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What's unique in Austin?

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SimSportPlyr Jan 8, 2014 11:51 AM

I'm considering traveling to Austin later this year.

What foods are special in Austin & Texas, foods that would be difficult to find (at a high level of quality) in other parts of the country (I live in California)?

Tex-Mex?

Texas BBQ?

Louisiana/Cajun?

Thanks for any recommendations.

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  1. sqwertz RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 8, 2014 09:33 PM

    I'd argue the only food that Austin is really known for is barbecue brisket and short ribs. Isn't that the universal answer to half the questions asked here? ;-)

    You can find it at John Muellers Meat Company, Stiles Switch, LA Barbecue, and of course Franklins.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sqwertz
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      SimSportPlyr RE: sqwertz Jan 9, 2014 09:13 AM

      Thanks, sqwertz.

    2. Carmelapple79 RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 02:28 AM

      My friend visited from San Diego and she loved/is dying to come back for the queso from Kerby Lane, breakfast tacos and Hatch chilies.

      21 Replies
      1. re: Carmelapple79
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        SimSportPlyr RE: Carmelapple79 Jan 9, 2014 09:19 AM

        Hi Carmelapple79,

        By googling, I found that 'queso' at Kerby Lane Cafe refers to a cheese sauce that the Cafe uses in various dishes:

        http://www.kerbeylanecafe.com/sxsw-fa...

        That's what you're referring to, right?

        Thanks.

        1. re: SimSportPlyr
          Carmelapple79 RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 12:30 PM

          Its also an appetizer that is quite popular here in Austin.I myself have gotten addicted since moving here.Kerby Lane's best imhp : Kerbey Queso: Guacamole covered with queso and topped with pico de gallo. Its served with tortilla chips for dipping.

          1. re: Carmelapple79
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            SimSportPlyr RE: Carmelapple79 Jan 9, 2014 12:45 PM

            Thanks, Carmelapple79

            1. re: Carmelapple79
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              SimSportPlyr RE: Carmelapple79 Jan 9, 2014 02:47 PM

              Yum. I gotta try this!

              1. re: Carmelapple79
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                SimSportPlyr RE: Carmelapple79 Mar 24, 2014 08:21 AM

                Carmelapple79, is 'queso' always guacamole covered with queso and pico de gallo (and, potentially, other things), or do other restaurants have different recipes (e.g. lacking quac or pico de gallo)?

                1. re: SimSportPlyr
                  m
                  MelMM RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 24, 2014 08:46 AM

                  I'm not the one you are asking, but no, queso usually just refers to the cheese dip (sans guacamole and pico). The version Carmelapple refers to is specific to Kerbey Lane. You will find all sorts of queso variations at different restaurants.

                  1. re: MelMM
                    Veggo RE: MelMM Mar 24, 2014 08:52 AM

                    Indeed. Queso fundito can be made with chorizo, mushrooms, or chili rajas.

                    1. re: Veggo
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                      SimSportPlyr RE: Veggo Mar 24, 2014 09:03 AM

                      Thanks, Veggo.

                      1. re: Veggo
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                        verily RE: Veggo Mar 28, 2014 12:40 PM

                        Queso fundido is not what folks in Austin are referring to when they talk about queso.

                        Our "queso" is short for Chile Con Queso, which is essentially a melty cheese sauce mixed with peppers and eaten with tortilla chips. The most basic recipe is generally processed cheese (like Velveeta or Land O' Lakes Extra Melt) mixed with chopped chiles and tomatoes.

                        1. re: verily
                          Veggo RE: verily Mar 28, 2014 01:14 PM

                          I know the standard is inexpensive cheese product and maybe Rotel tomatoes, but there are other tasty variations.

                          1. re: Veggo
                            rudeboy RE: Veggo Mar 28, 2014 01:40 PM

                            If you get the white cheese Velveeta and make a good roasted chiles and tomatoes, it can be very good. If you serve it at a party, you will notice that the women will gather round the crock pot.

                            But queso fundido is guuuuud not matter where. The guys will gather round that.

                            1. re: rudeboy
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                              kosheri RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 02:21 PM

                              So let me get this straight. Women love queso, but men love queso fundido? I thought melted cheese dishes = loved by all. ;-)

                              1. re: kosheri
                                rudeboy RE: kosheri Mar 28, 2014 06:48 PM

                                Yes. Queso Fundido is more of a guy thing. I have a suggestion: plan a party and put out a crock pot of white queso. You will have a henhouse in no time...all the women talking about how the guys don't clean up after themselves and can't fold laundry. Then plop down queso fundido. The guys will gather round and pontificate about interior mexican BS and tell stories about how they used to travel a lot.

