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Mar 24, 2010 01:27 PM

Good food around Zilker, the zoo, and UT campus?

First, chowhounders are so great. Really. I have so many yummy places i'd love to eat in Austin next week (and Lockhart). However, i have no idea what is near what and realized i should prioritize depending on the types of things we will be doing during the day.

So i could use some help - we'll be doing lots of outdoor stuff with a three year old - Zilker, the zoo (maybe), prob UT campus (also open to ideas and parks to check out) ... what is good near these places?

My long list includes lots of carts, mexican, texmex, bbq, paletas - stuff open during the day is really helpful. Planning to make it to Odd Duck and East Side King but those will prob be the only night stuff we can do with the kid.

And we are going to try and watch the bats one night - good place to pick up to-go for a picnic dinner while we wait?

Also is there anything to see/do in Lockhart in addition to BBQ? And someone mentioned the town of Wimberly as a side trip in another thread - is this worth a little trip?

Good farmers markets or flea markets around?

Lots of questions! Thanks for recs!

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  1. Before you get your heart set on the bats make sure they'll be there at this time of year. They're migratory, I think.

    I would also take the kiddo to the Dell Children's Museum one day and coordinate it with a downtown or South Congress restaurant.

    1. I wouldn't bother with the zoo. It is beyond lame (although it's all rescue animals, so it has that going for it). But if you do decide to go out there, Curra's has a location out on 290 called Senor Buddy's. I haven't been, but I think it's pretty much the same food (interior Mexican) as at Curra's.

      I would do Franklin BBQ for in-town, trailer 'cue. It's pretty near the university and the weather is so pretty right now, it will be a perfect al fresco dining experience. Don't forget to visit the turtle pond behind the UT tower!

      The only place for "paletas" that I can think of is Good Pop, and they have a little shop on Barton Springs Road, which would go well with your trip to Zilker Park (be sure to ride the Zephyr!).

      Like HookEm said, it's a little early for the bats. They usually start doing their thing in May. But there's a really cool sprinkler park near there where you could take a picnic. I'd probably just pick something up at Whole Foods and take it down there.

      Now you've got me all excited for fun things to do with my kids now that the weather is lovely!

      7 Replies
      1. re: bookgrrl72

        I have to respectfully disagree with your opinion of the zoo. True, it is on a lot smaller scale than a big city zoo, but depending on the age of your kid, it could be an enjoyable 2-3 hour outing. It is mainly rescue animals, and surplus from "real" zoos, there are lions, tigers, bears, cougars, primates of several varieties, a real nice area to pet \ feed animals for your kid. The best thing is the train ride, though. It is a scenic 15 minute ride on a small gauge train on the edge of the hill country.
        As for Senor Buddy's, it is inside Buddy's corner Store at the corner of Circle drive and hwy 290 . It's more of a Taqueria, not as extensive menu as Curra's restaurant.
        They are putting a Beer Garden out back. It might be ready, but i doubt it. About a month ago it was still in progress.
        I was curious, so I called the Bat Hotline (American-Statesman's Inside Line Bat Hotline, at (512) 416-5700, Ext. 3636. ), but it wasn't very helpful. It said they start mid-March, but didn't definitely say if they were flying now.

        1. re: TroyTempest

          Good to know about the zoo. Last time I went, my kindergartener was not yet walking, so perhaps it has changed since then/ I don't remember anything about a train. Clearly, I was underwhelmed.

          Hey, uh, did I mention that Franklin BBQ is awesome?! Try the brisket. And if you do go out to the zoo, AVOID Nutty Brown Cafe.

          Nutty Brown Cafe
          12225 W Highway 290, Austin, TX 78737

          1. re: bookgrrl72

            I always feel guilty about going to the zoo - caged animals for hire. At least our zoo is a rescue facility. I've enjoyed going there.

            Flip's Satellite cafe (near the Y) is really good.

        2. re: bookgrrl72

          Do you know the name or location of the spray park? I've tried searching the parks depart but just get a big list of parks. Any other good kid parks, esp around central or south austin? Other than Zilker of course.

          1. re: BorntoEat

            It's behind the Dougherty Arts Center, right next to Doug Sahm Hill (a big spiral-pathed hill, fun for kids and adults). Near Parmer Events Center. You can park behind Dougherty, or along Barton Springs Road across from Auditorium Shores.

            1. re: storefronteats

              excuse my nit-picking, but that would be:
              Palmer events center
              Parmer events center

              Parmer is a road in north Austin, not to be confused...

        3. For picnic fare I love to stop by Phoenicia Middle Eastern bakery/store on South Lamar at Manchaca and grab some hummus, tabouli, olives, fresh pitas, maybe a gyro and shawarma.

          1 Reply
          1. re: musingegret

            Around campus, I'd probably take a kid to Cornucopia. They'll let you try a bunch of popcorn flavors so they will be happy with the bag you get for them.
            I'm also a fan of Flying Falafel and Po Boys across the street. Great swarma sandwich. I also love their oyster po boy.
            Around Zilker, I'd probably suggest the Bananarchy trailer for kids. Frozen bananas and you can choose what to dip and roll it in. Its currently across from Uchi.

            I haven't tried the new farmer's market... Truck Farm I think... I know its on Thursdays starting at 3. It's where all the flamingos (or lawn ornament du jour) are at the corner of Bee Cave and 360. I'm sure a kid would like to look at the sea of lawn ornaments.

          2. I agree about skipping the zoo. In Lockhart, you can walk around the old town square. They have one of the nicest looking courthouses in Texas (it's not impressive at all on the inside, by the way). It's been in several movies. Across the street on the northwest corner of the square is the long stairway going up the side of a building that was Corky's apartment in the movie Waiting for Guffman ("We want you to LIVE!"). There's also a little abandoned drive-thru (or maybe drive-up, like Sonic) restaurant across from Smitty's BBQ that was the place where Parker Posey's character worked.

            The bats do migrate, but not all of them. A portion of the bat population stays here year-round, so you can probably see some bats, but it won't be as impressive as it is in August.

            I think your list is good, as well as some of the suggestions you've already gotten.