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2 Days in Austin

  • d

we have this sat night, sunday and monday day in Austin.

looking for local food in old funky places
so we'd like off the wall breakfast places, BBQ, etc.
nothing corporate or chain like in any way please!
prefer low cost to anything fancy

we get too much fancy where we live and not enough funky

[i have a car and a map so PLEASE include an address or cross street please.]

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  1. Here's a few on the east side that are worth a mention (not necessarily old, but good food, nonetheless):

    Ben's Longbranch BBQ (http://www.benslongbranchbarb.ypgs.net/) - Great ribs and pork loin; they serve mutton, as well.
    Tony's Southern Comfort (http://www.tonyssoutherncomfort.com/) - Chicken fried bliss.
    Eastside Cafe (http://www.eastsidecafeaustin.com/) - Make a reservation for weekend brunch and give the Salmon Benedict a try; may as well have some mimosas while you're there.
    El Chile (http://www.elchilecafe.com/) - Red mole enchiladas and micheladas can't be beat.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Twill

      I just went to Tony's Southern Comfort and I gotta say it was pretty bad. Canned greens, 1/16" thick chicken fried steak... Nothing special at all. For my $$$$, Hoover's and Ben's Longbranch are where it's at for good soul food type offerings. Eastside Cafe is good but I think a bit overrated.

      1. re: SlapYoMamma

        Thanks for the feedback, but that is so disappointing to hear! I have had mixed experiences at Hoover's and have not yet tried Ben's. It is on my list.
        I like the food at East Side, but sometimes I feel like I am eating at my Great Aunt Pearl's house. I think the atmosphere can feel too stuffy for some occasions.

        1. re: Honey Bee

          SlapYoMamma's experience at Tony's is unusual (I think) for most Chowhound readers. When I've gone, the CFS and fried chicken have been excellent. The CFS meat has been a little stringy, but that goes with the territory -- you're not ordering beef tenderloin, after all.

          1. re: tom in austin

            You think the fried chicken at Tony's is good? My dining companion had it. A fried, boneless, skinless breast of chicken can only be so go unless it's pounded out and battered (CFC-style). I'd have taken pop-eyes over Tony's fried chicken anyday... I'll say one nice thing about tony's- the red velvet cake was good as was the sweet tea.

            1. re: SlapYoMamma

              I believe tom in austin already said he thought it was good. I think it's good, too. No offense, but asking for a fried, boneless, skinless chicken-breast is a rookie mistake. Tony's doesn't do CFC (in my opinion, not everything should be battered and slathered with cream gravy), but they do delicious fried-chicken drumettes and chicken wings. Maybe next time you can try an entire order yourself, then post back based on your one personal experience.

              Of course, if you prefer the chain Popeye's, then you have a different fried-chicken ideal than me and tom in austin (if I can make that assumption on his behalf). Good for you—you can find “great” chicken anywhere. I know I can’t.

              What I love about this board is that it allows for the passionate but civilized exchange of different opinions on all kinds of chow. Then, other people can make their own decisions based on the history and recommendations of chowhounds who share their tastes. The end result is more deliciousness for us all.

              Best,
              MPH

              1. re: MPH

                SlapYoMamma, I'm a fried chicken fiend, and other than various block parties and barbecues, the best fried chicken I've had in Austin is at Tony's. I'm not saying their fried chicken is the best I've ever had. But it is extremely good -- great, even! -- and thanks to this discussion I'm craving it now.

                I'd go on in great detail, as well as discussing their CFS, but (a) I've already described it elsewhere on the Chowhound Austin board, and (b) it would make me far too hungry.

        2. re: SlapYoMamma

          If you want good greens, go to Nubian Queen Lola's on Rosewood. Those WILL make you slap yo mamma. Last time I was there, she was server, host and cook, so you'll have a wait, but it'll be worth it. And Gene's is just around the corner, so there's no shortage of good comfort food in the area.

      2. A few of the non-fancy local favorites on this board include:

        For BBQ, drive the short distcance to Lockhart for a real treat
        www.smittysmarket.com
        Smitty's Market
        208 South Commerce
        Lockhart, Texas 78644

        Angie's for a great Tex-Mex food breakfast or lunch (East 7th and I-35 on the east side). Order the carnitas or machacado.

        El Chile for Interior Mexican Food (Manor East of I-35).
        http://www.elchilecafe.com/

        Casino El Camino on 6th street (west of I-35) for a crazy big and tasty burger. Open late night.
        http://www.casinoelcamino.net/

        Tony's Southern Comfort (1201 East 6th street) for comfort food
        http://www.tonyssoutherncomfort.com/

        Enjoy!

        1. Curra's Grill on Oltolf, couple blocks east of S. Congress. Mexican, great lunch, breakfasts, best coffee (ask for Quahacan (sp?))

