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What's Austin taste like?

a
Annetastic Sep 26, 2011 02:06 PM

hi Austin foodies!

I'm spending 3 nights in downtown Austin in mid-October and would love to know which restaurants you would steer me to for dinner? I'm looking for fantastic food, with an Austin spin. I like fine dining, but would like to know which places can teach me what Austin tastes like.

I've heard by more than one person that The Salt Lick is a must...but other than that, I'm unclear. I've been looking at Uchiko, Parkside, Barley Swine, Sullivan's, Hudson's on the Bend, and the Shoreline Grill. Can anyone help me cull the herd?

We'll probably do mexican for lunches...but is there a great mexican place where dinner is a must?

Any help you can offer would be huge...thanks in advance!

-----
Shoreline Grill
98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

Barley Swine
2024 S. Lamar, Austin, TX

Uchiko
4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

  1. g
    gilintx Sep 26, 2011 10:35 PM

    Salt Lick is ok, but certainly not the best you can find after a 30 minute drive. If you do go, make sure to get the family style. That's all you can eat of everything.
    Uchiko, Parkside, Barley Swine, and Sullivan's are some of the best we have to offer. You might also look in to the Driskill Grill, Jeffry's, and Paggi House. All of the above would be considered fine dining.
    Probably the only Mexican fine dining in town is Fonda San Miguel. I find the dinner service spotty, but the Sunday brunch is incredible. It's pricey, but worth it.
    For Tex-Mex, you're going to have to aim a little lower. Others can probably recommend trailers to you. I will say that I still enjoy Amaya's Taco Village on the interstate. It ain't fancy by any stretch, but it makes this guy happy. You might also enjoy El Borrego de Oro on S. Congress near Ben White. Don't let the looks of the place freak you out: the food is seriously delicious, and I've never regretted a meal there.

    -----
    Fonda San Miguel Restaurant
    2330 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

    Amaya's Taco Village
    5405 N Interstate 35, Austin, TX 78723

    Paggi House
    200 Lee Barton Dr, Austin, TX 78704

    Barley Swine
    2024 S. Lamar, Austin, TX

    Uchiko
    4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

    1. l
      lixlix Sep 27, 2011 07:22 AM

      A few other suggestions

      Haddington's, Contigo, Justine's, Chez Nous, eastside Show Room for casual bistro style dining.

      Congress, Vespaio, Perla's for more formal dining.

      For BBQ I would rather go to Franklin's or Live Oak BBQ.

      Do a food trailer tour for one of your meals.

      -----
      Vespaio
      1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

      Chez Nous
      510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

      1. Alan Sudo Sep 27, 2011 03:09 PM

        Contigo has already been mentioned, but in less than a year they have certainly been able to capture the Austin dining experience with their outdoor dining on small plates and creative cocktails.
        http://contigotexas.com/austin
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780910

        A 1925 cottage with a half acre organic urban garden is home of one of my favorite Austin meals, found at Eastside Cafe. (Try for a table in the house instead of the misleadingly named "garden room" for the best atmosphere.) My choice is usually the Shrimp and Goat Cheese quesadilla appetizer, the Sesame Catfish or Vegetable enchiladas Verde and Bootsie's buttermilk pie for dessert.
        http://www.eastsidecafeaustin.com/

        Directly across the street from Eastside is Hoover's, a working man's restaurant with huge portions and tables covered with butcher paper. The Chicken Fried Chicken here is a true Texas dish, a delicious variation on Chicken Fried Steak (also invented in Texas). Side choices include personal favorites like jalapeno creamed spinach, butter beans, or turnip greens.
        http://hooverscooking.com/

        If butcher paper on the tables is not your style, you can find white linen at the Grande Dame of Austin Restaurants, Green Pastures. Just south of the river, this majestic Victorian estate (complete with peacocks strolling under 100 year old live oaks) has been serving some of the Austin's best meals since its transformation into a restaurant some 64 years ago.
        While it would be hard to go wrong when choosing from their menu, I might suggest a sort of local foods "surf and turf". For an appetizer, the Gulf Coast Starter - Sugar Cane Shrimp, Crawfish Fritters, Crispy Soft shell Crab, and Blackened Oysters. Then move on to the Texas Game sampler entree - Sauté of Texas Quail Breasts with Mushrooms, Guajillo Rubbed Broken Elk Venison, and Broken Arrow Wild Boar Sausage with Mace-Cherry Jus.
        Personally, I love the bacon wrapped, Shiner Bock glazed, jalapeno Stuffed Texas Quail and the avocado salad with tomatoes, goat cheese and Hibiscus as starters.
        They also do a nice Sunday brunch with complementary Southern Milk punch.
        http://greenpasturesrestaurant.com/

        -----
        Green Pastures Restaurant
        901 W Live Oak St, Austin, TX 78704

        1. m
          Mike C. Miller Oct 3, 2011 08:10 PM

          Another vote for Chez Nous.

          And for either Hoover's or Threadgill's. I have a slight preference for Threadgill's, but that sort of changes by the day.

          I've also had good meals at Eastside Cafe, although I'd hardly call it a destination restaurant. But it's a good solid choice.

          I was largely unimpressed with Vespaio in two visits. There are better places for Italian than Austin. Wink is a good place to eat when it's on. But I've had a few hit or miss experiences there.

          Either late night or breakfast at Kirby Lane Cafe would be something that I would consider. It's sort of an Austin institution, and while you'll get decent food, it's the quintessential Austin experience you'll probably remember longer than the meal.

          -----
          Chez Nous
          510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

          3 Replies
          1. re: Mike C. Miller
            g
            gilintx Oct 3, 2011 10:37 PM

            Perhaps it's just my dumb luck, but I've had terrible experiences at Chez Nous, Hoover's and Threadgill's. What do you order? Maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

            -----
            Chez Nous
            510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

            Threadgill's Restaurant
            6416 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

            1. re: gilintx
              slowcoooked Oct 5, 2011 05:15 AM

              I can vouch only for the jerk ribs and fried catfish plates at hoovers Gill. The ribs bring some heat but it doesn't overwhelm me or the flavor.

              1. re: gilintx
                m
                Mike C. Miller Oct 5, 2011 09:28 PM

                I've eaten at Chez Nous on any number of occasions from 1981 to as recently as two months ago and can't remember a single bad meal. Simple bistro type food, but very well done. The fish dishes are generally a tad better than the meats, but both are very good, but simple.

                Threadgill's I almost always get the chicken fried steak. I'll occasionally get something else, but not often. And if I do, it's something basic like pot roast or pork chops. Same at Hoovers. But the deciding factor between the two to me is that the corn bread is better at Threadgill's.

                But outside of the standard southern comfort foods -- CFS, pot roast, fried chicken, etc. -- I can't speak at all to the food at either place.

                -----
                Chez Nous
                510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

                Threadgill's Restaurant
                6416 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

            2. f
              frankcross Oct 6, 2011 07:08 AM

              Your dinner choices are good, roughly in order. I wouldn't group Sullivans or Shoreline with the other four, which are Austin's finest. The Salt Lick would be a good local atmosphere thing, but not near the best food.

              As for Mexican dinner, look at La Condesa's menu. The traditional choice, Fonda San Miguel, isn't in the same category as the other fine restaurants but, depending on your taste, La Condesa could be.

              -----
              Fonda San Miguel Restaurant
              2330 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

              La Condesa
              400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

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