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Jun 17, 2011 11:39 AM

Lunch in Austin

Visiting an old friend in Austin Monday (neither of us live there or have been in TX for 7 years). Suggestions for a great lunch?

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  1. Sorry, but this is really vague. What sort of food are you interested in? What part of town are you in? How far are you willing to travel? What's your budget? Are you more interested in a nice sort of place or a beer with your lunch sort of place? This is not really enough information to give you a good recommendation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gilintx

      We're meeting anywhere in Austin. Just looking for the best lunch available. I'm accustomed to fine dining in Chicago and her in DC. Reading over the reccomendations in this forum I've seen a ton of amazing looking restaurants, but the vast majority of them do not appear to be open for lunch.

      So, any part of the city and just looking for the best food possible for lunch. Don't care if it's a dive, doesn't serve alcohol, or ethnic/homestyle/whatever

    2. Tam Deli has great banh mi

      Tam Deli & Cafe
      8222 N Lamar Blvd Ste D33, Austin, TX 78753

      1. A few suggestions:

        Nau's Enfield Drug (CHEESEBURGER!)
        Roaring Fork
        Din Ho
        El Azteca
        El Chile

        El Azteca Restaurant
        2600 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

        Zocalo Cafe
        1110 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703

        1. Lunch as a fine-dining experience hasn't yet caught on here in Austin; the best restaurants aren't open so you will have to make do with somewhat more mundane fare or go to an ethnic place. Unfortunately the ethnic restaurants in Austin can't hold a candle to those in DC, so either you or or friend might be somewhat disappointed with the selection.

          With these facts in mind, here are some suggestions for good, solid cooking at a decent price:

          Second Bar & Kitchen (2nd and Congress). Little brother to Congress restaurant. Have had a very nice lunch here at a reasonable price. Not super-out-of-this world, but very nice.
          Annie's Cafe & Bar - informal, good if not memorable. Salads, soups, sandwiches, simple cooked dishes. Nice bar scene, even at lunch. Good place to catch-up with your friend as they aren't in a hurry to turn the tables.
          Trace in the W Hotel. The gimmick is that they use only locally source ingredients; the downside is that the cooking has been quite variable. Should be okay for lunch. Stick with the simpler dishes. Good bar scene in the evening with lots of 20-somethings competing for attention.
          Chez Nous - a charming, unpretentious French bistro in an unprepossessing area. Steak + frites are quite good. Service can be erratic.
          Bess Bistro - slammed because it's owned by Sandra Bullock and most people come here in the hopes of catching a glimpse of her. Nearly deserted at lunch, but the food is pretty decent. Not great, but decent. Stick with the simple dishes.

          Chez Nous
          510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

          7 Replies
          1. re: Andrew Zachary

            I have to say that this post made me sad. Several of the recommendations were just lukewarm, and the overall viewpoint seemed to me to be that except for a few fine dining places the restaurants in Austin are mundane, just ok, pretty decent, or good but not great. Allrighty, maybe my taste in food is simply mundane, but I think there a lot of places in Austin to get great food, even at lunchtime. As a food lover in Austin, I feel fortunate. YMMV.

            1. re: Ashforth

              I'm with you, although the OP's request is perplexing. Accustomed to fine dining, happy with a dive, anywhere in Austin....I think AZ was trying to come up with some "fine dining" options for lunch, although the tepid recs are pretty sad. If following the downtown/fancy impulse, I would recommend Haddington's (quite nice little pots of pate/truffled egg custard with GREAT grilled bread, nice pickled veggies, a weird but yummy carpaccio with a chipotle aiolli, terrific fresh mussels) or Lamberts.

              I think Eastside Cafe (paternite's suggestion) might be the ticket - Austin-y vibe, good food (don't care what people say - LOVE the mushroom crepes) and a comfortable place to gab.

              1. re: reinadetostones

                OK - the OP should go to Eastside Cafe.

                  1. re: reinadetostones

                    No, I was serious....I thought that was the best idea so far.....

                    Austin is a genetic cesspool,; a hard-scrabble place where a good lunch can't be found. It's a hellhole. It's just an awful, awful sad place, filled with sad, desperate people with no ambition. An absolute jerk-water of a town (thanks SNL).

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Is there a like button here? No? There should be.

                      I'm sorry the OP has to suffer through the gimmicks, little brothers, and subpar ethnic restaurants in Austin.

              2. re: Ashforth

                Actually, the point is that compared with New York, San Francisco, Washington and Chicago, we are a sad place to find high-end dining at lunch. For example, Jean Georges offers a wonderful 2-course $32 lunch and 11 Mad does a 3-course for $56 lunch. But in Austin, our top restaurants are closed for lunch except a few that do Sunday brunch.

                And for ethnic restaurants, most the Austin ones are a poor, distant cousin to their counterparts in DC. Yes, I know that Lamberts, La Condessa, and East Side Cafe offer decent meals. But they aren't a patch on the best available in other cities. [And I forgot about Haddington's. Haven't made it there yet.]