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Visiting Austin next week

Every winter, four of us visit one or two Presidential Libraries and this year we are going to Austin next week to visit the LBJ and Bush 1 libraries. We will be there for about 5 days. I've been checking the Board but am a bit confused. Can anyone help me sort out some of these by suggesting some good restaurants that are either in the city or outside but within a reasonable drive? None of us are fans of Mexican food, and coming from AZ we have more than our share of pizzas, Chinese, etc., so I guess that leaves us with good ol' American cooking. Breakfasts are pretyy much taken care of since the hotel where we're staying offers a continental breakfast (Ugh!).

My husband went to a BBQ place years ago that he remembers as being outside Austin but he doesn't remember the name, so a recommendation for good BBQ would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. If the restaurant was BYOB, in a beautiful country setting and provided live music in the evening, it was probably the Salt Lick in Driftwood. It's not bad at all but it's not great. It gets railed against because it's such a "tourist place" and there are better places within about the same amount of drive time from central Austin. I still go there occasionally after being in Austin for fifteen years because it's very relaxing and just fine.

    The others are in small towns - in town - in Luling, Lockhart and Taylor. These are the ones that are most revered. I've been to Louis Mueller's in Taylor, City Market in Luling, and Smitty’s in Lockhart within the past six months. I would not have missed any of them for the awesome brisket and City Market for the beef rib. I would have to say, each place wowed me and I enjoyed the small town atmosphere and the friendly people just as much... I don't think you can go wrong with any of these.

    1. More on Spouse's memories of "the best damned BBQ he ever tasted: Went to a BBQ place outside of Austin on a main highway, which had trestle tables outside. They cooked in 2 halves of 55-gallon drums. Each morning, they brought their food in and when it was sold, they closed for the rest of the day. It was one of LBJ's favorite places.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Yummye

        Sounds like Cooper's in Llano to me

        1. re: amykragan

          No, Cooper's doesn't cook in 55 gal drum halves. Also, the seating is indoors. There used to be a place in Johnson City that fits this description, but I can't remember the name.

          1. re: austinfood

            Sounds like Ronnie's BBQ in Johnson City, right there on 281.

          2. re: amykragan

            To amykragen: how far is Llano from Austin?

            1. re: Yummye

              depends where in Austin of course since it's a big town, anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours

        2. P. Terry's is a great burger place. It's really close to downtown Austin. It is super casual, a burger stand in fact. But the burgers aren't too big, they're really fresh, and they also have great shakes and fries. Everyone you'll meet in Austin will tell you they love P. Terry's. It is open daily from 11 to 11. At 404 S Lamar Blvd. 512-473-2217

          2 Replies
          1. re: nyc_girl13

            The best burgers and the most "Austiny" place to go is Huts! It has a great variety of burgers and has great memorabilia on the walls taking everyone way back in the history of Austin!

            1. re: nyc_girl13

              my vote for burgers in Austin would be Top Notch

            2. Consider Hoover's Cooking for some pretty darned good Southern comfort food, and then some. I usually end up with fried pork chops since there aren't very many places that serve them.. however I've had the CFS on a few occasions and it's pretty good too.

              The Salt Lick was pretty good BBQ, I liked the sausage the most. But, I think it's tough to beat City Market in Luling.

              1. City Market in Luling, TX for the best BBQ ever.
                Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, for the best southern style home cookin and pies - cheap, too! Hill's Cafe in Austin is similar and closer, but more expensive and not quite as divine.

                1 Reply
                1. re: zombiekitten

                  To zombiekitten: How far is Luling from Austin?

                2. We were in Austin a couple weeks ago for a week's vacation, and we very much enjoyed lunch at a restaurant not far (drive) from the LBJ library called East Side Cafe. They have a large garden behind the restaurant and the lettuce, vegetable and herbs they use in their dishes come right from there. We shared an absolutely delicious dessert that was a buttermilk chess pie with strawberries - we will remember that one for a long time.

                  We also really enjoyed bbq dinners at both Ironworks and at Artz. Ironworks is right in town, Artz is in the city but a short drive out of town (I believe it was Lamar Blvd., but you can google it or maybe a local will chime in).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lauracohenromano

                    I'm glad you liked East Side Cafe, I'm going there tonight and haven't been in years. I'll try the buttermilk chess pie then! ~ sorry to change the subject, Yummye

                  2. Several good BBQ. Salt lick is what it sounds like, they have a place in dripping springs and a new one in Round Rock

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Sumstar524

                      Correction: Salt Lick is in Driftwood

                      1. re: TroyTempest

                        Salt Lick also has a branch in Round Rock in the Dell Diamond Parking lot with a full bar and they take credit cards too

                    2. Hope I'm not too late. Next week is here.

                      If you are going to the LBJ library, might I also suggest the Bob Bullock Texas history museum.


                      It's not far away, and depending when you come, you can see a fine BBQ film. It opens tomorrow, it seems.
                      "The new Texas Spirit Documentary Series -- films by or about Texans and Texas culture -- kicks off this March with a film that explores every Texan's true love...smoked meat. Barbecue: A Texas Love Story is narrated by former Governor Ann Richards and is a former "Best of South by Southwest Film Festival" winner..."
                      Maybe that'll help you find your husband's mysterious BBQ place.

                      1. To all you who wrote back, thanks. I thought that Chowhound notified us when we received posts but I guess that didn't happen.

                        BTW, Spouse remembered that newspaper clippings, etc., boasted about the fact that LBJ would eat there.