                                1. re: rudeboy
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                                  kosheri RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 08:13 PM

                                  I guess I don't even know how to respond to that. We clearly have very different friends.

                                  1. re: kosheri
                                    rudeboy RE: kosheri Mar 29, 2014 02:23 AM

                                    Well, I was just jacking around anyway. On second thought, I retract my statements about queso fundido.

                      2. re: MelMM
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                        SimSportPlyr RE: MelMM Mar 24, 2014 09:03 AM

                        Thanks, MeIMM.

                2. re: Carmelapple79
                  chispa_c RE: Carmelapple79 Jan 9, 2014 12:36 PM

                  I second Queso. Our friend from San Francisco went nutz over the Bob Armstrong dip at Matt's. Queso with taco meat and guac.

                  1. re: chispa_c
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                    SimSportPlyr RE: chispa_c Jan 9, 2014 12:47 PM

                    chispa_c, by Matt's, you mean Matt's El Rancho, right?

                    1. re: SimSportPlyr
                      chispa_c RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 12:56 PM

                      Yes.

                    2. re: chispa_c
                      WSZsr RE: chispa_c Jan 9, 2014 04:21 PM

                      Amen!! Bob Armstrong dip at Matt's. A favorite.

                      1. re: WSZsr
                        Veggo RE: WSZsr Jan 9, 2014 04:28 PM

                        Better Bob than Lance...::)

                  2. hlk RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 09:49 AM

                    Breakfast tacos every day.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: hlk
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                      SimSportPlyr RE: hlk Jan 9, 2014 10:14 AM

                      Are you referring to any particular restaurant?

                      1. re: SimSportPlyr
                        hlk RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 10, 2014 07:31 AM

                        Apologies for being vague. They're all over, and I would recommend you just try various different versions and see what you like. Mellizoz, Tacodeli, El Papalote, Joe's Bakery, Tacorrido (drive-through!), Tamale House, random gas stations, etc.

                      2. re: hlk
                        chispa_c RE: hlk Jan 9, 2014 12:37 PM

                        CA has breakfast burritos. Not the same. Options are Torchy's, Taco Deli, Taco Shack, Maria's, etc.

                        1. re: chispa_c
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                          SimSportPlyr RE: chispa_c Jan 9, 2014 12:56 PM

                          Got it. Thanks.

                      3. Phaedrus RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 12:38 PM

                        Drive out to the Salt Lick. Awesome BBQ.
                        http://www.saltlickbbq.com/

                        I also liked Iron Works
                        http://www.ironworksbbq.com/

                        Guero's for Tex-Mex.
                        http://www.guerostacobar.com/

                        Or Chuy's
                        http://www.chuys.com/

                        Fonda San Miguel for genuine high end Mexican food (Not the same as Tex-Mex). Their Sunday brunch is to die for. If you will be there on a Sunday, do definitely try this, you won't be sorry.
                        http://www.fondasanmiguel.com/

                        Kerbey Lane has always been a casual favorite.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Phaedrus
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                          SimSportPlyr RE: Phaedrus Jan 9, 2014 12:55 PM

                          Thanks, Phaedrus.

                          1. re: Phaedrus
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                            SimSportPlyr RE: Phaedrus Mar 26, 2014 07:58 AM

                            Phaedrus, thanks for the recommendations.

                            I see that there are several Salt Licks in the area: Driftwood, Round Rock, and at the airport.

                            The link you provided seems to be for the Driftwood location. Is that the one you recommend?

                            1. re: SimSportPlyr
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                              SlickTheCat RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 26, 2014 08:52 AM

                              That is definitely the one you want to go to, BYOB. Be prepared to wait a little bit if you go at peak hours.

                              1. re: SlickTheCat
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                                suburban_mom RE: SlickTheCat Mar 26, 2014 08:50 PM

                                If you don't BYOB, there is a wine tasting room on the property. They will sell you wine by the bottle or glass and they have bottles of beer for sale too.

                                1. re: suburban_mom
                                  TroyTempest RE: suburban_mom Mar 26, 2014 10:08 PM

                                  Thanks for that info. I didn't know about the beer. That is good to know, though i doubt i will ever show up there without a cooler

                          2. Veggo RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 12:45 PM

                            Also, migas at Cisco's

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Veggo
                              chispa_c RE: Veggo Jan 9, 2014 12:57 PM

                              Have you seen the latest health report from Cisco's? Might want to re-think that one.

