Austin, Texas is the live music capitol of the world and the location of a number of exhilarating Crave SXSW parties in recent years. The culture-rich town is also a culinary mecca, the foundation for a world of unparalleled quality in barbecue, food trucks and local cuisine. For the last several years, it’s where Chef Sonya Coté – executive chef and co-owner of Hillside Farmacy and founder of Eden East – has built a locally-sourced oasis.
A Rhode Island native, Coté branched from her beginnings as a Whole Foods marketing maven to Fredericksburg, where she ran the Hoffman Haus hotel before moving to Austin to study with renowned local-focus chef Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due. Soon after, Coté was promoted to chef at the East Side Show Room, where she could continue to advocate for the burgeoning local food movement.
A stylistic cornerstone of her locavore mindset, Hillside Farmacy sports a casual, new-American cuisine with a full bar, and an oyster bar designed as an active art piece.This farm-to-table eatery was once the Hillside Drug Store in the 1950’s, and its history is evident in original cabinetry and antique pharmacy displays. They serve offerings from many local farms, including Springdale, Richardson, JBG, Countryside, Rainlily and Hausbar, drawing locals as much for ambience and gorgeous decor as for their spirit of local support.
For a more exclusive appeal, Eden East is a five-course fixed menu for special occasions and private events located in East Austin, adjacent to the wildly popular Springdale Farm, which serves as Eden’s primary ingredient source.
The restaurant is more of a “supper club” than a fixed establishment, as Coté explains, focusing on farm-to-table cuisine that shifts courses each week, often sourced with produce grown on-site, a magnificent expression of sustainable urban farming.
Experimenting with seasonal fare and evolving culinary techniques as well as unique cocktail mixology, Sonya’s passion clearly shines through her work and establishments. She can often be found putting her own “Texas spin” on classic recipes from legendary eateries around the world, though with a deep dedication to locally sourced food and community, Coté understands the value of local-economy cuisine and its impact on community and well-being.
A twice-weekly farmers market takes place at Springdale Farm that draws chefs and culinary experts from far and wide for their robust selection and quality, creating a cross-cultural point as they mingle with local farmers and discuss their wares, techniques and ideas. It’s here that Coté’s influence and passion truly comes to life, as the key players in every step of the culinary trade forge the next steps in the edible adventures which keep us enchanted and, of course, button-busting full.