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Oct 6, 2009 03:31 PM

Looking for nice, sit-down restaurant in Central/South Austin

Hi Austin Chowhounders,

I'm going to be visiting my wife's family in Austin this weekend, and I'm looking for a place to recommend to take them out to a meal (brunch, dinner, I don't know what), my treat. I'd like to try to wow them with some new possibilities (courtesy of all of you!).

I'm looking for anything (Tex-Mex, American, whatever) sitdown with table service and preferably "nice" (since I'd be taking out some 80 year-olds). I'm thinking they're not going to be into anything divey, no matter how tasty.

We'll be staying near the intersection of the South Capital of Texas Highway and Bee Caves Road. I think the area is West Lake Hills. So, something not too far would be good (maybe not the far side of Austin). I'm guessing downtown-ish isn't too far for them (they'll be driving).

Any help would be appreciated!


--HHewitt, a hopeful Los Angeles Chowhounder

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  1. What about Zoot:

    It's nearby and good food -- what's your price range?

    1 Reply
    1. re: moosy

      Sounds interesting. Maybe a little pricier than I was aiming for, but it looks like the type of restaurant I was looking for.

    2. Check out Siena which is located at Capital of TX Hwy. and RM 2222. Good food and decor is lovely Tuscan villa-style.

      Siena Restaurant
      6203 N Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78731

      1 Reply
      1. re: HookEm

        Siena sounds nice, looks like a good space, and good prices. I was reading that maybe the 3-course prix-fixe isn't the way to go? Any pointers on dishes/menus?

      2. That's not a bad place to be - The Grove has a nice patio (no views, a bit of noise from 2244/Bee Caves Rd., but a cool fan and tree setup overhead makes it fairly unique), and the weather might be nice to make use of it. It's a bit west of 360 off of 2244. I've only eaten there once, and enjoyed the food. It's also wine bar, if they're into that sort of thing.

        If heading away from downtown is an option, it's a reasonably nice drive to go to the Hill Country Galleria, which has quite a few options. Tony C's is a sit-down pizza place that gets good reviews (my personal favorite in Austin). I know it may get an "it's just pizza" reaction, but that sells it short - it hit the hole in my heart created by visits to NY pizzerias...or maybe that's just the cholesterol that's broken down.

        There's a load of choices the other direction - a few along 2244, then you get to downtown and surrounding parts for just about anything. If touristy is desired, the strip of restaurants on Barton Springs Road (Chuy's, Billy's Brew-n-Que, Shady Grove, Romeo's, etc.) has a selection. Billy's was good the one time I went - I read some rather negative reviews shortly after it opened. It wasn't the best BBQ I've had, but it certainly wasn't bad. Plus, their in-house brews (again, if they're into that sort of thing) are very good (their brewmaster just won a prize at the GABF, in fact). Uchi's right around the corner from there, but based on Zoot being pricier than you were aiming, that rules Uchi out.

        Anything else to narrow it down on top of sit down + nice? Price/likes/dislikes/allergies?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joshvar

          Prices, well, maybe <$50 per head, but so many variables can go into that (w/drinks, w/o drinks, 2 courses, or 3, or 4). Entrees of maybe... <$18 for breakfast/brunch, <$22 for dinner.

          I don't know of any allergies; no vegetarians though, so meat is good. As for likes/dislikes, I don't visit these relatives enough to know much. Places mentioned so far have seemed nice.

          I guess I'm wondering if there's anything smaller/hidden. I'm not looking for the touristy places, I'm sure the people I'm staying with will know them. Some sort of hidden gems, I suppose.

          Thank you all for indulging my vague requests with great ideas.


          1. re: hhewitt

            I'd say that Paggi House is a bit over that range, but a good place to go that's possibly off their beaten path. The Grove would likely fit the bill too, although it's so close to the mentioned location that it's likely been visited already if that's their residence.

            Also, Estancia may be a brunch option. I haven't been there in some time, but found it to be comparable to the Fogo de Chao downtown. I don't know the pricing either, but it's likely a bit high for dinner.

            For Mexican/Tex-Mex, sadly, none of the places I prefer are "nice" but more hole in the wall and/or not sit down and order, but Habanero Mexican Cafe IS sit down and order, and consistently receives well-deserved praise here and elsewhere. It's not nice in the frou-frou sense, but if you can compromise there, the food is well worth it. And it's inexpensive to boot!

            I haven't been to Zoot, so I can't comment there, but it IS very convenient to that location.

        2. I would recommend Zax on Barton Springs/Riverside. The have an excellent and reasonable brunch, lunch and dinner menu. Bright, roomy, and one of my go-to places.

          3 Replies
          1. re: barleybob9

            Wow. this is hard.
            With 80 year olds that are driving, one of the first considerations is parking, which pretty much leaves out downtown. It also leaves out a few other restaurants that have tough parking.
            The other thing is that they may consider the seating and atmosphere as much as the food. I have a 78 year old mother. Thinking of her here.
            My best considerations giving the aforementioned qualifications. Food comes in third.
            Tex Mex.
            El Rancho on South Lamar. Great parking, lots of room in the dining areas. A little noisy but with 80 year olds, it might be just perfect. I like the food. They have been there for a long time. I really like the Chile Rellano there.
            Serrano's at 290 and Loop 1. Great place to eat with great parking. The food is ok and the atmosphere is great for that age.

            Down home cooking
            Broken Spoke, great lunch I don't care what anyone says and the old folks will love it. It's on South Lamar with good parking. Great Chicken Fried Steak. Not paved but lots of parking. Has a great country music museum there.

            Late Breakfast,
            Dan's at Manchaca and Ben White. Always crowded, the best breakfast in South Austin. Not far from Westlake. Parking is a little iffy though, because they are so busy all the time.

            Susie's Chinese Kitchen on South Lamar. Good chinese and good parking and great atmosphere.

            Home Cooking
            Shady Grove, worried about parking there, but the menu is varied and good food. It's on Barton Springs Road.

            Try the Green Mesquite at Barton Springs and Lamar. Ok bbq and easy to get to. Diners and Dives have filmed there regarding their chicken fried steak. Cant' be all bad.

            If you really want a low key place, there is a Honey Baked Ham Store in Westlake that has great sandwiches and the best bean soup I have ever eaten. It is in a strip center behind a bank. Parking is tough, but many well know Austinites eat there regularly. Not fancy at all. Just great food.

            By the way, Zax is good too. When I was a kid the location was a window blind manufacturing shop and when my mom was a kid it was a skating rink.

            Nothing wrong with Zax.

            1. re: tuckspop

              A great list! Thanks! Hopefully, I'll be able to hit at least one place in this thread, and let you know how it goes.


            2. re: barleybob9

              I lose big chunks of time thinking about the cheese plate at Zax.

            3. Update: Well, I had less time/fewer options to travel than I thought I would. I mostly got shuffled around and didn't get to pick where to go. Had good BBQ at County Line on Bee Caves, great enchiladas at Chuy's on Barton Springs, and for brunch, a very un-fancy (but tasty) meal at Bakehouse on Manchaca Road. Thanks for everyone's help. I wasn't able to recommend anything (since no one asked me), but I was able to intelligently discuss restaurants as they came up in conversation.