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Help with itinerary

Me, wife and 5 year old are coming to Austin October 17th-21 from San Francisco, a BBQ wasteland, looking for unique to Austin eats and, of course fine BBQ. We have car so open to travel for great food. SF is the land of burritos and has various quality regional Mexican cuisines, but really no Tex-Mex or breakfast tacos, so aside from BBQ we’re interested in those (and anything else we can’t get in SF). We’d also like to take advantage of the weather and eat outdoors when possible. Any advice/critique is appreciated. Also, is the Salt Lick the equivalent of Fisherman’s Wharf or worth the trip for the atmosphere? Someone this board recommended ordering brisket /burnt ends, turkey and baby back ribs if we end up there – but the menu doesn’t show baby backs or specifically “burnt ends”, do we just request them when ordering the brisket? Friday dinner I’m thinking about taking a break from BBQ and would like to try some unique brews, but my wife doesn’t drink, so is there a brew-pub with good food (I like the looks of the Fish-n-Chips at Black Star Co-Op) that would allow my indulgence (and allow children – we’ll likely be there early evening). Tentative schedule is as follows. Thanks in advance for any input.

Wednesday
Dinner: Takoba
Lick ice cream for dessert

Thursday
Breakfast: El Tacorrido - breakfast tacos and coffee; or Torchy’s
Lunch: J. Mueller BBQ
Donuts at Gourdough’s
Dinner: Contigo

Friday
Lunch: Franklin’s BBQ
Dinner: Black Star Co-op Brewery or Hoppdoddy Burgers

Saturday: Maybe head to Lockhart for Blacks or Luling City Market? Salt Lick for Dinner? Maudie’s?

Sunday: Noble Pig Sandwiches in a.m. before airport?

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  1. Overall... I like it and I think you'll get a good idea of Austin on a first visit. I may suggest a few tweaks though:

    Wednesday - swap Takoba for Barley Swine. Takoba has pretty good...what I would call... hipster Mexican food, but you probably can get that all over SF. Barley Swine is putting out top-notch, inventive food with local seasonal ingredients. And it's right next door to Lick, which is an excellent choice for dessert.

    Thursday -- looking good. I personally don't care for Torchy's, but that's a debatable topic.

    Friday -- If the kiddo can handle the waiting around, you'll need to get in line no later than 10:00. People start lining up at 8:00, and if you show up later than ten, you run the risk of them running out of meat. On your dinner, I'd suggest Black Star if you're interested in excellent craft beers (both those brewed on premises and their frequently rotating taps of other great Texas breweries). I feel like visitors are really missing out on something special if they don't get a good sampling of our beers.

    Sunday -- I'm not sure where you're staying, but Noble Pig is really out in the middle of nowhere, and in the opposite direction of the airport.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jwynne2000

      .Oh thanks, we're staying at my wife's aunt’s on Westminster Glen Avenue - don't know the name of the neighborhood.
      Re: Franklins – I was planning to sit in line while my wife grabbed coffee and breakfast. If I get there at 9:00 will I be OK (or is Thursday any less crowded than Friday). I’m happy to get in line at 8:00 to avoid any potential disappointment, as I don’t know when we’ll get back to Austin.
      I was looking at Barley Swine, menu sounds interesting, but worried about the wait, but if we eat early I imagine the wait isn’t as bad,
      Re: Takobo – I liked the look of the outdoor space and was thinking It’d be a good place to treat our hosts for dinner, but if we can get in then Barley Swine does sound more appealing.
      But where to get Tex Mex? I had Chuy’s about 12 years ago in Houston but really have no memory of it and I’m reading mixed to negative reviews here.

      1. re: sunnyside

        You'll be totally fine if you show up to Franklins at 9:00. I feel like on my several trips there, 10:00 seems to be that weird unofficial cutoff point.

        Re: Barley Swine... I think if you get there a little earlier, the wait may not be too bad. What I like about their system is that they get your cell phone # when you put your name on the list and they call you when your table is ready. The trick - if they quote you, say, a 45 minute wait... go next door to the ridiculously underrated Opa to enjoy a glass of wine and a Greek snack in their lovely front yard/patio area. I think compared to the time it would take to drive to Takoba then drive back across town to Lick, the time waiting on a table for Barley Swine is a wash.

