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two foodie girls eating their way through austin...

we are planning a foodcentric trip to austin in late april. please let us know if we're off the mark, and help us making some decisions. we want Only in Austin food, and anything that is very unique.... also, i'm very fond of game meats & offal.

Gordoughs, (fried chicken & bacon donuts)
Lucy's Fried Chicken, (fried deviled eggs and fried chicken)
Franklin's, (brisket! and ribs)
Franks Restaurant, (jackalope sausage)
East Side Kings,
Chuys, Torchy's, &/or El Taco Rico, cannot decide.. where is the best tex mex???
Casino El Camino (fries & armadillo burger)
Big Top Candy Shop ( wasabi vanilla shake)
Amy's Ice Cream ( beer flavored ice cream)
Jack in the Box (Bacon Shake),
Mrs Ps Electric Cock (for the name)
...is summermoon wood fired coffee really that great?

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  1. I think chuys is awful, I would definitely scratch it off the list.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twyst

      I wouldn't feed a stray cat out a Chuy's.

    2. Don't go to a Jack in the Box. Most people want to go to Uchi or Uchiko when they're here, for good reason. But if you can't get a reservation, go to Kome instead.

      5 Replies
      1. re: heyzeus212

        coming from south florida, i just feel like it'd be a waste to eat sushi in a landlocked city. and i know trying to get into those places associated with the new Top Chef winner will be nearly impossible.

        1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

          Most sushi fish is as foreign to Florida as it is to Austin. You can find good sushi in both. But you can't find Threadgills in Florida.

          1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

            You're far enough out that you should be able to get a reservation at Uchi or Uchiko. Also, IMO, it's not really the sushi at those places that is most compelling; it's the other stuff.

            For the love of food, please don't go to Jack in the Box. And I agree with twyst; Chuy's is totally skippable. Ditto Lucy's. I've been twice and had both the items you mention, and they aren't very good. If you want some food by James Holmes, go to Olivia, instead.

            Given that you like offal, definitely Barley Swine and Foreign & Domestic. Go right when Barley Swine opens or you'll be waiting forEVER.

            1. re: Optimista

              Thought I agree with everything else Optimista has noted, I have to disagree with one point: Lucy's over the Olivia every time. I find Lucy's to be consistent, well-priced, well-executed, and with a great laid-back vibe (although the fried deviled eggs are pretty meh, the chicken is damn fine).... Olivia though, in my opinion is pretentious, over-priced, and poorly/inconsistently executed. Your mileage may vary. They are totally different restaurants, and it may just be I prefer the lowbrow to the highbrow.

              1. re: puddles

                Eh, I love a great lowbrow restaurant; I just don't like Lucy's chicken. The batter is too aggressively flavored, too heavy, and too salty for me. But I know there's a lot of personal preference involved when it comes to fried chicken; that's just MHO.

        2. Uchi/Uchiko and Barley Swine are musts if you're looking for the best foodie foods Austin has to offer. Also, foreign and Domestic or Contigo might be good, unique places that are a bit more upscale than some of these other choices. Look into them.

          For Tex-Mex go to Polvo's or Curra's (Avocado Margartias, delicious).

          Edit: Just saw the last sentence that you're into game and offal. Definitely add foreign and domestic to the list.

          11 Replies
          1. re: rhettoric

            barley swine and foreign & domestic sound AMAZING. Now, these Avocado Margaritas, are there actual avocados in there or is that just the name? the way the menu reads, it sounds like a brand name...

            1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

              it's a margarita with some avocado and cilantro whirled in.
              i love them.

              1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                Another offal altenative would be the myriad of Carnicerias (Mexican meat markets) , taco stands, and Asia Cafe which is a fantastic Sichuan restaurant that has an extensive selection of offal based dishes.

                Try to get at least one good barbacoa taco for breakfast when you are here. Personally, I go to El Tacorrido because it is close to my house, and they have good barbacoa, menudo, and buche (pig stomach.) Taqueria Arandas (There are a few of them all over town) still serve cesos tacos (brain) as well as menudo, lengua and barbacoa if I recall correctly.

                Also, I'll second the avocado margaritas. They are tasty, and Curra's is great food and a great vibe.

                Also, instead of Jack in The Box's Bacon Shake, enjoy a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse and try a strawberry and balsalmic vinegar milk shake, or a Midnight Espresso, or 512 Pecan Porter milkshake instead. Hopdoddy's also has a yummy salted caramel milk shake and a pretzel and nutella milkshake. But if you are already going to Big Top Candy Shoppe, you probably have the shakes covered.

