Ag don't go to Friday's, it's really bad even though you get to see the bats. Go to Castle Hill or Z Tejas or Hyde Park Bar and Grill or the East Side Cafe , all cheap (Castle Hill costs a little more but it's sooooo worth it) and cool Austin institutions where you can get a feel for the city. We've been digging the burgers at Phil's Ice House on Burnet in the new Amy's Ice Cream HQ playland, if they were a dollar cheaper I'd camp in their parking lot and the sweet potato fries are addictive.
Well, we followed a suggestion to check out Whole Foods and ended up eating there! What a great, relaxing, inexpensive place! My final choice was between the buffalo stew and the Korean sesame beef (Bulgogi), and I chose the latter, which was cooked to order. It was excellent. My husband's sandwich on a large crusty baguette was perfect. After watching the bats, we returned for gelato. What a great place!
I'll probably get slammed by the foodies on this site for this recommendation but here goes anyway. If you're only here on Sunday and you don't want TexMex, I would recommend you go to Doc's Motorworks at 1123 South Congress. It's just over the bridge (the one with the bats) from downtown. It's a new place and offers a variety of average food. The best thing is the location and the people watching. It will be FUN and that is sometimes more important than the best food around. Just my humble opinion. Sometimes sitting outside with a beer and people watching is just a great way to get the feel for a city. I think you'll get that there. Have fun and report back wherever you end up!!
Thank you for the comments and the links. I read everything. No, I don't care if it's Southern comfort food or barbecue - Threadgill's and Ruby's just happened to be recommended on other boards I researched. I think we'll be tired of Tex-Mex and Mexican after a few days in San Antonio, so I was avoiding that, and I know we'll be low on money as well!
How is Louie's 106? It's a little more than I wanted to spend, but still not bad. I also haven't ruled out Shady Grove. And being the view of the bats at sunset is good, how is the TGI Fridays that's right there?
So, we're just looking for something that will be relatively inexpensive and acceptably tasty. We arrive in Austin at 3 PM on a Sunday and fly home to Florida the next morning, so this will be our only meal there. Thanks!
Almost all restaurants in Austin are casual, so you can just focus on the kind of food you want to eat. I’m assuming from your post that you might be interested in country cooking or barbecue? And that you aren’t specifically looking for “dives”?
Using the search feature, I found two relevant older threads:
on chicken-fried steak in Austin
on cheap eats in Austin
You can also scroll down to look at other posts, like the one on “SF hound visiting Austin, looking for recs.” Or do a search for “Austin” on the Texas board. Once you get a couple of names that appeal to you, just search again specifically for those terms. That way, you’ll have plenty of information with which to make an informed choice.
As you’ll see in the CFS thread linked to above, most local chowhounds don’t recommend Threadgill’s. Ruby’s has detractors but also fans among locals--for those times when you need ‘cue without leaving the city limits.
Have a great dinner!
Love going to Green Mesquite and havintg a scooner of Shiner and a quarter chicken plate with slaw and okra...btw the wings are really good
like Manuels Great Hills for the happy hour - chicken mole, hongos and chiviche
Polovo's fajitas is absolutely slumming it but very good
Dirty Martins burgers are always a casual night but a warm fuzzy
on that note, always love going to Milto's - make the best Gyros and if I wasn't addicted to those, the pizza always looks great.
Fran's or Boulevard Grill (on Mesa Mondays and Saturdays 2 for 1) for burgers. Also Billy's on Burnet if you want a beer too.
Berry Hill has a happy hour where you can get the best nachos at under $4 and a wonderful view.
belive it or not, Whole Foods on South Lamar, you can get a half lobster roll for under $4 (they only openly offer a whole for about $9 but the secret is you can get a half if you ask) and the little baby desserts in the back.
Five meat appetizer and yes, you can ask for a side of slaw and pot. salad out on the patio at County Line on the Lake on the patio. WAY cheaper than eating inside and a much better atmosphere (be sure to slather up with the bug spray though.)