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Mar 19, 2008 02:44 PM

First time in Austin....... where to eat... need help

Hello Austin Chowhounders,

My wife and I will be in Austin for the 1st time next weekend.
Please help me plan out the best eating schedule for Saturday - Monday.
Thanks in advance


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  1. Preceptor,
    Welcome to Austin but please give us some more information to help us out. Budget? Where are you coming from? Will you have a car? Likes/dislikes? Without that information I am afraid you request will be ignored by many. That being said, here are my stand by recommendations:

    1. Uchi- $$$$
    2. BBQ pilgrimage to Lockhart- cheap
    3. Mutton and ribs at Sam's BBQ- cheap
    4. Tex-Mex breakfast at Habenero Cafe- cheap; b'fast and lunch
    5. Carnita's Tacos at Angie's (differen than the carnitas plate)-cheap; b'fast and lunch
    6. Flip Happy Crepe- b'fast and lunch
    6. visit to the flagship Whole Foods for a picnic in Zilker Park

    Places that get good reviews on this board but I have not been:
    Lu lu B's
    Backstage Steakhouse
    Asia Cafe

    8 Replies
    1. re: Honey Bee

      Honey Bee,
      We will be at the Four Seasons...
      no budget... we just wanna eat at places that the locals love...
      The 2 BBQ joints you mentioned definitely got my mouth watering...
      So would you say Austin is famous for BBQ and Tex/Mex... and what other cuisines would you say that are well represented in Austin....
      Thanks in advance for all your great tips..


      1. re: Perceptor

        Great, that helps. I'll expand a little on my previous recs:

        At the Four Seasons is a new restaurant called Trio. (The hotel recently underwent renovations and Trio was added.) I have not been there, but it is on my list of places to try. Even if you don't eat there, it is probably a good place to grab a drink. Here is a link to a relevant thread:

        Austin is definitely a BBQ and Tex-Mex kinda town. Regarding Tex-Mex you have two ways to go (1) an actual restaurant or (2) a taco trailer. Where you end up partially depends on the type of experience you desire. Do you want drinks and a nice atmosphere or are you purely looking for tasty food?

        If looking for a Tex-Mex place with a fun, trendy atmosphere then you may want to consider dinner at El Chile on Manor or Polvo's on South First. Polvo's is not universally loved on this board, but I have always had good experiences and really enjoy their spicy beef fajitas. Both of these places will be busy and have an Austin vibe to them. Someone is likely to recommend you go to Chuy's and I'll tell you right now that I suggest you head to El Chile or Polvo's over Chuy's.

        There are a number of less trendy Tex-Mex places in town that are only open for breakfast and lunch. These places are often family run and a great option for a casual meal. Of these, I really like Habanero Cafe on Oltorf. Personally, I am also very fond of the carnitas tacos at Angie's on East 7th. However, this is the only menu item of theirs that I love, but I get cravings for them if i go more than a month without eating them. SOOOO good and bad for you.

        In category number 2, the taco trailer:
        A local Austin hound, MPH, has slowly been chronicling his adventures in East Austin working his way through little known taco trailers and small restaurants. Most of these places are not in the trendy parts of town, but can offer amazing food. Here are a couple links to his threads:

        Part 11 in the series:

        Part 9 in the series:

        Regarding BBQ you also have two categories in-town and out of town. In town, I like Sam's BBQ on East 12th which is open until 2 am. It is a hole in the wall, but I find that is has great character. Also in town is House Park BBQ at 12th and Lamar which closes around 2:00 each day. I personally recommend against Salt Lick, County Line, and Stubb's.

        Around 2nd street is a place called Lambert's which markets upscale BBQ. I have had fun there and find their food decent, but not outstanding(excellent fried pies though). Some hounds have had more praise for the place. However, they have an upstairs bar that has live music and I have always had fun there.

        If you can get out of town, drive to Lockhart (about 30 minutes) and take a little BBQ tour of Smitty's, Black's and Kruez. Gte a nibble at each place to find your own personal favorites. Each one has a fan base:

        For upscale dining, I really do love Uchi. It is in a little house on South Lamar and is always packed. Take a look at the menu:

        Whole Foods started in Austin and the flagship store on 6th street is unlike any other WF I have visited. It has many eat-in counters located within the market (ie, eat at the seafood counter among people buying their fish) as well as an area of to-go food at the north end of the store. There is a buffet, cheese counter, roasted nut station, dessert bar, etc.. And the store is near Zilker Park which makes it a great place to buy things for a picnic.

        Flip Happy Crepes is an airstream trailer off Barton Springs road. They offer breakfast (on the weekends) and lunch. A great on the go option:

        As for other cuisines well-represented in Austin, they all lag way behind the Mexican and BBQ offerings. There is a Vietnamese community up north on 183, but I would not make a trip out there from the Four Seasons. However, there is a new airstream parked on South Lamar near Oltorf called Lulu B's which sells bahn mi. I have not been there yet, but here is a recent thread:

        Have fun in Austin!

        1. re: Honey Bee

          wow Honey Bee.... thank you SO MUCH for your detailed and informative suggestions... this will definitely help me to have a great eating weekend in Austin... i will be sure to report back on this board.

          1. re: Honey Bee

            Good job, HB! Yup. That would make an excellent selection. I second Polvo's, but say guajillo fajitas instead, and go at lunch. Things get sketchy at dinner.

            Flip Happy is a very Old Austin vibe, however the lines and wait can get rather long. Still very worth it.

            WF is a must for any of my out of town visitors.

            I'd skip bbq in town and go to Lockhart and do what Honey Bee suggested.

            I'm trying Uchi for the first time tomorrow.

            Wouldn't bother with VietN.

            1. re: amysuehere

              Oh! and have a martini at the bar in Driskill Grill

              1. re: amysuehere

                hi amysue.
                can't wait to hear what you think about uchi! please post.
                good to know about polvo's being better for lunch and you are right, it is the guajillo fajitas I like there.

                1. re: Honey Bee

                  Insider tip on Polvo's - you can ask for the guajillo fajitas and ask for "half beef, half pastor" which really is mixing two types of fajitas. Wonderful compliment to each other.

                  Yes, extreemely excited about tomorrow. Hope it lives up to my expectations...

                  Trying the Grove tonight...if we can get in. I'm not waiting an hour and a half just to sit down.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    ice turbo @ jos..continental for the ears...

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Thanks Mattarnold. My Austin visit already happend 2 months ago. I had a fantastic eating experience and I posted my restaurant experiences on this Austin Board as well. Just search for Perceptor.

          1. re: Perceptor

            Hey perceptor I am impressed w/ your positive perception of some Austin eateries.. you did cruise the broad spectrum & get great photos ......