Retail Roundup: Lost Creek at Gaines Ranch Area Shopping, Dining and Entertainment

Lost Creek at Gaines Ranch is located close to two beautiful upscale shopping centers that have worked to integrate themselves into their natural environments to make shopping at the upscale retailers relaxing, gorgeous, and fun.

The 70-acre, 365,000-square-foot Arbor Trails, only 10 minutes away, has twice won the “Best Real Estate Award” from the Austin Business Journal. The center hosts a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market which offers not only fresh, organic groceries, but also hosts movie nights, local brewery tastings, live music, and kids’ cooking classes. In addition, the center hosts more than 30 other stores, shops, and services, including Costco, Pure Bikram Yoga, and Staples.

In addition to the stores, there are several local Austin restaurants such as Torchy’s Tacos, Kerbey Lane Café, and Double Dave’s Pizzaworks. There’s even a Chuy’s, the legendary local Tex-Mex establishment famous for their Queso Compuesto, a chile con queso with seasoned ground sirloin, guacamole and pico de gallo. The center’s Mandola’s Italian Market is also popular with locals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and for its array of imported gourmet Italian foods and products.

Plenty More Shopping Nearby

Escarpment Village, just a little over ten minutes away, is Austin’s first green retail center. The center features rainwater-catching cisterns and solar panels, six restaurants, and over 25 shops and stores. Particularly notable is the high-end “hybrid” HEB, which incorporates many of the gourmet aspects of Central Market. There is also a Starbucks, Oasis Day Spa, and Massage Envy among many other retailers.

Three other major retail centers are only 15 minutes away or closer — The Village at Westlake, Hill Country Galleria, and Sunset Valley Market Fair. Together, these shopping centers host more than 200 fine stores, boutiques, services, and restaurants.

Italian, Straight Up

All the dining opportunities in downtown Austin are readily accessible, but Lost Creek diners who wish to stay closer to home have great options as well.

Milano Café is one of the locally owned restaurants close to Lost Creek. Located in a strip mall, the restaurant looks deceptively modest from the outside. But inside, diners discover a place decorated in a simple contemporary style that evokes an actual café in Milan. One feature that pleases regular diners is that the Milano Café allows you to bring your own bottle — but if someone forgets, there’s a liquor store conveniently located next door. There are no cork fees. The service is casual; customers order at the counter and the food is delivered to their table.

The menu is straight up Italian, and authentic to the core. Appetizers include simple and delicious items such as bruschetta and delicious caprese salad — a simple salad of fresh basil, fresh sliced tomatoes, and fresh sliced mozzarella all drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar. The menu lists both entrees and entrée specials. Dishes on each are delicious. Many regular diners highly recommend the drunken linguini and the lobster ravioli in a creamy gorgonzola sauce.

Another Foodie Favorite

Jack Allen’s Kitchen is a popular destination for local diners looking for a locally owned, top-quality fine-dining experience with a distinct Texas twist. Jack Allen’s is centered on Southern-inspired dishes with an infusion of southwestern flavors to create plates that are both intriguing and comforting. The restaurant is devoted to sourcing its ingredients from vendors close to home — the vast majority of ingredients in every dish are from within the state of Texas. Texas-centric specials vary to take advantage of the freshest local produce while creating dishes that suit the changing Texas seasons. Every meal begins with the restaurant’s complementary and surprisingly upscale twist on pimiento cheese served with flatbread crackers.

Frequent diners at Jack Allen’s Kitchen recommend first considering one of the unique daily specials, but also insist that you can’t go wrong with something from the “Chicken-Fried Anything” options — especially the chicken-fried New York Strip. You’re also encouraged to try one of the South Texas Taco Platters, such as the popular and inventive chile, mango, and Shrimp Taco), or any of Jack Allen’s excellent gourmet burgers. Desserts, which are created daily in-house, also come highly recommended. And don’t forget to check out Jack Allen’s famous Sunday brunch, featuring fresh, tasty mimosas and an extensive buffet, which draws diners from all over the state.