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#1 mame11

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 01:09 AM

Why has Laura Bush failed to prevail on one of her Tex-Mex chef buddies from Austin to move to Washington? I have a trip coming up to Austin. Though I have my places I like to go, I wonder if Rockwellians have some to share? This trip I am staying downtown, next one I'll be lucky to be anywhere near Austin!

Thanks!



#2 Heather

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 08:17 AM

We usually wind up at Maudie's on Lake Austin Blvd, since it's so close to my MIL's house, but the last time we were there she took us to a fabulous place on the south side of town. I'll try to find out that name for you. Holy cow it was good.

#3 MelGold

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 01:25 PM

I'm a fan of Hula Hut myself.

#4 Free Wilma

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 11:32 PM

We spent about 10 days in the Austin area last summer for my brother's wedding. We enjoyed Shady Grove for basic American w/ a Texas flair food, as well as Chuy's for Tex-Mex. It's not the most authentic Mexican...but it hits the spot for when you're craving the more americanized version. I believe Shady Grove and Chuy's are owned by the same group and are located along the same stretch of Barton Springs Road. Also in that area is Green Mesquite BBQ which has a great outdoor dining (drinking) patio. Avoid the Spaghetti Warehouse unless you're in the mood for incredibly pedestrian overcooked pasta fare. We tried to go to recommended Kerbey Lane for brunch one Sunday but the wait was over an hour and I decided that I couldn't handle that with two kids.

Laura Marshall


#5 Free Wilma

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 11:34 PM

When in both Austin and Oklahoma City we like to swing by County Line for BBQ. In Austin I've only been to the location on the lake...which is a beautiful drive and a terrific setting on the water.

(edited to add stuff cuz I keep thinking of new things)

If you have the chance, check out Central Market which is an amazing grocery store. It makes Wegman's and Whole Food look like slackers.

Edited by Free Wilma, 04 February 2006 - 11:44 PM.

Laura Marshall


#6 MelGold

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:02 PM

We tried to go to recommended Kerbey Lane for brunch one Sunday but the wait was over an hour and I decided that I couldn't handle that with two kids.

It's definitely worth the wait for pancakes or their queso - if you can't make it to the location on Kerbey Lane (parking stinks if memory serves), there are others (forewarned: local chain): Kerbey Lane addresses

If you have a car & some free time, don't waste your time at County Line for BBQ, hit 183 going south to Luling for some of the most sublime BBQ...it's only 40 minutes away (hang a right at the airport off 71 & keep going).

Central Market also has affordable, good eats in the attached food court. I spent many a weekend meal grazing the aisles in the store, then grabbing a pizza or sandwich next door.

EZ's across the street on Lamar is also pretty decent diner fare...nothing to go out of your way for, but still a viable solution to hunger pains.

Edited by MelGold, 06 February 2006 - 12:02 PM.


#7 Joe H

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Posted 08 February 2006 - 04:54 PM

When in both Austin and Oklahoma City we like to swing by County Line for BBQ. In Austin I've only been to the location on the lake...which is a beautiful drive and a terrific setting on the water.

(edited to add stuff cuz I keep thinking of new things)

If you have the chance, check out Central Market which is an amazing grocery store. It makes Wegman's and Whole Food look like slackers.

I still prefer the Wegman's in Sterling although the original Central Market gives it a real run. The "County Line on the hill" is an outstanding experience for a visitor with good ribs and good sides. I also think the original is better than any of their outposts in other cities in Texas and the Southwest. Having said this Mel Gold has given you the best advice of anyone: rent a car and drive to the Luling City Market which I believe has the best bbq'd beef brisket in the world. Serious. Over the years I've been to almost all of the "best" Texas pits from Cooper's to Clark's Outpost to Kreuz (original owners) to the Salt Lick, etc. (I've driven and crisscrossed all of TX a number of times for business.) The City Market is the best of all. It is an experience you will not find anywhere else; I'd also put their "marbled" brisket up with about any steak anywhere. There are some good photos of it in this link:

http://homepage.mac....ingcitymkt.html

For Tex Mex while there are better, locally the most popular or easiest to find (on side of Interstate) may be Papasito's which is part of a Houston based mini chain. It's similar to Rio Grande Cafe here (which is called Uncle Julio's in Dallas and elsewhere) but, I think, better.

#8 mame11

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Posted 14 February 2006 - 11:36 PM

First, thank you all for your ideas. In the end, I visited my favorite haunts with some new places:

1) Rockets--- I was hungry, dinner wasn't until much later, so I ended up grabbing a hot dog. First hot dog in 16 years. It was tasty. Chicago style. http://www.rocketbur...com/index.shtml

2) Manuels- Great place for a rowdy dinner. Technically described as Mexican but sure seemed upscale Tex-Mex to me as they serve chips and salsa. The food was good but the margaritas better and the company great.

3) Las Manitas Avenue Cafe-- Um, is it bad to say that I ate multiple meals at Las Manitas and would have eaten every meal there if their hours were better.

4) Moonshine. Happily I joined friends for dinner at a newish place right behind the Austin Convention Center. Moonshine is awesome. The menu is down home yet eclectic. As all but two of us were out of towners, the server encouraged us all to try the macaroni and cheese. I had a great salad with corn-flake crusted fried chicken and a side of the mac & cheese. Delicious. The next day, I was so busy lunch came and went with nothing to eat so I headed back to Moonshine for a late afternoon snack. I had a side of red beans and rice and side of their veggie of the days (steamed carrots and spicy green beans). The corn bread was light, spicy and special.

5) Halcyon-- A good coffeehouse, free wi-fi, above average coffee and delicious looking pastries and other homemade goodies. The music was icky which was a surprise for Austin.

Enjoy...

#9 goldenticket

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 01:30 PM

I was in Austin a week ago. I didn't get out to many restaurants as I was visiting family but I just wanted to say that the Austin airport is one of the BEST food airports I've been in. The food outlets are run mostly by local establishments. Choices include Mexican from Matt's El Rancho, BBQ (brisket, sausage, ribs, etc) from the Salt Lick and Harlon's, and dessert from Amy's Ice Cream. There's the odd Quizno's and Auntie Anne's but you can totally skip those because of all the other good choices.

Even nicer, there is frequently live music at one or more locations throughout the airport. It's a great place to pass the time waiting for a flight and have some good local food/entertainment while doing do.

Jackie B.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
Wonka/Dahl/O'Shaughnessy


#10 MelGold

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 02:08 PM

I was in Austin a week ago.  I didn't get out to many restaurants as I was visiting family but I just wanted to say that the Austin airport is one of the BEST food airports I've been in.  The food outlets are run  mostly by local establishments.  Choices include Mexican from Matt's El Rancho, BBQ (brisket, sausage, ribs, etc) from the Salt Lick and Harlon's, and dessert from Amy's Ice Cream.  There's the odd Quizno's and Auntie Anne's but you can totally skip those because of all the other good choices.

Even nicer, there is frequently live music at one or more locations throughout the airport.  It's a great place to pass the time waiting for a flight and have some good local food/entertainment while doing do.

Now if they'd just add a Texadelphia or a Whataburger in the airport, I'd turn into the character from The Terminal! <_<

#11 mame11

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 12:41 PM

Papasito's may set something of a local standard for Tex Mex all over Texas, Austin included but it is not much better, if at all, then Rio Grande here.

You are kidding right? Right? You are right that Papasitos is not much better than Rio Grand BUT I don't think it sets the standard for Tex Mex in Texas.

#12 DanielK

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 04:08 PM

... they are enormously popular all over Texas as well as Atlanta, Chicago and the other cities they are expanding into...

Joe, you should know better than to use popularity as an argument for quality with this crowd. Taco Bell is also extrememly popular in Texas. The lines at On the Border for weekend dinner here approach 2 hours, and the food is criminally bad.

