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AUS: Need Great Rings

I'm looking for the best onion rings in Austin. My favorites are thick-sliced and lightly battered.

Where would you send me to find these rings?

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  1. For my money, the best in Austin is at Hut's on 6th St. They are very thick cut, but are also thick batterred with a corn (?) black pepper mix. And, they are not at all oily.

    2 Replies
    1. re: avi

      Just went for the first time and tried the onion rings based on these recs. I was disappointed (as with the entire meal). The batter was far thicker than any I've encountered before, and more like a crumb coating than a batter, and it was tasteless except for the occasional touch of stale pepper (much less than I expected from the size of the pepper flakes).

      The onions inside were soggy (which isn't necessarily a strike for me, but I have to mention it since nosh below says they were al dente) and totally devoid of flavor.

      I agree that they weren't oily, but I'd never order them again, and I love onion rings.

      1. re: renz

        Yeah, Hut's rings don't do it for me either---too much batter, too much onion. I prefer 'em at Dirty's, but they're super-greasy soI only indulge once in a while. I'm going to have to try the other suggestions.

    2. I second the vote for Hut's. They're the best I've ever had, anywhere. There is corn meal in the batter, but I think it's mostly wheat flour.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Greg Spence

        Hut's is known for good onion rings, and my family has ordered them during our visits there. They are substantial. Large, very thickly cut, and very very heavily coated. More crusty than delicately crisp, though not oily. Not at all airy, light, or tempura-like. Definitely grainy, corn mealy crust. The inner onion also thick-cut and still al dente, barely softened and not at all caramelized. I must confess my preference is for thinner-cut lighter-battered onion strings with a greater proportion of onion to crust and the onion cooked more.

      2. Spring Hill has great onion rings!

        1. Sullivan's has great rings. Has the beer batter type of batter (not sure what to call it--it's kind of smooth, like the batter on Long John Silvers fish, as opposed to the corn-mealy grainy batter on the Hut's rings). And they are giant.

          1. There's going to be a million answers to this question. The tough part is finding the thick sliced and lightly battered. Some places like Dirty Martin's or Nau's Pharmacy have the classic greasy, kind of stringy and tossed in batter that give you heart burn just looking at them. Players has big ol' rings but these have a heavier batter. Threadgill's has pretty decent rings. Hut's is okay too but I feel that this is another Austin establishment that relies more on nostaligia than good food. The place across from Central Market on North Lamar has pretty better than average rings.

            Personally if I'm in the mood for onion rings I'm usually in the mood for fried chicken as well so I go to Top Notch on Burnet. They may be the closest to what you're looking for but you won't know until you try.

            Happy eating.

            p.s. can you tell I love onion rings like a fat kid loves cake?

            3 Replies
            1. re: hooliganyouth

              I second Top Notch for the onion rings. And I also like to go there for those nostalgic 50's diner-style burgers. Not quite exactly that varietal, but similar. And good.

              1. re: Nab

                I will third the Notch...but they don't satisfy the "thick cut" requirement of the OP. But great rings nonetheless, hand-battered (see pic of actual Top Notch rings attached to this post!). And a good flame kissed thin patty burger. Great place.

                1. re: cstrombe

                  Huh - that's an interesting website your photo came from - www.auslunch.com. I just took a glance, but seems kinda neat.

                  I've seen so many of these drive-up burger joints around Austin, I've come to think it very well might be a haven for these diner-style burgers I love. Don't get me wrong, I like the big burgs too, but they both serve a separate purpose for my tastes. And to bring this back to the topic of discussion, these types of burger joints, at least in my experience, almost always have onion rings, and usually quite good ones. I think it's high time I started exploring some of them.

            2. I like the rings at Fran's...greasy and hot old school burger joint rings.

              4 Replies
              1. re: achtungpv

                I just tried the Fran's on South Congress, after being reminded of it here (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/468171 ). I ordered the medium 1/4-pound hamburger. It consisted of a thin, lean, fairly flavorless beef patty, with standard-issue shredded lettuce and thin tomato slices, on an overly griddle-toasted white bun. It was better than the plain hamburger at Dan's, where the meat tasted much worse (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40935... ). I'd say Fran's burger was above average compared to all local burgers, but on my visit, it wasn't truly delicious. My favorite old-school-drive-thru-joint burger in Austin can still be found at Top Notch.

                However, I enjoyed Fran's crisp, housemade, medium-thick-sized onion rings. The breading was simple (bread crumbs, salt, and pepper), but the rings were tasty and well fried to a medium-brown. The only off-notes were the flavor and texture of the onion slices themselves: bitter and slightly tough. I ended up eating a lot of hollow rings of fried coating.

                Everyone seemed to be ordering the fried mushrooms, so I gave them a shot, too. This side dish seemed to be made with those uniformly small, soft mushrooms that you know have to be from a can. A true guilty pleasure. Like the rings, the mushrooms were cleanly fried. The airy foam-like shake (probably made with Blue Bell) and the soggy fries were considerably less impressive.

                1. re: MPH

                  Since this topic was resurrected I guess I'll put in my two cents - I've had the rings at most places mentioned here (Hil-berts and Billy's I haven't visited yet) and I have to say my favorite stays with Clear Springs Catfish in Clear Springs, TX (a few miles west of New Braunfels) While you're there, tear up some catfish, too.

                  1. re: LakeLBJ

                    My favorite rings are either at Freddie's Place or at Grist Mill in NB. large rings with a light but peppery batter.

                  2. re: MPH

                    Yes, fried shrooms are the thing to order at Frans.