        Where to get great Tex Mex? That is a pretty ubiquitous question with a hundred possible answers. I would probably recommend steering clear of Chuy's though. They're expanding rapidly nationwide, so you'll probably have one in the Bay Area soon enough if you're really curious to try it. I'd suggest El Alma or Sazon for excellent Mexican food, although not quite "Tex-Mex". I kind of equate "Tex-Mex" to meat/glop/cheese, of which there are plenty of options.

    2. Oh, and if you get to enjoy both J Muellers and Franklins in one trip, don't even worry about Salt Lick. :)

      1. If it's a cool morning, a 25 min. drive out to Los Pinos on Hudson Bend for a steamy bowl of red pork and hominy (posole) soup, house made tortillas, and some of the best salsa in the area is our go to sunday drive. this place is the real deal, unlike Chuy's. it also highlights the scenic west austin hill country.

        I love the beer selection at the new Bangers location on Rainey St. downtown. Good fries, house made sausages (I prefer the bockwurst), and 101 beers / ciders on tap, and several casks. Great selection of regional texas brews. 4 5 ounce samplers = 8 bucks. fun stuff. Dip some fries in their lemony aioli or spicy ranch and if you go, at least ask for one of your two free samples to be Quebec's witbier called Ephemere fermented wtih green apple. light and crisp. Another standout pub is Ginger Man. Dark and fun.

        You should not miss Tacos at La Fruta Feliz for their carnitas, pastor, and goat (chico) on house made tortillas. The place inside and out isn't much to look at, but these are rated by some of our most hardened "foodies" as among if not the very best tacos in this town of many standouts. Even if you don't want a full meal, at least stop in and taste a couple. The folks are as friendly as can be, too (an Austin characteristic in general).

        Ice brewed Ice coffee at Progress and ask for the mexican vanilla spike. Best version in town.

        I have enjoyed tacos at Torchy's, but they don't rival the aforementioned.

        2 Replies
        1. re: slowcoooked

          Great, thanks for the taco and posole recommendation, La Fruta Feliz sounds right up my alley. I meant to ask about coffee and as someone who drinks iced coffeee daily despite San Francisco's foggy chill Progress sound good.

          1. re: slowcoooked

            Agreed on Pinos. Yes, it's a bit of a drive, but you'll get a great view of the lake on the way (stop at the church parking lot about half way to the dam and take in the view of our (very dry at the moment) lake. Pinos salsa is the bomb and I really think they make the best chile relleno (and I'm from El Paso). Also much loved is the very cheap but yummy tacos and enchiladas.

          2. I really enjoy Salt Lick and don't think it's too much like FW or Disney for that matter. I'd say it is worth the trip for the food! It's also interesting to get out of the city and more into Hill Country. Ask to sit in the main building, even if it means waiting longer. Your 5yo will love looking at the meat pit, as do I. Don't forget it is cash only and BYOB, so you might want to bring a few Shiner Bock's for yourself.

            1. The only thing I would add is to try to catch a food truck or two. Austin has an amazing food truck culture. We hit up Way South Philly on east 6th street, Naan Stop, Miguel's Cuban, & Chi'lantro, all downtown, & were very satisfied by all of them. In fact, we are planning another trip to Austin so we can spend more time eating! Franklin & J Mueller are both amazing & I would completely skip Salt Lick & Luling/Lockhart unless you have the extra time. We had breakfast at Curra's, it was pretty good, but not the best food we had all weekend. Next time we go, East Side King is a must!

              1 Reply
              1. re: jcattles

                Sounds like I'll need a couple weeks to check out all that Austin has to offer. San Francisco is in the middle of a food truck boom and not to lump them all together, but overall I haven't been too impressed. I've found them to be hit or miss, with smallish portions for the price (excluding the original Mexican taco trucks - Tonayense still has the best carnitas and lengua tacos in SF). I thought the food truck/cart scene up in Portland was better. Having said that, I do like the looks of the East Side King menu so will check it out if we can. Thanks for the advice on Luling & Salt Lick, might hold off and see what happens on the last night in town, our gorging schedule is filling up.