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Two California women 30-40 somethings looking for cool Austin ambiance, second to fine food, next week!

Guess what? Franklin's closed the exact dates (6 days) of our trip: Sept 17-23!

I've done my research on all the sites (including fedmanwalking) and need your help narrowing this down! We're fit omnivores :) and would rather eat an innovative and/or succulent morsel of heart/liver/marrow/belly/etc. in lieu of a full plate of meat with no vegetables. We love shell/fish, both cooked and raw. We won't have a car, love to walk, and will get there if it's worth the trip!

We're attending a conference and are staying downtown for 3 nights, then in SoCo for 3 nights. Her husband isn't coming and I'm single so I think it would feel silly if we went somewhere too fancy, spendy or pretentious. We just want to check out what's 'happening' in ATX, people watch, soak up interesting atmosphere, and eat well!

In no particular order, here's the first cut! Have I overlooked anything? I appreciate any help cutting this in half (or if we could move one into lunch position). Also, keen to know if there's a particular night to go/skip.

justines
eastside cafe
2nd bar & kitchen
barley swine
stiles switch
blacks
contigo (instead of curras, fonda san miguel)
parkside
perlas
foreign & domestic
uchi/ko or kome
olivia
olive & june
blue dahlia
food trucks

I have the feeling I'll need to make reservations at some of these places...

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  1. A damned fine list. Just a few notes:

    If you have no car and are staying downtown/SoCo, scratch Stiles Switch off your list. That is up north (more than 50 blocks from downtown) and would be accessible only by cab or rental car. Maybe by bus, now that I think about it...

    By Blacks, do you mean Blacks BBQ, or J. Blacks? Blacks BBQ is in Lockhart Texas, about 45 minutes outside Austin. Again, taxi or rental car required, and the taxi fare would be HUGE.

    Perla's is awesome for seafood and people watching

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rice Checks

      If you are really hot for Stiles Switch, it is a short but healthy walk south on N. Lamar from the Crestview rail station. Catch the metro rail downtown.

    2. I'm sure you'll get a ton of replies but here's my 2 cents:

      Barley Swine and Uchi/ko are the standouts right now. I would try to make the reservation for Uchi/ko now and Barley Swine is first come/first served(I recommend getting there before 5PM).

      Almost all of these place will require the bus or a cab from downtown or SoCo (and Black's is a good 30/45 minutes south of town so I think I'd cross it off the list unless you want to rent a car).

      I think Foreign and Domestic lines up well with your descriptions above and I'd add Lenior to your list. Swifts Attic is new place downtown that you could walk to and it sounds good but I haven't had the chance to try it yet. For a fun lunch, check out the flagship Whole Foods and 6th and Lamar. It has plenty of 'places' to eat and it's great for people watching.

      If you want bbq in town, hit up J Mueller for lunch (food trailer but reasonable lines). I personally think it's a bit better than Stiles Switch and on par with Franklins.

      Perla's is probably the best seafood place in town (not saying a lot though) and is on South Congress so it will be very convenient for you.

      Lastly, everything in Austin is very casual and I think you'd be comfortable going anywhere.

      6 Replies
      1. re: ssouth

        you recommend getting to barley swine before 5? they don't open till 6 most nights, are the lines really that bad?

        1. re: chrisdds98

          Good point. I've only been on Saturday so I'm used to the 5pm opening. I would think only a few minutes before 6 would be good.

          1. re: chrisdds98

            We got there at 6P and the place was only half full. We sat at the two bar seats that were the fartherest from the front door. Prime real estate, imo. Of course, this varies with the night
            of the week. It is helluva dining experience though.

          2. re: ssouth

            Swift's Attic looks awesome as does its menu. Lenoir also, thanks. Whole Foods, really! I guess because it's on 6th it's good for people watching...? Will need more assistance eliminating now that I'm adding! :)

            1. re: morepeasplease

              WF is on 6th, but it is on West 6th, not really part of the whole sixth street scene, but for a foodie type destination it is interesting. After you visit it, you could walk across the street to Waterloo records, one of the best independent music stores around and pick up some local tunes if you're so inclined.

              1. re: TroyTempest

                In addition, one of the best, if not the best independent book store in Texas is across the street the other way - BookPeople. Also with a very Austin-y vibe. if you guys are going to be here for a week, I suggest a trip to the Whole Foods 'Food-theme-park', Waterloo records and Bookpeople would be a great side-trip. Also near by is Haddington's (about 3 blocks east) which has outstanding cocktails.

          3. You should check out La Condesa. Perfect for two cool chicks. Great neo mexican food + drink. A nice eclectic vibe right downtown. Foreign & Domestic is also a good choice but will be a cab ride or drive. If you go, follow a seating at the "chef's counter" with a coctail at DrinkWell just down the street. A very nice Manhattan to be had. http://www.drinkwellaustin.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: paternite

              La Condesa looks great and nice proximity, and thanks for the lowdown on the chef's counter and DrinkWell. Need help eliminating more now!! :)

            2. These are the restaurants I would skip:
              Olive & June..just not worth it, it's too hit or miss & often the service is lacking

              Blue Dahlia...I've had a couple of decent meals here, but the last 2 times I've been, it just wasn't very good...stale bread, etc

              Eastside Cafe...while I enjoy going to Eastside, I don't think it's a destination restaurant, especially since you are from Calif. Eastside garnered a following because they were one of the first restaurants that had a garden & really used fresh ingredients.

              Justines...too far & food not worth the trip.

              I'm sure many will disagree with me, but that's my 2 cents.

              Have fun & please report back!

              1 Reply
              1. re: topeater

                For what it is worth, topeater is right on the money in my opinion. Enjoy your trip and don't forget to follow up on your Austin experience!

              2. Porfirios tacos at 1512 Holly Street is just east of HWY 35 downtown and will make you a fine example of a chorizo egg and cheese breakfast taco or better yet one of the best carne guisada + beans + cheese taco on the planet. If you can take the heat, their jalapeno sauce is fantastic. This is far from fancy but it's clean, and close in to downtown.