My wife hasn't lived in Austin for 20 years, so she's comparing the neighborhood joints for Tex-Mex and BBQ from that era (though we do go back 1-2 times a year to visit family, and always hit some Tex-Mex and BBQ places). Have places expanded to their detriment, or rested on their laurels in that period? Probably. Does she remember them being better than they were - very possibly. But the average neighborhood joint there still tops here for Tex-Mex, and for "Texas style BBQ", namely brisket and beef ribs, there's nothing here (again, the aforementioned Capital Q in Chinatown is pretty bad.)

I will say that we have not yet been to Guajillo, but the same people that recommended Guajillo to us also recommended Los Tios and Taqueria Poblano, neither of which excited us.

#13 Pool Boy

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Posted 10 June 2006 - 04:54 PM

Why has Laura Bush failed to prevail on one of her Tex-Mex chef buddies from Austin to move to Washington? I have a trip coming up to Austin. Though I have my places I like to go, I wonder if Rockwellians have some to share? This trip I am staying downtown, next one I'll be lucky to be anywhere near Austin!

Thanks!

f I found myself in Austin, I'd seriously consider making a minor pilgrimage to Lockhart to try the BBQ out there. Three or four of the best BBQ joints anywhere. I am partial to Smitty's.

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#14 Venerable Bede

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 03:57 PM

ahhh. . i have such wonderful memories of plates full of chicken fried steak and red mashed potatoes covered in gravy at threadgills. . that's white gravy, not that brown stuff that yankees call "gravy." :unsure:

ahhhh chuy's. . .more fond memories. not to mention the shiner bock.

#15 ferment everything

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:54 PM

...rent a car and drive to the Luling City Market which I believe has the best bbq'd beef brisket in the world. Serious. Over the years I've been to almost all of the "best" Texas pits from Cooper's to Clark's Outpost to Kreuz (original owners) to the Salt Lick, etc. (I've driven and crisscrossed all of TX a number of times for business.) The City Market is the best of all. It is an experience you will not find anywhere else; I'd also put their "marbled" brisket up with about any steak anywhere.

I forgot to post that I made this trek over my thanksgiving break with a friend. I'm from the Austin area but didn't really get interested in good food until I came to DC, so needless to say I had never considered driving out there just for the food before. The brisket was seriously good, but the sausage was actually what I went nuts over. I don't remember in clear enough detail to use fancy adjectives, but I do remember it being fairly oily but just delicious. On the way home we stopped in at Black's to see how the "Best BBQ in Texas" stacked up, and it was really disappointing. Granted, the place had cleared out when we got there (a weekday around 1pm), but it was still really weak.

Over the xmas break, I had a pretty decent lunch at Hyde Park Bar & Grill (the fries are great and they know it). Also had dinner with the family at the downtown Kerbey Lane location, and it was very pleasant...the place just screams Austin, and the food (I got a chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese and olives) was pretty good, especially for the price.

Oh, and Austin has some great microbrews...Live Oak and Independence both put out some stellar beers.
Me: T, t
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#16 wineitup

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:29 AM

Found a good cuban place off of Congress Street called Habana (I think the spelling is correct). Good roast pork. mmmmm!
www.foodericksburg.com

#17 goldenticket

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 03:55 PM

I'd seriously consider making a minor pilgrimage to Lockhart to try the BBQ out there. Three or four of the best BBQ joints anywhere. I am partial to Smitty's.

I'm still not sure what I'm missing when I go sailing by Kreuz's in Lockhart, but I'm a City Market devotee and it's just another 10 minutes down the road. Heavy weather in Houston meant that the brisket and ribs spent a bit longer in the hot bag than planned, but it still tastes great! I think I'll take them up on their offer to call ahead and ask for a whole brisket next time - it might travel just a bit better.

Some places to check out in "SoCo" (the South Congress area of Austin): Jo's Coffee - a funky coffee stand with (thankfully) shaded outdoor seating and tasty iced latte. Guero's Taco Bar - a fun local taqueria that's been around for 20+ years. Hand made corn tortillas with some delicious fillings, including al pastor (first time I've seen the meat shaved off a gyro-like spit) with fresh pineapple, carne guisada, and many more. There is a self-serve salsa bar, a long list of tequilas, and friendly service with plenty of suggestions if you're having trouble deciding. They also serve breakfast all day if you're hankering for some migas mid-afternoon :angry: !
Vespaio/Enoteca Vespaio - sister establishments sharing one storefront. Both Italian - Vespaio is the more upscale restaurant - didn't try it, but it sounds like it's popular with the locals and they have their own garden out back. The Enoteca half of the equation is pastry shop/gourmet market/cafe. I had a very nice lunch there. The menu is composed of a list of antipasti ($4 each or 3 for $12), charcuterie (also priced individually or with a break for a larger number), salads, pizza that looked thin, crispy and good, and several panini and pasta choices. Since I was dining on my own, I was a little limited - there were many dishes that would have been great to share B) . I started with the (if this is) small (I'd hate to see large!) spinach salad - lots of fresh baby spinach, radicchio, candied walnuts, gorgonzola, roasted red and yellow sweet peppers, and thinly sliced fresh mushrooms. It was dressed with a vinaigrette that was even a bit too vinegary for me who loves all things acidic, but all in all it was a very nice, fresh, filling salad. My second course was the antipasti special of the day - golden chanterelles and fresh bacon in a balsamic-veal reduction served over soft roasted corn polenta with thin and cripy crostini alongside. Very good and very rich - the super creamy polenta obviously had some sort of cheese in it. The dish was a touch salty for my taste - could have been the bacon. The place had a very comfortable bistro feel - small tables close together, tile floor, warm wood accents.

There are lots of other places in this stretch I didn't get to check out - Magnolia Cafe, Mars, Zen, Home Slice. One could quite happily spend the day wandering from galleries to funky junk shops to eating establishments!

We also hit Shady Grove (mentioned several times above). It's an easy place to go with kids - lots of outdoor seating, a simple but decent menu, and friendly service. The hippy chick sandwich (roasted veggies with grilled chicken) offset the green chile cheese fries (damn were they good!).

A visit to the flagship Whole Foods store is a must - though the one we have here in Fair Lakes compares quite favorably - and we've got the wine-tasting room!

Jackie B.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
Wonka/Dahl/O'Shaughnessy


#18 Flamingo

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 02:00 PM

I am an Austin native and here is my favorite restaurant in town.

Mexican
Fonda San Miguel
This is true regional Mexican food, with representations from almost all the regions on the menu. It has been in business for over 30 years, is upscale and reservations are highly recommended unless you like to wait. Dishes to eat: Ceviche, queso con rajas, anything with quitlacoche, mole poblano, camarones in salsa verde, chile relleno, there homemade tortillas, crepas con cajeta, margarita with pear brandy!
They have the most spectacular brunch in town where you will find Chef Miguel Ravago serving you your brunch in the middle of the room, reservations are needed, however you can sometimes get a seat at the bar or the cocktail lounge. For the best service ask to sit in Tom or Jennifer's section, though all of the staff is knowledgeable and professional.

#19 ferment everything

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 03:14 PM

Thanksgiving in Texas, a reflection.

My weekend was a mish-mash of things that I grew up on, trying new spots, and generally eating a ton of food (both home-cooked and restaurant). The new find of the weekend was Aster's Ethiopian, in an old taco-stand location on the IH-35 southbound frontage road at Dean Keaton (this is UT territory). I don't know how it compares to DC ethiopian, but this was pretty damn good. Spicy and savory were balanced in a very tasty assemblage. I had lamb in berbere sauce, and for $13.50, this came with my choice of three vegetarian "sides". Delicious.

I had a hankering for tamales on Sunday around lunchtime, and since I had heard about Curra's being one of the go-to places, I decided to give the Curra's Long Bar location (at Parmer/McNeil, much closer to me than the other locations) a try. Very eh. They weren't bad tamales, but they certainly weren't great.

With a hankering for brisket, and after finding out that Cooper's Pit BBQ had gone out of business, I ended up at the Round Rock Pok-e-Jo's. Big booths and country music on the radio. Dry brisket (surprisingly worse than the Harmon's BBQ brisket I had in the Houston airport...the airport!). Jalapeno cornbread that was more like a corn pudding, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Still, disappointed.

