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Near downtown convention center?

Edokko Jan 2, 2013 09:03 AM

I'm a Boston 'hound visiting Austin for a conference next week. I'd like to get your suggestions on worthwhile dining spots within walking distance of the downtown convention center (lunch and dinner). I prefer authentic regional and ethnic spots. Thanks.

  1. s
    sqwertz Jan 2, 2013 10:14 AM

    Beef ribs at Iron Works BBQ.

    1. p
      paternite Jan 2, 2013 12:10 PM

      Although it might be chilly on the patio, Easy Tiger is a great place to hang out and drink quality beer and tasty baked and cured snacks. http://www.easytigeraustin.com/

      1. r
        redhatcharm Jan 3, 2013 07:34 PM

        I like Moonshine:

        Easy Tiger on 6th Street (quick lunch):



        P.F. Chang's is right outside the C.Center (quick lunch):





        Lastly, at the corner of 2nd and Congress Ave the 2nd Street District begins and goes West about 4 blocks on this very nice tree lined street with shops, high end restaurants, coffee shop and eateries where you order at counter and sit outside to eat and people watch:

        1. m
          Mike C. Miller Jan 7, 2013 12:25 AM

          Chez Nous serves good to well above average bistro style French food.

          1. e
            Edokko Jan 9, 2013 07:12 PM

            Thanks, all, for your suggestions. I ended up getting a bus pass so I could move around more freely. And I didn't plan it that way, but I went to two BBQ joints and two places serving ramen, with distinctively contrasting results in both cases.

            First, BBQ. I went to Lambert's and tried the smoked brisket. Was quite disappointed. To my taste it was rather undersmoked--I have had better even back in Boston. So for lunch I headed up to Franklin BBQ and was duly satisfied with their brisket. So tender and smoky. It's nice that the proprietor asks you right up front what kind of cut you want. I can see why if you live in Austin, you may not want to wait an hour in line every time you wanted to eat there, but for me, as a visitor, it was worth it. Although I'm not a big sauce guy, the only minor quibble I had was with the texture of the sauces--it seemed they were artificially thickened, kind of like how commercial "Italian" dressing is more viscous than plain oil and vinegar.

            Now, ramen. Tatsu-ya was quite a bit of a trek by bus, but it was also worth it. Had the traditional tonkotsu with extra garlic (love the DIY garlic press!) with gyoza and almond tofu on the side. The broth was properly rich and creamy, and the noodles had the right amount of backbone. My favorite part was the aji-tamago (marinated soft-cooked egg) topping. This place could pass for at least an average ramen-ya in Japan. The ramen at East Side King (@Hole in the Wall), on the other hand, was terrible. The broth had no umami, with barely a trace of the bacon and miso that it purported to have. My god, it almost tasted vegetarian! The noodles were barely better than instant, and they were clumped together. This is just not acceptable as a proper ramen. Even ramen made at home from a frozen packet of Chuka Zanmai is better than this.

            I also tried the Banh Banh food trailer right next to the convention center. The BBQ pork vermicelli bowl was pretty good. Which brings me to the question: Austin seems to be big on food trailers, but why are most of them closed? Is it just during the depths of winter?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Edokko
              chrisdds98 Jan 9, 2013 07:55 PM

              lamberts is well-known for its poorly executed bbq. however, its defenders on chowhound point out that the atmosphere is nice. I'm not sure if that is supposed to make up for the crap food...

              1. re: chrisdds98
                amysuehere Jan 11, 2013 06:45 AM

                I like the wild boar ribs, but nothing else.

              2. re: Edokko
                Chicago Wine Geek Jan 11, 2013 09:04 AM

                A lot of the food trailers downtown are not open for lunch. Glad you got to two of the must see places I would have recommended - Franklins and Tatsu-ya.

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