Labor Day Trip Report (long!)
Hi! Here's a little summary of what came out of this http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912340 planning session.
So landed Friday night and settled right in at the Austin Motel. Headed to Barley Swine with the intention of heading for tacos while we waited, but were shocked to learn there was no wait! Were served a terrific meal, absolutely no complaints, and truly different from what is available elsewhere in the sense that the ingredients and style were uniquely texas. Highlights: Rabbit nachos with chorizo, green tomato, corn, fatty duck liver, the Wagyu flank steak with piquillo pepper, potato, salsa verde, and the lovely couple next to us who gave us terrific eating advice and guided us to the Horsehoe pub next door, a terrific dive bar where we made lots more Austin friends and gathered more advice. Since we were there anyway...we also hit Lick for some ice cream on the way out--I went with the tomato flavor and goat cheese flavor (I'm a savories gal) and it was delightful.
After that we dropped the car at the hotel and took a Very. Long. Walk up to Liberty for a few more beers and the nibbles of Eastside King. I wasn't super impressed by the food, I have to admit. The buns skewed a little sweet, and just nothing seemed remarkable. Perfectly good drunk food, but not worth going out of the way for.
Saturday! On our friends from Barley Swine's advice, we headed to summermoon for our morning coffee, and dang, that might be the smoothest, most lovely iced coffee I've had in a while. I asked Mr. Dagoose to drop me off at the franklin line, even though it was late and I wasn't really up for line waiting. 10:15, got in line. Sent him for breakfast tacos at Veracruz all natural (very good, but not the best we had). By the time he was back, I had 4 new best friends and was three beers in and it was pretty clear I wasn't going anywhere. When Benji of Franklin came by and said we would probably get food around 2:30 (which was precisely accurate) I thought the Mr. was about to bolt. I sent him for a 12 pack to donate to the now communal cooler. one of our commrades in line said "no, we're a team now!" and then, a few beers later, Mr. was in. Those 4 hours were quite possibly the highlight of our trip to Austin. Also, the meat was extremely good. Had brisket, pork ribs, sausage, plus tasted line mates turkey, pulled pork, and tipsy texan sandwich. also tried the sides, which were pretty worthless. Franklin employees and line waiters alike made this experience very fun and far more than tolerable. Samples in line, constant updates, feeling well informed, good times, lots of beer, etc.
Spent the afternoon nursing off an unpleasant cheap beer hangover (I haven't drank the better part of a 12 pack of busch or modelo in many many years, certainly not starting at 10:15 am). Looked briefly for tacos, but both La Flor and Los Canarios were closed. Hit up S. Lamar Central Market for browsing. Then met up with two of our linemates for a meal at Uchiko. All of our food was very good at Uchiko, but I didn't feel it was groundbreaking/interesting enough to really warrant the amount of enthusiasm I heard about it. The ham and egg roll I will give credit for, but the rest of it was just pretty good sushi, not even really great sushi? Oh, and I did adore the brussels sprouts. The kara-age was the only true mis-step (SO SWEET), but it just wasn't overly remarkable. If I lived there, maybe I'd be stoked because it's good stuff for the area, but not worth it for a visitor. Also pricey...
Late night snack that night (after watching my Huskies demolish Boise St. from a seat at Doc's on S. Congress--fun drinking some local brews) was unremarkable--though cheap and open at 1am--pizza from home slice.
Sunday Funday TACO PARTY. Had some issues starting this morning, extending all through the rest of the trip finding what was open. Rolled by La Flor and Los Canarios, both closed. Gave up and hit Taco Deli. What a useless place. Sorry, this was repeatedly suggested by locals, and I now believe there's a whole species of Austinite that is totally clueless of the town's treasures. That said, we also hit Torchy's later (as we went for more Summermoon) and I think that has a time and a place--the fried avocado taco was flavorless, but I have a love for inventiveness and ridiculousness, and that love comes in the form of the trailer trash taco--fried chicken and queso? Loved it. Wanted to try more like that.
Then we ended up at Taco Rico, or as we new affectionately call it "Rico". Rico is my new lover, guys. Seriously, that barbacoa might just be the best taco I've ever had in my life. We tried to swing by a few hours later, despite having eaten seven tacos since, because IT WAS THAT GOOD. Oh god, I'm having cravings again. Definitely a highlight of the trip.
Then the taco crawl started in earnest: Taco more was up next and also got two thumbs up--amazing barbacoa de chivo consomme, we ended up back here for breakfast again the next day. Also good barbacoa tacos, love the salsas. Onward to fruta feliz--they were out of the chivo so had cow barbacoa. Neither the tortillas nor the meat impressed here. Gets a 'meh' from us. Still good (esp. by Seattle standards) but not by Austin ones. Another drive by of Los Canarios and La flor, again no luck. Walked by La BBQ just in case, around 11:15, but last person already had "sold out" sign.
Paused at Austin Beer Garden. Good brews, surprised to learn they were only on day 3.
Ended up at La Condesa for mid-eve. snacks before going to look at bats, and was sorry I'd taken this off my to-do for a real meal list. Had the tempura okra, the huarache de huitlacoche, and the arab/venison tacos. Huarache was poor, the other two were absolutely incredible. Drinks were both too sweet, switched to beer.
After bats, headed to Curra's, knowing what we were going into. Got what we expected. Realized maybe that wasn't what we'd wanted...Enjoyed the avocado margarita far more than had expected!
Monday, Labor day, everything was closed. I'd seen signs for Kolaches and had remembered reading articles about this Texas specialty and hoped to find one. Kolache creations seemed to be top choice, but closed. Stopped at the inferior (read: inedibly bad) kolache factory. Ugh. Poppyseed was the best of the bunch, but I hope to someday try a good kolache. Dropped by Tamale House, but Mr says "it's all fat white people in there" as a fat white person, I did not get offended, but instead, offered to go back to Taco More. Did not regret this decision.
The el meson on Burleson was closed, so we hit the one on Lamar. Food was good, drinks were surprisingly good. And then we were at lick, so why the hell not? Ice cream, still delicious! One last drive by of La Flor and Los Canarios and FINALLY! Canarios was open, and it was totally worth every one of those drive bys. I was very happy.
Hit the big whole foods for research purposes, then to Easy tiger for some pre-plane drinking. Nice place, sad that the pretzels were ALMOST great, but not quite. Stopped by Rosita's for tacos for the plane, and I'll be darned, even a few hours later they were still ridiculously good--luckily I've got a few tucked away for my lunch today.
Thanks, Austin! Your people were friendly, your tacos were amazing, and I'll definitely come back, though perhaps at a time of year with fewer temperatures in the triple-digits!
Thank you for the wonderful report! I often feel like the non-sushi dishes (or non-traditional sushi dishes) are what set Uchi and Uchiko apart. Hubs and I used to order what is our standard sushi at Uchi (sake toro, tuna), and were unimpressed. Finally went with a friend who ordered for us, and it was like an entirely different restaurant. Now I must go to Taco Rico! I'm glad you enjoyed your time in the city, and come back soon!
Great report Dagoose. Good thing you found Rico's barbacoa - I'm not sure it gets much better than that version. My beef with Taco More, a block from my house, involves the cardboard corn tortillas from a bag - but I've learned to live with that all other things considered. Your quote that many austinites don't know what we have around here is spot on. I guess maybe that's the way we should keep it :-).
come down between Thanksgiving and Easter sometime.