Thundercloud subs is more of a nostalgia thing for me than anything else. This was a staple of senior year high school lunches, and one summer while interning at a software company, I had Thundercloud for lunch at least 3-4 times a week. Not a holiday visit goes by that doesn't involve my sister and I going to Thundercloud and getting the exact same sandwiches we always get. California club (avocado and bacon!) for me, egg salad for her. It's simple, and the bread's not bad, but the nostalgia is why I keep going back. Seeing the same ornery sandwich lady still working there is a bit comforting, as odd as that sounds.

All in, it was a good weekend. I baked some pies and helped cook a turkey on Friday and a pork crown roast on Saturday. Now, off to the gym to work it all off!
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#20 lscanlon

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 10:55 AM

My wife and I just returned from a one-week sightseeing trip to Austin and San Antonio. In Austin, we liked the County Line BBQ (the lake location) and the Eastside Cafe at 2113 Manor Road (http://www.eastsidecafeaustin.com/). We ate at Eastside twice and loved it both times. The cafe sits on an acre parcel of land, on which they grow fruits and vegetables for use in the restaurant. Highly recommended!

#21 Al Dente

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:03 PM

When in both Austin and Oklahoma City we like to swing by County Line for BBQ. In Austin I've only been to the location on the lake...which is a beautiful drive and a terrific setting on the water.

donrockwell.com comes to the rescue!

I've been in Austin all week on biz. This is my first time here. I was supposed to meet up with some co-workers for dinner, but plans fell through, so I took a spin out to the Bee Cave Road location of County Line which I think is the original. Despite my steady diet of burgers and tacos the past week, I took the plunge and had the giant sampler o' meat, or whatever they called it. Jeebus, that's a lot of meat, but I managed to plow through most of it. All of it was excellent except the brisket which was dry. The sausage and turkey were the big surprises. I think I liked them more than the pork ribs, and the giant flintstonian beef rib which probably took a year off my life. I thought the tater salad and cole slaw were pretty damn good too-- not too creamy and very fresh tasting. I ate at the ungodly late hour of 8:30, so the place was practically empty and the service was good.

Hey Don, Paris Hilton will be on Letterman in about 5 minutes!

Keepin' it weird in Austin,
Al

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#22 Flamingo

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 08:31 AM

Tex-Mex: El Azteca 2600 E 7th St Austin, TX 78702 (512) 477-4701
Jorge's www.tacosgarcia.com

BBQ: Stubb's (sticky and spicy!) www.stubbsaustin.com , also a killer music venue

Italian: Vespaio www.austinvespaio.com

Brazilian: Sao Paulo's www.saopaulos.net

#23 MelGold

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Posted 17 August 2008 - 06:59 PM

Having an amazing weekend in Austin & haven't wasted a calorie yet (I'll ignore the weird dry chicken at last night's wedding, but otherwise...)!

Friday went straight south on 183 from the airport to City Market in Luling. My friend & I finished off a pound of brisket, a rib a piece, a link of sausage, potato salad and beans paired with a $1.50 Shiner Bock before heading across the street to the little farmers market to pick out some huge peaches that actually taste like peaches to offset the protein.

From there, we headed back north to Austin, hitting the shops along South Congress just below the bridge. We took some cupcakes from Hey Cupcake over to a friend's house. The red velvet was AMAZING...tasting just like Mom's!

Saturday brought a stop at Taco Cabana for an 8 oz. tub of guacamole & a dozen fresh, warm tortillas for snack before a trip to HEB to pick up some briskets to deep freeze for the trip home (yes, I'm packing massive amounts of meat in my suitcase). :lol:

This morning was a second stop at TC for an egg & chorizo taco for breakfast appetizer before heading to Bouldin Creek Cafe on South 1st and Elizabeth. Awesome vegetarian options for both breakfast & lunch. I had scrambled eggs and a massive slice of blueberry cornbread with a half of a grapefruit and huge cup of coffee.

After a 4 mile trek around what will always be known as Town Lake to me, my friend & I hit the deck at Little Woodrow's for an icy cold brew before driving through Players 2 on the edge of campus for fried mushrooms & zucchini with ranch.

I'm in need of a scoop of Amy's ice cream and a Whataburger before heading home tomorrow morning, but all in all, another fun & tasty weekend in my favorite city in the world!

#24 MelGold

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Posted 18 August 2008 - 08:36 PM

Didn't get Amy's or Whataburger, thanks to a trip to Chuy's & the Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas and a swirl margarita. I'm missing Austin already.

#25 Free Wilma

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 08:54 PM

We got to spend a few days with family in Austin in August. The highlight of the visit was our first trip ever the The Salt Lick. Wow. That was the best brisket I've EVER had. Amazing and worth the wait under the shade trees drinking lemonade. We also had dinner at Chuy's...again. My kids demand a visit every time we're in Austin.

Laura Marshall


#26 DanielK

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 02:17 PM

...For the reason that many in Austin drive to Llano (Cooper's) or Luling (City Market) ... Austin's Ironworks is probably better than anything in D. C. and places like the County Line on the Hill and the Salt Lick in Driftwood have a great deal of ambience.

My wife remembers driving to Cooper's now and then, but Ironworks, County Line, and Salt Lick were regular stops. We have nothing approaching any of them around here.

#27 Davo99

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 05:30 PM

When I went to Austin on an internship in 2000, I discovered the joys of BBQ (despite visits to Ruby's and a nearby Rudy's). It was enough to take a self-designed BBQ tour with my dad a few years later. From my experience, Cooper's and Louis Mueller's are extraordinary while Black's was also notable. I don't think I'll be headed back to Austin anytime soon though, so if Hill Country is even decent I will welcome them with open arms. And if they are better than that, it'll be gravy.

My wife and I head down to Austin each fall for the Austin City Limits Music Festival, and a few years ago we drove out to the since-closed Salt Lick 360 for dinner. While the smoked meats far outshone anything I've experienced around here, the star of the meal was queso with shredded brisket, jalapenos and grilled onion. Oh goodness! Just a little piece of heaven on every bite of tortilla.

#28 kasski

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Posted 03 February 2010 - 11:37 AM

We were in Austin over Thanksgiving and our friends turned us on to Torchy's Tacos - YUM! The Green Chili pork tacos, the Democrat and the Brushfire tacos were ALL amazing. Torchy's offers great prices, perfect portions and flavors that will wake up your tastebuds. We ended up going there three tiems withint the week. Too good to pass up. There are several locations, but we went to the one on S. 1st street. Here's their menu: http://www.torchystacos.com/menu.htm

#29 JLK

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:53 PM

gnatharobed and I had a girls' weekend in Austin a few weeks ago. I kept hoping she would post in all of her food-wise eloquence so I could just chime in with a few "yeah!" and "me too!"s but alas, I am the first to cave.

We secured tickets to the Mumford & Sons taping of Austin City Limits and quickly planned a trip based on food, drink, music and a little sun. Mission accomplished. I love traveling with someone who, like me, has never uttered the words "I don't usually eat breakfast."

After arriving and dropping our stuff at the hotel, we went straight to Stubb's BBQ. There are no photos of this meal which was consumed relatively quickly and silently. We both had the "minor plate" consisting of two meats and two sides. Mine were pulled pork, sausage, mac & cheese and beans. Other than the casing on the sausage being a little tough IMO, everything was tasty. I added a piece of cornbread, which was the lone disappointment - dry and bland.

Several hours of rambling about downtown Austin later, we stopped for a drink at the W Hotel. We found room for a half-bottle of bubbly and some chili-lime popcorn. popcorn.jpg

Dinner that night was suggested by gnatharobed: Odd Duck. It was a great pick and not just for the food. You stand in what I understand is typically a long line, order and then grab a seat to chill while your food is cooked to order. Expect to wait 45 minutes or so. Amuse yourself by running across the street to the convenience market across the street which sells beer, wine and any accoutrements you might want. We happened to arrive when the kitchen staff was ready for a beer - in return for one free dish, I got them some beer with their money while picking up ours. Everybody wins.