                              1. re: Veggo
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                                SimSportPlyr RE: Veggo Jan 9, 2014 12:59 PM

                                I'd never heard of Migas before, but googling I found:

                                "In Tex-Mex cuisine, migas is a traditional breakfast dish consisting of scrambled eggs mixed with strips of corn tortilla, diced onions, sliced chile peppers, diced fresh tomatoes, and cheese, plus various spices and condiments (e.g. salsa or pico de gallo). Migas is typically served with refried beans, and corn or flour tortillas are used to enfold all of the ingredients into tacos. In some areas, it may have been traditionally eaten during Lent.[8] One common variation is to add chorizo to the standard ingredients."

                                Is that what you mean?

                                1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                  Veggo RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 9, 2014 01:05 PM

                                  That's it, on a plate with a fresh biscuit, not tacos. Cisco's is an old Austin institution and tradition for breakfast.
                                  Another institution is the original Threadgills on Lamar, for CFS, fried chicken livers, or the 5 vegetable platter. (They used to offer 9, dealers' choice.)

                                  1. re: Veggo
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                                    SimSportPlyr RE: Veggo Jan 9, 2014 02:48 PM

                                    Thanks, Veggo!

                                    1. re: Veggo
                                      dinaofdoom RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 01:28 PM

                                      for the uninitiated, CFS = chicken fried steak.
                                      amusingly (to me as an austin transplant) there are a lot of "chicken fried X" stuff, including, but not limited to, mushrooms and bacon.

                                      queso (the appetizer version) and migas are good examples of things you don't really find elsewhere, at least for me having lived in MA and CA.

                                      and yes, breakfast tacos are a bit different from breakfast burritos. when our CA coworkers visit our TX offices, they love to get these.

                                      also: kolaches. never heard of them before moving here. they come in a sweet (poppy seed, cherry, etc. danish-like filling) version and savory versions. my fave are the kinds with various sausages in them.

                                      1. re: dinaofdoom
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                                        SimSportPlyr RE: dinaofdoom Jan 11, 2014 02:59 PM

                                        Thanks, dinaofdoom. That's very helpful!

                                2. a
                                  acssss RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 10, 2014 01:44 PM

                                  In general Texas is known for its BBQ and steaks - I wouldn't leave without trying those. However, if in Austin, I wouldn't limit myself to the regular Texas BBQ/Tex-Mex/Steaks/Tacos. Austin is a gem within Texas (they don't call it the Silicon Hills for nothing). It has as much "fine dining" than in LA or SF in California - even more.

                                  I don't know your tastes, but if I were you, I'd take the time to google some of the known fine dining around. Also if you're going to be around that area around the time of the SXSW - I wouldn't miss it!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: acssss
                                    Veggo RE: acssss Jan 10, 2014 02:00 PM

                                    True about the quality fine dining in the Austin scene, but the OP from CA can get that at home. Franklin's brisket can't be found in CA at any price!

                                    1. re: Veggo
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                                      acssss RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 02:07 PM

                                      Sorry. I respectfully disagree Veggo. If we were discussing "What says Austin to you", I may agree. However the question was "What is unique in Austin", so if a chef at a specific restaurant anywhere in Austin is well known and amazing, just because it doesn't fit into the stereotype Texas Grub, it shouldn't be overlooked IMO - and she can't get that at home.

                                      1. re: acssss
                                        Veggo RE: acssss Jan 10, 2014 02:42 PM

                                        That's fine by me. I don't eat that many $100 dinners any more, so I'm less familiar with those options. (But I'll spend $100 for sushi!)

                                        1. re: Veggo
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                                          acssss RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 04:07 PM

                                          I worked for a Japanese company (as a SW engineer) and when the "big boss" came to our facilities, we surprised him with take out sushi (from a very-well known sushi restaurant). He didn't eat a bite, stating that it was crap (his words, not mine). He told us that to become a true sushi chef, one has to have a doctorate and practice for many many years.
                                          I thought it was great

                                          1. re: acssss
                                            Veggo RE: acssss Jan 10, 2014 04:13 PM

                                            I got my start with sushi in Austin at age 33, when I was dating a UT coed who knew a LOT about sushi. I've been a big fan since, with a lot of catching up! She made me a better man.
                                            A lot of Texan alpha males won't give sushi a fair chance.

