The Austin Woman staff show love for local food businesses.
The curious spirit of Austin is kept alive by its culture and its people. A huge part of that culture is celebrated by indulging in a delicious meal shared with good company, and no one knows how to create exquisite meals better than the women behind 68 Degrees Kitchen. Joan Gillcrest opened 68 Degrees Kitchen in Austin following its initial success in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Serving Italian-accented dishes, 68 Degrees uses sustainably sourced ingredients. Joan is accompanied by her sister and business partner, Marion. Marion, who serves as 68 Degrees’ chef, is also the owner of Austin’s La Traviata. Both of the Gillcrest sisters prioritize the use of fresh and quality ingredients to complement the presentation and consistency of their foods. The friendly staff and modern-chic aesthetic create an appeasing and delicate feeling, which has allowed this power duo’s restaurant to flourish, despite only being around for a little over five years.
Community and Event Manager
Let’s be honest here. Even as a vegetarian myself, I do my best to stay away from vegan food because, simply put, it’s typically bland and boring. A mushroom steak here, a grilled tofu there. The same things time after time. But Counter Culture is changing the game. From their East Side Nachos to the Tempeh Reuben, they have cultivated a menu full of flavors, cultures and excitement. Sue Davis is not only the founder, owner and chef who created the amazing menu of all homemade items, down to the ketchup and mayo. But she is also a DJ and photographer whose artistry shines through in every dish. Whether you are looking for a delicious breakfast or a dinner with friends and pups (yes, their patio is pup friendly!) look no further than Counter Culture in East Austin.
Jen Ramos Perkins
Director of Business Operations
My favorite local woman-owned food business is For the Love of Food, owned and run by Marcella Aguirre. First, Marcella is a bad-ass superwoman: an amazing mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and incredible friend who is a full-time chef and somehow found the time to start an amazing catering business.
Marcella is from Laredo, Texas, where her passion for cuisine stemmed from a beautiful tradition of cooking with her family. She learned to make tamales from scratch with her grandmother Nora, learned traditional Mexican meals eaten during the holidays from her grandmother “Titi” and made breakfast with her parents, Gloria and Cesar, every Saturday morning. A simple breakfast by Mexican standards: tortillas, eggs, potatoes, beans, barbacoa or chorizo and her dad’s incredible salsa. Marcela then attended culinary school and has worked in hotels, fine dining, mom-and-pop restaurants and now corporate dining. Her lifelong dream has been to have her own catering business to share everything she has learned and make people’s events special and memorable. Her beautiful charcuterie boards rival any, are delicious and made with love.
The first time I went to Chez Zee was on Mother’s Day of 2018. My family and I gathered on a beautiful Sunday to celebrate the matriarchs of our family, and we were blown away by the food and service that was provided to us. There is a very warm and welcoming environment that you walk into when entering the bistro. Year-round Christmas lights and art from local artists mount the dining area. Chez Zee is enveloped by an eclectic atmosphere and greenery that invites you to sit down and stay awhile. Before leaving, my mom and I took a picture on the infamous Chez Zee striped chair. According to their website, Sharon Watkins has owned and operated Chez Zee since 1989 and has been inviting Austinites and anyone looking for a delicious meal to her restaurant ever since.
Cheer Up Charlie’s has a very special place in my heart. I first got acquainted with the place in 2016 when I covered my first SXSW. A dear friend of mine was playing the festival, and that was his final performance spot. In fact, Cheer Ups was the location for the unofficial SXSW closing party. An afternoon shindig with some of the lesser-known acts from East Asia, including my friend. I always remember it because it was an incredibly sunny day. The tables around the stage were welcoming, the atmosphere was leisurely. After the nonstop hustle and bustle of the entire week, it was good to be able to sit down, get a burger from Arlo’s or a breakfast burrito, sip on something refreshing in the heat.
Once I learned more about Cheer Ups, I knew it was going to be one of my favorite places in Austin. I will always support a lesbian-owned business. Especially when they’re so dedicated to giving those who are often overlooked a place to call home.