I'm fuzzy on the food details (probably because of the time that has passed as well as the alarmingly caloric dessert that came later), but recall grits, quail and...other stuff (sorry!). I was hungry enough that I also ordered a few items from the non-Odd Duck trailer on the property. Nothing was bad, but nothing was good enough to post about.

Dessert came from Gourdough's. Some genius - aka me - decided three doughnuts would be a good dessert, mostly because I had trouble making up my mind regarding flavors. We had a chocolate-coconut concoction (overkill but I liked it, possibly because it was the only one we ordered with chocolate), the maple bacon and a simple cinnamon-sugar. I was disappointed by the maple bacon, probably because I have been spoiled by Birch & Barley's wonderful offering. This one came with full, too long strips of bacon atop a maple doughnut, making it challenging, not to mention messy, to get a string of perfect salty-sweet bites going.
doughnut 2 sm.jpg doughnut 3 sm.jpg doughnut sm.jpg


We took a somewhat long walk back to downtown Austin. I suspect we burned off 5% of the calories consumed. B)

And that was night #1.

Jennifer


#30 JLK

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 08:27 PM

Our first morning in Austin happened to be Easter Sunday. Figuring most places would be crowded I booked us a table at Lambert's hoping 1. that it would be good and 2. that it wouldn't be crazy holiday expensive. We did great on both accounts.

Lambert's Easter brunch set up was brunch plus entree. Oh, and both were all you can eat, not just the buffet. Order as many entrees as you like, our server told us. Wow. Right after we ordered the entrees and a round of mimosas, a bread plate containing hot cross buns and lemon-ginger scones arrived. IIRC, the price was $32 per person.

We picked three entrees to share: French toast with strawberry butter, a crispy-edged fluffy inside blueberry pancake and biscuits with sausage gravy. The buffet wasn't large, but well-edited. I ate a lot of ham, and even more mac & cheese. The latter was the best I have ever eaten. The only "secret" ingredient we were able to wheedle out of our server was that goat cheese played a role.

We ate, and ate, and ate some more. Eventually the bill came. Upon realizing that mimosas were just $3 each, we ordered another round.
Lambert's plate.jpg Lamberts breads.jpg IMG00264-20110424-1116.jpg


If I lived in Austin, I'd eat there weekly. Swear.

Jennifer


#31 gnatharobed

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 01:55 AM

yeah!

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#32 gnatharobed

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 01:56 AM

gnatharobed and I had a girls' weekend in Austin a few weeks ago. I kept hoping she would post in all of her food-wise eloquence so I could just chime in with a few "yeah!" and "me too!"s but alas, I am the first to cave.

me too!

Debbie Tang
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#33 ferment everything

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 01:41 PM

Franklin's BBQ. Moved about a year ago from a converted trailer to an actual brick/mortar at East 11th and Branch (just off I-35). Best fatty brisket I've ever had. No contest. Just amazing. Go.
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#34 Pat

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 02:07 PM

Franklin's BBQ. Moved about a year ago from a converted trailer to an actual brick/mortar at East 11th and Branch (just off I-35). Best fatty brisket I've ever had. No contest. Just amazing. Go.

I was there last fall when they were still in the trailer, and everything we tried was fantastic. Really nice people too.

#35 Arlene Ivana

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 10:32 AM

Just returned from four days in Austin, where the weather ranged from suffocatingly hot to just hot.

Food Trucks: Odd Duck is only open for dinners and only Tues-Sat so we took some locals here for dinner when we arrived Sat evening. No wait to order at 7pm and food took about 15-20 minutes. We got one of everything but the table agreed that the pork belly sliders and quail were the standouts. On the East Side are the bars The Grackle and The Liberty (more on those later) but both house trucks run by the East Side Kings. We munched on their tongue buns and curry buns. The tongue buns were fantastic, overstuffed with braised tongue and dressed in peanut sauce, cilantro and jalapeno. Curry buns were like massive fried curry puffs. Perfect bar food.

Tacos: We hit up Papolote for some snacks one day and Torchy's Tacos for dinner another night. We got a mix of traditional and non-traditional tacos at both. For the "non-traditional" the boy fell in love with the Alambre at Papalote, stuffed with grilled steak, bacon, poblano peppers and provolone cheese, sort of a tex-mex riff on a steak sandwich. I gravitated to the Trailer Park at Torchy's, which has fried chicken and should be ordered "Trashy", i.e. with a side of ranch-flavored queso. My boyfriend was horrified by it, rightfully so. Torchy's featured a "Washingtonian" taco on special for the month, pulled pork with sour cream, cheese and pickles which was about as strange as it sounds. We didn't feel very Washingtonian eating it but it was delicious nonetheless.

Breakfast Tacos & Migas: We preferred the breakfast tacos at Kerbey lane, especially if you get cheese, bacon, eggs, and potatoes, but the migas at Magnolia were exceptional. The eggs were cut in with fresh tomatoes and peppers and cooked in a spicy butter; the tortilla strips tasted of corn and weren't lost in the eggs. I also preferred the salsa at Magnolia, which had a more pronounced fresh tomato and garlic flavor than the one at Kerbey Lane. If you're visiting Kerbey Lane we were told a wait of, "I don't know, 30 minutes?" that erred closer on the side of an HOUR and 30 minutes but it was the Monday of a holiday weekend at 11am and we should've known better.

BBQ: Sunday "brunch" at Salt Lick on a Sunday afternoon was about an hour wait. The owners smartly set up the Salt Lick Cellar in a grove next to the restaurant and started offering wine tastings and buckets of chilled Firehouse No. 4 beer to help you suffer the wait. Even in 102 degrees the shade from the trees was wonderful and children weren't allowed near the Cellar; we munched on pistachios and sipped our beer in peace and the hour flew by. We tried a four meat platter, doubling up on the brisket in lieu of the smoked turkey (Waiter on the smoked turkey: "The smoked turkey is.....for people who don't eat read meat."), a plate of burnt ends, as well as the habanero chicken and the rack of pork ribs, both on special. The sides I could take or leave but the burnt ends (of brisket), regular sliced brisket and habanero chicken were moist, smoky and well seasoned. We adored the spicier version of the sauce, which is sweeter than other bbq sauces I've had, almost having a peach-like flavor to it.
We hadn't even planned on going to Franklin BBQ given the horror stories everyone told us about the wait. But we'd checked out of the hotel at 12:45 and had 2 hours to kill until we had to be at the airport , it was only a few blocks away on a random Tuesday sooo....surprise surprise the wait was max 30 minutes and, while they were out of pulled pork, there was plenty of provisions left for a Tipsy Texan and a couple of ribs. For me this BBQ far outshone Salt Lick...the uber moist rib meat slid right of the bone, encased in perfectly smoked skin crackling with pepper and spices. As has been said elsewhere, the Tipsy Texan tastes of everything that is good: smoke from the sausages, moist meatiness from the chopped beef, cool refeshing coleslaw and some sour notes from the pickles. There were three sauces to satisfy every palate: one dark and heavy on the molasses, a spicier version with undercurrents of chipotle, and a vinegar-based sauce that was thinner than the other two (we largely ignored that one).

Tex-Mex: We could barely waddle out of Salt Lick but we needed a Tex Mex dinner so a friend took us to Chuy's that night because I wanted enchiladas something awful. They were celebrating Green Hatch Chile month (BEST MONTH EVER?) but I got their signature dish, the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas, on the recommendation of our local friends. I can't remember much else about the meal but I would bathe in the green chile lime sauce that covered the enchiladas. It was slightly creamy and tasted fresh with lime juice and cilantro, and had that wonderful underlying heat from the green chiles. You could put it on anything and it would taste delicious. Trying that made me feel like I was graduating from high school Tex Mex to college Tex Mex.