                                            1. re: Veggo
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                                              acssss RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 04:24 PM

                                              I don't know how old you are, but I lived in Austin for a few years during the early 2000's. We are big Longhorn fans (Hook 'em horns) and we all love that city. We still have a condo there and go there often. The only place I had sushi there was at a restaurant called Mikado off of Burnet and 183 (my son's piano lesson was down the street - so we'd end up eating there after his lesson).

                                              Good times.

                                    2. re: acssss
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                                      SimSportPlyr RE: acssss Jan 11, 2014 03:01 PM

                                      Acsss, thank very much for the recommendations!

                                      I have excellent fine dining options where I live areas, although I only go out for 'fine dining' a 2-4 times a year due to the cost. Anyhow, when I travel I generally look for ethnic or area-specific food.

                                    3. Alan Sudo RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 10, 2014 04:19 PM

                                      I agree with all the recommendations for migas, breakfast tacos, queso and bbq brisket.

                                      I would also add chicken fried chicken at Hoover's or their shrimp and grits on the weekend brunch menu.

                                      The rabbit and dumplings at Contigo.

                                      And biscuits and gravy (I'm partial to Dan's Hamburgers for this).

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Alan Sudo
                                        dinaofdoom RE: Alan Sudo Jan 10, 2014 04:58 PM

                                        yes, totally forgot shrimp and grits!

                                        and, your mention of the rabbit at contigo prompted me to remember hudson's on the bend. you definitely can't find a lot of TX local game elsewhere, so therefore fits the bill of being unique to austin.

                                        1. re: Alan Sudo
                                          Alan Sudo RE: Alan Sudo Jan 13, 2014 06:42 AM

                                          Given the OP's lack of familiarity with many of these foods, I should note that chicken fried chicken is not the same dish as fried chicken. Chicken fried chicken is a boneless breast pounded out flat before being breaded and fried. It's traditionally served with cream gravy.

                                          1. re: Alan Sudo
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                                            MelMM RE: Alan Sudo Jan 16, 2014 11:53 AM

                                            Shrimp and grits is a lowcountry dish, not Texan at all. Lowcountry meaning the lower SC, northern GA Atlantic coast. Better saved for a visit to that area, as it is far from an Austin specialty (I say that as an Austinite, now living in SC).

                                          2. girloftheworld RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 11, 2014 03:25 PM

                                            What is "unique" to Austin...may not be what is what one thinks of as "famous texas food" BUT unuique to Austin is James Beard winner Paul Qui and his restraunt Qui--- as well as the world famous Uchiko.... Franklin BBQ ( socail expericnce and cult following)
                                            UNIQUELY AUSTIN as critera
                                            Marias Taco express on sunday mornings
                                            Stubbs-sunday church
                                            ciscos-history and migas
                                            Elcamino creepy as hell burger
                                            rapolos pizza on sixth
                                            Chez Nous
                                            corner cafe
                                            Torchys(though their queso is the only thing truly yummy)
                                            Kerby lane
                                            East SIde Kings
                                            Pizza in and Drinks at Violet Crown
                                            Food trucks

                                            1. chispa_c RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 13, 2014 11:58 AM

                                              The online food section of Texas Monthly currently lists information about Texas Caviar, Koloches, Mole Poblano, Tamales, Pecan Pie, Corny Dogs, Dove, Barbacoa, Chili (no beans), Frito Pie, 1015 Onions, Ruby Red Grapefruit ...a good read for someone interested in uniquely Austin or Texas food.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: chispa_c
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                                                SimSportPlyr RE: chispa_c Jan 13, 2014 12:10 PM

                                                Thanks, chispa_a. That's very helpful!

                                              2. b
                                                BigTicketTaco RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 14, 2014 12:13 PM

                                                Lots of good ideas here, I'd gree with:
                                                Ciscos-history and migas
                                                Casino El Camino burgers “experience”
                                                Corner cafe
                                                Any East Side Kings
                                                Pizza in and Drinks at Violet Crown
                                                Food trucks
                                                Chicken fried chicken at Hoover's
                                                A Drive out to the Salt Lick for Que
                                                ...and add:
                                                Justine's & Hillside Farmacy + Foreign & Domestic for a modern Austin fleer
                                                Quality Seafood for casual C-food
                                                Frank for hotdogs you would actually go out to eat for.
                                                Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill and Austin Land & Cattle are also favs of mine.

