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Coming to Austin for the first time this weekend

Weiszguy Mar 18, 2014 12:53 PM

I am coming from Boston and meeting a girlfriend from San Fran to spend four days in Austin. We are staying at the HIlton downtown, near the convention center. Would love recs for good breakfast/brunch spots for Saturday and Sunday and good local food for the evenings - casual, tasty, and not over-the-top expensive is what we go for. Thanks!

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  1. amysuehere RE: Weiszguy Mar 19, 2014 07:09 AM

    Sunday brunch either at Lamberts or Coal Vines. Coal Vines has a $10 full-bottle champagne carafe mimosa for brunch and the food has been quite good.

    Lamberts does a great happy hour (get the boar ribs). Parkside also has a great happy hour and you can sit at the window and people-watch.

    Casino el Camino is an Austin original and is known for it's funky atmosphere, it's surly cooks (you order at the window) and the killer burgers (if you can stand it, the jalapeno bomb is great), Note: I have not been in quite a while and there are rumors the food has really gone downhill.

    The above is all walking distance. If you have a car or don't mind a short cab ride (or even taking the tram in some cases), will open up your options for some more "famous" destinations:

    Melvin's Deli Comfort
    Styles Switch
    Live Oak BBQ

    Place to have a beer for the view:
    Red's Porch
    Green Mesquite - Rent one of the public bikes (I think there's a depot near your hotel) bike to Barton Springs Pool, then bike down Barton Springs to Green Mesquite and have a growler of Shiner in their backyard - wings are very good there, but not much else)
    Lake table at Trio in Four Seasons
    Oasis (need a car to drive to Lake Travis) - DRINKS ONLY the food is horrible and the drinks are expensive, but the view is nice.

    Bit of a Drive but a very Texas experience:
    Ginny's Little Longhorn - Chicken S**t Bingo, y'all!
    Salt Lick (food is awful, but it's byob and the experience is full-on Texas)

    Go dancing at the Broken Spoke (there's usually a very sweet young man and a very much older man there to help the ladies learn to two-step).

    Okay, there's my "shotgun" version of Austin.

    33 Replies
    1. re: amysuehere
      TroyTempest RE: amysuehere Mar 19, 2014 07:40 AM

      As for Casino, I haven't been in about 6 months, but it was great. Before that it had been a couple of years, and i heard the rumors.

      As for Salt Lick, i think amysue is being too hard on the place. It's not the best BBQ in the area for sure (the 3 mentioned above are all better), but it's not bad, IMO, and I'd wager better than most that you get in Boston.

      1. re: TroyTempest
        rudeboy RE: TroyTempest Mar 19, 2014 10:45 AM

        Salt lick can be good if your order like this:


        Special sides and baby backs are only on Sundays, so I will only go there on a Sunday.

      2. re: amysuehere
        lexusalhambra RE: amysuehere Mar 19, 2014 01:05 PM

        Perlas for a good cocktail, oysters and some people watching. Excellent time to be on a patio in Austin.

        1. re: lexusalhambra
          topeater RE: lexusalhambra Mar 26, 2014 05:44 AM

          I would never suggest to someone from Boston and San Francisco to eat oysters in Austin. They are used to really fresh oysters.

          1. re: topeater
            rudeboy RE: topeater Mar 26, 2014 10:03 AM

            Don't all the oysters get flown in every day anyhow? I imagine the PEI oysters all flying first class, while the gulf coast ones ride coach.

            1. re: rudeboy
              hlk RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 08:35 AM

              Aren't they still alive when shucked and served?

              1. re: rudeboy
                James Cristinian RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 03:32 PM

                Most likely trucks from Galveston or Houston.

                1. re: James Cristinian
                  TroyTempest RE: James Cristinian Mar 28, 2014 03:37 PM

                  I know Parkside has oysters on the half shell from both coasts, so you can compare.

                  1. re: TroyTempest
                    rudeboy RE: TroyTempest Mar 28, 2014 06:42 PM

                    Yah, austin has oysters now from all over.

                    1. re: rudeboy
                      TroyTempest RE: rudeboy Mar 28, 2014 08:26 PM

                      I'm originally from Galveston, and one time we went on vacation through Savannah, and we went to Paula Dean's uncle or nephew or cousin or something's restaurant. And on the blackboard, "Today's oysters, Galveston, Bay".
                      At the time, I thought, "big woo, you know. I came all this way for saomething i could of got fresher back home."
                      They were good, of course. I think we take them for granted.

                      1. re: TroyTempest
                        rudeboy RE: TroyTempest Mar 29, 2014 02:27 AM

                        Your last statement is so true - one of my best oyster memories is eating baked gulf oysters three ways at 43nd St Oyster Bar in Raleigh. I had a job in Amarillo years ago, and we were staying near an oyster bar all the way up in the TX panhandle. Louisiana expats ran the place. Fresh oysters and gumbo there. Not sure if it is still in operation.

