Austinites LOVE waiting in line.
I don’t think this is an Austin-specific phenomenon, per say. All over the world, people tend to associate long lines with the BEST of something, whether it’s a burger at Shake Shack or Michaelangelo’s David. Sometimes it’s the very act of waiting in line that makes something taste better/look better/seem more amazing.
Sometimes, the food is just really, really good.
On National Ice Cream day, we went to Lick for some of their famous, locally-sourced ice cream. And it was worth every sweaty, claustrophobic second in that long ass line.
Lick’s philosophy seems to be a combination of simplicity, creativity and–to use their own word–honesty. All ingredients are locally sourced, the concoctions are free of anything artificial and every ice cream accessory–from the waffle cones to the syrups– is made in-house. The thing is, in Austin, that whole “honesty” concept is hardly unique anymore.
What attracts me to Lick is their playfulness. Unlike Amy’s, another Austin ice cream destination that plays it safe with flavors like banana cream pie and mexican vanilla, Lick has the chutzpah to make ice cream out of things like beets and thyme and goat cheese and horchata. They also offer a slew of traditional-ish flavors for those less adventurous with their palate. The fact that these ingredients are local and ethical just makes the stuff taste that much better.
Our visit fell on a particularly steamy Sunday (oh, how hot it is here), which made waiting in line in the teeny tiny South Lamar structure all the more challenging. As I focused on my breathing and tried to ignore the stifling combination of body heat and Texas heat, I peeked around the little shop. The layout is simple, clean and unpretentious. The flavors are listed on handwritten sheets of paper that are pinned to a ladder-like structure near the entrance. The design of this “flavor board” has an oh-so-temporary feel, one that says, “You better order quickly. We could run out at any moment.”
Texas loves doing that to folks (see every Texas BBQ place ever).
But they didn’t run out. At the front of the line we sampled the Goat Cheese/Thyme/Honey, the Lemon Lavender, the Texas Au Lait and the Blackberry/Lime/Basil. If you ask me, herbs are extremely well suited for two non-conventional uses: cocktails and desserts. I’ve never disliked anything with lavendar involved and there’s something about thyme that just goes SO well with sugar.
I paired the Goat Cheese option with the Lavendar one and asked for one of their handmade waffle cones. Though my cone wasn’t the most colorful of cones, the flavors paired so incredibly well that I hardly cared. And the cone itself tasted like a pizzelle, my favorite Italian treat from childhood. It was delicious. The ice cream was surprising and delightful all at once, with a texture more reminiscent of gelato and flavors that just won’t quit.
I will be back to try the Roasted Beets with Fresh Mint (simply to applaud the fact that my favorite salad ingredient has made an appearance on an ice cream menu) as well as notables like the Honeyed Peaches with Rosemary, the Sweet Pea with Sorrel and the Horchata. If I have to wait in line, so be it. That 15 minutes of slow walking through a crowded ice cream shop only brings you closer to the person you brought with you. Plus, they play the music just loud enough that dancing in line feels totally acceptable.