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Oct 7, 2013 06:12 AM

Does "Austin Food" have a definition?

People traveling here (typically) are looking for three things: BBQ, TexMex, and Tacos. Is that the definition of Austin's culinary landscape? Yeah, we have a few Asian Places (nothing like Houston) and a smattering of other ethnicities. We have a lot of "foodie" places, but I'm not a foodie. Most TexMex places are glop (if they can't pass the Taco Cabana test, I will not go to that restaurant - except for El Patio).

Besides the three items listed above, what else do we have that's unique?

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  1. Uchi, Uchiko & Qui..both those are pretty much foodie places.

    1. What is this "Taco Cabana Test" of which you speak?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Alan Sudo

        The Taco Cabana Test: If a restaurant cannot serve food that is better than Taco Cabana, then they shouldn't be in business. I'd say 40% of all the TexMex restaurants aren't as good as Taco Cabana. Not that TB is great, but I'm just sayin!

      2. Unfortunately, yes and it is stuck, as you say in the BBQ, TxMx category. All the while there are places, interesting places and some good places opening almost daily. For the "foodie" we are becoming a national known food and eating town. I would expect that there will soon be an addition to SXSW that pertains to food and eating and drinking.

        The irritating aspect of this is, if I can even call it "irritating" that just like A. is dubbed "live music capitol of the world", all that people think of is SXSW and ACL. We have other music here in A.; a great and nationally recognized choral group called Conspirarie, a very good symphony orchestra, a lyric opera company and at UT some of the finest musicians in the US (Anton Nel may possibly be the best pianist extant in the US). Ever heard of him?

        In the same way A. is the BBQ place, the TxMx place. That needs to change.

        Thank you for bringing this up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: singlemalt

          singlemalt - are we really becoming a nationally known eating town? I'd say Franklin's gets national press, central TX BBQ also, TexMex in general, and Uchi/Uchiko.

          Agree with your second paragraph in it's entirety.

        2. kind of known for our food trucks-
          famous for Uchiko/uchi and now qui
          Other Franklins who has somesort of cult like fasination I dont think BBq defines us as much as the idea of creative food.. Barley swine, Sway, the noodle ramen house the idea you can land in Austin and be Russian ,, Cuban,, Ethiopan,, and people will come eat your food

          1. I think the mere fact that this thread exists is a testament to how good we have it. That is not to say Austin does not have room to improve but how many cities are known for even 1 type of food? I will define "known" as considered in the top 5 cities when you mention a certain cuisine.

            For example, I would say that cities like Portland and Atlanta has a comparable quality of food scene as Austin but if I were to ask what type of cuisine those two cities are known for, I bet most people would draw a blank, especially if I were to not allow any "foodie" type places.

            I think more importantly, you can do a test where you think of a type of cuisine, and you can at least come up with 1 or 2 places that does a respectable version of that cuisine in Austin. This was nigh impossible even as short as 7 or 8 years ago.

            That is not to say that we don't have a ways to go to improve. But even after further improvement, years from now, we might still be only be known for Tacos and BBQ. And thats ok, as long as I can get a decent meal on those days when I don't feel like Brisket or Barbacoa.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lixlix

              Hey - welcome back! I think that your words sum it all up perfectly.