Bars/Beer/Drinking: Our first night was spent at Ginger Man, a large "casual upscale" saloon that specialized in beer in the warehouse district downtown. We stuck mostly to the local beers, a highlight was the 512 double IPA, a balanced west coast style IPA with citrusy hops. Before our meal at Torchy's we stopped at Whip In, which defined Keep Austin Weird for me (its slogan is Namaste, Ya'll). It's a large convenience store that has a bar, a small stage for live performances, and serves Indian Tex-Mex fusion food to go with its 60 taps, approx 40 of which are local beers. I'm sad we didn't have stomach space to try the food but the fellow next to us received a massive Indian chicken fried steak platter that looked wonderful. We got a growler of Jester King's Drinking in the Sunbelt which my boyfriend described as "wannabe Gumballhead" (that's a compliment from him) to take to Torchy's and mourned our lost chance to try the south asian frito pie. Other stops included The Grackle and The Liberty on the East Side, two relaxed dives with large outdoor spaces, decent beer and great food truck options, and the trio of bars on Rainey St east of downtown, Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar and Bar 96, which feel like casual parties in beautiful old houses. Two of the Rainey st. bars also had food trucks in the back yard. Food trucks at bars in 2012!

All in all a great trip, would go again, A+++

#36 Pat

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Posted 13 September 2011 - 09:14 PM

I didn't get to as many places as I wanted to this trip, but the oysters at Perla's on South Congress (two visits) are as good as always. Perfectly shucked. No grit. Great condiments. 50 cents off per oyster between 3 and 6 PM. Very capable, knowledgeable and friendly staff. On one of the trips, my friends split a hanger steak and frites (especially weird when almost everything on the menu is from the water and we began the day with bbq. See below.) They seemed to like it. It included a broiled or roasted tomato topped with anchovy. If you go to Austin and don't go to Perla's, I can only conclude that you hate oysters and a good time :mellow:.

The same three of us hit Franklin BBQ on Saturday morning (now on E. 11th Street at Branch, just off of I-35). The folks there are just as friendly as at the trailer. One downside to this is that it makes the line move rather slowly, but it's quite nice to have this homemade touch. They actually care about their customers' experience. One of us was tasked with trying to buy some of their dry rub for someone in SF. We were told that it's equal parts salt and pepper, so they don't sell it. People can make it at home. Same person asked about buying the sauce instead and was given a pint container of it (for FREE, since we bought a lot of food) and instructions for pouring it into an empty water bottle so it could be packed in luggage. These people are amazing. At the risk of sounding trite, only in Austin.

Oh, the barbecue! The brisket (fatty) was even more amazing than last time. Melt in your mouth amazing. This was my second time being surprised at how good the sausages are. I remembered they were better than expected last time and insisted on ordering them. We all just gasped. They are fantastic--smoky and meaty, with a nice snap (we thought these were a mix of beef and pork but didn't ask). They are also (according to the person who took our pre-order) something they don't run out of the way they do other things. People haven't caught onto them yet, obviously. Order some sausage links.

I thought the pulled pork was too salty, but my two dining companions didn't. The pork ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender. The person who loves ribs more than anything else adored these...and said the brisket was even better.

The sides are not the reason to go here. This is the second time I've had the potato salad. It's mustard-based and okay. The slaw is also ok. The beans tasted like beef to me, and prompted one of our party to suggest that they might be cooked with brisket drippings. I picked out the beef flavor because it stood out, maybe not necessarily in the best way.

All of this said, my best meal of this long weekend was at the Italian restaurant Vespaio, on South Congress.

I ordered the tuna tartare, which I'd had before and loved. It's a huge portion for $16. Menu description: "Finely chopped Sashimi grade big eye tuna tossed with Dijon mustard & capers served with olive tapenade, grilled focaccia crostini & Belgian endive"

I especially love the endive with this. It's perfect. The bread seems more like Texas toast than focaccia to me, but it's exactly right with the dish.

For a main, I got the Wood Oven Roasted Hill Country Quail Breasts special. This about knocked me off my bar stool. Description: "With Truffle Tremor Filled Roasted Poblano Peppers [one], Chicken Ridurre, Water Cress, and Gaufrette Potatoes." The potatoes were aerated handmade waffle chips. I'm not sure on the terminology, but there was an amazing chicken reduction on that plate.

The daily entree specials are considerably more expensive than the entrees on the menu (the quail special was on the cheap end at $30, but entrees on the regular menu top out at $28). They also are limited in availability. I'm very glad I ordered this.

I generally don't mention wines because I'm terrible at understanding and picking them, but they have a Pecorino on the menu I got a couple of glasses of on a previous visit. People had ordered the bottle and didn't like it, so they sold it by the glass. (I believe it's $48/bottle.) I was hoping for repeat luck but no. I got an inexpensive pinot grigio this time, which was perfectly suited to my needs. The bartender, Tom, I remembered from before, and he is about as expert a professional as there is out there.

Black Sheep Lodge on South Lamar is a noteworthy sports bar that is reputed to have great burgers. It also has an extensive beer list. All I ate there was fried pickles and green chile queso (made with Hatch chiles and non-Velveeta cheese). My friends, who wanted to go there for the burgers, enjoyed the blue cheese burger they split. They also got some rare beers off the menu that they loved. One was Buckethead.

Despite not liking iced coffee, I discovered that Jo's Coffee Shop on South Congress has awesome iced coffee. I was told to order their turbo, which is sweetened and has chocolate and stuff, but I don't like sweetened coffee. I just kept ordering a large iced coffee, which got me a nice cup full of crushed ice and delicious coffee that I added a little cream to for coffee nirvana.

Also got some slices at Home Slice, good NY-style pizza, but it didn't blow me away as much as before. The cheese slice had too much of a sweet tomato sauce flavor, though I loved the pepperoni and liked the sausage and garlic.

I was disappointed in my huevos rancheros at Magnolia Cafe, mostly because they just weren't up to the standard I expect. The plate seemed a little smaller than usual and they were kind of blah. It was Sunday morning brunch, though, and I'll give them many more chances before giving up. We also had the Mag Mud plate, and the queso on that was quite addictive but not as good as the queso at Black Sheep Lodge.

For just hanging out, drinking beer, whatever, I always love Guero's and it didn't disappoint this time. You encounter the most fascinating characters there. I talked to a tech executive who ordered repeated rounds of a $15 tequila, and also had a guy next to me walk off when he discovered that the lovely young lady bartender didn't make a dirty martini the way he wanted. (This is not the place to order a fancy drink; tequila, yes, dirty martini, no.) The male bartender regaled us with stories of having shared a house with daughters of Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.

But, if you're along South Congress and want a dive bar, head to Trophy's. After years of planning to go there and not, I stopped in for beer on Friday night. The bartender was cool and I spent a long time talking to the owner, but I was too tired to stay until the bands actually went on.

#37 silentbob

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:31 PM

Franklin's BBQ. Moved about a year ago from a converted trailer to an actual brick/mortar at East 11th and Branch (just off I-35). Best fatty brisket I've ever had. No contest. Just amazing. Go.

Next month we're staying at the Sheraton on the other side of I-35, less than a half-mile from Franklin. Is it possible to walk down East 11th, or is the freeway overpass not pedestrian-friendly? And by what time are they typically "sold out" on Fridays and Saturdays?

#38 Lori Gardner

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:44 PM

I was in Austin two weeks ago and ended up having brunch at Lambert's, which includes a brisket that's quite good. I decided this was preferable to waiting in line at Franklins for what I anticipated would be at least 90 minutes. I was really satisfied with this decision- great brunch. That said, I did feel I missed something by not going to Franklins.
Don't miss Uchiko. I just reviewed it on my blog http://beenthereeate...2012/04/uchiko/
Later this week I hope to post about some of the other restaurants I visited. Another don't miss is Gourdoughs donuts. If you are a fan of bacon and maple flavors, prepare yourself for a rare and wonderful treat.

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#39 Rovers2000

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:37 AM

Heading to Austin this Thursday for a long weekend with a pretty big group (12 guys). Staying at a house on the lake and looking for any recommendations for:

-Sports bar to watch the Caps game on Saturday
-BBQ that I can pick up and bring back to the house
-Potentially portable breakfast items / coffee (to bring back to the house as well)

I will have a car, so anything out by the lake or downtown Austin (understanding its about 20 miles round trip) is fine.