                        Where are the most affordable gulf oysters in Austin?

                        1. re: rudeboy
                          TroyTempest RE: rudeboy Mar 29, 2014 04:44 AM

                          My guess, not based on research would be Quality Seafood on Airport.

                      2. re: rudeboy
                        girloftheworld RE: rudeboy Mar 29, 2014 07:04 AM

                        You know the oyster bar at the new Whole Foods over by the Domain is not bad

                        1. re: girloftheworld
                          TroyTempest RE: girloftheworld Mar 29, 2014 08:44 AM

                          Haven't tried it, but I did see it. They have oysters from all over, right?
                          The beer bar itself is pretty impressive.

                          1. re: TroyTempest
                            girloftheworld RE: TroyTempest Mar 29, 2014 08:59 AM

                            yep they do... the prices were not too horrid but the varity was fun..
                            I dont know if you match you beer to oysters like wine but...I know they have a bucket of 99 cent "walking around"beer too

                            1. re: girloftheworld
                              TroyTempest RE: girloftheworld Mar 29, 2014 09:10 AM

                              yep. I had one of those

                          2. re: girloftheworld
                            Rptrane RE: girloftheworld Mar 29, 2014 07:32 PM

                            Oyster were horrible at Whole Foods.

              2. re: amysuehere
                chispa_c RE: amysuehere Mar 19, 2014 07:29 PM

                I agree with all suggestions except Casino. I simply do not understand the appeal of such a seedy place for a sloppy, greasy burger. Please don't waste your time on that mess.

                1. re: chispa_c
                  TroyTempest RE: chispa_c Mar 19, 2014 08:00 PM

                  What's wrong with sloppy, greasy burgers or seedy places?

                  1. re: TroyTempest
                    amysuehere RE: TroyTempest Mar 20, 2014 08:27 AM

                    I think it exemplifies "old Austin." This is one of those places you just squint your eyes a bit and enjoy the vibe.

                    Is it the best damn burger in town? No, but it's pretty good. But what it lacks, it more than makes up for it in the unique atmosphere.

                    You can get urban "gentrified" food in any big city now. What I want when I travel is that hole-in-the-wall with local flavor.

                    One of the best times I had was in Bermuda when someone suggested I call ahead travel to the tip of the island to these two brothers' home for dinner. The food was less than memorable, but the experience was once in a lifetime.

                    1. re: amysuehere
                      rudeboy RE: amysuehere Mar 20, 2014 08:50 AM

                      Nice post, amysuehere. I stayed with a family in Bangladesh for 17 days and, while the food was awesome, the memories of having that food was priceless.

                      And aren't you supposed to go to Casino already having squinted eyes?

                      1. re: amysuehere
                        chispa_c RE: amysuehere Mar 24, 2014 08:22 AM

                        If you love sloppy, greasy burgers and seedy places, of course...go...squint your eyes and have a blast. You have your preferences and I have mine. I just thought I'd throw in my dos pesos so Weiszguy had a full picture of this place prior to going.

                        I've been in Austin for 47 years and my family has been here for 3 generations. Casino does not exemplify "Old Ausin" to me at all. Dirty Martin's, yes, Casino - absolutely not.

                        1. re: chispa_c
                          amysuehere RE: chispa_c Mar 24, 2014 10:57 AM

                          Dirty Martin's used to be old Austin to me, too...until they started buying pre-made patties and not squishing them on the grill. Now, they're nothing special.

                          There was a place in El Paso that made the BEST green chile burgers by pressing minced onions on one side of the meatball and then squishing it down on a super-hot griddle. Apparently, for both Dirty M's and this place, the health department in both cities decided that was a no-no.

                        2. re: amysuehere
                          chispa_c RE: amysuehere Mar 24, 2014 10:10 AM

                          By the way, Casino is "gentrified" food. Casino may have a Hispanic name but they are not a restaurant created in "old Austin" or of an ethnic Austin Family. My grandmother worked at Green & White grocery store for over 25 years standing right next to her sister while they made the famous tamales sold there. Just because Casino is run down and located on East 6th Street - WEST of I-35 doesn't mean it's grandfathered in as being "gentrified".

                        3. re: TroyTempest
                          slowcoooked RE: TroyTempest Mar 20, 2014 11:36 AM

                          Casino's bloody mary is fantastic to squint with, too.


                          1. re: slowcoooked
                            rudeboy RE: slowcoooked Mar 20, 2014 12:30 PM

                            All I can say is "wow." You can justify it because, basically, it's a spicy salad with some vodka thrown in.

                            1. re: rudeboy
                              rudeboy RE: rudeboy Mar 20, 2014 12:32 PM

                              Oh, just now saw the bacon. Well, a little protein is good, too.

