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Mar 21, 2007 09:53 AM

Ex-Austinites returning for weekend visit

My sister and I are planning a girls getaway weekend in April and I'm curious to hear what you all think are some of the best places these days. I'm a Chicago 'hound now, so I know I'm a bit spoiled in this city. I certainly have my old favorites, but I haven't lived in Austin for about 6 years now...

So - we MUST have authentic food from uniquely Austin eateries. That said, how are places now such as Curra's, Eastside Cafe, Castle Hill, Fonda San Miguel, Vespaio, etc... (some of my old favs)?

What are some newer places that I may not know?! We will have two dinners, two lunches and two breakfasts/brunches to cover - and we're open to just about anything!

Thanks in advance for your feedback - we can't wait to come "home!"

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  1. IMO- Since it has been 6 years you may find FSM not the same as when you left., Vespaio probalby will be better. I think it has improved since I started eating there several years ago. Next door, the Vespaio people have an enoteca, called Enoteca. It is good. Eastside Cafe is still strong here as is Castle Hill although it has been some time since I have been to either. I have never cared for Curra to start with. New places include Fino (super) a Fox (ASTI) endeavor, Ushi, a sushi bar that is pricey but very good and much fun. BYOB allowed. Lambert's , that used to be on SoCo has a place downtown that specializes in smoked or grilled meats. Ate there recently thought it quite good though not outstanding. I rec. that you avoid Cibo (see Dale Rice's) review but also downtown and also Italian is a trattoria called Traviata that is informal but quite good, esp. the Putenesca. That is my bumper sticker answer.

    8 Replies
    1. re: singlemalt

      I second the recommendation for Uchi. Pretty spectacular place. And if you're only going to be in town for the weekend, might as well throw price to the wind. Word of advice though...they get crowded very fast. I don't think they take reservations, so I would call ahead and find out what time they open and get there within 10 minutes of then. Otherwise, grab a drink from the bar and hang out in their cool rock garden outside while you wait!

      1. re: jwynne2000

        I'll add an emphatic third and offer that Uchi opens their bar at 5pm and starts seating at 5:30. If you get there before 6, you'll have a much shorter wait (if you get there at 5:30, in my experience, you'll almost always be seated immediately), and since you'll probably wind up spending at least a couple of hours "exploring" the menu, you'll have plenty of time after for enjoying the city. You can also make reservations up to 7pm through Uchi's website (; after 7 it's first come, first serve, and waits can get upwards of an hour.

      2. re: singlemalt

        I know from another thread that singlemalt tried Cibo once and didn't like it ( ). Other local chowhounds' opinions of Cibo can be found on that thread—and this one: .

        DKS1, I’ve included links to a recent discussion of good, unpretentious restaurants in Austin; a trip report by another former Austinite; and an older post started by a different Chicago ‘hound:

        I hope this helps!


        1. re: MPH

          Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful suggestions and feedback... A special thanks to you, MPH, for these links - they're terrific!

          I am not done "researching" our trip, but so far I think the must-haves include Polvo's (for breakfast perhaps?), Eastside Cafe for Sun. brunch, and either Vespaio, Aquarelle, Fino, or Wink for our "fancy" Sat. night dinner. The rest is undecided...

          But a big thank-you for everyone's recommendations!!

          1. re: DKS1

            I'd like to add one more to this list. I highly recommend Zoot. I was there about a week ago with friends from out of town and we had a truly great meal. I ordered the pork chop that had a truffled egg sauce, much like an aioli. It came with wilted frisee and something like a potato cake. Can't remember exactly. One of my friends had the duck with a caramelized fennel puree and a dijon cream. The other had the sea bass poached in Gewurztraminer. The sauce used the poaching broth with some cream added. But what really made the dish stand out was a mushroom salad that came on top of the fish. I really think its worth eating there.

            1. re: DKS1

              DKS1, I'm glad the links to past discussions were helpful.

              One last thought: If you go to Polvo's for breakfast, be sure to ask for or check out dish recommendations from local 'hounds who like this restaurant. The breakfast items that I've had there have not been good.


              1. re: MPH

                Agreed. Polvo's breakfast has been their absolute worst average meal over the many, many times I've been there.

                1. re: MPH

                  Polvo's enchiladas de la casa, guajillo fajitas or fajitas de la casa. I cannot recommend any breakfasts.