Austin Trip report(tried to be short)
No need for superfluous adjectives and backstories, here's a quick breakdown of the places we went per recs from here and locals we encountered this past weekend. First of all, I'd like to say Austin IMO, is the coolest town in America, I'd love to live in ATX except for that heat. Oh man that heat...
Barley Swine-First meal in ATX, set the bar impossibly high. Best meal my GF and I have had that we can remember and that includes several michelin starred restaurants in LA and SF. Often times you go to a place and they serve you interesting food which is nice. But the food here was interesting and delicious. I'd put this place up against any place in any city.
Opie's BBQ(Spicewood)-Debating on here or franklin, but since we were out at Krause Springs, we went here based on a recommendation the night before. First bite of the brisket blew me away. Unlike anything I've ever had in Dallas. So this is what central Texas bbq is all about. Brisket and ribs were delicious, nicely smoked and tender. tater tot pie and two kinds of cobbler were great compliments to excellent proteins.
Uchiko-Very nice, service was very friendly(a common theme throughout the trip). We shared chef's 10 course tasting menu, pacing was a bit odd as there were large gaps in dishes and then all of a sudden 3 would come out at the same time. Overall a very good experience, 7 of the 10 dishes we really liked. This was a case of some of the dishes being more interesting than tasting really good. This place is in the same vein of Providence in LA, but we liked Providence better, but providence is also 2x as expensive.
Tacos More- Very good tacos, I enjoyed the barbacoa, chicharon and al pastor. I prefered my tacos up in dallas at fuel station 2 a bit more because I liked the texture of the flour tortilla more and the meat is a tad greasier and flavorful. Still a great rec from this board.
Food trailer tour-
Ms. P's electric cock-wasn't overly impressed with the chicken, a bit dull and skin not as crunchy as I normally like but not bad. They were awfully nice though as they were backed up pretty deep.
East Side King(shangri-la)-Got the pork ribs and egg plant. Nicely cooked, ribs had a nice smokey charred flavor from being cooked over coals. Egg plant was nice and tender, kind of reminds me of a stock egg plant dish in chinese restaurants, yu-shan egg plant. The flavors were nice, a bit reminiscent of your typical chinese restaurant, sweet and savory but with a bit more depth and finesse.
Gordoughs-I'm a sucker for fresh donuts so I can't be objective here. I loved it even if my bacon donut gave me atherosclerosis after the first bite. Donut had a nice crunch of a fresh donut, but a bit too much bacon, if they cut the amount in half it would have been perfect. We were on vacation in texas so go big or go home right?
Franklin-Sunday morning, had to do it before we went home. Dragged the GF out of bed to wait in line early. Someone equated franklin to disney land where part of the experience is waiting in line. She was right about that. We waited roughly 3 hours to get our food. I loved it, ordered 1.5 lbs of brisket and took half home with me to Cali which I'm still eating as brisket sandwiches. Fatty Brisket was the star of the show and we also enjoyed the ribs and bourbon banana pie. GF preferred opie's though. I'm not sure if it was because she was p!ssed I woke her up at 7:30am on sunday morning of vacation to wait in a damp line or if it really was better. To me, Opie's and franklin were very close, with the edge to franklin, especially with the espresso sauce. I'm not sure though if that's me wanting to justify to myself waiting in line for 3 hours though. It's hard to tell because having that first taste of central tx bbq at opie's was a revelation so it's difficult to look objectively at the next place.
In closing, we had a wonderful time in austin with the great restaurants and the even greater hospitality. I have a couple food nerd friends also who I've told they need to get out to your wonderful town. I'd argue that right now, austin may be the hottest food town in the US.
Thanks for the report! Awesome to hear about Barley Swine - I loved Odd Duck - looking forward to trying Barley Swine. Wish I had more of your backstory, though, to give context to the input.... ;-)
I have only been there once, but me and my GF got in line 20-30 minutes before they opened on a Saturday (probably in February of this year). We were probably the 14 and 15 people in line, and the group in front of us had four or five people. Upon reaching the hostess they were asked to wait, and when she confirmed we were a party of two said perfect and took us to the last two seats in the place. This is the only way I would attempt to eat at Barley Swine again, but the Horseshoe Lounge next door is pretty cool and I wouldn't mind hanging out there for a while before being sat.
Thanks for the review. Planning a trip to Austin in mid-July and this is all very helpful. How much was the tasting menu at Uchiko? It doesn't say on the menu. Also do you remember how much the 5 or 6 course one is? I'm definitely planning on going to Uchiko. I'll be dining by myself---you think it will be odd at a place like that? Is there maybe a bar to dine at?
I have eaten at Uchiko alone more than once. It's a great experience. There's a bar area with several small tables, a larger room, and the sushi bar. If you sit in the bar or the sushi bar you can order off their reduced price "social" menu from 5-6:30, a very good deal (and it's not too crowded).
I have not had the omakase, but it's market based. Honestly, the staff is so good - attentive, efficient, and very knowledgable - that it's very easy to build your own tasting off of the various menus.
There are numerous threads on Chowhound about people's favorites at Uchi and Uchiko - definitely look around at those for some ideas. Make sure you save room for desert!