Also, a shout out to all those who have left pretty detailed notes above...they're extremely helpful.

Dave

"Make sure that the beer - four pints a week - goes to the troops under fire before any of the parties in the rear get a drop."
-Winston Churchill to his Secretary of War, 1944


#40 Pat

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:55 AM

If you have time to invest, I can't recommend Franklin's enough, but you have to get there well before they open, especially for the weekend.

I can't recall being in any other sports bars in Austin, but Black Sheep Lodge has a lot of tvs, which I would think increases your chance they might be showing the Caps' game. The beer list looked really impressive, but I didn't delve into it.

#41 goodeats

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:31 AM

A coworker that just moved from Austin recommended the following:

Rudy's has good BBQ & they are all over Austin. If they want something more sceneic the Salt Lick [see upthread] is a true TX experience but can be very crowded. It is BYOB so you can take an ice chest w/ adult beverages. There is also a new place my friend manages called Stiles BBQ, [but] I haven't tried it. Lastly PokeJoes, there are many around town its good but this would be my last choice. My 1st choice would be Mueller BBG in Taylor[,] TX, but it's a 40 min drive w/out much else in town.

For sports[,] Pluckers on S. Lamar has best TV[;] there is also a bar called 3rd Base on West 6th St. For breakfast[,] if they like tacos, Taco Express on S. Lamar is a must!!!


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#42 xdcx

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:54 PM

Heading to Austin this Thursday for a long weekend with a pretty big group (12 guys). Staying at a house on the lake and looking for any recommendations for:

-Sports bar to watch the Caps game on Saturday
-BBQ that I can pick up and bring back to the house
-Potentially portable breakfast items / coffee (to bring back to the house as well)

I will have a car, so anything out by the lake or downtown Austin (understanding its about 20 miles round trip) is fine.

Also, a shout out to all those who have left pretty detailed notes above...they're extremely helpful.

This should help: http://www.fedmanwal...ontent/archives He just completed a series of in town BBQ reviews. I really liked Stiles Switch, it's open later than JMeullers and Franklin and doesn't sell out like those do.

for breakfast:http://pablitosbakery.com/ Their tamales are great, so are their breakfast tacos. They also have donuts, churro's and a wide assortment of mexican baked goods. The people who work there are also amazingly nice and helpful.

#43 xdcx

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:58 PM

Next month we're staying at the Sheraton on the other side of I-35, less than a half-mile from Franklin. Is it possible to walk down East 11th, or is the freeway overpass not pedestrian-friendly? And by what time are they typically "sold out" on Fridays and Saturdays?

you should be able to walk there no problem. I think the sell out mosts days by 1230, but there's no way of knowing that you'll get anything until you get in line. I do know that people start lining up at around 1000-1030.

#44 Pat

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 08:40 AM

The last time I went to Franklin's, I walked and got there much earlier than I planned. There was no line (it was about 9 AM), so I walked back over 35 to the Sheraton and got a cup of coffee. The hotel is very close and the walk is no problem. I got back at 10, and there were probably two dozen people ahead of me, some sitting on foldable chairs. Shortly after I got back, the line behind me was out of my sight.

#45 Steve R.

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 09:03 AM

Random notes from 3 days spent in Austin last month (just after the SSW Festival ended):

Franklin's is worth the wait! We got there at 10am on a weekday, meeting 2 food board friends who live in Austin and whom we hadn't seen in awhile (& who hadn't ever met each other) so there was much to talk about and the line wait went quickly. By 11am, it was halfway down the parking lot (long). Once in, we ordered brisket, ribs and pulled pork (you order by the pound), with sides of potato salad and cole slaw. The sides are forgettable, the pulled pork was good enough but the brisket/ribs were unforgettable and the best I've ever had (& I've had me some ribs and brisket over the years, including those from the Lockhart area). Wow. I'd be on line once a week if I lived anywhere near there.

A very good meal was had at Parkside (on 6th St)... we sat at the bar and all was very nice. They seem to be the place to go for oysters but that wasn't what we had. All was good. Recommended if there for a week or so, but probably not one of the top 3-5 choices in the area.

We went to Foreign and Domestic for another very nice dinner, albeit not perfect. We sat at the kitchen counter (the chef was out of town, but it was left in obviously capable hands). Some of the dishes were inspired and not to be missed (heart tartare app!) and others suffered from the "one too many main ingredient" syndrome that I believe many upcoming inventive chefs suffer from. It also became apparent that the chef loves to use egg as a part of most dishes, something we actually like but which can detract from the overall if used so often. In addition, the gnocchi were waaay too big (each could have been cut in 4 pieces), leaving them too doughy and overwhelming the chicken in the dish. But, even given the weaknesses, this is a place that's worth trying and I think it'll get better with time.

A visit to Easy Tiger on 6th St. for coffee and to visit a Chowhound friend from NYC now working there as a baker was nice. The baked goods look uniformly excellent. Hanging out, sitting outdoors, for mid afternoon beers and chips at Guerros on S. Congress was great. The beers are $2, the chips are free and they are all friendly. We also tried lunch there another day... nice enough but not a stand out by any stretch. Serviceable Tex-Mex, which makes it fine for us New Yawkers who can't get any here.

A non-food note: the Eastside of Austin has come alive and we stayed at a new hotel called the Heywood on Chevez. Stylish, reasonable, only 7 rooms, free parking and with very friendly owners/staff & personal service. Worth a look when compared with the large downtown places and to stay off the main drags. Considering that one of our friends is opening a pizza/wine place down the block "soon" (we walked thru the space being renovated) and that a good Bklyn cocktail bar (Weather Up) is also opening a block away "soon", this location may well be hot in the not too distant future.

#46 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:23 PM

A lot of us were skeptical about the likelihood of success for reviving the F1 USGP at a new site in the scrubland southeast of Austin Bergstrom Airport, but at the same time if the ambitious plan were to be completed in time, it could only have happened in Texas. A rumored $340 million of investment later, and suddenly Austin is home to the best new racetrack in the world in decades. I thought it would be very good, but it turned out to be spectacular. There are a few mistakes to be ironed out, but the inaugural event ran far more smoothly than anybody could have guessed.

Officiating doesn't leave a lot of spare time to explore town, so my limited efforts were concentrated on the Wednesday before, and the Monday after.

Uchiko, as others have mentioned, is a standout. The ten-course omakase is designed for two diners and although based on the day's availability, the menu is "set" for the evening, so our party of six opted for two omakase menus, plus a parallel course of plates mostly at the chef's discretion. The top section of their menu dedicated to the day's selection flown in from Tsukiji, so I did insist that one course include the horse mackerel. For the most part, Paul Qui's dishes excelled at augmenting traditional sushi-based flavors with unexpected ingredients like nasturtiums. The potato "scallops" were creative, and a nigiri of fresh bonito with a slice of black truffle was a sledgehammer of flavor. Only two items fell a bit short: an uni which was utterly fresh but lacking in briny sweetness, and a "48-hour wagyu shortrib" which was a bit too obviously a crutch. Note also that a couple of the courses aren't really suitable for dividing into individual portions, including a stew-like fish en papillote that needs to be eaten from the serving dish, so you need to be pretty friendly to choose the omakase.

We also noted that the wine list was very usable. Following the Burgundy-is-sushi-friendly trend that began here with Sushi-ko, the list was skewed towards pinot noir and chardonnay, and then sake. However, our lead diner was also an aficionado of Terry Thiese's portfolio so we conspired to pour the others the last bottle in the house of the NV Billiot "Cuvée Laetitia" (despite NV status, a blend of the house's older wines), followed by two Rieslings: the 2011 Bründlmayer "Kamptaler Terrassen", and the 2010 Hexamer "Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg" "Quarzit" which had somehow bucked the stony high acid profile of its original catalog description.

Was it revelatory? Here I have to confess that I didn't think so. But it was still excellent; service was warm and efficient, and the company and conversation made for an excellent evening. There's also the local Ferrari dealership in the building next door, in case you need something to look at while waiting for your reservation.

