As the temperature rises in Austin, days will grow longer and the nights later. Whether you’re looking to soothe a headache or cause one, Hillside Farmacy has a cure.
Words by: Ben Haguewood Photos by: Ashley Haguewood
At three years old, it’s fair to call Hillside Farmacy an east Austin brunch mainstay, but that does not mean it, or its menu, is static. Chef and Co-Owner Sonia Cote awaits the change of the seasons the way only a chef can, thinking through new dishes and updates to existing ones that will showcase spring’s harvest – much of it coming from the east side urban farms of which Chef Cote is both patron and champion.
Hillside Farmacy serves a robust lunch and dinner menu rounded out with charcuterie, cheeses, and a fresh raw bar, but much of the original inspiration for the restaurant came from couple and co-owners Jade Place and Gregg Mathews’ craving for hearty brunches, punctuated with (and prolonged by) stiff drinks, that they missed from their stint in Brooklyn. For obvious reasons, walking distance was key.
The East 11th location once anchored the neighborhood with east Austin’s first pharmacy but sat vacant for years before the Hillside owners began restoration. They retained much of the neighborhood institution’s important legacy in more than name only. The walls are lined with refurbished shelves, and the full bar hints at the soda fountain past in appearance and playful reference on the drink list, serving inventive and classic mixtures like the Country Doctor (ginger, fresh apple, and cinnamon) and the traditional Brooklyn egg cream—both ideal vessels for a shot of whiskey or other booze from the bar.
As seasons change, many of the brunch favorites will stay but will be lighter on the palate. The rustic ‘eggs in a bowl’ dish, for example, will feature locally raised Happy Chick Farm eggs poached and nestled atop cubes of country bread, sautéed kale, and ripe tomatoes. Fresh, local produce, much of it grown in east side soil, is incorporated across the range of dishes on Hillside’s diverse menu, from the light fruit-filled parfait, the rotating omelet, or the plentiful mac and cheese, “loaded” with pancetta, broccoli, and topped with a poached egg – bulging with viscous golden yolk.
For this east Austin staple, fresh produce equates to a fresh menu that you don’t want to miss. So head to the Farmacy next time you’re aching for a hearty meal or needing a stiff cocktail.
1209 E 11th St.