Tastemakers :: Josephine House

By Elizabeth Winslow

For years, we’ve had tacos, barbeque and beer down in Austin. What was harder to find, though, was a touch of refined but casual elegance in our local food scene. Thankfully, Larry McGuire, Austin’s culinary boy wonder, has gotten it just right once again, articulating exactly what we wanted before we even knew quite what that was. His newly-opened Josephine House is bright and lovely and captures what’s best about the new Austin: stylish and sophisticated, but still easy and relaxed, and most of all, delicious. Think intensely-flavored, but fresh and light salads, sandwiches, soups, savory tarts, big plates and bar snacks, easy-sipping cocktails and decadent, flaky, buttery pastries, all served up with the meticulous attention to detail for which all McGuire Moorman establishments are known. After a long lunch of a hearty three grain salad with herbs, butternut, and kale, and fragrant, warm pastured pork meatballs, prepared by Josephine House chef du cuisine Jen Jackson (accompanied by a perfectly crisp and minerally white wine, and followed by pastry chef Alex Manley’s strawberry galette with cornmeal crust & chamomile ice cream) we sit down with Larry to talk entrepreneurial beginnings, culinary inspiration, and the power of positivity.

*photography by thomas winslow

What is your biggest motivator?

I love Austin and just want to keep making people happy here by feeding them good food and creating well-designed spaces. I wake up every day wanting our businesses to be better for our customers and employees and create value for our investors.

Who is your business idol?

Anybody who puts creativity, quality, and people above the bottom line.  There are a lot of them in Austin and that’s what makes it such a great place.

Where do you get culinary inspiration?

I love to be traveling constantly. My current rotation is NYC, San Fran, Portland, LA. I really want to take a long trip to France this summer.

Who is your culinary idol?

For Jeffrey’s I’ve really been liking Martha Stewart a lot lately… may be dorky but I love it when people unabashedly live large lives. She’s not afraid of luxury and entertaining.

What was your first job?

I was a barista and worked the counter at the Texas French Bread on South Congress in high school. I grew up with Texas French… great bread in Austin before it was cool, Hobbit bread & Hyde Park fudge cake.

What has been your greatest mistake?

I’ve made so many but somehow everything always works out.  I truly believe in people and the power of positivity.

It’s 11am on Sunday, what’s for brunch?

Elizabeth Street. Croissants, Stumptown Coffee, Sticky Rice & Poached Eggs.

What gets you to work every morning?

Anxiety about the restaurants and excitement for new projects and people.

How do you measure success?

Success is when work and life meld together…that is, you are doing exactly what you want to be and making a living doing it.

Tell us about your dream dinner party — what, who & where?

After a long boat day with friends on Lake Austin we eat fajitas and drink margs outside at Polvos. What is better than that?

What’s your next big idea?

Lie in a hammock for a couple weeks.

see more of Elizabeth’s work on Haymakers

*photography by Thomas Winslow

Comments (20)

  1. Jennifer Rose Smith says:

    Beautiful photos. I haven’t made it to Josephine House yet but I’ve got to stop in soon after reading this story. When I first moved to Austin in the nineties, Jeffrey’s was kind of the superlative fancy restaurant. I have so many good memories there (graduation dinners, etc). I’m excited that Mr. McGuire is stepping in to give it a facelift. Can’t wait to see what he does.

    1. Elizabeth Winslow says:

      It is everything you hope it will be–down to the tiniest detail!

  2. Sarah | Sarah The Architect says:

    What a beautiful place! This blog has given me so many reasons to make a trip to Austin.

    1. Elizabeth Winslow says:

      We will look forward to it! Be sure to let us know your favorite spots when you visit.

  3. esmergonzalez says:

    Beautiful photos. Josephine House is in my neighborhood and I can’t wait to try it! (And also super excited about Jeffrey’s reopening)

    1. Elizabeth Winslow says:

      Me too–if Josephine House is this exquisite, I can only imagine how gorgeous the “mothership” will be!

  4. FripperyVintage says:

    Beautiful photos, I’m gonna have to give it a try!

    1. Elizabeth Winslow says:

      Thank you. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  5. Capella Kincheloe (@CapellaKID) says:

    When choosing a vacation destination, we often rule out locales that don’t have great food. It seems that Austin should be on the list of must-visits simply for the food alone.

    1. Elizabeth Winslow says:

      Absolutely–we have an amazing food scene here. Everything from casual taco joints, innovative food trailers, to world class culinary destinations. And the farmers market is worth a trip in and of itself!

  6. Lindsay {Everistta} says:

    Looks gorgeous and yummy!

  7. Rachel See Smith, MA, MT-BC says:

    I can’t find any place on their website with regards to a price range…any thoughts on this? Thanks for the awesome suggestion! This place looks great!

  8. April says:

    Love this!! Great report! Can’t wait to check this place out. 🙂

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