                1. re: Homero

                  is the food any good at Alamo Drafthouse? We were planning on catching a show there one of the evenings. They have a strawberry balsamic vinegar milk shake? I'm curious to see how that manages to not curdle. vinegar & dairy tend to be contentious liquids...

                  1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                    The food is pretty average typically (and I'm being generous), but it's a damn good time. I'd recommend a trip to the Alamo, but not for the food.

                    1. re: puddles

                      Ever since they took off the pesto pizza (again!...no worries, all. I won't start that war again), we just go and have beer or the super-yummy beer milkshake.

                      1. re: amysuehere

                        They use real butter on their popcorn, at least...that's a good way to go if you're snacking!

                    2. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                      I don't think they put enough Balsalmic to curdle the the ice cream. Balsalmic vinegar is not as acidic as other vinegars. There is definitely enough to taste it though, and I think it is a pretty good shake. A drizzle of reduced balsalmic vinegar over vanilla ice cream is a wonderful thing if you haven't tried it.

                      1. re: Homero

                        is that available at every location in Austin? I'm intrigued.

                        1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                          I believe so. I think the Alamo Drafthouse standardized their menus relatively recently so they should all have the shakes.

                    3. re: Homero

                      YES - good call, Homero - Taqueria Arandas' lengua tacos are the bomb, and so cheap!

                2. The Sunday brunch buffet at Fonda San Miguel is always a wonderful experience and if you get there at 11 am there's rarely much of a wait but it will fill up fast.

                  Jack in the Box is GROSS. Our local TV anchors tried a bacon shake and sort of tried to hide their frowns - and that restaurant notoriously food poisons folks.

                  Huge thumbs up for Uchiko or UCHI too, you'll regret not going there. Also rec Foreign and Domestic especially their beef tongue . . it's unreal.

                  The best game in town for me is out a ways in Lakeway 20 min. west of city center - the elk backstrap at Hudson's On the Bend, it's 42 bucks, comes coated in a blend of cascabel pepper and espresso, smoked, grilled to a med rare. It just melts in the mouth. Usually paired with some sweet potato puree and topped with a bit of gulf crab. Pricey. Yummy. They also have a GREAT scotch selection.

                  1. I for one was going to recommend Chuy's, but only for their Chile Releno. Get the ground beef version, it's the best. Also get the creamy cilantro sauce, not the red sauce.

                    Stay the hell out of Jack in the Box for the foodie experience. Really?

                    The rest, I've never heard of, I haven't been to Austin in four-five years. But if I were doing a foodie trip, I'd check out all of the new gourmet lunch trucks that have been featured on No Reservations.

                    There was also a neat little nook located on North Lamar. They serve the best Vietnamese sandwiches. Their Pho is great too, assuming they are still there.

                    Really, I found the Tex-Mex places in Austin dreadful, but check out the smaller taco trucks, especially if you can find a little Latin American truck or nook that sells Pollo Al Carbon (grilled chicken quarters).

                    Oh yeah, Amy's Ice Cream is a bit pricey, but the flavors will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. The acrobatics that the servers perform aren't that bad either.

                    1. I'd suggest Lick Ice Cream... its really amazing. It's also next to Barley Swine which you should really try if you can get in.

                      Noble Pig serves great sandwiches... they also have a supper club if you are in town... check their website.

                      I'm also a fan of Stiles Switch BBQ. They are making some really great BBQ and the lines are no where as long as Franklin's.

                      I'd recommend checking out some of the food trailers... Yume burger is making interesting Japanese burgers, Chilantro and Coreanos both make Korean/Mexican fusion, Peached Tortilla is Asian(usually Vietnamese)/Mexican/American fusion (think Bahn Mi tacos as well as sliders)... there's also Pig Viscious, Three Little Pigs, etc. Yume and Chilantro are usually downtown Thurs-Saturday nights and easy to find. Peached Tortilla is usually at the Star Bar and easy to locate.

                      Bacon makes pretty good casual food. The burger (with the bacon in the meat grind) doesn't live up to expectations in my opinion, but they have a pretty solid breakfast menu. I'd probably suggest Bacon or Galaxy Cafe for the breakfast/lunch options.

                      Jack in the Box isn't horrible, but its a chain burger place. They aren't all that bad for what they are, but if you have to do chain burgers, I prefer Whataburger. Jack in the Box tries to occupy the same headspace that attracts teenage boys to Taco Bell and Burger King at 1am to eat there.

