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Ultimate Restaurant in Austin

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So... I've looked around Chowhound Austin fairly significantly, and I'm coming up short on suggestions for precisely what I'm looking for. What I'm looking for is the best restaurant in Austin. The best.

Obviously that means different things for different people, so let me set out a few "conditions" to explain what I'm looking for:

1. Not looking for steakhouses or BBQ. They're great, but during my trip I'll eat at several. Your suggestions are fine, and appreciated, but that's not what I'm looking for (here).
2. Exclude Uchi. I've got a gift card for the restaurant, so I'm going here. I have heard good things, and I'm thrilled to hear more comments, but the gift certificate makes it such that anything other than a "it's the worst meal on earth" probably won't sway me from visiting.
3. I prefer (though not exclusively) more modern food. Interesting proteins, preparations and sophisticated plating. That means that while it has its place, I'm not really looking for puffy tacos with queso. Delicious? Maybe. What I'm looking for? Not this time.
4. A cocktail program would be nice, but not at all required. I'm a big fan of wine, but a good cocktail program is always helpful.

There's lots of great ideas (and I'm soaking them all in!) on this board, but I couldn't find this nugget of info. Any help?

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  1. Barley Swine or Lenoir, though neither has cocktails. On the plus side, they do both allow for bringing your own wine.

    1. I would choose Barley Swine.

      1. Jezebel. For interesting prep, I once had a lobster bisque served inside of a sea urchin, with little bits of the sea urchin still clinging to the shell. Their entire menu is designed around your preferences.

        1. I can't vouch for the food at Congress, but I've heard good things about it. I did, however, eat at the Driskill when David Bull was still there, and the food was absolutely fantastic. That experience, though about six years ago, still rates up there among my best dining experiences in austin, ever.

          The reason I bring it up is because of the cocktail component... Barley Swine and Lenoir are super good, but if you're wanting that element, then Congress has IMHO the far-and-away best mixologist in town, Billy Hankey.

          1 Reply
          1. re: popvulture

            Also just wanted to say that if you didn't have it excluded in your requirements, I'd say Uchi without question. Actually, based on my last (and best so far) experience at either restaurant, I'd say Uchiko is my current fave. Can't go wrong with either... enjoy!