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Austin weekend chow help

We're coming to Austin for a football game, and will have 2 dinners, 2 lunches, and 2 breakfasts to try out Austin restaurants. We're staying at the Austin Hilton, and I haven't decided if we'll need a car yet. The recs below came from a summer intern who is in school in Austin - I don't know if she actually knows food - what do you think? Also, the Alumni club will be having a BBQ at Stubbs on Friday night - is that worth a try, or should I eat before I meet up with everyone there? Any other places we shouldn't miss? Nothing fancy, please, as we will be casual (shorts, most likely). Thanks in advance! Go Bucks!

1. Curras Mexican restaurant: What I would order: Enchiladas Curras, tamales, or one of the fish dishes. Margaritas are great.

2. Guraros restaurant: shrimp tacos, shrimp fajitas, chicken tacos with avocados and margaritas.

3. Polvos Mexican Restaurant: fajitas chicken or beef, any soft tacos (try alpastor - its pork and pineapple) and margaritas.

4. Congress Ave Café: This place is a bit more expensive but it has a great variety of food.

5. Hickory Street Grill: cheeseburger, salad bar and it has beers on draft. This place also has a decent brunch on Sundays.

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  1. I think you definitely will need a car. Austin is a 'car town.'

    I'd also recommend you go to the party at Stubbs. Sounds like fun and I think you'll enjoy it. The barbecue there is not the best in Texas, but it's certainly tasty. Order a couple of Shiners, too, and you'll have a great time.

    1. A car won't be needed, but a few taxis will definitely be in order. The person who gave you rec's was a little hit or miss. Here are my suggestions all within a few miles of the Hilton -

      Breakfast - Stubbs on Sunday for Gospel brunch (skip dinner with Alums) & Manuel's (3rd & Congress) for brunch on Saturday.

      Lunch - Athenian grill (7th & Colorado) for great Greek food & Ruby's (29th & Congress) for the best damn BBQ in Austin, try the brisket plate.

      Dinner - Chez Nous (off 6th street by Hilton) for a nice casual French dinner, try the Pris Fix always a bargain & Polvo's on another night for excellent exotic tacos and 'Pescado de mojo de aho'

      I am sure others will recommend other, but definitely do not miss Ruby's(not Rudy's) & Stubbs Gospel Brunch

      1. Hickory Street Grill can be skipped. It is nothing special, and it's mostly known for its cheap beer deals.

        I'll second Curras and other tex-mex type choices especially if you are from Ohio. I grew up in Columbus, so if that is where you are in from, I would concentrate on getting good Mexican, Tex-Mex, and BBQ while you are in town. We have much better options for that here than in Ohio.

        Another good choice near the Hilton is Manuels on Congress. It is walkable from your hotel and a bit higher end Mexican than the other places listed. They have good happy hour specials as well and decent margaritas.

        1. Wanted to post a quick followup. Austin is a very casual town, and you won't be out of place wearing shorts & flip flops in most of our restaurants.

          1. A friend of mine who lives there said:

            I've only been to the first two, actually I think the
            second is spelled Guero's. Guero's and Curra's have
            mexican food, as opposed to tex-mex. To me, mexican
            food is different, more earthy, less spicy. For
            tex-mex I would suggest Vivo. [I have eaten there and the food is extra good, especially the salsa. BH)

            Mom has eaten at the Hickory Street grill, she said it
            was good. I've always wanted to eat there, it looks

            Stubbs is good, so I've heard, but I've never actually
            eaten there.

            In all the places I've eaten in Austin, I've never had
            a bad experience. Any of these places would be fine I
            would think.

            As far as whether they should rent a car, it depends
            on how willing they are to walk or ride public
            transportation. They could definitely get by without
            one if they don't mind hoofing it. And there are

            1. I've lived in Austin almost 30 years. Ruby's is good BBQ, but it's not at Congress and 29th. Congress becomes Speedway ten blocks south of 29th. It's on 29th, just off of Guadalupe. It's also right next door to Milto's, the best place in Austin for Sicilian style pizza. Also good for BBQ is The Ironworks on Cesar Chavez near the Austin Convention Center, but the best is The Salt Lick, which is 15 or so miles south of downtown in Driftwood, TX.

              Go to The Texas Chili Parlor on Lavaca for authentic Texas chili, great burgers and ice-cold margaritas and Shiner Bock. Watch out for the XXX chili. It's not for the faint of heart. For great steaks, check out Austin Land & Cattle Company, on Lamar Blvd. It's not to be confused with the national chain called Texas Land & Cattle.

              For pre-game brewskis, go to Scholz's, the oldest bar in Texas. They opened in 1866. More good burger joints are Hut's on West 5th and The Shady Grove on Barton Springs Road. The Tavern on Lamar has been around since 1916, and Dirty's on The Drag (Guadalupe) used to be Bobby Layne's favorite hangout back in the 40's.

              1. Have to repeat on Manuel's. One of the best southwestern restaurants we've been to, with one of the most interesting and rewarding menus ever. They were not, however, unable to deal with separate checks for a moderate size group back in spring 2005, leaving us with a poor and embarrassing customer service experience.

                1. Sorry -- they were not *able* to deal with separate checks. Too many double negatives...

                  1. I agree with most of these recommendations, but I think you should avoid Hickory Street. The food is pretty terrible.

                    If you do rent a car, El Chile, on the Eastside, is one of my favorite spots to take out-of-towners. The food is upscale tex-mex and Mexican (delicious!), the drinks are excellent, and the atmosphere is Austin at its best. Be prepared to wait on weekends.

                    And again if you have a car, it's worth going all the way to Driftwood for the Salt Lick (30 min. away). You'll wait there, too, but you won't be sorry!

                    1. If you're even considering driving to the Salt Lick, you should drive to Lockhart instead. It's no farther, and the barbecue there is the best in the world. The "big three" at Lockhart (Smitty's, Black's, Kreuz) are in a different class than Salt Lick, according to every single list I've ever seen.

                      And as I've said, Lockhart is a straight shot south from the Airport. 22 miles or so, I think, on straight, flat, 4-lane highway. If you're going to drive for barbecue, you might just as well go to one of the legends.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ChrissieH

                        Totally agree. Lockhart is way better than puny l'il Salt Lick.

                      2. I would say that if you are searching for the "Austin vibe", Gueros is more than fine. After that, however, there are many interesting choices.

                        Look to Truluck's for an upscale seafood experience. Go to Sullivan's for a good steak ... Las Manitss for an interesting and fun Mexican breakfast. I've not been to the downtown locations, but everyone I know says that Manuel's and Fonda San Miguel have amazing brunch. I do know that Moonshine has a good brunch and a fun crowd (if you care).

                        Once again, I will recommmend the Roaring Fork for a fantastic Happy Hour menu and even better upscale dinner menu.

                        The Cedar Door for drinks is a must. Their Mexican Martini is out of this world and draft beer is freezing. Nice deck downtown.

                        When it's this warm in Austin, shorts are the uniform!

                        1. Thanks all for your advice! I thought I'd add a web site link from a displaced Buckeye in Austin - he lists his recs if you scroll down a bit. I think he's geared it toward the "what Buckeyes might like", but there are many of us who love spicey and ethnic food. Thanks again!