Hillside Farmacy is a delicious restaurant full of contradictions; it is hard not to gush about the restaurant without adding a but to every statement. Located on East 11th it is part of a neighborhood on the fast track to gentrification. It is a beautiful building and easy to recognize, and here comes the first one, but it does have its controversies.
One of a handful of businesses that found themselves the receiving end of a racial statement, they were hit up with the infamous “Whites Only” stickers this past SXSW. Its history as a local pharmacy in a predominately black neighborhood, when the owners took over they honored the past with a beautiful design inside of heavy wood glass cases selling an atmosphere and occasional food items. Yet the question the neighborhood asks is what are they doing to be members of the new community? Is it enough to profit on the ascetics of the history? At what point is that historical appropriation?
As the name further implies, the idea is that the menu is from farm to table. But, looking at the menu, nothing states what items are local and where they had to make comprises. The pricing is in the mid-range, with most items being over ten dollars reeking of high quality ingredients. Assuming from the pricing that not everything is sourced locally, it would be better to have clarification and boasting of what has been.
The menu is varied and offers several options that can make it a favorite for most. The sandwich selections is wide and enticing, the breakfast items and dinner menu changes with the seasons. They offer tea service and an oyster bar. Their drinks are well prepared and the Wasabi Bloody Marys have an amazing kick. But, at night it is confused with the idea of being a bar and not its primary component, a restaurant. An assumptive disservice to the menu items they offer.
The waiting staff is a beautiful refreshment and key component to the experience. Allowed to wear what they want, the servers are as aesthetically pleasing as the décor. The best time to go is early on a weekday. The wait time is most often long, but once seated the food and drinks come without much delay. The space is small enough that even a handful of groups inside can cause a cacophonous din that makes it hard to carry a conversation.
Outside seating is available and should be taken advantage of because of the beauty of the design is not limited to the inside. With slowing rotating fans and a babbling fountain it can be relaxing as long as the heat is not too overbearing. They are dog friendly, but you do not see many families. It is best for a certain clientele. Those rolling out of bed or in small groups or couples looking for respite. Hillside Farmacy is a great photo op and selfie haven, since you know, you woke up this way.
Despite the contradictions, a meal at Hillside Farmacy has never been lacking. The plating is adorable with not buts to the cooking. There a lot of options as in adding a poached egg and modifications that the restaurant allows. The quality of the cooking is impeccable, even on the simplest menu items like their mac and cheese. Which is warm and gooey and decadent, covered in bread crumbs. They have a knack for taking simple recipes and perfecting them. Be it their poached eggs or their seasonal omelet flipped with a delicate hand and kept fluffy even when stuffed to the seams with vegetables. Their fried egg sandwich has one of my favorite ingredients, fried green tomatoes, as is a go to favorite no matter the time of the year.
For the size of the food they deliver, their pricing does not seem so steep with the mountain of food served up. They have brought back the cook’s sandwich, with a smooth consistency on the pate paired with pickled cucumbers and onions. The combination manages to a take rich hedonistic ingredient and balances it out enough that you could, conceivably, be able to eat more than just one cook’s sandwich in a sitting. Looking at the dinner menu the options they present are just as mouthwatering as their breakfast (served till three) with many favorites that will have you coming back for more.
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