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Olivia, La Condesa, Parkside , Aquarelle and Wink - have five reservations and can only keep two

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I went a little crazy and reserved five places for two dinners and need to whittle it down.
First - a little about my group. Four or five college friends (1 from Austin, 1 from Hawaii, 1 from DC and 2 from California) meeting in the middle to catch up over drinks...likely many drinks. We're all married w/ kids...except one vigilante who may never settle down. We're all in our mid and late 30's so we figure we might as well have some good food while we're at it.

All these places were recommended and I don't know which way to go. We obviously aren't looking for "intimate" or "romantic" but a decent scene/vibe would be fun. We'll be well-dressed...but in jeans (no holes in our jeans). Two of the guys decided to go veggie on us a couple of years ago so I'm working under those constraints (one of them eats fish I think) - so a pure steakhouse is likely out.

Any help is appreciated - I just saw a topic on Wink vs. Parkside and I'm trying not to hijack it - since I'm choosing between a few more places I decided to start my own thread. I promise to report back.

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La Condesa
400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

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  1. La Condesa: Haven't been, so can't say.

    Olivia: No. The last (and, to be fair, the only) time I went, two people in our party of 8 or so didn't finish their entrées. I had a steak or some such that was good but not on par with Austin Land & Cattle or Ruth's Chris.

    Parkside: Good, rather seafood-centric. Don't know how good the veggie options are if they don't eat seafood. Additionally, I the Californians might (and the Hawaiian definitely) will be able to get comparable or better seafood in their native areas. (Parkside's oysters are very good, though.)

    Aquarelle & Wink are two of my favorite restaurants in town, and they always have great vegetarian options. If I were in your shoes I'd go to these, on account of the veggie constraint and also because I've never had a bad meal there, the waitstaff has always been great.

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    La Condesa
    400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

    1 Reply
    1. re: pwang

      Interesting because I've had a few great experiences at Olivia. But I can't say I'm a regular so I can't speak to their food on a regular basis.

    2. I like Olivia. Seems like a great atmosphere for what you're looking for. The food can be a little eccentric, but you might be expecting that. And I don't know about their vegetarian options.

      Unless you want high pretension like what you would find in Dallas plus high prices for super tiny portion sizes, skip La Contesa. I can't even believe they've lasted this long.

      Parkside is nice and surprisingly hip for being located right on 6th Street, but they have a fairly small menu. Check it out first.

      Aquarelle is a great place, a very nice restaurant, but it seems more like a date place. The last time I was there, a group of friends/couples were there and one man's laugh monopolized the atmosphere. Seems not right for a group of old college buddies.

      Wink is great. It's tiny and they pack people in there, but I'd say that the sound doesn't bounce off the walls like it does at Aquarelle. Good vegetarian options.

      1 Reply
      1. re: italyvespa

        i have to agree with thereman - you've named a handful of the best spots in town, but for the scene/vibe you're looking for, i would also suggest La Condesa and Parkside.

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        La Condesa
        400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

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        1. La Condesa and Parkside! I have a vegan friend who fell HEAD OVER HEELS for La Condesa after they made him a special vegan platter.

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          La Condesa
          400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

          1. La Condesa and Aquarelle, no contest! Of coure you can always do progressive as Aquarelle has a wonderful happy hour extended on Saturday nights from 5-7 p.m. in their wine bar. La Condesa does hh as well, but I think just M-F.

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            La Condesa
            400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

            1 Reply
            1. re: fabulousdrinksaustin

              Thanks everyone - great recommendations. I think we'll keep La Condesa for Friday and likely do Parkside as well. I'll go ahead and cancel the others (all of which sound great). I think Aquarelle is a bit too intimate for us although it seems like the one restaurant everyone raves about on this board. Thanks again! I'll report back.

              I'm looking forward to a weekend in Austin!

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              La Condesa
              400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701