Comin to Austin - need recommendations
I have a group coming to Austin and need some fabulous recommdations. Looking for the best - expensive or not - does not matter. Dives are welcome!
Also, if anyone can recommend some great places to see music.
Don't want trendy or chains!
Do you like fish? Raw? Oysters? Go to Parkside. The burger is good at Parkside, but hardly good enough to justify not crushing their raw bar options, their oysters, their apps, and their mains. Parkside is killing it like no other pricey joint in town right now. They make a number of custom cocktails that are pretty tasty. Place is Downtown, too, so you can go nuts afterwords, and there never seems to be a wait. Repeat visits have validated my opinion on this. (Next in line for fish: Uchi, an absolute Austin point-of-pride in the national culinary scene, and Perla comin' up strong in the rear. Want cheaper fish or something fried? Right now I'll hit Quality Seafood on Airport for standard fare.)
You're in Texas, try some Mexican food! Closed on Sunday and iffy on Saturday, El Meson on Burleson is a "dive". Pibil, pastor, chilorio, good stuff. Avoid the enchiladas (microwaved). Still South, but more central is Habenero with amazing fajitas. If you're North central, another hole-in-the-wall with real Austin history is Tamale House #3 on Airport. There are numerous Mexican joints that have crappy food but fun live music. I don't care about them because nothing is more fun than a party of deliciousness in my mouth.
BBQ within the city limits is tough in our sad post-Mueller, post-Ben's era. If you're up after two AM but need that fix, Sam's is the only option. Usually got some mutton up in there. In fact, go after two AM and tell 'em the "T-Dog" sent you. Iron Works often gets props for the beef ribs, and rightfully so. I also love their sausage, which many folks don't like, whatever. House Park keeps banker's hours, so good luck. If you're not willing to go for a drive, Austin itself doesn't kill it on BBQ any more. Ruby's on Guadalupe might still be good. (Did they burn down? Haven't been there in ages.) In a pinch, there are passable local chains (Rudy's, Pok-E-Jo's, etc.)
Want live music? The venues matter less than the bands. Places downtown that often have decent acts are Stubb's, Emo's, Mohawk, and Antone's. Pick up an Austin Chronicle or visit their website and find out if anyone is playing that you like. The Mountain Goats are playing at Antone's next week; see them if you're around, they're good.
French. You're downtown, try Chez Nous, an Austin landmark. On the west side of downtown is Aquarelle, really expensive. Far out east is Justine's, which is a pretty bouncy joint that might be just what you're looking for, style-wise. I had some excellent fish there.
Folks are breathlessly raving about the Eastside Showroom for food and for drinks. Apparently the owner is like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld, only re: cocktails, and will refuse to let you order something that he doesn't personally approve. I haven't been so I can't say if any of this is true, but it sounds amusing. The food is supposed to be good -- can anyone else report? Other places to pick up a solid cocktail include the Peacock, the Good Knight (so I've heard, I haven't been there), Parkside (mentioned above), and Vespaio (along w/ the best Italian in town). Craving beer? Try the Dog & Duck, the Draught House, the Gingerman (semi-chain), or the Flying Saucer (chain). (Is Lovejoy's still open?) Scotch? Your best bet is Opal Devine's (semi-chain, but hey they really have a solid scotch list). Lastly, wine. Mulberry is my favorite place because their food is positively delicious. Great location if you're catching a show at La Zona Rosa or Austin Music Hall. Max's Wine Dine (mini-chain) is also OK, with interesting (if gimmicky) food. Some other wine joints downtown are pretty lame, so I'm leaving them out deliberately. (Looking at you, mini-chain on 2nd street...)