Trip to Austin
I will be going to Austin in a few weeks to visit my girlfriend and some family. While in Austin my girlfriend and I would like to attack a new restaurant destination. We do not have a car, but are willing to pay a small cab ride. We will be downtown so walking is great. We are both HUGE foodies and would like an experience that will tantilize our tastebuds as well as be an adventure. I am posing this question to the best panel of foodies I know. I have taken many chow recommendations and every one has been excellent.
Ama tutti, Mangia Tutto
Sounds like Uchi to me. The cab fare will be worth it. Uchi is one of the few places in Austin that isn't just good for being in Austin. I would put it up against any restaurant I have been to in the world. Granted, that's not an exhaustive list, but I have been way luckier than I deserve to eat at quite a few great places. Uchi is imaginative, fresh and thoughtful. It would be in my top five restaurants anywhere and I don't even like sushi/Japanese! Have fun.
Primizie Osteria on E. 11th is doing really good pastas -- the lasagna -- pesto, cheese, noodles and sauce -- is amazingly light and I was really envious of my wife's gnocchi with roasted corn. The arrabiata wasn't bad either -- just a enough anchovy to add flavor without being over assertive. Interesting cocktails plus they have a good wine list, though you have to watch out for whatever wine they're pushing that week.
I am a consistent visitor to Austin. If you are willing to take cabs and are able to secure a reservation, I also highly recommend Uchi. I'm not a sushi fan or japanese food lover, but during my visit there it was easy to recognize innovative cooking and excellent service. A topnotch restaurant. Go early, and order some of the happy hour special dishes ($5 before 7) to help take the edge off your hunger. Then put yourselves in the hands of the chefs and servers and enjoy. A top innovative restaurant anywhere in the U.S., and a gem in Austin.
You gotta sample BBQ in Austin, and my favorite is Sam's on the east side. A shack, with fantastic brisket, good ribs, and the unusual specialty of mutton. Great for a lunch or take-out latenight feast taken back to your hotel. Enjoy and report back.
Uchi is definitely a fine choice. Couple other foodie places downtown are Restaurant Jezebel on Congress and Parkside on 6th. There's a recent thread on Parkside with lots of info.
As far as Jezebel goes, my wife I and recently enjoyed the chef's tasting menu. The chef does a lot of interesting things with sauces and creates mostly an Indian Fusion flavor. You should be able to search for other reviews on this board including a very detailed one from Tom in Austin.