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Dallas, Austin & San Antonio - Must not miss restaurants

My girlfriends and I were visiting Texas Thanksgiving weekend for the Cowboys/Saints game and decided to stay the weekend and see more of Texas. What restaurants/dishes must we visit/try? We really want that "Ultimate Texas Experience". So please let us know what places we must, must, must try during our visit. Open to Dallas (including Thanksgiving dinner), Austin, a quick side trip to San Antonio, and anything edible in between those cities.

We are pretty set on BBQ already and booked Stephan Pyles our first night for the Cowboy rib-eye and heaven and hell cake. We are not looking for Italian, French,or molecular. We can get that in other cities. We want steaks. burgers, cookoffs, Mexican/Tex-Mex (that is better than East LA), chili, did I mention meat. The only thing we are looking forward to more than the food is finally seeing Tony Romo play in person...oops.

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  1. When you say you're going to stay for the whole weekend of Thanksgiving, I'd assume you mean four days? Texas is a pretty big place. Not sure you'd have anywhere nearly enough time to have that "Ultimate Texas Experience" if we're just talking two days. Even with four full days, "Ultimate" might be something of a stretch.

    But over four days, I'd suggest you rise early one morning and head south out of Dallas. Stop in Corsicana at the Collins Street Bakery for breakfast. Then jog east and get over to the Texas Barbecue Trail. Louie Mueller's in Taylor first, then to San Antonio via Hwy 183, stopping in Lockhart for Kreuz, Smitty's, Black's, then Luling for City Market, before getting onto I-10 and driving into San Antonio. Yes, I've suggested 5 BBQ stops. But the way we do that is not to actually eat a meal at any of them. If you're unfamiliar with the most iconic smoked-meat markets of Texas, the thing is that you should approach them more like you might approach a butcher shop. These are not "restaurants" where you go in and sit down and order a meal off of a menu and a server brings it to you. You line up and order your meat by the pound. So the thing for you to do is to just order a small portion - even, say, 1/4 lb of "wet" brisket, a half hotlink, and two ribs for two of you to share - at each place. No sides. They'll fill you up too fast. And mediocre sides are not the reason you're there. The idea is to sample the barbecue at each joint, and then keep moving.

    On the way home, stop for one night in Austin. See the Texas Museum and the LBJ Library, and have dinner at Fonda San Miguel.

    Pretty Texan weekend, if you ask me.

    Which I guess you kinda did.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jaymes

      All day Wednesday through lunch Monday.

      Jaymes, we think alike. We actually had Snow's, Louie Mueller, Smitty's, Blacks, Kreuz, Franklins, and City Market planned. We are really looking forward to the BBQ and a lot of it. We'll take your advice and skip the sides.

      I'll look at the other restaurants you mentioned. Thanks.

      City Market
      633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

    2. Go to Al Biernat's and Pappa's for outstanding steaks. Go to Off the Bone or Randy's for BBQ in Dallas, TX. Go to Bohanans's in SA. In Austin you need to get outside of town and go to the great BBQ joints within 50 miles of Austin. Go to Louie Mueller's, Kreuz, Smitty's, Black's and City Market. They don't have anything in LA like TX.

      Al Biernat's @ 4217 Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas, TX 214 - 219 - 2201.
      Pappa's Brother's Steakhouse @ 10477 Lombardy Lane, Dallas, TX 214 - 366 - 2000.
      Off the Bone BBQ @ 1734 South Lamar St., TX 214 - 565 - 9551.
      Randy's BBQ @ 271 S Hwy 342, Red Oak, TX 972 - 617 - 3336.

      Bohanan's @ 219 E Houston St # 275, San Antonio, TX 210 - 472 - 2600.

      City Market
      633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

      3 Replies
      1. re: Littleman

        So sounds like I'm set on BBQ. Based on this post and another one, I think we are now set on steaks. You've reinforce some of the places I was looking at and I'll look at the other places you mentioned.

        Any thoughts on the best Tex-Mex or chili. Thanks thus far guys.

        1. re: albatruffles

          people dump on Taco Cabana, it is a chain but for a quick fast food Tex-Mex fix, their Fajita is pretty darn good, esp. the one near Trinity University in San Antonio. the Riverwalk area is pretty, but the food is kinda dumb.