                                                BBQ'ue @ John Muellers Meat Company or LA Barbecue

                                                26 Replies
                                                1. re: BigTicketTaco
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                                                  SimSportPlyr RE: BigTicketTaco Jan 14, 2014 02:25 PM

                                                  Thanks, BigTicketTaco.

                                                  1. re: BigTicketTaco
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                                                    Rptrane RE: BigTicketTaco Jan 14, 2014 03:41 PM

                                                    Casino is a dive and the people who work there are rude a holes.

                                                    1. re: Rptrane
                                                      TroyTempest RE: Rptrane Jan 15, 2014 10:11 AM

                                                      Casino is a dive. If you don't like dives, stay away. I've been many times and never treated rudely, though.
                                                      Just my experience.

                                                      If you like your bloody marys with a lot of food in them, this is your kind of place.

                                                    2. re: BigTicketTaco
                                                      TroyTempest RE: BigTicketTaco Jan 15, 2014 10:12 AM

                                                      The Pizza at violet Crown is Via 313 (Detroit Style). It's good.

                                                      1. re: TroyTempest
                                                        girloftheworld RE: TroyTempest Jan 15, 2014 03:51 PM

                                                        by the by the violet crown name comes from when the area was called that due to in the days before pollution got bad the pollin in the air use to creat a violet haze over the city you could see from there

                                                        1. re: girloftheworld
                                                          Veggo RE: girloftheworld Jan 15, 2014 04:01 PM

                                                          Largely cedar pollen from the edge of the Hill Country, and I lived in West Lake Hills in what is known as cedar chopper country. Oh, how I suffered, but my good kitty Latchkey loved it there.

                                                          1. re: girloftheworld
                                                            TroyTempest RE: girloftheworld Jan 16, 2014 08:49 AM

                                                            I didn't know that. GOTW, you are a wealth of info.

                                                            I could also be the bruise you get on your forehead when you've had a few too many and fall, and bang the aforementioned part of your body on the pavement.

                                                            1. re: girloftheworld
                                                              chispa_c RE: girloftheworld Jan 16, 2014 09:49 AM

                                                              We still have violet sunsets now and again. Austin is a clean air city. We don't have manufacturing plants here like say, Houston. We get smoke from Mexico during their burn off season but this is no LA.

                                                              1. re: chispa_c
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                                                                kosheri RE: chispa_c Jan 16, 2014 11:07 AM

                                                                There are a few other possible sources for the nickname (see the City of the Violet Crown article in Wikipedia). This is the first time I've heard anything about it being related to pollution.

                                                                1. re: kosheri
                                                                  chispa_c RE: kosheri Jan 16, 2014 11:32 AM

                                                                  Ha, not related to pollution, GOW said it was the name for Austin's haze but read aura. Said it doesn't exist anymore because of pollution.

                                                                  1. re: chispa_c
                                                                    k
                                                                    kosheri RE: chispa_c Jan 16, 2014 01:52 PM

                                                                    Sorry, pollen, not pollution. Fingers sometimes have a mind of their own.

                                                                  2. re: kosheri
                                                                    girloftheworld RE: kosheri Jan 16, 2014 04:37 PM

                                                                    "Its healthfulness, delightful climate, undeveloped resources, churches, schools, etc., have been expatiated upon many times, but little has been said of its transcendent beauty [such as] Austin's violet crown bathed in the radiance of the morning."

                                                                    , UT scientists hesitantly pointed out that our "violet crown" was in fact mostly cedar pollen, trapped by the Balcones Escarpment.

                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld
                                                                      Veggo RE: girloftheworld Jan 16, 2014 04:48 PM

                                                                      As I said 7 posts above. Latchkey was the first to make the cedar connection.

                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                        k
                                                                        kosheri RE: Veggo Jan 16, 2014 07:04 PM

                                                                        Didn't say I didn't believe it, just that that was the first time I'd heard the connection made and that there were other theories out there (which I find interesting). Clearly I am no good at commenting before or after a nap.

                                                                  3. re: chispa_c
                                                                    Veggo RE: chispa_c Jan 16, 2014 11:50 AM

                                                                    I have never heard of a Mexican burn off season, nor experienced distant smoke in Austin. Colorado and New Mexico, yes, from wildfires.

                                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                                      chispa_c RE: Veggo Jan 16, 2014 11:54 AM

                                                                      http://www.kvue.com/news/Smoke-from-M...

