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Eats for the heat: 10 dishes that will help you forget the sweat

Matthew Odam
Holy Roller does comfort food well, but they might surprise with their Rainbow Salad. [Matthew Odam / AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

The heat can you drive you mad. It can also drive you to change up your diet. When the temperature soars, I look for light, refreshing dishes to beat the heat. That can mean dishes high in acid, charged with a light crunch or simply brimming with freshness. And every now and then, the fiery weather begs to be matched, so I find a dish with just enough kick to let me double down on the heat. Below is a list of 10 dishes I recommend for trying to temper the summer swelter.

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Cherry limeade at Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs

You can almost hear the second line winding its way through the French Quarter when you dip your face into a cream-topped cafe au lait, but the kid in me can’t resist the bright rush of cherry limeade from the stand opened by folks with Louisiana lineage and later sold to the wife-and-husband team of Pattye Henderson and Cliff Chapman. 808 E. 51st St. (Alternatively: Taiwanese shaved ice at one of three SnoMo locations around town.)

» Related: Snowball effect: A guide to Austin’s best snow cone stands

Live scallop crudo at Comedor ($18)

Snap into the slippery, sweet and creamy morsels of pearl-colored scallop for an enlivening taste of the sea, amplified by a glowing, fermented pineapple broth and grounded with the smoky rumble of a pasilla Mixe. As beautiful as waking to the bright midday sun on a beach and wading into the restorative ocean waters. 501 Colorado St. 512-499-0977, (Alternatively: one of several ceviches at La Condesa.)

Stracciatella gelato at Dolce Neve (small, $4.75)

If you’ve ever traveled the cobblestone streets of Rome on a hot and muggy August day, you know there is no greater relief than a scoop of gelato. You can get fancy with the creative flavors at Austin’s best gelato purveyor, but I stick with the classic chocolate chip, a touch of tartness from the milky orb offset by the bittersweet crunch of sheared chocolate chip slabs suspended in the sweet snow. 1713 S. First St. 512-804-5568, (Alternatively: a scoop at Caffe Tèo.)

Rainbow salad at Holy Roller ($13)

This irreverent take on the modern diner knows how to turn out carby comfort and excels at brown foods (fried chicken, pancakes), but this salad is the antidote to all that. A refreshing, jumbly crunch of cabbage and chard fills a bowl balanced with the tang of pickled watermelon radish, toasty pop of roasted almonds, floral lift of herbs and dazzling shimmer of sliced strawberries. I cheat a little on the vegan dish by adding a scoop of chicken salad spritzed with lime juice. 509 Rio Grande St. 512-502-5119, (Alternatively: Caesar salad at Vinaigrette.)

» Related: Restaurant review: Holy Roller’s nostalgia jam is a grand slam

Texas Sheet Cake ice cream at Lick Honest Ice Creams (small, $4.99)

Since the fine gentlemen at Lick will never seem to bend to my will and serve a plain chocolate chip ice cream — something about it not incorporating enough Texas terroir — I usually hopscotch around their intriguing menu (sometimes beet and mint, sometimes goat cheese, thyme and honey). But when in doubt, I go with my wife’s favorite. She’s not from Texas, but she got here at just the right time and was obviously taken with our state nut, the pecan, which makes up the spine of an icing swirled into the rich and smooth chocolate. The only thing missing is the front-porch swing. Multiple locations. (Alternatively: sweet cream with miniature marshmallows and hot fudge at Amy’s Ice Creams.)

Stracciatella crostini with sungold tomatoes at L’Oca d’Oro ($12)

Simplicity and seasonality, two of the hallmarks of Italian food. L’Oca d’Oro pairs milky mozzarella cheese with sweet, ripe tomatoes brought just to the edge of bursting and allows them to blast their beautiful summer song. It is one of several half-priced dishes in the bar area and on the patio until 6:30 p.m. daily. 1900 Simond Ave. 737-212-1876, (Alternatively: go bury your face in a tomato plant and drizzle grassy olive oil over your head.)

» Related: 2018 Austin360 Dining Guide: L'Oca d'Oro (#7)

Trout roe and grilled corn with Neufchâtel on rye toast at Pitchfork Pretty ($12)

Few things say summer like being out on the water and grilling. The upscale Pitchfork Pretty delivers a direct, refreshing and comforting blast of summer with grilled corn studded throughout creamy ripples of whipped Neufchâtel cheese surfed by pearls of mildly sweet trout roe. 2708 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-494-4593, (Alternatively: buy a bag of russet potato chips, some creme fraiche and a tin of trout roe at Central Market and impress your friends.)

» Related: 2018 Austin360 Dining Guide: Pitchfork Pretty (#2)

Shrimp cocktail at Quality Seafood Market ($12.29)

Few things conjure the nostalgic sense of a Texas summer like saltwater smells enveloping you as you approach the coast. We might be landlocked in Central Texas, but you can almost detect that perfumed Gulf air when you snap into cold, plump shrimp kissed with a crimson dollop of horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce at Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, (Alternatively: blue crab fingers at Mongers in East Austin.)

» Related: Katrina led Quality Seafood’s Kimani Williams to better life in Austin

Spicy chilled ramen at Ramen Tatsu-Ya

Yes, you want to hit Ramen Tatsu-Ya when it’s cold for a bracing bowl of hot noodle soup. And while there are many devotees who queue for the same pleasure in summer, the Ramen Tatsu-Ya locations also know how to take their foot off the gas without completely neglecting the heat. A twirl of springy noodles slicked with soy dressing sit in a brothless bowl. And while the hot liquid is gone, the pork-speckled dish still derives piquancy from karashi mustard and chili oil. Multiple locations. (Alternatively: buckwheat noodles with chilled kimchi soup at Charm Korean BBQ in North Austin.)

» Related: 2018 Austin360 Dining Guide: Ramen Tatsu-Ya (#34)

Zarigani hand roll at Uroko ($7)

A taste of the sea and a taste of the bayou find harmony in this make (hand roll) from the Chef’s Creation list at the counter-service sushi spot founded by the owners of Kome and longtime Uchi chef Masazumi Saio. The seaweed wrapper encases a cone of slightly sticky rice that wears its sweet, spicy crawfish tail salad like a top hat, sprinkled with puffed quinoa and slashed through with an awakening jag of pickled jalapeno. 1023 Springdale Road, Building 1, Suite C. 512-520-4004, (Alternatively: the Sunshine Roll, with salmon, mango and avocado, at Kome.)

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