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Boston hound visits Austin... calling all hounds!

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Howdy Texas hounds. I will be travelling on business to Austin next week and cannot go back to Chueys once more (sorry if I've offended any Chueys fans, I'm just ready for something else). Who can chime in and tell me the must eat places close to Stonelake Blvd. All ideas are welcome, but I am particularly partial to meat! Thanks in advance.

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  1. Amy, you are unfortunately in the middle of chain restuarant hell. I know, I live very near there. I'd recommend Mirabelle, On Mesa Drive just north of Spicewood Springs. I've mentioned it on site before, but it bears mentioning again. It's a sort of Southwestern-Asian fusion thing that really works. They pretty much always have a beef tenderloin dish on the menu and it's always good. Great wine list, interesting menu, terrific execution. Really a good restaurant. Go after 8 to avoid families with children.

    If you want really big beef, try Ray Lemay's Steakhouse at Anderson Mill Road and HWY 183. Just remember that they're about BIG.

    I might also try Z Tejas, over behind the Arboretum on Capital of Texas Highway (loop 360) just southwest of 183. Actually, it's on Arboretum Blvd, which is a short right turn off of 360. Definitely Southwestern, pretty good execution, great chichen fried steak, great appetizers, great margaritas, some steaks, some seafood, some Mexican, pretty good and very loud.

    For barbecue: If you MUST eat in the area, try Poke-E-Jo's, in the strip center on the northeast corner of 183 and Great Hills. It's a serviceable local chain that's very close to Stonelake Blvd.

    My strongest recommendation: Post questions when you are here if you feel like you're being railroaded into an undelicious meal experience. There are just too many great restaurants in Austin to eat mediocre meals.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Greg Spence

      Thanks Greg -- I read through all your recent Austin posts with interest and was hoping you'd steer me in the right direction. I have heard of both Mirabelle and Z Tejas and will check them out. I'm travelling with other work colleagues who tend towards the unadventurous, but I can most likely convince them to venture out for great meat (ribs, BBQ, steaks). Any standouts within, say 30 minutes drive of the wasteland? Again, thanks for your help.

      1. re: Amy

        If you have 45 minutes each way to spare, you could go to Kreuz in Lockhart for what many in Texas consider to be the ultimate Texas dining experience. Great Barbecue, quirky place, great people, good fun. Definitely meaty. Just take 183 South to Lockhart and look for Kreuz Market on the right.

        Also in Austin and very good are Bert's on 19th (MLK). I recommend a turbo t-man with a couple of pork rib chasers at Bert's, Sam's on East 12th (pork ribs)and House Park Barbecue (lunch only) on 12th just east of Lamar, look for the sign that says "don't need no teeth to eat my beef" on one side and "pork loin pork loin" on the other.

        More meat? How about the Hoffbrau on Sixth street, with cheap, griddled steaks, huge steak fries and plenty of lemon butter sauce to clog those arteries. It's old, original Austin but don't expect anything near prime here.

        For pure, sinful luxury, try Gumbo's (downtown and Round Rock) for excellent, large cuts of beef tenderloin topped with dream-about sauces filled with the freshest seafood (crab, crawfish, shrimp) and other goodies (lots of fresh tarregon).

        I'm not going to recommend any of the downtown steakhouses because you could do as well or better in Boston. Are their other chowhounds out there, lurking about with great ideas? Help, please.

        1. re: Greg Spence

          While I agree Kreuz's is the best, Louis Mueller's in Taylor is also a 45 minute drive away and has a more interesting atmosphere with the food just a bare notch less than Kreuz. To get there take Mopac (Loop 1) North to exit 253 (HWY 79 either North or East-- I can't remember). Follow 79 all the way into to town (don't take the truck route around town). It'll be on your left before you hit the main street.

          Most important to note if you try to visit either Mueller's or Kreuz is that they are both closed on Sunday's and close relatively early in the evening as well. I believe Kreuz closes at 6 Mon-Fri. and 6:30 Saturday (and by then they are sold out of most of their stuff). I think Mueller closes early as well. They are more lunch places than dinner.

          The close by barbecue place I'd recommend is Rudy's close to Duval and 183. It's associated with a Connoco gas station, but it's much more focused on food than gas. I've had a nice, tender slice of brisket there and some ribs that weren't half bad. I haven't been to PokeJos so I can't compare the two.

          If you'd like another steak option, you can try the Austin Land & Cattle Co (not to be confused with Texas Land & Cattle). It's at 12th and Lamar (i.e. right above downtown). It'll proabably fit your typical Texas steak place imagery and when I was there I had a nice enough steak. I haven't been to The Hoffbrau yet-- though I've wanted to. I'd probably go to The Hoffbrau over Austin L&C, but it's not a bad option.

          Enjoy,
          Carter

          1. re: Carter B.

            So, I'm here. Ended up with a horrid meal yesterday night -- Mezzaluna -- yick. This was not my choice, but a full day of business meetings made for an unadventuresome dinner plan. Tonight is Rudy's at the gas station. This sounds much more houndish. Will provide a report. Thanks for the suggestions.

