After a lazy Sunday afternoon of lounging with Thomas and Jamie Lee, our bellies began craving food. Since no one had to work on Memorial Day, we decided to continue the festivities at the newly-opened Contigo, right next to the Mueller development. One of Thomas’ close friends from San Angelo, Andrew Wisehart, is the executive chef at Contigo, where we met another of our mutual friends, JT, at the restaurant/bar.
Most of the seating at Contigo is outside, where the magnificent, wooded, dog-friendly patio features plenty of picnic-style tables. The place is perfect for large groups to come for happy hour to enjoy the great weather and then linger over the excellent cocktails and delicious culinary creations.
For drinks, Contigo offers an assortment of cocktails and draft beers. Shannon and Thomas each started with an El Pepino, which combined tequila, cucumber water, mint, and lime. The end result was a refreshing treat that resembled a mojito — only better! Meanwhile, I opted for the Contigo Ranch Swizzle, which featured tequila, mescal, tangerine, lime, and soda. Although I enjoyed this concoction, whose flavor had hints of smokiness (from the mescal), El Pepino was the superior cocktail. Later on, I ordered an El Jefe (recommended by JT). The stiffness of the bourbon was counterbalanced by lemon and ginger brew, along with a fresh luxardo marischino cherry.
In terms of food, Wisehart designed a menu of small plates that accentuate the variety of beverages. The food is also locally sourced, which seems to be part of an encouraging trend during these environmentally-conscious times. Although Contigo will definitely attract groups who linger over their drinks, the outstanding food guarantees that you won’t have to go elsewhere to fill up.
We started with some bar-menu items like the olives and pickled beets. Both were the caliber of a gourmet restaurant, as the olives sat in an oil that had been dressed up with peppery spices, while the beets were accompanied by a creamy white sauce called grabiche. Although there aren’t any fish items on the regular menu, there’s a rotating pesce option, which happened to be a shrimp dish on this night. The shrimp were served in a small skillet with a creamy broth that begged to be sopped up with the fresh bread that came with the plate. We also thoroughly enjoyed the Texas okra, which were grilled and served with walnuts and cherry tomatoes.
As my main dish, I opted for the daily sausage, which is made in-house. I can’t remember what type of sausage they served on this Sunday, but it changes everyday. The sausage sat on a baguette and was served with house-made mustard and sauerkraut. The sauerkraut was outstanding. Fries also come with this dish, and they were a perfect crispness. I didn’t even need ketchup. Meanwhile, Shannon opted for the grilled cheese, which proved to be a decadent delight, as the thick brioche enveloped a heaping portion of creamy, artisanal cheeses.
I can’t say enough good things about Contigo, and it’s likely going to become a regular hangout on Fridays after work. With delicious cocktails, a wide-selection of microbrews, and a variety of plates to keep our tummies full, it’s a welcome addition to the Central Austin dining landscape — with the added bonus that you don’t have to compete with downtown traffic to get there.