Gourmands dive bar and sandwich emporium
Shiner beer cheese and broccoli soup in a bread bowl. Need I say more?
I am nearly a little hesitant to share Gourmands with y’all because it’s kind of a hidden gem. Except for that one time when Texas Monthly made a huge (deserved) fuss over their Foghorn Leghorn sandwich. Nonetheless, where a fantastic feed is involved, the people need to know about it.
Located on the Eastside of Austin, Gourmands is indeed a very neighbourhood oriented bar who specialise in saucesome sandwiches. The food is amazingly cheap, delicious and plentiful, and all the sandwiches are served with kettle chips and pickled veg. That is, assuming you’re able to finish the actual enormous sandwich itself. They also do soups, salads and a combos of all three. I guess what Im saying is, if you come here with a fussy eater and they aren’t able to find something they like, you should probably not be friends with that person anymore. Why were you even friends to begin with? I bet they were vegetarian. Urgh.
Can we talk for a hot minute about their specials? They haz em. Like how on Sundays their pint glass sized Bloody Marys are just $5.50? And if that’s not your jam, their orange or grapefruit mimosas are TWO DOLLARS EACH! You can use the rest of the money for a cab home when you’re off your face. What’s that? You can’t get there on a Sunday? Oh it’s cool bro, because they have insane midweek specials too. Like half price appetizers between 4-7pm.
That would mean that a behemoth tray of nachos topped with poblano peppers, onions, olives, sour cream & pico de gallo and then smothered in chili will cost you a whopping $4.25. Also known as the price of a large latte in Melbourne. I certainly know which one I’d rather have. Yes, I know you can get nachos all over Austin. All over Texas, in fact. But what you can’t get most other places is broccoli beer cheese soup, made with Shiner Bock beer and served in a bread bowl. Wait for it…. for $5. *jawdrop*
Ok unbelievable pricing aside, the creamy, unctuous bowl of beer cheese goodness is bursting with flavour and is completely nourishing on a winters day. A complete meal in a bowl, for sure. Make no mistake, you WILL have a hard time choosing between sandwiches from their menu. At last count, there are over 20 different options, each with various meaty benefits.
If you’re feeling particularly brave, you might attempt The Last Supper *cue divine angelic chorus and a beam of light*. This epic roll of destiny is packed with roast beef, bacon, queso, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce and shaved onion. And yeah, it has queso drizzled on top. For those outside of the Austin area (you poor bastards), queso is basically a “so bad its good” warm melted dip made with the most plasticised type of cheese you can find. And that whole feed-trough of food? It’s $9. Mind. Blown.
Stuck in my mind is their “Bacchus” sanga (Australian for sandwich) – Fajita marinated chicken breast, bacon, sautéed poblanos, onions, swiss, avocado, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, Sambal mayo. Served on a hoagie roll. You can bet I’m going back to try that one. And their Frito pie. In fact, I should probably pre-book the forklift now to haul me home after my next visit.
The food at Gourmands is unpretentious, simple, generous and delicious. The passion and care of this family run business are obvious, yet they still maintain a super casual and relaxed atmosphere. You could absolutely make this your local bar irrespective of the food on offer. The fact that they do have such an epic menu (and that it’s probably one of the best value feeds in ATX) is a welcomed bonus.
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Kinda sweet, a little savory and sorta spicy, pepper jelly is a great all round condiment to keep in the fridge.