          1. re: albatruffles

            You've asked a couple of times about chili. I dunno, I think that's hard. It's been my experience, anyway, that most Texans make their own chili at home often enough that they don't usually order it out. And it freezes so well that, speaking just for myself, when I make it, I always freeze enough to last at least a month or so. Got some in the freezer now. And when I look back over the years, I can't specifically recall a single time when either I or one of my dining companions ordered chili at a Texas restaurant. Elsewhere, ie, not in Texas, it seems to be a popular menu item at places like Marie Callender's. But in Texas not so much. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Perhaps others have more helpful info. I know San Antonio has a strong chili tradition, going back to the famous "Chili Queens" of the early 1900's. So perhaps it's just me. Perhaps all the other Texans are happily ordering a "bowl o' red" every week.

            There have been other threads here on CH that addresses that issue, so you might do a search. In Austin, I've heard people recommend the Texas Chili Parlor, a sort of funky downtown Austin dive I think, but I've not tried it.

          1. re: albatruffles

            The Place at Perry's for steaks is outstanding. Rosario's in SA is classic Tex Mex.

            The Place at Perry's @ 2911 Routh St., Dallas, TX 214 - 871 - 9991.
            Rosario's @ 910 S Alamo, San Antonio, TX 210 - 223 - 1806.

          2. Try a plate of carne asado or carne guisado at Aldaco's in San Antonio's Sunset Station to get your "chili" fix. Aldaco's also makes Tlapeno Soup, if you're brave enough to order it. Lots of heat and spice, but delicious and not found at every Mexican restaurant. Order plenty of beer to "go with". I believe they serve Bohemia beer, which you may not be able to find in LA, since
            it's brewed in Monterey, Mex.

            Aldaco's Cafe
            880 W Highway 117, Dilley, TX 78017

            1. For San Antonio, try Rosario's in King WIlliam area for Mexican or Acenar at the Valencia Hotel for modern Mexican. Acenar has a beautiful patio facing the River Walk. They also prepare guacamole table-side that is great.

              1. A cookoff would absolutely be the best way to find good chili. Unfortunately, you'll miss the Turkey Chili Cookoff on the 20th in San Antonio. Victoria, Texas is having a chili cookoff Thanksgiving weekend, but it would mean about a two hour drive each way. Actually, if you are considering the two hour drive, you might also add Black Church BBQ in Huntsville, Texas. ( http://www.yelp.com/biz/new-zion-miss... ) Jaymes has definitely filled you in on all the best BBQ to be had Dallas, SA, and points in between.

                I second Texas Chili House in Austin as a possible for chili. Other than cookoffs, if you had a longer stay, I might suggest a mini trail ride that culminates in a chuck wagon dinner with chili, but maybe next visit?

                As long as you are making foodie stops between Dallas and San Antonio, I recommend you take the exit in West, Texas. Note that I am referring to a little town called "West" just south of Hillsboro on I-35. Just exit Oak St (FM 2114) and head east under the underpass. On the southeast corner of the second intersection (Oak and N Harrison Streets) you will see Ole Czech Bakery. These are the kolaches other bakeries in town aspire to. They also bake for some of the other places in town.

                In San Antonio, depending on if the weather is with you, we've always enjoyed Boudros on the Riverwalk if the weather is pretty. Thanksgiving weekend is sort of up in the air, but it has been known to be pretty enough to eat on the riverwalk in early December if the day is sunny and not windy.

                We enjoyed El Jarro de Arturo Mexican in San Antonio, but hopefully someone local can name the Mexican place in San Antonio that looked to be in an old warehouse and had really good fresh tortillas made in the restaurant. This place was not Tex-Mex, it was the real deal, and I still look back on the machaca burrito with longing. Possible this was Guajillos?

                And hey! Where's the chicken fried steak? You absolutely can't miss out on that! I recommend La Tuna Grill in San Antonio because of their rosemary mashed potatoes. Austin has their very own chicken fried steak thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626377 but I can only speak for the chicken fried venison at Mesa Ranch. I thought it was very good fried venison, but wouldn't hold a candle to chicken fried steak like momma used to make. For that, I think I would have to recommend Love and War in Texas in Plano, or Clear Springs Cafe in San Antonio, although for the absolute best, I'd have to recommend the Clear Springs in Nacogdoches. Yum!