                                                                      Happens virtually ever year here.

                                                                      1. re: chispa_c
                                                                        Veggo RE: chispa_c Jan 16, 2014 12:02 PM

                                                                        Bummer. I lived 2 years in Austin, ran every single day, never noticed it.

                                                                2. re: TroyTempest
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                                                                  SimSportPlyr RE: TroyTempest Jan 15, 2014 07:23 PM

                                                                  What is 'Detroit style'?

                                                                  1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                    TroyTempest RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 16, 2014 08:54 AM

                                                                    Discussed at length here.
                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8380...
                                                                    and here
                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7665...

                                                                    1. re: TroyTempest
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                                                                      SimSportPlyr RE: TroyTempest Mar 24, 2014 08:22 AM

                                                                      Thanks for the interesting reading, Troy.

                                                                      1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                        TroyTempest RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 24, 2014 11:31 AM

                                                                        You bet. Be sure to give us a trip report after you're done.

                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest
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                                                                          SimSportPlyr RE: TroyTempest Mar 26, 2014 07:48 AM

                                                                          Sure, I'll report back.

                                                                    2. re: SimSportPlyr
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                                                                      Rptrane RE: SimSportPlyr Jan 16, 2014 02:22 PM

                                                                      It's awesome stuff. You can also eat at LA BBQ while there since it's across the street.

                                                                      1. re: Rptrane
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                                                                        SimSportPlyr RE: Rptrane Mar 24, 2014 08:22 AM

                                                                        Thanks, Rptrane.

                                                                      2. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                        rudeboy RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 26, 2014 10:30 AM

                                                                        On thing unique about Austin is our Detroit Style pizza. I mean, you really can't get that anywhere else in America ;-)

                                                                        1. re: rudeboy
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                                                                          SimSportPlyr RE: rudeboy Mar 26, 2014 01:02 PM

                                                                          Ha, ha!

                                                                  2. rudeboy RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 24, 2014 06:52 PM

                                                                    There's nothing that really defines Austin as unique. The cuisine, here is good, but it is just a smattering of stuff you can get in other places. Maybe German/Czech influenced BBQ.

                                                                    1. chispa_c RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 26, 2014 07:37 AM

                                                                      http://huff.to/1fXbRDt

                                                                      Good explanation of uniquely Austin food.

                                                                      30 Replies
                                                                      1. re: chispa_c
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                                                                        SimSportPlyr RE: chispa_c Mar 26, 2014 07:54 AM

                                                                        chispa_c, thanks. Interesting reading!

                                                                        1. re: chispa_c
                                                                          rudeboy RE: chispa_c Mar 26, 2014 11:26 AM

                                                                          Good link - a lot more helpful than my lame reply above. I think the only absolutely unique thing is our central TX style of BBQ, influenced by german and czech immigrants. As far as Tex Mex goes, if you don't get it in California or elsewhere, then it may be unique to you in Austin. El Paso and Albuquerue have their own styles, but I'm not sure that Austin does. I'd pay particular attention to suggestions here and not just walk into any TexMex restaurant - some serve borderline gruel.

                                                                          My favorite affordable tex/mex mexican place is Polvo's...reasonable cost, good ritas, and filled with Austinites (some say hipsters, but there's all types that go there). Order off the interior side of the menu. Stop and buy your own El Milagro chips and just hide them in your purse - their chips suck, but they have all kinds of salsa's (exotic salsas are available for a buck each...the salsa bar salsas are just ok, but they have escabeche as well).

                                                                          Salt Lick - search previous posts for ordering information. Plan on going on a Sunday with an ice chest. I have pioneered a way to have a great time there after shunning it for years.

                                                                          If you have the time, you could do Franklin's. There's nothing wrong with waiting a couple of hours if you have good company and shakers full of bloody mary.

                                                                          When I travel, I like just having snackatizers or shared plates all day long. The Kerby Queso would be a good one. Go to the original Kerby Lane on Kerby Lane, have that and a beer, and move on. Here's a link that might help if you are like me:

                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9057...

                                                                          The whole Rainey street area would give you a good Austin vibe, too. A lot of people love to eat sausage and drink beer at Bangers, but I have not been there myself. They have over 100 beers on tap I hear.

