New Orleans Hounds 1st Time in Austin
Help! We're gonna be in Austin for the first time, but only for 72 hours and during the Austin City Lights Fest. Can I get some recs for "can't miss" food? We would prefer places that a) aren't crazy expensive and b) would be off the festival goers path enough to not be overly crowded and c) food that we can't get in NOLA (mex, tex/mex, etc)
We are renting a car so can go anywhere! thanks
When my brother who lives in Metairie visits, He usually requests one of two places which are not that far from downtown.
Both of these restaurants serve good to very good food (but probably not great)
Casa Garcia and further down the road is an Austin institution (but not dead) Matt's El Rancho. Both of these serve Tex-Mex rather than Mexican food. For Mexican food I agree with most of the suggestions in the links above.
Casa Garcia Mexican Restaurant
1000 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Matt's El Rancho
2613 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Sooner or later, you'll want something to eat while you're there. Fortunately, in the past the festival has done a great job of inviting local restaurants to set up in the food court area. Past highlights for me included Australian-style meat pies in a variety of flavors from Boomerang's, and the chicken in a cone from Hudson's on the Bend. It's actually reasonably priced for festival food. I don't know why they haven't posted the 2007 food vendors yet, but keep your eyes open for that.
Mexican: Sazon on South Lamar. I'm a former New Orleanian and there are things there that we just don't get here, but Mexican, this, we get. Sazon is hands down my favorite. Try the conchinita piblil, the ceviche and the chillaquilles (green sauce).
I'm assuming you mean you're going to be here for Austin City Limits? In that case, you'll be able to walk to some cool places: Flip Happy Crepes and P. Terry's (good for burgers in that area, but not as good as my all-time favorite Bud's Broiler in NOLA, which I think has been gone for years).
Uchi is nice, and in the area. You can do it up high-priced, or you can do it lower priced, depending on your mood. I've spent as much as $100/person to as little as $35/person.
Maria's Taco Xpress on South Lamar has great breakfast (and other) tacos, as well as awesome Migas, but it's sure to be packed that weekend. Phonecia on South Lamar has great sandwiches on some of the best french bread outside of NOLA, and if you like Thai, Madam Mam's on Westgate is a crowd pleaser.
Have fun on your trip!
Just a warning....(as per the OP's request) Flip Happy, P. Terry's, Uchi (I worked there a few years back during the fest and it was super crowded with musicians, agents, and other celebs in for the fest), and Maria's will likely be swamped all weekend due to their proximity to the festival (ditto for all the restaurants along Barton Springs and the trendy blocks of So. Congress).
If I wanted to avoid crowds and eat some really good, but cheap food I might try some of the eastside taco joints (there are numerous threads here...look for MPH's comments as he's our resident expert), take in some BBQ, etc. The festival can be quite exhausting and if you plan on seeing the headliners each night, you'll have to be careful about the hours on some places as by the time you walk or bus out it can be quite late. You might try these threads for some ideas:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/431581 (this is a part of a "series" where MPH scouts out the best tacos and the like, you might search for others
Hopefully this will help :)
BBQ !!! Brisket : House Park, Ribs-Artz, Sam's, Lewis Bbq...Mexican: El Meson, Borrega De Oro, Los Comales, Polvo's, Garibaldi's...& these suggestions are coming from the guy who used to write the "Savoring SinCity" food column in Offbeat Magazine. Hit me offline for more rec's...Cheers !
For Tex Mex, I recommend El Azteca on East 7th. I like to get the combo #1 with a chicken taco insead of a beef taco (it comes with a beef enchilada). Their table salsa is spicy hot and good. Sometimes their beans are a little bland, but on the combo #1 they are smothered with queso and chile gravy, so hey! No problem. They serve a little scoop of sherbet for dessert, which is a nice touch. The only thing I've had there that I didn't think was very good were the chicken enchilaldas mole and they weren't bad, just not special. My friend likes their cabrito but I can't say whether it's good because all cabrito tastes foul to me.