Girls weekend in Austin
My girlfriends and I are meeting up in Austin for MLK weekend. We are flying in from all over the country and staying at the Barton Creek Resort and will have cars, so location is flexible.
I've never been before, but have been told Salt Lick BBQ is a must visit outside of town. Looking for casual lunch spots and dinners for a group of 8-10 women in their 30's. Moderately priced, good wine list or full bar preferred at dinner. Would like to get an insider/local experience and avoid the chains and tourist traps.
Skip the Salt Lick, it's over rated. I think most people on this board would tell you for BBQ, go to Franklin's. It's a trailer, and the food sells out super fast, but it's just amazing. The trailer scene in Austin is HUGE right now, so you could check out some of those if you wanted. They are casual, but I don't believe any of them serve alcohol. One of the most popular restaurants in Austin would be Uchi, but that's not moderately priced.
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Las palomas is a good choice in westlake... In Austin local, insider, and full bar rarely go together ...last time I checked the salt lick was byob. For lunch I recommend angie's for her carnitas tacos.closed Tuesdays. For nicer dining uchi or it's new cousin, uchiko, is a good call.
FWIW...yeah, down here in Barbecue World, the Salt Lick has its detractors. Heck, based on just the food, we are blessed enough in this area that it might not make my top five, either. And yet, I find myself there 2 or 3 times a year, because overall it's just an enjoyable experience, particularly for a group.
If you're coming from anyplace in the country that isn't a barbecue mecca, the food will still probably be better than much of what you've had before. And as far as taking a nice little drive through the Texas Hill Country to enjoy a good meal in a setting that oozes "Texas barbecue joint," it's hard to beat. It's certainly a fun, common and perfectly acceptable introduction for out-of-towners.
If it's a peak time, there can be a wait; just bring a cooler with beverages of choice and chill with your friends at the picnic tables under the big oak trees (the weather looks a little iffy, might be OK by then). Make sure you go in the main building and check out the open pit. If you like a little more kick, try the Lauren's sauce (you have to ask for it). And make sure it's the original location in Driftwood, not the one in Round Rock; it's not even remotely the same experience.
Note that it is byob and cash only.
If you're looking for the best we have to offer, the road leads south from Austin to Lockhart, featuring the Holy Trinity of Smitty's, Kreuz and Black's. And City Market in Luling (the real one, not the pretender in Houston) is a bit farther down that same road. All are steeped in barbecue lore. On any given day, any of them can arguably represent the pinnacle of Texas barbecue, all less than an hour from town.
Keep in mind that these places started as local groceries or meat markets that evolved into selling smoked meats, and they remain the definition of "no frills." As an example, Kreuz does not offer utensils. This may or may not fit your idea of a good time. Also, look to these for lunch rather than dinner; they tend to close by early evening, they can run out of some items toward the end of the day, and alcohol, if it's available, is generally limited to beer. Not that there's anything wrong with barbecue and beer.
Having said all that, Franklin is seriously good, and is rightfully considered right up there with the best here on the Austin board. The only real downside is the ambience, with minimal outdoor seating mere yards from a major highway (soon to be rectified with their new permanent location, but not quite soon enough for your trip).
633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648
I'm in your demographic so I thought I might mention a few places that I have gone with girlfriends and enjoyed. Parkside, 219 West, Tacos and Tequila and Max's Wine Dive all come to mind. These are all downtownish. Some of these are more lauded on this board than others.
Paggi House has a fantastic patio and the food and ambience is excellent, though I'm not sure moderately priced really describes it. I also LOVE the bread pudding at Barton Creek Resort. It has a white chocolate sauce of some sort on it and is heavenly. Hope you enjoy your visit to Austin!
200 Lee Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78704
219 W 4th St, Austin, TX 78701
Max's Wine Dive
207 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701
also being in the demo, i agree with paggi house. it's cute, nice patio w/ heaters. (from what i've read) has a good happy hour, saturdays included. and after, drive 30 seconds across the street to House Wine for some more libations in a quaint little house, of course. on sundays, they have half off glasses of any bottle that was opened on Saturday, GREAT chance to try different things you might not typically order (e.g. dessert wines, bubbly).
everyone always knocks the salt lick, but it really is a great experience for a group and more comfortable than a trailer. if you're ok w/ a trailer, bring some bottles of wine to Odd Duck instead b/c the food is out of this world and one of a kind.