            1. re: Amy

              Mezzaluna? Ewwww. Amy, I held my tongue earlier on this one, but Rudy's par-boils their ribs, a distinct no-no down here in the 'cue epicenter of the universe. The original Rudy's, just outside of San Antonio is pretty good, but the one in Austin is just a gimmic. The gas station and the restaurant were built at the same time, probably 7-8 years ago. It's a business model developed (I think) by some ex-Brinker guys. Poke-e-Jo's does a better and more authentic job, IMO. They're probably no more than 1,500 yards away from each other.

              1. re: Greg Spence

                Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that Rudy's was authentic in any way. Not having lived here long, I didn't know the history of the gas station either. I'm not sure if Rudy's even has a wood pile anywhere. I just had a nice slice of brisket there which wasn't bad compared to the rest of the wasteland of food nearby (I've only been once, btw). The ribs aren't bad, but certainly aren't great either.

                Par boiling ribs happens a fair bit down here (I had par boiled ribs at Imans in Llano last weekend). The process makes the ribs tender but the texture is a bit off (I'd call it kinda stringy) and doesn't compare to properly done ribs. Still, the ones I had were tender enough and if you put some sauce on them, they aren't bad.

                I guess I should get to Poke-e-Jo's sometime so I'll no longer misinform people of the proper place to visit along the suburban misery of 183. :)

                Greg, what do you mean by "ex-Brinker guys"? Is Brinker some kind of restaurant with an infamous reputation?

                Carter

                1. re: Carter B.

                  Carter, Brinker's International is a public company that owns several different restaurant chains, including Chili's and Macaroni Grill.

                  Say, I just asked Rob about his potential interest in an Austin area Chowhound Feed. Any interest from you?

                2. re: Greg Spence
                  r
                  Rob Hargrove

                  I certainly don't want to be argumentative, but if I had to choose between Rudy's and Poke-E-Joes I'd go with Rudy's, every time. No real reason, except that I like the brisket at Rudy's better, and I had a plate of medicore ribs at Poke-E-Joes just last week. Neither one is all-world, though. I work up near the Arboretum, and I would really just take the short drive over to the Bert's on Far West.

                  Heck, Taylor's not all that far once you get up here.

                  1. re: Rob Hargrove

                    Rob, I won't disagree that the food at Poke-e-Jo's can be less than reliable. The same's true of Rudy's. My guess is that you tend to hit Rudy's at the right time and I tend to hit Poke-e-Jo's at the right time. I haven't been to Bert's on Far West (I love 19th), but we should have sent Amy to El Arroyo over there instead of letting her repeat the Chuy's error. Any thoughts on an Austin-area Chowhound feed?

                    1. re: Greg Spence
                      r
                      Rob Hargrove

                      I'm not properly versed in the Chowhound lingo, but if "an Austin-are Chowhound feed" means "go get something to eat", well then I certainly would be interested.

                      1. re: Rob Hargrove

                        Rob, that's exactly what I mean! I was kind testing the waters with you and Carter to see what the response would be to the idea. Any suggestion for a place? Any other Chowhounds with an interest? Let's start a new topic with your reply.

                  2. re: Greg Spence

                    Well, Rudy's was pretty good, for what it was. Obviously a gimmick, but the brisket was succulent, and I liked how they serve the lot on paper with some slices of white bread to mop up the sauce. Not the best ribs, perhaps, but a pretty decent hound experience. Next time I'm in this area, I'll ditch the work-mates and head off out of chain restaurant hell (what is this "frontage road" all the chains you can imagine concept anyway?) Today we broke down and went to chuey's for lunch and I must admit it was pretty damn satisfying too. Tonight, who knows.... the hotel staff here sends eveyone to the Iron Cactus or North by Northwest. They look sketchy to me. And Greg, you're right. Mezzalunna.... eeewwww! I'm pressing the gang to check out Z-Tejas, but one says it's too californian and the other is satisfied with the all you can eat crud in the hotel lobby. See what I'm working with here? Sigh. Next time any of you are in the Boston area, I can be found on the Boston food board. Post a message and I'll steer you right. Thanks.

            2. re: Amy

              There's a terrific restaurant about 30 minutes away from Austin near Mansfield Dam called Hudson's on the Bend. It is in a wonderful little house and they do a lot of smoking-they have a smokehouse. They also do a lot of game. The dishes have a southwest flair to them and may be too creative for a strict meat and potato group but they could become converts. It is pricy-they have a web site so you could look up the menu. Have a great time.

              1. re: Nicole

                Nicole, I agree that Hudson's can be good. The reason I didn't mention it to Amy is that it's very pricey and IMO, very inconsistent. In the past 18 months there, I've had a soft shell crab that tasted as if the shell was soft from age, a nice fish dish in a powerful remolade sauce that came out as nothing but remolade in the mouth, and a rice side dish with capers that seemed to me to taste just as I imagine black mold must taste. All fatal flaws for a restaurant in this price range.

                I used to love this place and I'd like to love it again, but Hudson's just doesn't seem to be the place it was before the chefs became celebrities. I know they've recieved some positive local press lately but I attribute this more to a powerful PR machine than to the operation of the kitchen or the house.

                All that said, if you want grilled game meat, it is probably still the place to go.

          2. d
            David "Zeb" Cook

            Well, it's probably too late, Amy, but the next time you're in town (if there is a next time) put out the call and we (at least this chowhound and wife) will happily haul you off to some more interesting eats than you're going to find along the frontage road chain hell.

            And if it's not too late, send an email.

            David "Zeb" Cook