I could not visit central Texas without attempting to sample the local 'que, but therein lies the danger that if it's too good, I can't really just sample and move on. I didn't leave a meal open to hit Franklin's, and they weren't open on Monday when I headed towards San Antonio, but I did manage to get to Lockhart. I stopped at Black's, where the brisket was pretty darn good and very tender, and the "giant beef rib" was ridiculous. Both had a fairly straightforward oak smoke flavor, without a lot of contribution from the rub. Their ring sausage was decent. Unfortunately, I just didn't have room left to hit Smitty's, which was my original plan.

MelGold and others rave about City Market, in downtown Luling, and with good reason. I had expected the draw to be the brisket, but found theirs to be tasty but a bit dry even when cut from the fatty end. The ring sausage was superb, however, with a great snap to the casing, and the forcemeat rich and moist. The surprise that blew me away, though, was the pork ribs (!). Especially the last rib on the small end. Slight chew and tug. But that bark...easily the best bark I've ever encountered on a piece of pig anywhere. Great moderate smoke flavor, and a lot of interaction with the rub. Where the ribs thinned out near the bone, it took on an almost Peking duck quality.

I have a lot of respect for the work of any credible pitmaster who works live coals, but this was truly special. I went back for more ribs...and this was the morning of our Uchiko res, when I was intentionally saving room. Worth the trip from either Austin or San Antonio, period.

I did not make plans to revisit the well-known Salt Lick, but it turns out that they had been contracted to cater the marshals' dinner on Thursday. Certainly not the best Salt Lick I've had, but pretty good for catering.

Two of my friends, one from the UK and the other from France, had been chatting up some local ladies in the media center, which led to a lunch recommendation. One half-mile east of the new Circuit of the Americas, on the north side of FM812, stands Wild Bubba's, a local burger shack which specializes in game burgers. Try the antelope...it's pretty good, and surprisingly non-gamey. I got to thank Bubba himself when he stopped by briefly, before taking one of his game rancher suppliers and some pals on a tour of the racetrack.

Without going into details: taco trucks are about the same everywhere but the chorizo is better there; Tex-Mex chain restaurants aren't that much different except that they properly crisp up the edges of your carnitas unlike anything I can find here; the sweet tea is sweet but not saturated to a cloying level as in the mid-South. I saw gasoline for $2.98, and folks were really polite and friendly.

Dave Hsu
--------"Cuisine represents a knife edge that separates attractive stimulation from death."--- Art Ayers


#47 will_5198

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 11:00 AM

These visits are a few months old, but I figure better late than never.

 

Barley Swine comes with plenty of recommendations -- James Beard and Food and Wine included -- but it still managed to be the surprise meal of a mid-week trip.

 

The space itself is quite interesting; it’s more of a bar-converted-to-a-restaurant, with nothing but community tables and stools that overlook the kitchen. Maybe not romantic, but I thought it was an entertaining departure. 

 

In the middle of the bar (which acts as the pass) is Chef Bryce Gilmore, running the show with a commanding presence. Not only did he have his hands on every dish that left the kitchen, he also kept a close eye on the service, tweaking both as necessary.

 

The menu is small plates, and described with trendily esoteric ingredient listings. Two things that would typically bother me, but in this case they work: it’s better to be surprised by the components, and the menu format is akin to crafting one’s own tasting menu.


Goat, walnut, kohlrabi,  fenugreek, wild rice, green garlic ($13) - Goat belly with a walnut glaze, garlic and topped with sliced kohlrabi, sitting in a rich (but aerated) sauce and flecked with crispy rice for crunch. Intensely savory without being too heavy, this was still probably better as a middle course.

 

Pig, crispy ankle, sauerkraut, beans, hot sauce ($15) - Pork three ways: trotter croquette, a riff on headcheese and the loin. All delicious and faultlessly prepared. What really set this dish off, however, were the accompaniments; the beans, sourness and spiciness all complimented the pork well.


Lamb, sunchokes, goat cheese, grapefruit, spinach, cumin ($18) - I would not have imagined all these ingredients together, which made their harmony even more enjoyable. The grapefruit was an especially deft touch.

Beer for the kitchen ($1) - More and more common, I first thought this was a presumptuous menu item. But thinking about our somewhat archaic tipping system, I ended up loving the idea -- it’s a gesture for the people actually cooking your food. It makes even more sense when you have an open kitchen like Barley Swine does, as watching them work (or annoying them with dumb questions) becomes very much part of the dinner experience.

A technically flawless meal, balancing textures and flavors in creative ways. I also must point out the perfect service -- as affable as a friend hosting dinner, but extremely well trained (not a blink when asked the difference between their “pulled pig face” and headcheese). Highest recommendation.

 

----

 

The time drain at Franklin Barbecue is not understated. It’s also entirely worth it.


I’d recommend getting in line between 9:30 and 10 a.m.; you’ll be waiting for an hour anyway, so you might as well secure a better spot. It’s a very friendly queue, with locals and road trippers spurred to conversation by their shared insanity.

Once you make it to the counter, the brisket is as picturesque as you could ever imagine, and tastes even better. Fatty is my preference, theirs being the best I’ve ever had -- a trivial reference point, but does include meals at Louie Mueller, Kreuz Market, Black’s and Smitty’s.

Sausages were nearly as delicious, with great snap and a huge smoke flavor. Pork ribs tasted impressive, but were overcooked on this trip (all the meat fell off the bone at the slightest touch). Smoked turkey was likely the best iteration of the meat possible…but it was still turkey. However, it’s worth ordering as a vehicle for their delicious espresso barbecue sauce, as you can freely dip without violating Central Texas codas.

 

Aaron Franklin was taking every order and cutting the meat himself, and couldn't be friendlier. The line would actually move faster if he adopted a Soup Nazi mentality, but the hospitality after waiting is much more appreciated.


----

 

Although Paul Qui has long since left the building, Uchiko remains a compelling destination.


From what I understand, Qui had not been involved much with the restaurant since his season of Top Chef finished airing, replaced by Tim Dornon as chef de cuisine last summer. However, Dornon departed himself in February, following Qui to his new restaurant in a weird consultant chef role.
 

That said, Tyson Cole seems to have cultivated a rather talented and deep roster among his Uchi outposts, and Uchiko was running like a well oiled machine when I visited. It will be interesting to see its progression from now forward, though.


Anyway, the restaurant is no less popular (the Wednesday wait times and bar scene would be a great Saturday night at most places). It makes for a loud and bustling scene, which I’m not always a big fan of, but seems to work here. Trendy is balanced with approachability, as impeccable service makes the experience more neighborhood gem than national hotspot.
 

Gyutan toro ($4) -- Several nigiri were consumed during this meal, but the only one worth mentioning was this perfect bite of beef tongue. Grilled and glazed with a fish caramel sauce, this is an amazing umami intermission for any point in the meal. Other choices were quite good (or at least interesting), but my impression is that sushi is a gateway here, not a destination.

 

Koviche / fresh diver scallop, tomatillo, kalamata, black lime ($19) - I rarely order scallops anymore; they’re often a uniform, one-note crowd-pleaser. This raw preparation was inspired, though, with the cilantro and tomatillo appealing to me the most. Kalamata olive powder was less successful -- uneven, gummy bites resulted where too much was applied.


Maguro sashimi and goat cheese ($18) - A long-tenured dish that originated at Uchi. Unique combination, but the cheese dominates the other ingredients. For whatever it’s worth, the sushi chef who prepared the order agreed (and it was removed from the final bill).

 

Truffled congee ($19) - The title is a slight misnomer, as the shaved black truffle seemed frivolous and the koshihikari rice was cooked more like risotto than a porridge. Still, a delicious interpretation: rich, balanced (bits of cured lemon were  hidden throughout), expertly cooked and my favorite dish of the night.

 

Jar Jar duck ($30) -- Uchiko’s signature dish. The blast of rosemary smoke is fun but fleeting theater; what’s inside the jar stands by itself quite well. Duck breast, confit and cracklings were all done nicely. More of a one-timer, though, and not something I’d go back to regularly.