                      I think Big Top Candy is a bit overrated for what it is... but its on South Congress and there are alot of neat things nearby... directly across the street is a food trailer park... I haven't been to that location lately, but Mighty Cone usually gets generally positive reviews. If you want cupcakes, Hey Cupcake is in there, but I'm not a fan... I think they are too sweet and usually overmixed... great marketing, lousy cupcakes. I usually prefer to head over to Sugarmama's on South First.

                      Close to Sugarmamas is another BBQ place/trailer that gets alot of love... JMueller's. I picked up brisket the other day and it was amazing.

                      I did eat at Frank's last weekend... a word of advice... they don't serve the hot dogs on Sunday brunch so if you are going there for those, pick another time... they do make a pretty good Chicken and Waffles for brunch though... as well as a decent Tex/Mex selection... you may want to try their Bloody Mary which they make with a bacon slice.

                      If you only want the beer flavored ice cream at Amy's you need to email them and see if they will have it when you are in town and also which location... they have a rotating selection and every location is not the same.

                      Foreign and Domestic specializes in offal and I have also had some really nice meals with sweetbreads at Parkside. I'd recommend either place as a great meal. Uchi and Uchiko do other things beyond sushi and both make a good meal.

                      I don't like Chuys, but I'm not a fan of most TexMex... I usually take people to Curra's when they want to eat casual Mexican.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shan

                        Funny how different people on this board can have such different opinions of a place. A friend and I ate at Stiles Switch a short while back and we both hated it. Absolutely nothing exceptional, and some barely edible. I would certainly not recommend this place.

                        1. re: shan

                          I finally made it to Lick this weekend, and WOW. Their flavor combos are mind-blowingly good, and everything just tastes ridiculously fresh and non-artificial.

                        2. If you can make it to north of Austin, I HIGHLY recommend The Noble Pig for sammiches. Great great food. They make own bread and condiments and cure their own meat, and grind their own sausages. The duck pastrami is awesome.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Rice Checks

                            they are wonderful, and the breakfasts are great, too.
                            i gotta check out their new take away/charcuterie place next door.

                            1. re: Rice Checks

                              funny, they are listed on my itinerary as "sammiches". i probably won't get to that area, but i've marked them, just in case. and that duck pastrami is what got me interested.

                            2. Ha, I can't believe I haven't looked at this thread until now; the Jack in the Box talk is cracking me up hard.

                              They'd never come to mind if I were making a must-go list for Austin restaurants, but I will say... I am a staunch defender of their tacos. The picture on the menu shows a moderately attractive taco with what appears to be a kraft single in it. What the menu doesn't show is that they then deep fry the whole thing and you end up with a bizarre, greasily translucent monstrosity. Two for a buck, totally disgusting, yet... magically delicious. I'll defend em til I die, haha.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: popvulture

                                And you will...maybe before the cows come home...;)

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Ha, I realized right when I pressed "post my reply" that I'd left myself open for that joke. I knew it was comin' :D

                                2. re: popvulture

                                  Yep, that's the only thing I will eat at Jack in the Box, but I love fried tacos so I get them once in a while. Fried tacos are just not available many places here in Austin (the only other one that I know is at Jorges, which is of course far superior).

                                  1. re: danny_w

                                    You can get flautas just about anywhere though. Where on the menu does Jorge's have fried tacos? I can't find 'em.

                                    1. re: addlepated

                                      They are called Tacos Garcia (grilled tacos). I have had some that were not so good but usually they are heavenly. Now I know where I will be going for lunch!

                                  2. re: popvulture

                                    fried tacos!! ? they batter them? please tell me they don't put lettuce in them first...

                                  3. If you are there on Sunday then brunch at Fonda San Miguel should be at the top of your rezzie list. The space is gorgeous, the food is real deal interior Mex and the spread is outtasite.

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                                        Pricey, I am going to say $40 per person. The food is good, but not $40 per person good. I think you are partly paying for the ambience, which is definitely gorgeous, but you can find interior mexican dishes ala carte at other places in town for a fraction of the cost.

                                    1. Torchy's! Torchy's! Torchy's!
                                      You must get your Torchy's on.

                                      And for great coffee: the honey cream latte at Dominican Joe. A MUST.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: veggiedoc

                                        I second Torchy's!!! Their queso just won The Austin Chronicle queso competition and their taco's are amazing and unique! Get the brushfire with diablo sauce and hold on! :)

                                        1. re: blueclaw666

                                          The brushfire with diablo sauce has got to be my favorite taco of its kind ever!