                              1. re: rudeboy
                                slowcoooked RE: rudeboy Mar 20, 2014 03:37 PM

                                how about a meatball ?


                                1. re: slowcoooked
                                  rudeboy RE: slowcoooked Mar 20, 2014 08:48 PM

                                  I wonder how much they charge for that? Twenty?

                                  1. re: rudeboy
                                    TroyTempest RE: rudeboy Mar 20, 2014 08:52 PM

                                    I've had one with all the veggies*, bacon,cheese,and it was only about $10. This is the first i've heard about the meatball.

                                    *IIRC cukes, olives, pickled okra, pickled onions, celery, possibly more

                                    1. re: TroyTempest
                                      rudeboy RE: TroyTempest Mar 20, 2014 08:58 PM

                                      Well, that's a bargain since you don't have to go out for dinner before or after.

                                      1. re: rudeboy
                                        TroyTempest RE: rudeboy Mar 21, 2014 07:20 AM

                                        Well, I stayed and had a big ass amarillo burger, but i did split my fries.

                        4. re: chispa_c
                          girloftheworld RE: chispa_c Mar 20, 2014 03:19 PM

                          plus it is haunted

                      2. s
                        SlickTheCat RE: Weiszguy Mar 19, 2014 08:22 AM

                        Hit up Chavez for Happy Hour - 4 to 6 everyday, half off all beer, liquor and bar food. Also has a great view of Lady Bird Lake.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: SlickTheCat
                          cocobinga RE: SlickTheCat Mar 19, 2014 09:19 AM

                          Great tip, thanks!

                          1. re: SlickTheCat
                            amysuehere RE: SlickTheCat Mar 19, 2014 09:59 AM

                            Yes! I was trying to remember the name. I haven't been, but it has a rooftop and you're not paying Four Seasons prices.

                            We've been waiting for a nice spring day - NOT SxSW to hit it.

                          2. w
                            Weiszguy RE: Weiszguy Mar 19, 2014 10:33 AM

                            Thanks, all! Sounds like I'd better arrive hungry and thirsty!

                            1. girloftheworld RE: Weiszguy Mar 19, 2014 06:34 PM

                              fun diffrent Austinie and inexpensive
                              Biscuts and Groovy food truck
                              counter cafe
                              Marias Tacos
                              Full English
                              ELizabeth Street Cafe
                              Pizza and Drinks at Violet Crown
                              Swifts Attic
                              Barley Swine
                              Qui(higher end not as expensive as uchiko and has cool cocktails)
                              Uchiko( pricey but worth it--order the specials not the sushi)
                              If you are bbq geeks ( i am not) the Franklins Pilgramage is fun .. I met the Wife of Bath and heard some saucy tales during mine.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: girloftheworld
                                slowcoooked RE: girloftheworld Mar 20, 2014 11:39 AM

                                Strongly support Via 313's pizza, it's easily my favorite in town regardless of the styles. And as much as I loved the combo of the pizza and Violet Crown - apparently the 313 guys moved down to South Congress. Any ideas if it's a move, or just another truck worth of expansion?

                                1. re: slowcoooked
                                  storefronteats RE: slowcoooked Mar 20, 2014 02:34 PM

                                  We had pizzas from their original E. 6th location last night, so I guess that's an expansion. Good for them!

                                  1. re: storefronteats
                                    slowcoooked RE: storefronteats Mar 20, 2014 03:37 PM

                                    Oh that's great news. The more the merrier and the violet crown marriage is just perfect.

                                    1. re: slowcoooked
                                      TroyTempest RE: slowcoooked Mar 20, 2014 08:39 PM

                                      yeah, I'd be bummed if the left the VC parking lot

                              2. w
                                WesTexas RE: Weiszguy Mar 20, 2014 04:55 AM

                                Saturday morning
                                republic square farmers market


                                @ 9 am you can eat from

                                recent menu:
                                Duck, Hog Head and Wild Onion Gumbo with Gulf coast rice.

                                Bacon, Chorizo and Egg Taco with chipotle salsa and cortido.

                                Achiote Pork Rib with tortilla casserole, cortido and carrot top sauce.

                                Sprouted Wheat Toast with a duck egg, artichoke, pea shoots, herbs and duck fat hollandaise.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: WesTexas
                                  topeater RE: WesTexas Mar 26, 2014 05:49 AM

                                  Also, check out Odd Duck on South Lamar. Really yummy food. Used to be a trailer on the same spot.

                                  1. re: topeater
                                    Rptrane RE: topeater Mar 26, 2014 03:58 PM

                                    I don't know if it's very Austinie but it's pretty good food. FYI it's tapas.
                                    If the OP wants fine dining I'd recommend Hudson. Lots of game meat on the menu and the place is kinda cool. But it's not a hip young place at all.
                                    GF had very good oysters at Lambert's for what it's worth.

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