 

Fried milk / chocolate mousse, tuile, milk sherbet and corn flakes ($9) -- Lots of fun in a child-like way. It’s breakfast re-imagined in an adult presentation, with the “fried milk” being a pair of faux croquettes filled with condensed milk. I’m biased against deconstructed desserts (usually dainty, inferior versions) but this was awesome. Order this even if you’re full.


Sweet corn sorbet / polenta custard, caramel salt and lemon ($9) -- More savory than I expected. The polenta custard seemed heavy, but I might’ve just been really stuffed at this point.

 

While I eagerly await the third Uchi outpost, set to open in Dallas, Cole has promised there will never be another Uchiko. Which seems all the better for Austin.

 

---

 

Houndstooth Coffee is just a door down from Uchiko, and makes a very impressive espresso. Wonderful service and they take time to explain their varieties without a lecture. Several locals recommend Lick Ice Creams over Amy’s, and while not superlative, the flavors are unique and well-balanced (also right next to Barley Swine, if you need dessert). Central Market is great, although not significantly better or different than the Dallas or Plano outposts.


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#48 darkstar965

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Posted 19 November 2013 - 10:47 PM

A lot of us were skeptical about the likelihood of success for reviving the F1 USGP at a new site in the scrubland southeast of Austin Bergstrom Airport, but at the same time if the ambitious plan were to be completed in time, it could only have happened in Texas. A rumored $340 million of investment later, and suddenly Austin is home to the best new racetrack in the world in decades. I thought it would be very good, but it turned out to be spectacular. There are a few mistakes to be ironed out, but the inaugural event ran far more smoothly than anybody could have guessed.

...

 

And, the 2nd Formula 1 USGP @ COTA running went off without a hitch if with slightly lower turnout as predicted for a "sophomore slump."  OSU at UT on Saturday didn't help.  The same German driver winning everything all the time for four years without any American on the track probably doesn't help a lot either.

 

My big download on the bit of Austin I was able (or forced) to try:

 

 

Botticelli's. (SoCo) 1321 S. Congress.  Very good neighborhood Italian. Not to the eyebrow-raising level of, say, DC's new Red Hen but totally worthwhile, accessible food in a comfortable and only somewhat trendy venue with cool outdoor seating in a beer garden type setup with live music some nights.  Pastas made in house.  Serious cooking. Nice list of wines by the glass.

 

Once Over Coffee Bar. (SoCo) 2009 S. 1st Street.  Excellent coffee shop. These guys know how to make a cappuccino and pull a shot.  Plenty of seating. A bit dark.  Free WiFi.  They carry decent baked goods for nearby Russell's Bakery and use an excellent local roaster's (Cuvee Coffee) beans.  Interesting note on Cuvee. They're a strong roaster with near-entirely south-central US distribution. But there is one retail outlet serving their coffee here in DC (6.17.13 opening as reported by Cheezepowder here but no DR thread as of yet).  

 

Wright Brothers Brew & Brew.   500 San Marcos St. (off Downtown).  New spot with a serious but divided focus between coffee and craft beers.

 

Houndstooth Coffee.   Two locations, Downtown and North Lamar.  I visited the original location at 4200 North Lamar. As good a coffee shop as you'll find anywhere including NY, PDX, SEA, and SFO.  They had great roaster options when I was in (MadCap, PT's, Coava, Cuvee). Their baristas are seriously trained and great interpersonally.  The espresso machine is a gorgeous, hand-built Marzocco designed by an especially innovated dutchman named Kees van deer Westen and called a "Mistral." There aren't many of those in the US; one is at Stumptown in Portland, OR and I'm not sure that there is one in DC. Two choices of espresso.  4-5 choices of coffees for fresh brewing using pour over, french press, or clever. Seven Mazza grinders stay loaded, each dedicated to one of the coffees or espresso options.  Lots of seating. Free WiFi.  Every coffee shop should be like this.

 

Micklethwaite's Crafted Meats. (East side) 1309 Rosewood Ave.  This place may be my best chance to actually be helpful to someone.  Putting it briefly, the wait for top-rated Franklin's BBQ  on E. 11th was too insane for me. I got there half an hour before open on a Thursday morning. There was already an approximately 100-person line with those at the front having camped out since early morning.  My part of the line was told we might not get in and, if we did, it'd be a 4-hour wait.  Maybe that was due to the F1 race and UT game going on but I don't wait 4 hours for anything.  So, I endeared myself to the young woman managing the line by admitting my cluelessness about Franklin's queueing "process" and humbly asked where the "2nd best BBQ spot in town" was. With a blink, she recommended Micklethwaite's (the "th" in the middle is silent).

 

Wow. Got a three-meat platter with double brisket and pork ribs.  The ribs were as good as any I've had anywhere.  And, the brisket was incredibly moist and flavorful.  The setup is a trailer with some picnic tables; kind of how the Partridge Family might have done it had they been selling BBQ in the backyard in one of their episodes (which I don't think they ever did?).  Really notable here is their "process." The namesake basically starts up a roughly 15-foot-long smoker (housed in its own maybe 25-foot-long trailer) at night, stokes it all night long and then hands things off to a two-person crew sometime in the morning to prep for opening at 11.  They make their own bread, slaw and, I think, pickles. Really great BBQ and a great scene (without lines!) in which to eat outside.

 

Perla's.  (SoCo) 1400 S. Congress Ave.  One of the more heralded seafood options in Austin, we went here for a break from BBQ.  The place is quite the scene on Congress with a busy patio, trendy design and a huge fish tank that greets guests.  Seafood is billed as flown in fresh from all US coasts and the menu reflects that.  Halibut? Check.  Loupe de mer? Yep.  Red Snapper?  Sure.  Grouper, Crab, Cod?  Those too. And, much, much more! More than 15 varieties of oysters. And therein lies the problem with Perla's, which is maybe best avoided during a short trip.  The high prices (just north of $3 for oysters, mains average low to mid $30s) no doubt reflect a lot of jet fuel but, also, a markup for being The Seafood Place in a hot area with plenty of discretionary cash swimming around.  Fish dishes we ordered were fine if unimaginative.  Too heavy on sauces and carb-laden accompaniments. A supposedly wildly popular "baked shells and cheese" was a huge, but simple, baked mac & cheese overloaded with bread crumbs.  The people in our party who ordered drinks seemed to enjoy them. I'd probably suggest skipping Perla's.

 

Amy's Ice Cream. (About 15 Locations in Austin and south Texas). Amy's, an eclectic but professionally-managed Austin institution, pre-dates Dell by a year and the SXSW festival by three. Much loved around these parts, they offer lots of different flavors and dessert combinations.  Fun place. Very popular.  Very good ice cream.  And, fun fact, it was an ex-Amy's employee who opened Austin Grill in DC in the late 80s.

 

Home Slice. (SoCo) 1415 and 1421 South Congress.  Home Slice is both a dine-in pizza "joint" and a next-door takeaway slice place.  I'm torn between describing this purely as food to seek out if drunk or a reasonable facsimile of one concept of a "New York Pizza Joint."  It surely isn't anything close to Neapolitan but then again, it even more surely isn't trying to be. Popular late at night among all the places hosting great live music. I had a half chicken-parm sub.  It reminded me of versions I've had in NY. I wasn't drunk. I finished it.

 

Places I wasn't able to try but suspect they'd be near or at the top of any comprehensive ranking one might do include Barley Swine,  Jeffrey'sVespaio and, of course, 2011 Beard Regional Winner Paul Qui's Uchi and Uchiko. These four (er, five) will be top of my list next trip there.


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#49 SeanMike

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 04:50 PM

I was there this week. Really enjoyed many places such as Dog and Duck Pub, Firehouse Lounge, and Peche.

 

http://scofflawsden....t-to-austin-tx/


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http://www.scofflawsden.com/
The Scofflaw's Den, Cocktails and Cigars
It just keeps going, and going, and going...
 






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