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Jan 9, 2008 08:47 AM

Chicago 'Hound Visiting for 30th Birthday

Hey Austin,

We are thrilled to be heading your way at the end of January for what I hope will be a spectacular food weekend! I am a native Texan and used to live in Austin, but it's been many years. I try to keep up with your board for ideas, but I would love some dinner recs for one Saturday night a few weeks from now.

I think I've already decided on our brunch/lunch/snack plans, as for those meals I like to revisit old haunts (Eastside Cafe is top on my list for Sun. brunch, for instance). For Friday night we will be dining with another couple at Zoot - my friend's brother is the chef there so we must give it a try! Am preparing to be wowed...

So that leaves Saturday night and I cannot decide whether to do another fine-dining (or "casual fine dining," as many of my fellow Chicagoans like to say) restaurant or do something fun and casual. I had my heart set on Lambert's at first upon reading some of your reviews, but heard recently from a trusted friend that it can be easily missed. She was not impressed at all - except for her app.

So - can you please share your thoughts about some fun, low-key (but stellar food) places to try as well as a few higher-end ones? I'm spoiled with my options in Chicago, but would love to feel some Austin flair wherever we end up (oh, and anything that highlights local, organic, and/or sustainable food is a plus!!).

Many thanks...

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  1. I would suggest Uchi, the closest thing to Alinea we have here, and it's not even that close, but very good and interesting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: singlemalt

      It definitely will be our destination should we decide on sushi, but for now (long story) sushi places are being excluded! Sorry, should have mentioned that in my OP.

      Any thoughts on Restaurant Jezebel? I just read a positive post from someone on these boards and the website/menu seems interesting...


    2. Rabbitz are just back from Austin, and we really liked Starlite in the warehouse district. Casual, local, feel with great food and some interesting wine picks. Stop by for happy hour and decide for yourself whether you'd like to stay for dinner. The pork meatballs closed the deal for us, although we did not regret the veal chop... nor anything else!

      And I really liked Lambert's. Of course I'm from Toronto, so I'm not a bbq expert by far, but the brisket and ribs were great, the charcuterie plate had some really interesting stuff happening, and the mashed potatoes were fab (as a vehicle for cheese and sour cream). Liked the tapioca at dessert. Good bartending, great vibe. I wouldn't write it off.


      1. Unfortunately Austin flair and stellar food do not always go hand in hand. In-town and casual, you might check out Tony's Southern Comfort or Sam's Bar-B-Q. I'm assuming you have Mexican food well covered in the Windy City, but southern cuisine and barbecue are probably in short supply.

        If you lean towards fine dining, Backstage Steakhouse has never disappointed me, and is a nice drive out of town.

        You seem to be adept with searching, but here are a few links to give a variety of views on some of the places that have been mentioned. The opinions of people whose tastes match yours are probably your best guide.

        Zoot: and
        Tony's Southern Comfort:
        Backstage Steakhouse:

        I hope you'll favor us with your impressions after your trip.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Knoblauch

          Thank you all so much for your feedback. And Knoblauch, thank YOU for all of these great links!

          Does anyone remember when Starlite used to be Gilligan's? I used to work there while in college! It's weird - looking at the website - that it's now something else, although I knew Gilligan's went under long ago...

          I will enjoy perusing these links and coming up with a plan. Backstage Steakhouse sounds great (and I've read all of your great reviews), but I was a little hesitant about driving out of town. Seems like it might be worth the trip, though!

          Thanks again... and keep 'em coming if inclined!

          1. re: DKS1


            I would highly recommend South Congress Cafe. The food there is exceptional, the atmosphere is very much in tune with 'South Austin' and the prices are extremely agreeable. As an added bonus, the area is a great locale for those that have never experienced 'South Austin' or 'SoCo'. My favs are the duck and oyster gumbo and the 5 spice pork. The creamed spinach is divine as well.