                                                                          1. re: rudeboy
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                                                                            James Cristinian RE: rudeboy Mar 26, 2014 11:45 AM

                                                                            Tex-Mex in Texas is unique to anything elsewhere. There is a whole thread Cal-Mex v. Tex-Mex. My takeaway is that if you live in Texas Tex-Mex is it, folks from California prefer their food. Go figure. I like to troll other boards, especially NE and Toronto. These people are dying for Mexican food, even ubiquitous tacos that are all over the place in Austin and Houston, my town. Tex-Mex is frequently dismissed as just Tex-Mex, but when you Google a menu it is nothing like what we have here, laughable and even pisses me off a bit. So the long winded answer is maybe they'll like Tex-Mex and it is unique as likely they've never had the real deal.

                                                                            1. re: rudeboy
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                                                                              SimSportPlyr RE: rudeboy Mar 27, 2014 08:59 AM

                                                                              rudeboy, thanks very much for the reply.

                                                                              I didn't know that central Tx bbq is german / czech - influenced. May I ask what that influence is, in terms of ingredients or method? You have me curious.

                                                                              I have no experience with bbq outside of California, and I'm very much looking forward to trying TX BQQ several times while my buddy and I are driving through the state.

                                                                              Re Polvo's, 'ritas' are margaritas, right? What dish(es) do you recommend at Polvo's?

                                                                              Re Salt Lick, thanks for suggesting an ice chest. We won't have an ice chest, but we'll have a 12V refrigerator in our car, so we can get take-out.

                                                                              We're on the fence about going to Franklin's, due to the wait.

                                                                              Thank you again for taking the time to provide a detailed response.

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                                                                                James Cristinian RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 27, 2014 09:19 AM

                                                                                Here's some info on immigrants and BBQ.

                                                                                http://www.southernfoodways.org/oral-...

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                                                                                  SimSportPlyr RE: James Cristinian Mar 27, 2014 09:53 AM

                                                                                  James, wow, that's some interesting reading. Thanks!

                                                                                  My mouth is watering for some central Texas BBQ!

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                                                                                    James Cristinian RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 27, 2014 10:04 AM

                                                                                    Did you read some of the links at the bottom with various pit masters?

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                                                                                      SimSportPlyr RE: James Cristinian Mar 27, 2014 01:39 PM

                                                                                      James, I have not clicked on any of the pit master links.

                                                                                      Do you have a recommendation as to which one I explore first? I see that at least has a video.....

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                                                                                        James Cristinian RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 29, 2014 05:40 AM

                                                                                        The links are pretty short and I just looked up Gonzales and City Market since I spent a lot of time there as a kid. I really like City Market, especially the ribs.

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                                                                                          SimSportPlyr RE: James Cristinian Mar 29, 2014 08:40 AM

                                                                                          Thanks, James. I'll check out the links.

                                                                                  2. re: James Cristinian
                                                                                    rudeboy RE: James Cristinian Mar 27, 2014 12:08 PM

                                                                                    Thanks James - great link. SimSportPlyr, I can't say it any better than Robb Walsh can. There's a decent description of central texas BBQ on wikipedia - Mr. Walsh may have contributed to that. The only thing that I might disagree with is the statement about sauces. Most places have sauce, and some are quite proud of it. However, if the BBQ is seasoned and smoked properly, the sauce is not necessary. For example, I can eat Franklin's brisket all by itself and not want, but the espresso sauce, to me, is sublime. I

                                                                                    I like Smitty's in Lockhart for the real deal experience. People love Black's brisket. If you go there, hit both and resist the temptation to order too much at either place. Wait is minimal, if at all.

                                                                                    Salt Lick is regarded as "not as good" by locals, with the caveat that it is a good time and for visitors, a good Texas experience. Here's the link on how to order on Sundays:

                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7797...

                                                                                    If you are a couple, just ferry four beers in at a time. When you are eating, it will be a relief to walk some food off to get more beer.

                                                                                    Polvo's - may favorites in order of preference: Fish or Shrimp a la Plancha; Original Relleno with chicken and cheese inside (you have to ask for that); Fajitas al Gualillo (some love Fajitas Cerveza, but I haven't had them because Gualillos drive me NUTZ); Enchiladas Dona Clara; Fish Huasteca; Pescado al Mojo de Ajo. Can't get past these items, but I always want to order the following: Pescado al Horno (comes with soup and rice); Puerca Adobado; Entomadas; Enchiladas Exóticas - you can choose the ingredients and exotic sauces ($15, though) from the following: Huasteca, Margarita, Cartuja, Veracruzana, Pipián, and Caliente.

