As a new employee at the Blanton, I am naturally interested in nearby places to eat. What better place to start than at the Blanton Café? Located just across the plaza from the museum in the Edgar A. Smith building, the café offers visitors a peaceful place to enjoy delicious food like flatbread pizzas, soups, salads, signature desserts, a variety of “grab and go” items, and, of course, your daily dose of caffeine.
I sat down with the Blanton Café’s chef manager, Jeanna Lewis, to talk about her experience working at the café and to hear about its signature (and secret!) menu, which offers fresh and healthy food with a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.
Jeanna started working at the café two years ago after owning her own corporate catering company for 13 years and loves being affiliated with the Blanton and UT. She is inspired by the students and patrons who regularly come through the café: “I know a lot of people by name— we like to treat them like family,” Jeanna says. She is also influenced by the Blanton’s summer family programs such as WorkLab, Storytime Tours, and Deeper Dives, which she says have inspired her to add more “grab and go” items to the café menu, including dry cereal, goldfish, and cheese bento boxes for children, while her chef’s salads are a favorite for parents.The Blanton Café also offers off-menu specials for the museum’s Third Thursdays: a glass of wine and a slice of pizza for $5 (substitute beer for $6) – and the Midday Music Series: coffee and a cookie for $2.50 plus tax. Jeanna says that both specials have become increasingly popular—the Third Thursday special created a line out the door for a solid three hours last month, so get in early! Aside from the wallet-friendly special prices, Jeanna thinks the wine that the café features is a huge draw. The café currently offers two wines, the Lechuza granacha, a red blend from Spain, and the La Fiera pinot grigio, a classic white from Italy. Jeanna also teased the promise of a delicious rosé, coming soon.
Also popular are the breakfast tacos (which often sell out by 10AM, despite breakfast being scheduled through 11AM) as well as the Tomato & Avocado Grilled Cheese and the Grilled Portobello Stack, both of which can be made gluten free using “Udi’s Bread” or served over greens for a healthier option. Offering healthy and fresh food is a priority for Jeanna, who reminisces fondly on the café’s stint serving Fredericksburg peaches last month, which she says sold extremely quickly.
If you’re feeling a bit snacky or need to satisfy a sweet tooth, though, Jeanna has you covered. The Blanton Café secretly offers some of the best fries in Austin, and while they’re not on the menu, you can see them perfectly perched on a dish next to a sandwich once you’re in line at the café. Let me tell you: they are a perfect mixture of crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Jeanna also suggests their newest cookie, the “Royale,” which boasts chocolate, macadamia nuts, pecans, and coconut, and is baked in house, along with the rest of their cookies.
Above all, though, Jeanna has created a fun and lively environment. She tells me that her “awesome girls,” some of whom have worked at the Blanton Café for five or six years, help contribute to this atmosphere through their hard work and love for what they do. I will definitely be frequenting the Blanton Café and certainly will be on the lookout to try all of Jeanna’s new creations!
The Blanton Café is open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Saturday & Sunday 12pm-4pm (grab and go items only). A limited menu is served after 2pm on weekdays and on the weekends. The Café is open until 9pm on Third Thursday evenings and during B Scene. For the full menu, visit our website.
Tessa Krieger-Carlisle is the PR and Marketing Manager at the Blanton Museum of Art. She holds a BA in the History of Art from UC Berkeley and an MA in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.