Help for Downtown Austin
I will be in Austin next week for the NCAA basketball tournament with 3 friends. Staying at the Residence Inn on E. 4th Street. Would appreciate any tips on restaurants close to our hotel, as well as the Erwin Center. Looks like Bar Congress might be a good choice? Others? BBQ recs? Also, any good sports bars in the area? Thanks so much!
For casual tex-mexish kinda find I really like Ze Tejas. I always get good food there. La Condesa is also supposed to be good but I can't vouch for it. I like Austin Land & Cattle on Lamar and Rivals for steaks, both are not upscale and won't kill your wallet.
Cross I-35 ...plenty of good TexMex choices fairly close. I like Angie's, especially for carnitas tacos. I understand Sagra has reopened on 11th, some good Italian on their old menu, especially the pork chop and some of the pizzas. Agree on Mueller. Places I like over on Congress include Royal Blue for breakfast tacos or sandwiches, Manuel's for Nuevo Mexican, La Traviata for their Bolognese, and Annie's for their salads and daily specials.
Used to be a really good pizza place within a block or two of the Irwin Center. Brick Oven Pizza. Back around the early 1980's, they brought the first wood burning oven for pizza to Austin. I haven't eaten there in many years, but it used to be substantially better than average pizza. I'd bet that it's at least still reasonably OK. You can't beat the location.
One place that you ought to go to just for the cold beers and the atmosphere is Sholtz Garten. It's an old German Beer Garden. Probably five or six blocks from the FEC, on San Jacinto. Again, it's been a coon's age since I've been, but the beer was always cold. Food was fair to OK if you kept it simple -- eg. nachos and a burger. Great place to sit out and have a few outdoors under the old trees. Not the place for gourmet chow.
1607 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78701
Between 8th and 9th on Red River is Jaime's. An old Tex-Mex restaurant that's been in Austin since Christ was a corporal. If you keep it very simple, the food can be OK. I haven't been there in years, but it was always good for beer and nachos. It looks like it's about to fall down outside, and a peek inside offers no reassurance. But it's full of atmosphere and the cerveza is cold.
Lots of newish food spots have popped up along Red River in the past few years. My daughter had an apartment at 9th and Red River her Freshman year. I'll try to pick her brain for some newer picks. All three places I've mentioned were there in the early 1980's and are, at least to my knowledge, still there.
Can't much help on other recommendations that would work for some guys at a basketball tournament. In the unlikely event that you want mid price French bistro food with your roundball, I do recommend Chez Nous on Natchez, just south of 6th Street. Unlike the other places I've mentioned, I HAVE been to CN recently and I can vouch for the food. Very, very good for the money. Great casual service. But not the typical basketball tournament fare.
Stubb's BBQ is also right there between 8th and 9th on Red River. I can't say that I've ever heard much good about their BBQ. But it's supposed to be a decent place to get a beer and catch a band. I'm told the BBQ is edible but well below the standard of the legendary Central Texas BBQ joints. If you have time one morning before or after the tournament, consider a trip to Taylor to Louie Mueller's BBQ. WORLD CLASS. Don't skip the sausage. And get there early before they run out of food. It's worth moving your flight for.
re: Mike C. Miller
I'm sad to report that Jamie's has gone out of business, and Stubb's restaurant has dropped in quality. Iron Works is a better BBQ choice for the area, or an even better option is Mueller Meat Company, especially the fatty brisket, housemade sausage or huge beef ribs. Sides don't usually count with Texas BBQ, but Mueller's squash is worth trying. They tend to sell out of meat early, but you no longer have to drive to Taylor to taste great 'que from this famous family's kitchens. Mueller's is a trailer, but you can get your plate and take it inside Kelli's Place for a cold beer with your lunch.
The Brick Oven is OK. In good weather however, I think Via 313 is a better pizza choice for the area. It's a food trailer, so skip it if it's raining.
If the weather is decent, I agree that the beer garden at Scholtz's is a great place to hang out with a pitcher or three.
Just a few blocks south of your hotel (near Iron Works) is Moonshine. Menu standouts are the pecan crusted catfish topped with crawfish, the buffalo meatloaf and the chicken and green chili macaroni. Or walk a little farther south to Banger's Sausage House - not my favorite but plenty good for drinks and eats with friends.
I've had pretty good breakfasts at La Creperie and the 1886 cafe place.
My favorite place for dinner nearest you is Parkside - fun, tasty, creative.
I used yelp to search
Near: 300 east 4'th street, austin, TX (your hotel)
and checked "within 4 blocks"
Parkside was my favorite in that criteria. Use Search here on Chowhound to find in depth reviews of Parkside.
One trailer I saw that I have not tried but looks GREAT:
Turf N' Surf Po Boy trailer
ps: Go Duke! :-)