          1. a few cheap funky Austiny Breakfast places
            The Omelettery - good, cheap, but not worth waiting an hour for on weekends. 51st and Burnet.
            Maria's Taco Xpress - New location, but really funky, good breakfast tacos. Open lunch and dinner, too. I'm sure there are plenty of reviews on this board. South Lamar, don't know cross street.
            Las Manitas Avenue Cafe - Not as cheap as Maria's, but still pretty cheap, and a larger breakfast menu. An Austin institution. They won't be in their current location for long. 3rd or 4th and Congress. Migas, bkfst tacos, menudo, etc.
            If I was an out of towner, I'd go here.
            Magnolia Cafe - Great pancakes, omelettes, etc. - Lake Austin Blvd

            1. Hi docb,

              I'm afraid that local places that are well-known for being “fun and funky” often have the worst food. I’d include Magnolia Cafe in that category. Las Manitas and Maria’s Taco Xpress are tourist-friendly spots with an “Austin vibe” and some good dishes. In my opinion, however, you can do better by getting off the beaten track.

              Here are some links that might help you in your search for the best local chow:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/357620

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/329822

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/372370

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387874

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/367854

              If these posts don’t include an address or directions, you can just Google them for more info.

              Enjoy your trip!
              MPH

              1. For BBQ I think you'd enjoy Artz Rib House at 2330 South Lamar:

                http://www.artzribhouse.com/

                They have a rib special on Monday for I think $6.99 for a plate of ribs, bread and 2 sides. I like their brisket sandwich too, though it can be hit and miss. It's totally divey, and I love it.

                Enjoy Austin! :)

                5 Replies
                1. re: YaYa

                  I agree with Artz for baby back ribs. I'm not a fan of cole slaw, so I usually do two sides of potato salad, but those ribs are great!

                  1. re: tjt

                    I'd like to point out that Artz baby backs are sometimes very good to great, but a few times, a little dry. What is consistently excellent is their smoked back rib. I believe they call it "country style."

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Thanks for the clarification rudeboy. I have never had the baby backs, and the country style ribs are the ones I was referencing.

                      I will try the baby backs at some point though. :)

                      1. re: YaYa

                        In this ancient post (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/89717 ), longtime Austin 'hound Greg Spence opined that the only thing worth ordering at Artz were the baby-back ribs and the burgers. [Carter B., you’ve been around for a long time, too!] Another interesting aspect of that thread is that Jim Leff and Pat Hammond chimed in on it.

                        When I recently tried Artz, I found their specialty country-style ribs to be quite dry and “leathery,” as Hans described it in that old link. [I wasn’t there late, either; it was around 12:30 or 1 P.M.] Instead of fall-off-the-bone tender when you bit into these ribs, they were pull-off-in-large-chunks-with-your-hands tender, if that makes sense. The ribs had a salty, somewhat spicy rub on them, but all the flavor seemed to be on the surface, from the blackening of the rub. The smoke-ring was literally only surface deep, and the meat itself had almost no smoke flavor. The cut they use for their ribs (loin) does contain much more meat than most; however, I'd have preferred less meat but more satisfying flavor. The sauce wasn't great, in my opinion. Sugar and vinegar were its dominant flavors, though it also had a peppery aftertaste.

                        To put my preferences in context, I like the pork ribs at Ben's Longbranch, though their barbecue can be on the dry side, too. I also really enjoy the sauce and the ribs at Southwest Market in San Marcos. Not to mention, of course, the ribs at various barbecue temples out of town.

                        The sides at Artz were not spectacular. The cole slaw had a limp texture, as if it were slightly-crunchy boiled cabbage, with a faint sour taste. There was not much mayo, and it had no caraway seeds. The smoothly-surfaced potato salad was gross: Except for a liberal topping of paprika, a few caraway seeds, and some pickle "juice," it had no seasoning. Grocery-store potato salad is better. The beans were the best of the bunch [I’m blocking out the packaged Ruffles]. They weren't my favorite kind of barbecue beans that are simmered with leftover ends and other bits of meat, nor were they true "a la charra" style with both spicy and savory dimensions of flavor. They were just boiled pinto beans with 2-3 chunks of jalapeño per serving and lots of ground black pepper.

                        I wouldn't make a special trip there again, but if I were compelled to return to Artz someday, I'd probably try the baby-back ribs or go with another burger (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/32372... ). In town, I prefer the 'cue at Ben’s Longbranch and even House Park, though they’re just simple barbecue joints.

                        1. re: MPH

                          I'd like to add that Artz has some better than average fare in the form of non-menu lunch specials; they have, in fact, been the source of my best experiences at the joint. I particularly remember a tangy/savory green chile pork stew and ham steak lunch I had there once.

                          I think that part of the Artz draw is the pervasive smoke smell and massive country style ribs (and occasionally the music), though I'm a big fan of the South Austin Cheeseburger as well. I've had the babybacks in the past and thought they were damn good; I think the smoke more easily permeates the ribs in this case. The meat doesn't fall off, but you don't need to pull it off or gnaw on the bone, either. I'll agree that the country style version isn't the most tender I've had, but it's hard not to feel like your money's worth (at least in sheer volume) when you eat there. I also agree that the beans are the best of the Artz side; there's something comforting about the steaming, peppered pintos.

                          That said, for my money Ben's ribs and pork loin are the cream of the crop–in proximal downtown, obviously.

                2. you MUST GO to Texas Chile Parlor in Austin to get your traditional Frito Chile Pie comes X to XXXX HOT... true locals joint...place may look like nothing much but it was best meal I had during ACL last year...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: feedmybelly

                    Alot of people on this board like to slam the chili parlor, so I'm going to be proactive and say that I really like their chili. There is just something different in there (spicewise) that I can't seem to put my finger on. Also, there are big hunks of meat in it, not ground beef.