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Jun 6, 2010 12:22 PM

Working on my Austin Food Itinerary of Must-Eats

I will be in Austin next weekend in search of amazing food - the must-eats of the area. I want to try to avoid leaving Austin having missed something I absolutely had to eat while in town. I know I am bound to fail in this endeavor, but it will be fun trying. (By the way, we have done the rural barbecue tour on previous trips and also Uchi, so will skip it this time.)

I have done lots of research, and have some local help, too. Currently, there are several locks

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer
El Taco Rico
East Side King
Franklin Barbecue

Also, we are also considering

G'Raj Mahal
Trio happy hour

Please provide tips on how to eat at these places and, more importantly, what WE ARE MISSING. At a couple of the trucks, I imagine we will just run the entire menu.

By the way, as usual, we expect to put in several hours at The Ginger Man.

Uchi Restaurant
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

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  1. galloways off 12th and chicon. house pizza off 51st and airport. reds porch off of s lamar.

    9 Replies
    1. re: glorpisgod

      I forgot to mention that Galloway was on our list under consideration. In fact, we are strongly considering it.

      We are considering reds porch for the World Cup and drinks, but is the food excellent too?

      1. re: John Galt

        get the border burger with jalapeno buns. unless you dont like spicy food, in which case grow a pair

        1. re: glorpisgod

          I do like spicy food, so will consider the border burger. I also have a pair. Incidentally, my wife, who lacks said pair, likes spicy food even more than I do.

          And, is the border burger definitely worth having in a short trip to Austin focused on must-eats? We have limited time and stomach space, so I want to be sure.

          1. re: John Galt

            one of the better, if not the best, burgers ive had. casino el camino is good but i feel like theyve kinda fallen off. they might be good if you hit them up during non-peak hours

            1. re: John Galt

              Not sure if the burger talked above is from red's or galloway...but I would save your stomach for tastier eats than Red's. Love the atmosphere. Have spent several happy hours there drinking but the food is meh...Definitely NOT a must eat. Get the beet fries at East Side King. I don't usually care for beets but they rock!!

              1. re: chowinginaustin

                Thanks, chowinginaustin. I was concerned bout whether Red's was "must-eats" worthy. We are considering some drinks and World Cup viewing there, but I might try to hold off on eating to save space for all of the other great stuff I have been reading about.

                I'll definitely be getting the beet fries at ESK.

                What's your single "must-eat" in Austin?

                1. re: John Galt

                  That is a tough question...too broad...However, I would say Sunflower Cafe in North Austin. It is a dive Vietnamese restaurant in a strip mall. But hands down the best vietnamese food! The shaken beef, vietnamese crepe, garlic noodle prawns...all made from heaven. You aren't going there for the ambiance, just the food. It may be out of your way as you seem to be sticking around downtown. Took my parents there, they are major foodies and they still haven't found a place to compare it to back home which is a much bigger foodie town than austin.

                2. re: chowinginaustin

                  I would agree. Red's isn't bad, and they have decent burgers, but nothing to go out of your way for. And your time is limited.

                3. re: John Galt

                  the most interesting burger I've had (and I'm picky, as I'm a chef) is the Angus Burger at New India Cuisine--basically good quality hamburger meat loaded with spices and mint chutney on the side...
                  more generally though...
                  Fonda San Miguel's Sunday brunch
                  Sam's BBQ for Mutton
                  BBQ at any of the "big three" in Lockhart (Smitty's, Kreuz's, & Blacks)

                  after that, I would start listing all the high end places like Uchi...

                  Uchi Restaurant
                  801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                  Fonda San Miguel Restaurant
                  2330 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

          2. If you're just here for one weekend, your list looks pretty solid.

            Franklin's BBQ is a great pick... just make sure you plan on getting there no later than 11:15, to make sure they don't run out of anything. They're open on Saturday and Sunday, so you're set. Brisket and ribs are delicious picks.

            6 Replies
            1. re: jwynne2000

              If you arrive at Franklin's at 11:15, you will have a 30-45 minute wait in line. It is so worth it but I would get there at 10:45 since smelling that BBQ is torture knowing you got a long wait to taste some.

              1. re: achtungpv

                Agreed. In my experience, it's closer to 45 minutes by 11:15 with a decent chance of missing out on the ribs, which are usually a must-order.

                1. re: Steven Dilley

                  We got there at 11 and waited 45 minutes and it was H-O-T in line last weekend! But the food was really yummy.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    The drive to Smitty's in Lockhart and back is between 45 min and an hour. If you have a car and you have to wait in line 45 min at Franklin (b/c it is HOT here), it's a better option in my opinion. This also assumes that John Galt saying a place is a "lock" means that it isn't a "lock"...

                    1. re: uarent

                      I've done Smitty's and the other rural barbecue joints in previous Austin trips. And, I absolutely loved them. This time we are skipping them and probably need to stay local. Thanks for the tip, though.

                      1. re: John Galt

                        Franklin will be perfect since you are staying within the city limits.

            2. Your list looks good - you've obviously done your research and know what's hot right now on the street food scene. Being from out of town, you may want to consider some of the old reliables that are no longer shiny and new in the eyes of us locals, but that seldom fail to impress when viewed through the unjaded eyes of a visitor.

              Galloway's is great, but comes with a few restrictions - they are closed after 4PM and all day Sunday, don't take credit cards and don't serve alcohol. If any of those don't fit in with your needs, you can substitute Hoover's Cooking just a little farther north on Manor Rd. Big portions of southern style food like chicken fried steak/chicken with cream gravy or maybe the fried pork chops. Tons of sides to choose from. I love the mustard greens cooked with bacon and just a touch of sugar to cut the bitterness and the butter beans that taste like my mamma's used to taste - MMmmman.