                                      2. Get in your car and get out to Rosie's Tamale House in Bee Cave. There are a couple of locations in town but, in my opinion, they're not so good as the original in Bee Cave. The drive is so lovely, out to the lake, that I'd suggest you do that just for the drive alone. But after you get there, order the individual nachos (If all you've ever had is a pile of cold corn chips topped with mounds of assorted gooey crap, the hot individual nachos with nothing but beans and cheese and jalapenos will be a revelation), and the chile rellenos stuffed with beef.

                                        Also, Lola's is fun and uniquely Austin.

                                        I third the recommendation for Fonda San Miguel. Hard to stress this enough. Fonda San Miguel is quite simply an Austin "must do." The Sunday Brunch is the best option but, if you're not there on a Sunday, then go when you can. There are only a few restaurants in the nation that come even close to this - maybe La Frontera in Chicago, Hugo's in Houston - but not many. Saint Diana Kennedy was instrumental in its origin, and it's not to be missed.

                                        Franklin's is the current darling of the barbecue "in crowd," but it can be quite an ordeal to go there. An easier alternative might be to drive the twenty minutes south from the airport to Lockhart for lunch. It's a straight shot down Hwy 183, and easy to find. Hit Smitty's and Black's for sure. And Kreuz, if you must.

                                        I don't get the "Jack in the Box" thing. At all. You do know it's a national chain, right? And not a particularly good one. It's no "In-N-Out" or anything.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                          i just want to try a bacon shake. i expect it to be absolutely disgusting, but dear god, a bacon milk shake.

                                          1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                                            This, plus some good vanilla ice cream, is all you need. Tastes like bacon with maple syrup on it. Around here, World Market (Cost Plus) carries it.


                                            1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                                              A food-loving friend of mine who LOVES bacon tasted it and said it was...absolutely disgusting.

                                              1. re: SouthFloridaFoodNerd

                                                what about the restaurant bacon?
                                                i am sure that some place in austin is doing a decadent bacon dessert.
                                                gordough's has a doughnut, but if it's a shake you want, i'm sure there's a better version.

                                                1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                  If you want a decadent milkshake, I'd check out Handshakes (its in the Cheer up Charlies lot).

                                              2. re: Jaymes

                                                An easier alternative is to drive to Lockhart?
                                                or they could go to S. 1st and Elizabeth to JMueller BBQ and have some barbecue that's recently has been better than Franklin and has always been easier to obtain.

                                              3. Torchy's, El Taco Rico, and Chuy's are all three in totally different categories, not to be grouped together at all. You will have to explore various categories of Mexican and Tex-mex food to dip into the soul of Texan and Austinite food culture in terms of our authentic Mexican, authentic tejano, eclectic Austiny-Mex, and Classic Tex-Mex offerings. You have some good suggestions above. Trust me, you can eat from each of these genres a few times a week and not feel like you have had something at all alike to another even though they fall under the umbrella of Mexican. Good luck on your journey. Definitely go to both Torchy's (fried avocado taco!!!), and another day try a more Mex-Mex taco place (lengua, barbacoa, my personal fave is taco de tripa). Definitely try a breakfast bowl of menudo (I like TortillerĂ­a Rio Grande). Try fresh tamales (I like Pablo's Bakery, and also they have good tamales at the Farmer's Market downtown on Saturday mornings).

                                                Uchi is awesome...foie gras sushi is heavenly.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                                  ya know, I really do love the Chuychanga with tons of tomatillo sauce and every guy I've suggested the steak burrito or the Elvis Chicken has loved it...plus it's just a fun place. Love the patio up north. I just can't apologize for loving Chuy's. Is it fine dining? Of course not. Is it unique to Texas? Well, yes.

                                                  1. re: amysuehere

                                                    Amen! I can't understand the hatred for Chuy's on this board. Granted they are not my first choice for most items (although I think they make the best crispy beef tacos in town) but they are a solid choice IMHO.

                                                2. Summermoon is good. If you want a unique coffee shop with a great view of the lake, check out Mozarts. I can't believe no one has suggested that you make a late night stop at Magnolia Cafe on Congress for their Orange Fizz and banana pancakes (among other great breakfast foods!) Hopdoddys on Congress is great for burgers, and if you are looking for Shiner or Guiness ice cream, there is always at least one amys ice cream that Carries it...usually its the westgate location. Their website displays their daily flavors. Also, download the Trover app and look at it when you get to Austin. It will show you all kinds of awesome food and things to see within your location.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hw1097

                                                    I'd suggest Frans over Hopdaddys. Old school burger, vs gourmet only blocks apart