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Dec 3, 2010 05:39 PM

I have 24 hours in Austin, what's your favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Passing through Austin on a cross country trip. I should have time to enjoy one lunch, dinner, and breakfast the next day before I head out. After going through AZ and NM I will be ready to have something besides Mexican, so any rec's outside of that would be appreciated. Also the best dish in each place would be great. BBQ, steak, and/or anything creative, interesting, or just plain good. Thanks!

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  1. Dinner - Uchi on S. Lamar. Whole menu is terrific. Go for variety.
    Lunch - Franklin's BBQ (trailer w/picnic tables off I-35 near 40th St.) not open Mon=Wed. Get Brisket.
    Breakfast = Maria's Taco Express on S. Lamar. Migas taco.

    Uchi Restaurant
    801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

    10 Replies
    1. re: boshtx

      This is a solid list. If you prefer not to wait, go to Uchi early or make reservations at it's sister restaurant, Uchiko. At Uchi, I am a huge fan of the hama chili, the machi cure, and the hotate. As for Franklin's, don't miss the pulled pork and the sausage. I am not the biggest fan of either normally, but their's is out of this world.

      1. re: txgrl99

        And another note about Franklin. I would advise getting there no later than 11 (preferably a bit earlier), and expect to wait at least 30 minutes. It's worth it.

      2. re: boshtx

        This is solid list-- cannot disagree!

        1. re: boshtx

          I'd have to whole-heartedly agree with Uchi and Franklin's--but you can definitely do WAY better than Maria's (and I'm not talking about Torchy's, either)--the best tacos in the city are at Tacos El Rico, Felix and Vargas, just one block east of Montopolis--way better than Maria's, more authentic, cooked by women with WAY more experience, and about half the fact, if you were only going to go one place in Austin, this is where you should go

          Uchi Restaurant
          801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

          1. re: taliesin15

            Tacos El Rico? I made the 35 minute drive once for those... and caught hell from my spouse. They were not good at all. I had a very fatty, very bland barbacoa and a chorizo with egg. If you do a search on CH for El Rico, you'll get 50+ results. Then you look a little further. Eight people indicate they've actually eaten there. Four of them have posted more than once. Very few even say what they ate there. I'd love to hear from someone other than one of their few regular cheerleaders.

            1. re: GermanBrat

              I've seen people swear by breakfast tacos at Whataburger as well, even saying their breakfast tacos are more authentic than any other in town. In any case, you are the first person who's ever complained about them that I know of, here or anywhere--I've taken something like 20 people there over the last couple of years, and they all love it--in fact, loving it is putting it lightly--barbacoa is supposed to be fatty, btw. And bland it surely is not--could be your taste buds are compromised? The Austin Chronicle gave them a rave review a few months ago. The bus ride from downtown Austin only takes about 10 minutes.

              1. re: taliesin15

                Dude, Whataburger? Where did that come from? All I did was say I didn't like El Rico, and, based on that, you think my taste buds are "compromised". I know barbacoa is supposed to be fatty, but fat is supposed to be flavorful, and theirs was not. It was blander than my MIL's pot roast (who, incidentally, also has 40 years of cooking experience). Does El Rico season their barbacoa with anything? What does it taste like to you of the elevated taste bud?

                And since when does a Chronicle review mean anything? It's normally reviled on this board.

                Your 20 friends may have loved it, but they didn't come here to talk about it. Or anywhere else as far as I can tell. A very small handful of people have generated a pretty big propaganda campaign for El Rico.

                One more thing, before you send an out-of-towner to a place like this, you should let them know there is only one picnic table set up outside a laundromat. Also, El Rico keeps some strange hours, so it might not even be open if they go.

                1. re: GermanBrat

                  Tacos can be an emotional subject, evidently!

                  1. re: GermanBrat

                    Wow, GermanBrat, why so defensive? People are entitled to their opinions. You didn't like the food at Taco Rico. Glad to hear .

                    But to accuse other people are running propaganda campaign is pretty strong words, no? I've been on this board for 10+ years and shared my opinions on El Rico many times (love the breakfast tacos, not so much the other stuff). You have posted 3 times to the Austin board. We need to hear more of what you think about food in Austin...

                    As for the Chronicle's stature, I don't recall any any one have a strong opinion on it--certainly not reviled. Care to share any links with Chronicle cirticism? Mick Vann did the review for El Taco Rico and he has been the first of the mainstream press to review many non-Anglo restaurants around town--most of them well respected by the Austin board (Asia Cafe springs to mind).

                    Finally, yes, it should always be noted that El Taco Rico is a food truck and like all food trucks in town has occasionally erratic hours and limited seating. Best to call.

                    To finish with some food thoughts on Rico: I prefer the egg tacos--egg/poatato and egg/bacon in particular. Always on corn tortillas (flour aren't so great). Eat them at the place so you'll get both salsas on the table. Sometimes the potato needs a touch of salt.

