, you have to try them! A lot of H.E.B.s sell them as well.

Shefaly, I wish I knew the secret ingredient in Upper Crust’s chocolate chip cookie. They had some flavor I couldn’t quite nail down.

Heather @midnitechef April 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I had Tiff’s Treats while in the hospital with my newborn a couple years ago. It was heavenly (of course, anything is better than hospital food!). We’ve also had them delivered to the office, the oatmeal are good. I have to be careful with nuts in cookies sue to allergies, so that you for pointing out the nut-crazy places!

Eli Castro April 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Great list – must check out the Whole Foods cookies – they sound amazing. Also piling on for Tiff’s. They’re not far from my office, and when I’m in town I often walk the few blocks to get a couple. If you can get them right of the oven, they’re completely divine.

margaret christine @ notes from maggie's farm April 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Not sure why it went ‘anonymous’ up there, but that comment was mine, and, yes, Miles is great fun and would totally give me the best piece on the rack, if I asked. Just wanted to let you know that I came back here for a second visit because I was looking for good cookies to take to a friend in the hospital. Great resource, your link is. Thank you!

Mary Helen (@MaryHelenOrama) April 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

I love that this post involved so much hands-on (mouth-on?) research. Kudos on a job well done, and hooray for cookies!

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