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Chef to Watch

Mat Clouser

Photo by Karin Dreyer

Swift's Attic chef Mat Clouser.

Home to Whole Foods, a booming food truck culture and Top Chef winner Paul Qui, Austin’s food scene is hotter than a Zippo at a Willie Nelson concert. Add Swift’s Attic to that list.

Located in a lofted space on Congress Avenue, Swift’s has a cozy, trendy vibe, with natural wood, communal tables, exposed light-bulb fixtures and original charm. What elevates the place from other Austin hot spots is chef Mat Clouser, a veteran who cut his teeth in some of the city’s most touted kitchens.

Clouser describes Swift’s menu as “modern American small plates,” which is a fancy way of saying anything goes. The charred edamame with Pop Rocks and chili oil, for example, will have you asking why most restaurants simply steam, salt and serve. And don’t miss the sunchoke and fennel salad with a sunnyside egg. It’s as rich as a salad can get without falling off the deep end. No steak on the menu? Who cares—you can get that anywhere in Texas! Opt for the venison kebabs from local purveyor Broken Arrow Ranch.

Overall, Clouser’s menu is filled with things he and his staff like to eat. “We joke that we’re the FUBU of kitchens—a ‘for us, by us’ kind of a thing,” he says. Thankfully, he’s willing to share. —Molly Mogren


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