                    El Taco Rico is pretty much on the way to/from the Austin airport if your airport route is 183 or Riverside you'll be no more than a 5 minute drive on a side trip. And as mentioned the Montopolis bus route goes right past it.

                    1. re: GermanBrat

                      German Brat
                      Just to establish a baseline of deliciousness, what is your favorite barbacoa in Austin?

                      And just to keep the focus on the original post:

                      3 Meals In Austin

                      Breakfast: Galloway Sandwich Shop, housemade sausage, fried eggs, slow cooked grits

                      Lunch: La Traviatta, Pasta Carbonara

                      Supper: Tam's Deli, Deep Fried Garlic Butter Shrimp Banh Mi


                      When I venture outside Austin I read the respective city's board, establish who I believe to be the high value posters and read a month or so of each one's threads and posts.

                      Austin's board has many excellent, thorough hounds who've roamed the city for years gleaning the most delicious holes in the wall.

                      Kick back and figure out who you believe those folks are and you should do just fine in your journey through our fair town.

            2. I guess, I didn't give any hints on food for this post.

              Lunch: Sounds like you'll be driving in that day. If you are coming in from I-10 as I suspect you might be, go to Lockhart for BBQ. There's debate at which place is best but for your first time go to Smitty's. Get the brisket. Get the sausage. Get one more meat of your choice. Drink a Big Red or Shiner. Enjoy.

              Dinner: After a heavy BBQ lunch, you need something light. For the expensive and fancy, go to Uchi or Uchiko. Ignore the sushi and look at the daily specials. For the less expensive and light, I like scrumptious Tam's recommendation except I say go for the pork roll rice sheets with the fried shrimp yams (not as heavy as it sounds).

              Breakfast: I don't do much breakfast out and often it is El Rico which is not in your consideration. 24 Diner has nice diced potatoes and eggs (I also dig their chili).

              Uchi Restaurant
              801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

              1. Breakfast: Rudy's, get a breakfast taco, it's the only thing they serve this time of day.
                Lunch: Franklin's, hands down. I've only been able snag brisket and a chopped beef sandwich, but they were some of the best BBQ I've ever had.
                Dinner: Texas French Bread. All local, all delicious.

                1. Crackem, I'd second the recommendations for Maria's Taco Xpress for breakfast tacos. I like their chorizo. There are also a few places in Austin that have good gingerbread pancakes, my favorite of which is Magnolia Cafe. Depending on what part of town you're staying in, Cafe Java also has a really good breakfast. I've never had anything bad there, and am continually in awe of how perfect their hash browns always are.

                  For lunch, I'd suggest The Noble Pig. They make literally everything in house. The bread is homemade every day and is perfect. Meats are cured in house. Pickles, mustard, all made in house. Or, if the weather is nice, you might go to Izzoz Tacos. It's in a trailer, but in an organized park and there are plenty of tables set up. Izzoz's fried avocado taco with arugula, cotija cheese, and a chipotle sherry sauce is sublime.

                  Do you know what part of town you'll be staying in? I'm sure you'll at least want your breakfast spot to be nearby.


                  7 Replies
                  1. re: GermanBrat

                    I think what's going on is some of us are food purists, while others are as much into the vibe of a place, the decor and all of that--I've had a fair amount of street food around the world, and places like Tacos El Rico are the equivalent of that here in Austin--it's just that Tacos El Rico happens to be the best one according to a large number of people here and elsewhere--I can name many other fantastic taco trucks that are better and way cheaper than Maria's or Izzoz--one excellent one is Pastor, on E. Riverside--another idea for anyone who might be interested in not only getting some really good local cuisine, but interested that seems like a home cooked meal, based on long traditions handed down by generations, and even a sense on how the "other half" (i.e. those of us on the wrong side of the American Dream) eat and live, check out La Moreliana (S. Congress north of Ben White), La Mexicana or any La Michoacana store as they all serve tacos, including breakfast tacos, and they are all excellent and cheap. The Barbacoa at these stores is almost as good as Tacos El Rico.

                    1. re: taliesin15

                      I disagree with both of you.

                      First off, nobody I respect has ever claimed that La Mexicana is good. The place is notorious for looking like a great Mexican bakery and taqueria, keeping amazing (24) hours, and serving constantly mediocre-or-worse food. As I said in 2007, "Looks great! The food stinks."


                      Same w/ Maria's Taco Xpress -- from the review above: "not bad, but despite twenty-something visits over six or more years, I never have understood the fanatic following." Repeat visits since that review have not improved my prognosis.

                      Taliesin, you've got to realize: "The other half," as you term them, are just as likely (or even moreso) to populate terrible restaurants as good ones. Walk into an Applebee's and see who is pulling out coupons -- these are "the other half," my friend. They're everywhere food is cheap, whether it is good or bad. Assuming someone's financial status somehow grants them magical chow powers is false on an individual basis, although I think that culturally-speaking, need has driven innovation.

