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Feb 13, 2007 12:32 PM

Visiting Austin..downtown suggestions..& beyond

I will be visiting Austin in March, staying in Soco, and need some meal planning. I'm really looking for the best/authentic Mexican, Texmex, and BBQ. Coffee, deli, bakery, etc I shouldn't miss are welcome too.
First, what are the must eat spots I can walk to in the downtown area? I am willing to walk, so neighboring areas with in a few miles are fine.
Second, I really don't want to rent a car but am willing to cab-it for the right food. So what are the spots I can't miss and should hop in a cab for?
Thanks so much.

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  1. If you're staying in the SoCo area, there's a few restaurants right around there that would be good options. For Mexican, Polvos Mexicanos is over on South 1st Street, a great little "dive" Mexican place, and should be within walking distance (since you don't mind walking) Walk down to Johanna St and go west to 1st. You didn't ask for Italian, but on Congress is Vespaio & Enoteca, sister restaurants that are quite popular with many Chowhounds, Vespaio (IMO) being one of the best Italian places in the city. They would be very close to you (the 1600 block of Congress). It can get crowded, so be forewarned. Also on Congress is Jo's, a fun, very Austin-ish coffee shop (more of a walk-up coffee bar with outdoor seating) - that has good coffee (pastries are pretty good as well). If it's a nice morning you should definitely go hang out there for a little while (1300 block of Congress). Jo's is right next to the San Jose Hotel, which is a great place to have a drink later in the day.

    For BBQ, the best is really outside of the city in Luling & Lockhart. But for in the city, and based on where you are staying, you may consider Ironworks (100 Red River, just north of the river and east from Congress). BBQ is one of those very subjective cuisines, and for some Ironworks isn't their favorite, but I've always had good luck there. There was a recent thread on them you can review (look for Bababooey's comments 1/22/07).

    Enjoy and have fun.

    1. You mentioned "bakery" in your post, cocolucia. Texas French Bread is right there on South Congress. I've never been there, but have heard that it's good.

      Also...and this is very much my own personal opinion.... steer clear of Beck's on Congress. I had a terrible meal there not too long ago:

      1 Reply
      1. re: jwynne2000

        Texas French Bread is not really a patisserie, if that's what you think of when you refer to bakery. Sweetish Hill, downtown, fairly close to SoCo is my favorite patisserie bakery, though of course they also have breads and sandwichs.

      2. For BBQ, Rudy's is great too. Stubbs (on Red River) is OK but you could combine it with music and that would make it worth it. Don't miss a fried apple pie at Jo's when you get your morning coffee. For Mexican you could go to Guero's, which is more about the atmosphere/landmark nature than the food, but the setting is fun with all the little shops along the block. Better food tho is down the street at El Sol y La Luna - perfect for migas or even dinner - I miss Texas!

        1. you need to go to Las Manitas between 2nd & 3rd on Congress. forget the other places, they are not any better. it's going to be torn down at some point to make way for a high rise. it may not be the best TexMex you have ever eaten, but it is a real part of Austin as it once was, since there is no more G&M Steak House. it is run by 2 no nonsense sisters. so eat up and move on. but that said, the feel of the place is great. it's a breakfast and lunch kinda place. they don't server booze. I think they close around 2:00. I've been going there for over 20yrs that I've lived here.

          1. If you don't mind a rough around the edges bar, the best burger in town/Texas is in a bar downtown called Casino El Camino. It's a couple of doors west of Red River on 6th.


            6 Replies
            1. re: Willisinaustin

              Willis - you're right! Casino El Camino DOES have the best burger in town! I tried the buffalo burger last year when we were there and it was fantastic! I still talk about it!

              1. re: Ed Edamame

                Their serrano burger is the stuff of daydreams...

                1. re: amysuehere

                  Now you're talking. I might even have to go get one tonight...

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    MMMmmm, that does sound good. I'll have to check that out on my next trip. Just got back from Austin yesterday. And some outstanding fish at Finn & Porter!

                    1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

                      What about BurgerTex? LOVE their burgers and I think they are in the run for best in the city!

                2. re: Willisinaustin

                  Speaking of the best burger in Austin, today I saw a great hole int he wall place on the way to Little Thailand. On 7th St. 2 miles east of 35. Can't remember the name. Anyone know what it was? Sorry for thread drift.....