One dinner in Austin and Lambert's is booked up...
The menu looked so good, too. I want to eat something as Austin-specific as possible, something I can't get at home. Where I live we have do great Mexican (a large immigrant community), but the BBQ is terrible. Where would the Austin Hounds send me?
My colleague and I are coming in off a flight that lands at 6:47 PM, so lunch-only places are out. I suspect my dining companion will not want to go as downmarket as I would if I were by myself, hence my pick of Lambert's.
Lambert's is probably the best for "fancy BBQ" and most of our BBQ is more on the casual end so either you and your friend want a higher end place to dine or to eat good BBQ. No need to pay a lot for good BBQ in Texas. I am sure everyone can suggest the traditional BBQ places like Rudy's or Stubbs. Otherwise you can get Tex Mex or Southern Style food at places like Z Tejas, Moonshine, or Bess.
I had a helluva meal with friends at Eddie V's over the weekend. The tomahawk steak in particular was a big win, as was Chilean sea bass, soft shell crab and the squid.
Eddie V's Edgewater Grill
301 E. 5th Street, Austin, TX 78701
I think everybody has an overrated restaurant or two, and I realize Lambert's is that for a few folks on here (mine is Fonda). But I just love the restoration, the atmosphere, the adventurous if not always successful menu, and personally I have had great service everytime I have been there.
tm478, i would really only go to lambert's and fsm for brunch.
brunch allows you to gluttonously sample so many different things and get the whole experience.
fsm brunch is sublime and definitely occasion dining for austin.
lambert's brunch service was a little surly, but the food made up for it.
there are soooomany places i really want to try or try again that get a lot of love on this board.
just to throw out a few, which i think would still meet your needs:
uchiko or uchi
fabi and rosi
east side show room
braise (because his other restaurant jezebel just had a fire, and everyone is really sad about this)
hudson on the bend
Dinaofdoom hits most of the better options for a sophisticated dinner in a central location. Have you considered Paggi House? I found their menu to be pretty interesting, and the execution is pretty impressive. I would also second the recommendation of Uchi/Uchiko. Never been to Uchi, but based on my meal at Uchiko, I would say you would be in very good hands. Also seconding Parkside. It looks like you mostly post on the mid-Atlantic board so I bet you have a good share of fish, but you'd be surprised what quality seafood we're getting in Austin these days.
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
200 Lee Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78704
Thanks all. I'll ponder the list and check menus. What I'm after is not just a good upscale meal--I can get that in NY, or Philadelphia, where I can be found regularly--but a good *Austin* meal. I do a huge amount of traveling, and I try to "eat local" wherever I go. Otherwise I'd be eating the same stuff everywhere (and that goes for the high end "dayboat scallops" kind of places just as much as for McDonald's!)
I think I'm the only one on here that likes to take out of towners to the Driskill for a nice dinner... they have truly excellent service, and I've never had anything there that wasn't well received. It's a great 'Texas' experience to me that avoids the feeding lines/picnic-table style dining I hate here. I rule out some of those places listed in other posts just because the atmosphere is noisy and cramped. http://www.driskillgrill.com/ (also, it's located on 6th st.)
If you mean 'eat local' by eating locally grown food, there are lots of places that claim that now. I like Jack Allen's Kitchen, although it's about 10 mins from downtown. It's fresh and locally grown food that is prepared TX and Southern style: http://www.jackallenskitchen.com/
Those are two of my favorites that have good atmosphere and good food... Hope you find something you enjoy.
> If you mean 'eat local' by eating locally grown food
Not exactly, although it doesn't hurt. I mean culturally local, if that has meaning--i.e., when I go to Kerala, India I eat Keralan food, when I go to NC I eat Carolina BBQ, etc.
Not to slam your suggestion (which I thank you for), but to be honest, the whole "locavore" thing is getting to be such a cliche by now. It's everywhere, and although I appreciate the spirit, enough already with the holier-than-thou thing. I don't really need to know the name of the farmer who nurtured my chicken.
As for the Driskill, in fact we are staying at the hotel so will get their fine service for breakfast. The one time I stayed there previously I got a good example of my "culturally local" concept, which was that when I asked for tea at breakfast, the waitress stared at me for about five seconds and then said "um, hot or iced?" This is definitely not a question one gets where I live when ordering tea at 8 AM. I had to call Mr travelmad478 (who is a Southerner) for a briefing on the iced-tea-at-breakfast phenomenon.
I think I understand you to mean that you want the local cuisine, or at least what Texas is known for. In that case, you might be out of luck, especially if you're not willing to go "downmarket."
Tex-Mex? Yeah, you can find it, but it will be at suspect-looking joints or, even worse, suspect-looking trailers.
Barbecue? I hear that Franklin's is very good, but again, trailer, and long lines to boot. Otherwise, you'll have to head out into the country, where the restaurants don't get any prettier.
I personally don't know of any upscale Tex-Mex (is Jorge's even still open?), and for upscale BBQ, I can only think of Lambert's. Turn of fate, I suppose.
Second Jack Allen's Kitchen. Although it is a short drive from downtown, I think this place is closest to what you were looking for at Lamberts, - it has that Austin vibe you are seeking, food-wise. And I have really liked everything I have tried there - the bacon wrapped quail in particular. Nice space, great cocktails, and most of the main Central Texas taste touchstones represented in their menu. Not as upmarket as Hudson's, also not as far. Check out the menu....
If you are staying at the Driskill, and want something a little upmarket and distinctly regional cuisine, I would second the La Condesa recommendation - it is across the street from Lambert's so an easy walk from the hotel. It is a beautiful restaurant, and the food is excellent - particularly the appetizers and some of the best cocktails in Austin. Some longtime Austinites don't like it generally because they think Mexican food should be cheap. Moonshine also a walk from the Driskill serves fancy Southern comfort type food, so if it is chicken fried steak etc, you feel like, I would go there. It is also in an attractive old building, if atmosphere is important. Lamberts is closed, so the only other reasonable BBQ downtown would be Ironworks - it is not fantastic but it is BBQ and while quite down homey, if it is not too hot you can sit on the patio overlooking Waller creek. For steak, I would recommend Austin Land and Cattle on 12th and Lamar, not to be confused with the chain Texas Land and Cattle. For mediocre tex-mex, but a definitively Austin touristy experience, I would cross the river to Gueros on South Congress. Generally the best tex-mex food is to be found at taco trucks/trailers all over the south and east sides of the city. For a taste of Austin steampunk hipster fusion food (antelope tartare, and sometimes silly but delicious quasi-nouvelle riffs on what locals eat) , I would take a short cabride across the highway to East Side Showroom,even though the service can be bad and it is likely to be a mobscene. I hate the food at Ranch 616, but thematically it tries to do for South Texas cooking what Lambert's does for BBQ. To my mind, those would be the best downtown options for what I think you are looking for. Lamberts would have been perfect. If you have a car, I would think about Olivia on South Lamar, and Foreign and Domestic on North Loop as the locavore standouts that pay some attention to the fact that they are in Central Texas in terms of style of food. But if your dining companion is fussy about fancy, I would just go straight to La Condesa. And has anyone mentioned Jeffrey's? - the old queen of fine Southwesternish dining in Austin on West Lynn, also a short cabride from the Driskill.
616 Nueces, Austin, TX 78701
1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701
Hudson on the Bend is a rather unique spot all the way around. Don't find one like this in any 'ole city. So is Ranch 616.