                      I hope you both get to Mi Ranchito in the C-Mart on William Cannon soon. They routinely blow the doors off of all the places you're both recommending. Also, El Meson on Burleson still rocks the house. El Meson on Lamar is a different menu.

                      Breakfast: El Meson. Gorge yourself on a pastor on corn (with homemade tortillas unrivaled in Austin; just middlin' by San Antonio standards), a egg-cheese-bacon-potato (what?! yeah, they do something magic w/ the potatoes. Worth the confusion!), and a chori-migas on flour. (Flour required to hold back the grease bomb.) Note that Mi Ranchito's eggs are overcooked on the breakfast tacos, but otherwise this is a good second choice. I also recommend Eastside Cafe for weekend brunch -- hope that doesn't deplete my cred with "the other half!"

                      Lunch: Din Ho! Open for business. Get the duck and the char siu. I know that in reality, you'd be full from breakfast still. If you don't want the best duck and pork in town, roll over to Franklin, or if you are still craving Mexican, go get a carnitas taco plate at Angie's, smothered in ridiculous yellow cheese, perfectly fried, with a frozen lemonade that'll make your teeth ache.

                      Dinner: My favorite? Parkside. Start with an indecent number of oysters (p.s. these oysters are flown in five nights a week from the same place that Perla and three other places in Austin get them. They arrive on the same plane, just so you know!) and hit the raw bar options. Note how their finely-diced, fresh jalapeno they throw in with a couple raw options is somehow magical. I don't understand it either. Transition into marrow, sweetbreads, and god-knows-what-else. Read the below link for the full suggestion:

                      Taco Xpress
                      2529 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                      El Meson
                      5808 Burleson Rd, Austin, TX 78744

                      350 S Interstate 35, Georgetown, TX 78626

                      1. re: tom in austin

                        tom, you have pretty much my exact taste. Disturbingly so. May have to ask my daddy if he abandoned any kids back in the day.

                        1. re: tom in austin

                          Tom, I used to think that about La Mexicana, but there's been a major sea change over there--last 8-9 times I've been there in the last year, the Barbacoa has been outstanding--plus some of the complimentary sides (escabeche with nopalitos, dark red salsa) are amazing--that said, I would NEVER buy any of their pastries, just not my thing

                          as to the stuff about how the other half live (including myself), I was responding to a comment earlier about Tacos El Rico being a taco truck in a parking lot of a laundromat in one of Austin's poorest neighborhoods--personally, I don't see how any of that is germane, but some people rarely go outside their gated communities, and there is so much irrational fear about being around the "great unwashed" with some people that these things could be a motivation for complaining about things like folding chairs and table to sit on while you eat

                          1. re: taliesin15

                            I'll give La Mexicana another shot. I used to live a couple blocks away and tried it numerous times and it was always terrible. I'd love to go somewhere that changed for the better as the opposite tends to be true.

                            1. re: tom in austin

                              Carter B., my apologies. It's not the Chronicle reviewers that are reviled. It's the readers. I was remembering the "Let's Make Fun of..." thread

                              Tom in Austin, we don't disagree as much as you think. I'm not among the "Applebee's half". I actually don't believe there is an Applebee's half. There's certainly an Applebee's contingent, who spend very little time on this board, and make their food decisions based on what's close or what's cheap or where their kids will eat. A suggestion for Maria's shouldn't be equated with Applebee's. And if you read my suggestion of Izzoz to mean "the best Mexican in town", it wasn't. I recommended the fried avocado taco because it's just damn good. I've been to El Meson on Burleson and it was good, though I've only been for lunch. Something we all missed, myself included, the OP didn't want Mexican recs. Seems that living in Austin, if someone says "breakfast" we go to tacos immediately.

                              taliesin, your comments about gated communities and the "great unwashed" are absurd. Might I remind you that I actually left my gated community to eat at El Rico and just didn't like the food. And the notion that the people going in and out of a laundromat are "unwashed" just made me laugh. My friend, unless El Rico's barbacoa is cooked in the ground (it's not), then you are not a "food purist", you are a food snob. The fact that they have only one outdoor table is absolutely relevant for someone coming in from out of town, especially in winter.

                              scrumptiouschef, I haven't had a barbacoa in Austin that I'd put up to the scrutiny of this board. When I do, I will post. Or not.

                              It's not an "us and them" situation, unless you decide it is. We all love food.

                      2. re: GermanBrat

                        German Brat
                        Upthread you expressed dismay over El Rico Taco's
                        "very fatty, very bland barbacoa"

                        What is your favorite source [or two] for barbacoa in Austin?

                        I'm always on the lookout for great barbacoa.