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Jul 18, 2011 12:38 PM

Brief stay, two or three meals (was BLAH BLAH BARTON SPRINGS, below)

Okay shifting gears. Flying in tomorrow just before lunch. Will probably go to El Taco Rico for lunch, then Barton Springs pool. Thinking of Uchi or Uchiko for dinner, but I wonder if those might be a little too precious for me. Also I take the point made on this board some time ago that there is nothing really particular to Austin about Uchi(ko). I don't get to any place like that in my usual rounds at home, though, so even though they aren't very Austin they are still very good options.

So, what about sit-down, bricks-and-mortar Tex-Mex or Texas style home cooking. Like, Matt's El Rancho if it was any good, like a really good chicken-fried steak or some gnarly sausages or schnitzel?

And, where might I find a low-hassle implementation of the Cocktail Revival scene?

And, is that Cuban Sandwich place still looking good?

Finally, is there a small set of must-go places for breakfast tacos? I would like a nice cup of coffee too but the taquerias usually have lousy coffee. So, where's the coffee?

I have plenty of time and can go pretty much anywhere for any of these three meals (lunch, dinner, then breakfast). Willing to drive for deliciousness. Staying near something called The Domain?

Matt's El Rancho
2613 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Uchi Restaurant
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

El Taco Rico
810 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741

4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

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  1. First, I think you should definitely got o Uchi. If by "precious" you mean too fancy / small plate-y, just go anyway... it's one of the best restaurants in the country, in my opinion. Just don't waste your money getting sushi there - stick to the small plates. On the standard menu, I recommend the Uchiviche and the machi cure, and there are usually plenty of amazing things on the nightly specials menu (the scallops are always incredible).

    Some people like Matt's (myself included) for classic tex mex, and others hate it. I'd personally recommend Polvo's over anywhere else in the south austin area.

    For a classic chicken fried steak, I'd say definitely Hill's Cafe. Bring some rolaids.

    Haddington's has great cocktails (and good food)... it's a nice place for the cocktail revival vibe without being too overly curly-cue moustachey like Eastside Showroom. They have duck fat infused rye. Yes!

    I'll let some other people jump in on the coffee and tacos... hope that helps.

    1. since you are staying up north, i'd recommend Hoover's on 183 for somewhere kind of close for CFS. I've never been to Hill's, so can't say anything about it, but i do know it is on South congress, FWIW.
      I don't think there is any decent German food in town. NXNW is close by and has some pretty good home brew. I've eaten there 3-4 times and always liked the food. I'm sure you can find plenty reviews on this board.
      It's a Texas chain and Salvadoran as well as Tex-Mex, but Gloria's is close by. I've been to the one in Dallas, and thought it was pretty solid.

      1. for true german, you could take a drive to ilsa's kitchen:

        however, fabi and rosi's modern european gets a lot of love on the board:

        for "fancy" (read: more gringo) breakfast tacos, i like taco deli.
        if you go, get the salsa dona-- it's hot and addictive.

        1. An old but fairly definitive classic thread on CFS, a must-read in my opinion.

          (How I miss Tony's Southern Comfort!)

          1. I made it to Uchi and Hill's per recommendations below. I liked Uchi but I did find it a bit precious. The tongue was delicious but its presentation on rice like sushi didn't really work for me. The green peas in the pod, served like edamame, were good but not really worth the mess. Don't recall what else I had. I really wanted to try the short ribs but I had started with a cocktail and my meal was getting expensive.

            Hill's was good too but I am not sold on the yellow gravy. I am not a cream-gravy snob, either. I usually prefer brown gravy on chicken fried steak.

            I had a GREAT cup of coffee at Houndstooth

            Taco Rico was closed but I did well at La Canaria

            I didn't like the clammy store-bought flour tortillas at Tamale House. Would like to find some really great breakfast tacos next time around.

            Thanks for the advice, all!

            Uchi Restaurant
            801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

            Tamale House
            5003 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

            7 Replies
            1. re: antepiedmont

              Glad you enjoyed your experience overall. About the CFS, you will never find brown gravy on it in Texas. Also, out of curiosity, I'd like to know what you mean about not being "a cream-gravy snob"? Do you mean that you like it or you are particular about it? I realize that country-fried steak that's popular in the deep south is often served with brown gravy, but here in TX, you won't find anything other than cream gravy on chicken-fried steak. You should know that in my experience over the last decade or more, a good TX style chicken-fried steak is nearly impossible to come by in Austin.

              1. re: agoodbite

                I woudn't say never - I'm texan and prefer brown gravy....and it is often (but not always) an option. There's a lot of bad cream gravy out there.

                I had a really good one, though, the other day: I got mashed potatoes and cream gravy for my kid at Top Notch. I've never had their CFS, though. There's no mention of it on the thread that Tom linked to above.

                Sounds like antepiedmont's food experience in Austin was just OK, at best. That's too bad.

                Top Notch
                7525 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757

                1. re: rudeboy

                  I too generally prefer brown gravy on my CFS, and also hail from Texas (native Austinite to boot!).

                2. re: agoodbite

                  I actually always thought that the delineation between "chicken fried steak" and "country fried steak" was whether it had cream gravy or brown gravy.

                  1. re: willtryanythingonce

                    Just did a little internet searching to doesn't appear that's the distinction - it appears that the two are interchangeable.

                    Also, I had a conversation with a friend at lunch, a cream gravy person, and he claimed that a salsbury steak was just a chicken fried steak without the chicken fried part on it. I thought that was funny. He also though that a CFS "should" have cream gravy, and was trying pigeon-hole me into the salisbury crowd. I told them that I accept my cream gravy brethren, even if they don't accept me!

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      According to my (very possibly) limited understanding, the delineation between country fried steak and chicken fried steak comes down to the breading and the gravy, as willtryanythingonce said.. A country fried steak, in my understanding, has more of a breadcrumb crust and is served with a brown gravy whereas a chicken fried steak has a flour crust and is with cream gravy on top.

                      The chicken fried steak at Southern Hospitality is the local example I can think of that mixes up the boundaries. The steak is of the breadcrumb-crusted sort, but it comes with very good cream gravy.

                      Good cream gravy is another discussion...

                  2. re: agoodbite

                    Jack Allen's has some pretty damn good CFS.