Please help critique my upcoming Aus itinerary
We are making our annual pilgrimage to Austin to Barton Creek next week, but this time are bringin alone my 29 year old sister who has never been (she arrives thur) and we are trying to convince her to move here to practice nursing. We are all huge foodies, but will forgoe quailty (a little bit) for Austin vibe spots she would love. here is what we are thinking and would love some help for fun places, great food/drinks and atmopshere (rustic, hole in the wall, interesting, fun vibe). would also love some best outdoor spots, as the weather will be 70 and gorgeous.
Wed night: Open: Just for husband and me--any new places we have to hit? I never want Italain since we have good Italian at home, so no Vespaio. something romantic and or with outdoor deck would be nice--no french/italian, please...I know it is not outdoors, but possibly Parkside? nothing too over the top, i.e. Jezebel, etc. Maybe Dry Creek Saloon for a beer at sunset? other places?
thurs day: We usually do Lockhart, but are thinking City Market in Luling. Would that be the best spot to go in lieu of Lockhart--we would love an interesting road trip with interesting stops along the way.
pick up sister and take her somewhere fun for cocktail outdoors that is Austin-ey? A Mexican Margarita perhaps?
thur night: (insert dinner rec): possily Opie's and then Poodie's, but BBQ is hard for her b/c she does not eat red meat--loves chicken, though--not sure if that is good here)
Friday: AM (migas)
Drive Hill Country/vineyards
Lake Travis and drink at sunset at Oasis
Dinner at Uchi (a must and already have a res)
drinks: 4th street: Club de Ville outside (others???) no 6th street, please!
south Congress street/south congress cafe OR West End
UT campus drive by/6th street
late afternoon cocktail at Shady Grove
dinner at: (insert mexican--used to like El chile, and seeing Manor Road having a drink at red room house/bar but looks like the ambience at RHB is different now, and think she may like somewhere like Polvos or Chuy's better for ambience? what about great food? Had bad experience at Curra's, Guerros and Angie's)--was hoping to do a dinner at Supper Underground or Dai Due, but they do not have one! Rats! I want something unique like that.
AM: Maria Taco Xpress for gospel brunch (just wish I liked the bfast tacos)
Chicken Sh*t Bingo
Torchy's Tacos (have to do one trailer stop)
thanks for the help Austinites!
ljero, I live here, and I could take tips from you! For your alternate to El Chile, maybe Vivo (also on Manor)? Their patio is gorgeous, and I've enjoyed their food as well. www.vivo-austin.com
As for Polvos... I had some really delicious beef fajitas there, but I wasn't so hot on the ambience. It was just a little more tattered and shopworn than I expected. But, the fajitas were really good. I wrote a novel about my Polvo's experience in this thread...
Chuy's is a fun place, but super noisy most of the time. Not the best place for conversation.
With this itinerary, I can't see how your sister could resist Austin!
thank you for the email...do you think vivo has better food and ambience than Chuy's, Manuels or Polvos...looing for the best overall.
is dry creek saloon still there and fun to do? or is there a better place for outdoor happy hours? like hole in the walls (obviously, since i love chicken sh*t bingo)...anything with character...
what about other bars that she'd like?
I can confirm that Dry Creek Saloon is still there as I went for HH last week.. However, you may be the only ones there. We were there from 4:00-6:30 and only one other person dropped in. Shoal Creek Saloon has a nice patio that would be a good place for a couple of drinks. My personal favorites are the Gingerman and the Draught House...they both have an outdoor area and a great selection of beer.
I can't believe someone recommended Vivo's. Blah. Don't go there. It's mundane at best. Pick any of the other three. Personally I like it in the order of Manuel's, Chuy's, and Polvo's last, but this is totally my preference. Other people will probably have their own different opinion on which of these three is best.
I second Cooper's for excellent BBQ (I've not had the chicken, but the brisket is to die for and the sausage is good, too) and a nicer road trip. Llano is kind of a pretty town on a river (though Cooper's is on a strip mall road). From Austin you can make a loop through Johnson City (visit LBJ's boyhood home and/or ranch), Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock, and up to Llano if you have the time. (Pick and choose your stops. All would make too long of a day.) Stop at Poodie's on the way back to town if there's a good band.
The Cooper's in Llano is probably the weakest of all the central texas pit BBQ places, [my personal favorite is Luling City Market] but it's okay -- w/authentic pits/butcher paper/white bread -- in a neat little town. The original Cooper's in Mason has lamb ribs and is close to a giant bat cave on a nature preserve (but I think the bats are usually gone until april).
I'd heartily agree with the Vivo's rec. Their patio is a great place for margaritas, the salsa is smokey, and the art inside is fun. A lot of the food is Tex-Mex in theory but with interior/californian ingredients...tasty and not so greasy.
Llano is a great town, and the drive from Austin to Llano is much better than the drive to Lockhart, but Cooper's itself is much overrated. The dining room has very bright flourescent lights. I will put up with little atmosphere for good barbeque, but this place is downright unpleasant to be in.
Coopers attempts to short cut BBQ process by over-brine soaking all their meats, makes them mushy and hardly BBQ. They don't even cook them over open fire anymore but in ovens. The end process is salty with raw fat that was never heat rendered or congealed. Expensive yuk
Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Q
1125 Loop 337, New Braunfels, TX 78130
You can't forget what makes Austin unique - the people. You should be sure to go somewhere that will let you have a taste of what true austinites are like. Go down to Kerby Lane or Magnolia Cafe for breakfast, or grab a cup of coffee at Jo's on South Congress and people watch. Polvos is the perfect place to get a margarita and just relax... or, go to Trudy's (owned by the South Congress Cafe people) and check out their stuffed avacado and mexican martinis. yum! Also, if you like Thai food, Madame Mamm's has the best Thai food in town - located on the drag by UT or south off West Gate. If you're in the Hyde Park area, you should totally go to Hyde Park Bar and Grill. Great food and great atmosphere. Then, go next door and get a gelato at La Dolce Vita and call it a night!