Named the second most exciting food city in America by Zagat, a dining guide, and fastest-growing food truck industry in the United States, Austin is an established culinary hotspot of the South. As a result, UT students are using this boom to create a platform of their own.
As the beginning of midterm season stress accumulates and Jester City Limits fries get noticeably more stale, nothing is more appealing than a glistening snapshot of fresh gnocchi accompanied by a glowing recommendation of a new restaurant. UT student Instagram accounts @thehungrylonghorn, @tal.shaa and @the_foodgram are just a few of the food blogging pages around campus, and they aim to share the best of Austin’s food scene through pictures.
Marketing senior Anthony Matthews runs @thehungrylonghorn, and his posts have four components: an overview of the dining experience with his own recommendations, the price, whether or not it’s vegetarian and/or vegan friendly and pictures.
“I always ate the same thing at the same places, and I wanted to start trying all the restaurants in Austin,” Matthews said. “So I thought, I might as well make an account and share my experiences.”
Radio-television-film freshman Hannah Plotnek runs a food blogging account with a friend. The page focuses on sharing unique dishes from their travels. The account, @the_foodgram, has over 12,000 followers.
“Austin has such a special food scene, and there is such a wide variety of culture here,” Plotnek said.
Plotnek said she views food blogging as a hobby and a way to connect with people, rather than something with business potential.
“A lot of major accounts and restaurants started noticing our posts, and would tag us in pictures and stories,” Plotnek said. “I’m not really sure how it happened, but we just kind of blew up from there.”
Business freshman Talya Shalev said she turned her fashion blogging account into a food and lifestyle blog when she realized her true passion was food. The account gave her a platform to expose her friends to unique eats in the area.
“I started blogging in high school when a lot of my friends weren’t really interested in trying stuff like mussels,” Shalev said. “I like trying new things, and some of the food I’d eat was visually appealing. It interests people.”
Austin’s food scene isn’t always cheap, and tabs can add up — but Shalev said students shouldn’t let this discourage them from experimenting sometimes.
“I have my go-tos, like Chuy’s, but replace that with something new every once in a while — it doesn’t have to be expensive to be exciting,” said Shalev.
Matthews said he looks at other food bloggers’ content and keeps a list of bookmarked restaurants he eventually wants to try. He said students shouldn’t confine themselves to places near or on campus.
“Business owners put a lot of work into their restaurants, and it can be a struggle to get the college crowd,” Matthews said. “I hope to show students the variety of food here, and maybe inspire them to go out and try some of the places I share.”