                                                                                    1. re: rudeboy
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                                                                                      SimSportPlyr RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 08:59 AM

                                                                                      rudeboy, thanks for the reply.

                                                                                      Do you consider the two Lockhart joints to be better than any of the Austin BBQ restaurants?

                                                                                      1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                                        rudeboy RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 28, 2014 12:12 PM

                                                                                        Sure! I consider Franklin's to be the most consistent for brisket. For years, though, we have been directing visitors to Lockhart, but that was before we had any good competitors in Austin. It appears that Franklin's and LA BBQ are giving the Lockhart places some competition. If you don't want to drive, there are options in town that you will enjoy.

                                                                                        The big decision is whether to have a blowout BBQ dinner once, and then eat other things the rest of the time, or explore BBQ at several places in the region. I still direct people to the Salt Lick for the experience of being in central TX as a one time only thing. But overall, I'd recommend at least two or three que excursions if you want what's unique here.

                                                                                        1. re: rudeboy
                                                                                          TroyTempest RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 03:23 PM

                                                                                          I also think that Stiles Switch is as good as the Lockhart places. Disclaimer, i haven't been to Lockhart in a long time. So, someone with more recent experience may think differently.

                                                                                          I agree with rudeboy on Franklin's espresso sauce. I keep it at home (you can buy it at the HEB now), and when i get Stiles Switch to go, i use Franklin's BBQ sauce with it.

                                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest
                                                                                            girloftheworld RE: TroyTempest Mar 29, 2014 07:02 AM

                                                                                            not near the BBQ geeks others are... but I too have been guilty of Frankenstiening using Franklins sauce on Rudy's brisket

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                                                                                        SimSportPlyr RE: rudeboy Mar 29, 2014 08:42 AM

                                                                                        Rudeboy, do you happen to know whether Franklin's espresso sauce is available mail-order? Or, whether it's possible to buy it at Franklin's without standing in line for hours?

                                                                                        1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                                          TroyTempest RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 29, 2014 08:43 AM

                                                                                          you can get it at HEB (a local grocery store)

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                                                                                            SimSportPLyr_ RE: TroyTempest Mar 29, 2014 11:26 AM

                                                                                            Thanks, Troy!

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                                                                                              TroyTempest RE: SimSportPLyr_ Mar 29, 2014 11:32 AM

                                                                                              They have 2 other flavors, too. But i haven't tried them.

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                                                                                                SimSportPlyr RE: TroyTempest Mar 29, 2014 12:08 PM

                                                                                                Troy, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion of the other two!

                                                                                                1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                                                  TroyTempest RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 29, 2014 01:22 PM

                                                                                                  I can't get past the espresso

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                                                                                                    SimSportPlyr RE: TroyTempest Mar 29, 2014 02:28 PM

                                                                                                    Troy, well, that's quite an endorsement!

                                                                                                  2. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                                                    hlk RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 29, 2014 02:08 PM

                                                                                                    The espresso one is definitely the most distinctive and the tastiest, in my opinion.

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                                                                                                      SimSportPlyr RE: hlk Mar 29, 2014 02:30 PM

                                                                                                      hik, well, I'll focus on trying the espresso goodness, then! Thx.

                                                                                                      1. re: SimSportPlyr
                                                                                                        rudeboy RE: SimSportPlyr Mar 29, 2014 07:43 PM

                                                                                                        I think the Mueller HEB would be the best bet.

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                                                                                                          tvchick RE: rudeboy Mar 30, 2014 03:39 PM

                                                                                                          All the large HEB's have the Franklin's sauces, including espresso. They are with the other TX BBQ sauces like Salt Lick and Stubb's.

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                                                                                                            SimSportPlyr RE: tvchick Mar 30, 2014 10:22 PM

                                                                                                            Thanks, tvchick.

                                                                                                          2. re: rudeboy
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                                                                                                            SimSportPlyr RE: rudeboy Mar 30, 2014 10:22 PM

                                                                                                            Thanks, Rudeboy.

                                                                                                2. re: TroyTempest
                                                                                                  amysuehere RE: TroyTempest Mar 31, 2014 10:25 AM

                                                                                                  Or you can get them from Amazon.com - why tote those along when you can have them delivered to your door.

                                                                                                  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...

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                                                                                                    SimSportPlyr RE: amysuehere Mar 31, 2014 11:22 AM

                                                                                                    Thanks, amysuehere!

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