PHX to tha ATX
(Excerpts from my TX post)
My gf and I am traveling to Texas for a music festival in Austin the last weekend of August, and we'll be there a few days. My girlfriend has never really had the chance to taste some of the better things Texas has to offer, so I would like to make this a memorable experience for her.
We are looking for dive/hole in the wall/mom and pop places that hit the spot, and dinners where the food outweighs everything else.
We will be in the Emo's, Beerland, Mohawk area. A car will be available, but we like to be able to walk and experience a city when possible. Thanks for any and all suggestions.
Thanks guys, those are a good start. I will certainly search out the SXSW posts.
I know I shouldn't say this on a TX board, but we probably won't do any Tex Mex. After living in Arizona for the last 10 years, I feel a bit elitist about Sonoran Mexican food. BBQ is a must though. There are a couple decent BBQ places on AZ, but nothing like the smoke flavor of Texas brisket.
And anything that was on DD&D or fits that format is exactly what we are looking for, so thanks for that.
Having moved back here from a couple of years in PHX, I can offer a few suggestions for what you'll find here that's a good choice vs. the Valley of the Sun.
Trees and tree-covered patios: Although it may seem terrible humid by PHX standards, sitting outside where it's green will be a relaxing novelty. Touristy though it might be Shady Grove on Barton Springs does a pretty good job of that. A bit of a walk or a short cab from the Beerland/Emo's area. Likewise finding a good patio on the north end of Congress Bridge to watch the bats come out is a pretty good cheap early evening. Finding a bar on 6th or 4th with a rooftop patio is a good place to watch the crowds.
Dives: Austin has a lot of 'em, god bless. While most of the bars on 6th are regrettable, there's always a few places to duck into -- Casine El Camino (burgers and beer), Lovejoy's, Gingerman's on 4th (not really a dive but worth going before they close it down). Further out there's The Draught House on Medical, the Longhorn on E. 11th, the Scoot Inn also on the East Side, and Ginny's Little Longhorn on Burnet (a definite honky-tonk when they have music).
Breakfast: Austin has always been a breakfast town so there's lots of good choices there. Unfortunately I don't know most of them (too lazy to get going at that hour). You might try Cafe Mundi on E. 5th for coffee (funky, but you'll want a car) or Blue Dahlia on E. 11th (walkable from the Red River area), Definitely find a TexMex place that serves good migas -- again you'll get lots of opinions there.
BBQ: Choices in town are limited. Ironworks and the newly opened J. Kelly's are the closest. Uncle Billy's on Barton Springs serves better than one might expect. Sam's is one of the most "authentic" in town for atmosphere and attitude -- a short drive over to E. 12th. Others further out include Ruby's, Rudy's, and County Line. All have their supporters and haters. The best BBQ is still in the towns around Austin, just not in it.
BTW, compared to the PHX metro sprawl, things here will seem pretty compact. So "far out" might not be that far at all by your standards.
If you're looking to eat in downtown you will have some luck with good food. Search this board for SXSW or ACL Fest and there will be lists of where to eat. For great dive food I suggest Casino El Camino on 6th St for burgers (be warned, the kitchen only accepts cash). They were recently featured on "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives" on Food Network. Around 10th & Red River usually in the empty spot by Red Eyed Fly is a late night hot dog truck. They have veggie dogs, too. Their hot dogs are damn fine closing time food for cheap. With a car, you can venture out farther. Ask 10 people in Austin what their favorite Tex Mex or BBQ place is and you'll get at least 8 different answers. You can search the boards for that, too. My favs near downtown but definitely would need a car to get to would be Maudie's on S. Lamar or La Reyna on S. 1st Street. It's typical Tex Mex simple foods such as enchiladas, tacos and the sort. Not expensive. I enjoy the breakfast in downtown on S. Congress at 2nd at Las Manitas. Fancier fare can be had at Manuel's, also on S. Congress. There's so many great places in Austin that it's kinda hard to narrow down the few that you should hit.