Atlanta Foodies in Austin for a Week
Next month, the hubby and I will be visiting Austin for the first time and we're looking for restaurant recommendations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We like GREAT food, whether it be junky diner gut bombs or at fancy pants very-limited-menu-that-changes-by-the-hour sort of places. We also have become very spoiled in our coffee and craft beer consumption. We're going to be staying right by UT, but would venture up to 30 min. out by car/transit for something truly awesome. If there's a particular dish that's Austin-y, I'd love to hear about that too. I'd love to have a list that includes a good coffeeshop, breakfast/brunch spot, Texmex, BBQ, a splurge dinner place, any bars known for their selection of craft beer, and the best ethnic restaurants.
Coffeeshop: jp's java is close to campus and should be decent. My favorite places are once over and houndstooth coffee. Hounds tooth is downtown and on 42nd street, once over is on s1st.
Texmex: my favorite is polvos. La condesa is good for fancier more interior Mexican type food. I'm a big fan of papolate tacos on s Lamar as well.
BBQ: franklins is the undisputed king, but I can't be arsed to wait 1.5 he's in line for it. I think LA BBQ is nearly as good and much shorter/ no wait.
Fancy place: take your pick of uchi/ uchiko/ barley swine. Tons of posts on them if you care to dig around here.
Beer: gingerman downtown is a good option, if lacking a bit in personality. I personally prefer draught house near 42nd street. Almost as big a selection, more neighbourhoody and laid back. Whom in is a fun option as well( fusiony Indian food with a good beer selection that is slightly overpriced). Make sure you try jester king and live oak beers when you are here.
Ethnic: depends on what you can't get in Atlanta really. My faves are Asia cafe and Szechuan house ( both for Sichuan food).
Breakfast: Just eat breakfast tacos around town. I like izzoz, el primo near once over and tprchys tacos. I'm sure that others will weigh in on this.
coffee: I have to give the coffee nod to progress on east 5th street for their ice brewed iced toddy coffee with a shot of good mexican vanilla (not the syrup, rather the unsweetened extract). phenomenal and refreshing and strong. This might be something you can't get anywhere in Atlanta.
splurge: +1 for uchiko (or brother Uchi) and barley swine. Lenoir is cute and good enough, but not in quite the same league.
BFAST tacos and lunch near campus: Can't go wrong with Taco Joint on San Jacinto right next to campus. house made flour tortillas and great salsa options. I get the ham, egg, and cheese and put habanero on one, and avocado / cilantro on the other. fantastic, less than 5 bucks two nicely stuffed tacos. Their lunch grilled fish taco is outstanding too, as is the tortas ahogada - a large pile of pulled pork in a baguette dunked in a nicely spiced tomato sauce. messy but great.
One hour lunch near campus: Melvin's trailer on 53rd and Duval serves what may be the best corned beef, pastrami, and ham sandwiches you've ever had. many agree. they cure their own meats.
BBQ - I vote for John Mueller Meat Company if you don't have the 2-3 hr to wait for Franklins. Go to Sam's for lunch on E. 12th for a truly local experience.
Taco Tour - try the pastor, goat (chivo) on the house made tortillas at the unassuming dive La Fruta Feliz on Manor Road just a couple blocks east of the intersection with Airport Rd. Try the barbacoa, pastor, and quail at El Taco Rico on Vargas.
BBQ tour: The Austin scene has exploded with top BBQ offerings - but that doesn't mean a drive through the scrubland down to Lockhart isn't worth your time. Try the prime rib and pork ribs at Smitty's, and the moist brisket at Black's. It doesn't get much more "texas".
A nicer close to campus lunch: Try a flight of beers, mussels, and frites at Hopfields, you won't be disappointed. Just a mile or so north of campus on Guadalupe.
Great tex mex with a scenic 25 minute hill country drive: Los Pinos, Hudson Bend Road off of HWY 620. Best salsa in the area, try the pork / hominy soup (pozole), house made corn tortillas stuffed with pastor, eggs, grilled shrimp, fish, poblanos, whatever you fancy.
These are things I think are Austin special:
Uchiko- for a experince( make reservations now)
Noble Pig- ( it is out of Austin proper but worth the trip)
Antoellis cheese shop
The Cuban Sandwich shop ( dont be put off by the outside)
Forigne and domestic bake sale on saturday mornings
Marias Taco Express
Great recommendations here. I second Houndstooth for coffee, though Progress may become a contender, as I believe they've handed over the reins to Flat Track roasters who are planning on changing the name of the cafe to Brew & Brew (coffee and beer). Flat Track's espresso at the tiny shop behind Farewell Books (formerly Domy Books) is high quality. Watch this space.
Do get out to Lockhart if you have time. Smitty's is my favorite, for food and atmosphere. You can visit El Taco Rico on the way back, or en route to or from the airport.
Have fun, and let us hear your report when you get back home.
For craft beer, consider a tour of the Jester King Brewery and then hop over to the Thirsty Planet Brewery if your stay will be over a weekend and you have a rental car or other transportation. In town, Bangers and Craft Pride on Rainey Street will be you best bets for the largest variety of local and craft brews.