                2. I completely forgot about one of my favorites and it's next to my apartment - Billy's on Burnet! They have awesome onion rings. Totally wicked hella awesome onion rings. Also very very satisfying burgers.

                  1. I think the onion rings at Hill-berts are good. The menu says they are homemade.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nypb

                      I'll second that. I wouldn't call them "great," and I wouldn't make a special trip to get them, but Hill-bert's onion rings are good. The batter's in a thin layer on small-to-medium-sized rings of onion. Nothing fancy, just basic diner-style onion rings, dipped in a basic flour and egg batter, fried until crisp, and salted.

                      I should admit, however, that I'm not a fan of Hill-bert's burgers. They're drive-in fast-food style, with fairly thin (1/4" thick) patties. Though grilled and not fried, there's not a lot of charred flavor to them. Plus, the meat just plain tastes bad. Hill-bert's thin shakes and greasy, square-cut fries are also mediocre, in my opinion.

                      I do like Top Notch's thin, well-done, flame-grilled hamburgers. They're a good example of the type of burgers served at independent joints in small towns all over the state. You know, the local spots that Dairy Queen and Red Top modeled themselves on. I also enjoy Top Notch's perfectly hot and salty shoestring fries that manage to be nicely crisp while remaining very blond in color. They must cook fast.

                      I don't like Top Notch's fried chicken, however. I think the chicken is tasteless and the oil is rancid far too often. The breading is crunchy and just greasy enough, but it doesn't taste good. It just tastes fried. For the same reason (poor quality of oil, flavorless coating), I don't get that excited about their onion rings.

                      Personally, I like both the breading or batter, and whatever is fried in it, to taste good on their own. That way, the final product adds up to something truly delicious. Like those fried chicken drumettes at Tony's Southern Comfort.

                      Nab, if you start hitting all the burger drive-in joints in town, please keep us posted.


                      1. re: MPH

                        I feel the same way about Hilbert's burgers. The only reason that I ever go there is because the Lamar and Cameron locations used to be Burger Chefs. I remember as a kid being able to order the burger (meat and bun) and then fix them up at the salad bar. I still think that's a great idea because it is always so cumbersome for me to order a burger. No lettuce, extra tomatoes, a little bit of mayo, mustard, extra pickles, onions, and if I can, jalapenos and cheddar. I wish that Burger King had cheddar.

                        Oh, Brentwood Tavern has decent onion rings. Unfortunately, the got rid of their best dish over a year ago: flautas with chili gravy.

                    2. I know it is not cool to recommend a chain restaurant, but the rings at Red Robin are fantastic - evenly breaded, well seasoned, with a ranch dipping sauce, or chipotle dipping sauce - delicious!

                      1. SHady Grove has good rings that seem to have a hint of cumin...nice with a green chili cheesburger

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tim irvine

                          I second Shady Grove. I worked there for 3 years and definitely think they're a contender. You're right about the cumin; there's also chili powder added to the batter gives them just a slight punch.

                        2. I recently sampled the rings at Doc's Motorworks on South Congress. They are medium thick with a substantial but not heavy batter that has a little sweetness to it. The batter itself is light on seasoning, but a little salt and pepper made these my favorite that I have tried in Austin.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: El General

                            For some reason, this post made me think of onion rings in a "chinese" salt and pepper style, with szechuan peppercorn, a light batter, and thick onions. I bet that would be most excellent. Anyone ever seen anything like that?

                            1. re: rudeboy

                              I think old shoe leather would be excellent if prepared thus, so surely onions would be.

                              There was a burger and donut type place in Beaumont, TX that used its donut batter for its onion rings. It was unique for sure. Like their donuts, the first one was intensely delicious, the second a bit absurd, and the third meant it was time to pull the trigger.

                          2. When I get hungry for onion rings it always leads to thinking about a green chili cheesburger and a Fat Tire, which leads to Shady Grove. But the wait can be overwhelming. So if it is "peak hour" I sometimes go the Hangtown and while it is not transcendental it is reliable. The ambience is awful, however.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tim irvine

                              I'm intrigued. Tell me about this green chili burger at SG. I've had the one at Hangtown several times and like it very much. I'm trying to find one simular to Blake's Lottaburger in New Mexico.

                              1. re: amysuehere

                                just a nice "designer" burger, big grilled patty. More green chili than Hangtown and, as I recall, not as much distracting stuff (Hangtown always seemed to need to be "pared" of excess stuff to get to the basic chilis and cheese...and of course I am too lame to order it just the way I want it). They also have a chiliburger on the menu which is good but be careful (explicity) when ordering or you may, as I did, get suprised by the chili burger and be just too hungry and/or polite to ask for a change! SG's atmosphere is way better, too, but the waits can be long. Never been to Blake's but when I think green chili I think NM.

                            2. Woodland on S. Congress has great, thick cut, beer battered rings
                              and darn good burgers, too.
                              rest of the menu can be hit or miss, but the burgers...including their veggie version...are great

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: coolranch

                                I ate at The Woodland recently; hated the burgers but LOVED the rings. Light, puffy beer battered rings with thick slices of onion... The only drawback is that they only gave me maybe 6 or so rings... of course if you order them a la carte you probably get more. I would go there again for a pint at the bar and an appetizer of rings... mmm.

                              2. Since someone revived the post i would suggest two places. Hill's Cafe on Congress. They offer big rings. And The Waterloo icehouse. Now i have eaten at three locations and only likeedthe rings at one of them. Lamar and 6th. But there you go.