              If you want to take the southern cooking thing and kick it up several notches, why not dine in an old plantation style house built in 1895? The boyhood home of John Henry Faulk has for decades been known as Green Pastures Restaurant, and their Sunday Brunch will transport you back in time. Stroll the grounds and admire the beautiful peacocks walking along side you. Come inside and sip a traditional southern milk punch with bourbon, rum, and brandy. You will dine on linen tablecloths and wonderful foods such as Cold Boiled Shrimp with Chipotle Remoulade, Brown Sugar Cured Pork Loin, Lamb Pate, Chilled Seared Duck Breast, Tea Smoked Eggs, White beans with sausage or Baby Carrots with Hibiscus. Desserts often include Pecan Bread Pudding with Jack Daniel's Sauce and Beignets with Raspberry Sauce. At $35 a person, the Sunday Brunch buffet is a bargain compared to the $25 to $40 dollar a la carte price of a dinner entree on other nights.

              This weekend is the ROT Rally so it could be fun to walk down Congress Avenue, watch the craziness and shield your ears from the thunder of hundreds of bikers parading up and down Austin’s main street. If you do so between 4 - 7 PM, pop into the Roaring Fork and grab a discounted Huckleberry Margarita or a Shiner Bock and a light “first dinner” of the Lamb Chop Fondue or the Green Chile Stew appetizers. It would be a perfect start to a Friday or Saturday night itinerary that moved from Roaring Fork over to The Ginger Man (or better yet, The Ghost Room - same owners as and only a block or so away from The Ginger Man, but a little better atmosphere). From there go east and you end up at the Liberty Bar and your must-do entry East Side Kings for your late night dining and drinking pleasure.

              All of these places have been around for a while – decades in some cases – so they not going to make any hot and hip lists. They are however on my personal, rather long list of favorite places to take visitors.

              Green Pastures Restaurant
              901 W Live Oak St, Austin, TX 78704

              5 Replies
              1. re: Alan Sudo

                Alan, thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. I greatly appreciate it.

                - We are going to try to squeeze Galloway's into our itinerary, so thanks for the helpful caveats.

                - We hit Hoover's on a previous visit to Austin, and enjoyed it very much. We will probably skip it this time, just for the sake for variety.

                - Your description of Green Pastures almost tempts me to postpone my Sunday morning flight, but I think I will have to save it for next time.

                - I heard about the ROT rally, and your post-World-Cup suggestion for a Congress Avenue stroll is something we will consider strongly. Our current plan was to hit Perla's for some seafood and cocktails to celebrate the USA win over England, but we may have to mix in your plan as well.

                One other question. Is there a single must-eat that you would recommend in Austin?

                Thanks again for your help.

                Green Pastures Restaurant
                901 W Live Oak St, Austin, TX 78704

                1. re: John Galt

                  John, I just saw that Friday night on Congress Ave is going to be even crazier than I had imagined. It's going to be closed to all traffic except for Bikers, with a stage set up in front of the capitol building and an estimated 200,000 people expected for a Dee Snyder (of Twisted Sister) concert. While that might be fun by itself, it also means that Roaring Fork will be too crowded to be enjoyable Friday night. If you do go by on Saturday, I failed to mention that you must sit in the bar area to get the discounted apps and drinks. That's usually no problem as the bar area is more fun than the dining room anyway.

                  I'm afraid that I do not have an ultimate Austin meal - well, maybe I do, but it changes almost every week. Two weeks ago I couldn't stop thinking about Justine's Brasserie and their Steak Tartar. Before that it was the Pork with Flower Chives at Asia Cafe. This week, I'm seriously anticipating a meal at Eastside Cafe where I plan to order a bottle of crisp white wine and enjoy their great Shrimp and Goat Cheese Quesadilla app, and then the Sesame Catfish entree.
                  The app is a large flour tortilla folded over a mixture of tangy goat cheese and jack cheese, with little shrimp and a touch of cilantro. It's griddled until gooey and served with a green tomatillo sauce that adds just a light touch of sweetness and spice. The catfish is a fillet coated with breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and parsley and pan fried in a little butter until perfectly golden on the outside and moist inside, served with a garlic aioli. In my opinion, this meal is an snapshot of Austin food, mixing the Mexican influences of the quesadilla and tomatillo sauce, the southern influences of the fried catfish, and the artistic liberties taken with the ingredients and preparation that I expect from our "creative class". This is my can't miss Austin meal - now ask me again next week, and you will get another answer entirely.

                  Have fun, and please report back on your experiences.

                  1. re: Alan Sudo

                    I've got some bad news Alan. I just got back from The Eastside Cafe; the Shrimp and Goat Cheese app is no longer on the menu:( It was my husband's favorite.

                  2. re: John Galt

                    You have to try the Lone Star beef torta at Izzoz Tacos. It's a wonderful thing. The same meat is also used in the Slowrider if you would rather have a taco. I've been going there over a year and have tried the entire menu, but lately it's been all about that beef torta.

                    Just thinking about it makes me want one NOW.

                    1. re: geek23

                      Great tortas & tacos at Izzoz. I also love the pulled pork torta, fried avocado taco, and tempura shrimp taco there.

                2. who is john galt? loved that book. I loved wink, check it out

                  1. I would say Perla's/Lambert's are can't miss.

                    I like G'raj and Frank, but...I wouldn't say can't miss. Though the brunch at Frank might qualify.

                    If you have done the BBQ and Uchi, it seems your list is a little light on Mexican/Tex Mex options.

                    at this point I would say you can skip any Southern food in Austin. I have been to Lola's and Hoover's, the former is rather delicious, the latter abysmal. Maybe Galloway's is great. Certainly don't go to Hoover's.

                    2 cents.