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May 21, 2014 08:11 PM

Anniversary Meal - This Weekend - 05/24 - 05/25

I just learned that Austin is in the middle of Restaurant Week. My wife and I have a little one so we generally eat at the first seating anywhere we go. We are coming from the Dallas area. Does anyone have any suggestions for two very adventurous eaters in Austin that won't be packed with Restaurant Week. Neither of us have any allergies or special diets. We would prefer a tasting menu to show off what is in season before the summer burns it all up. We have really enjoyed Uchiko, Fino and Olivia in the past. We could even do several small plates at several restaurants and make it a crawl. There are so many new places in Austin that I really have lost track. I just need guidance. The tasting menu is not a deal killer. I just need a couple of suggestions and I will do the research the rest of the way. If I am willing to drive to Austin any part of the city is open! TIA for your help! Also If you need any Asian recommendations in Dallas please let me know.

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  1. restaurant week in austin doesn't seem to be a very big deal. you can see some recent posts about it... also, its from sun-wed so it ends tonight 5/21.

    barley swine might work for you.
    qui has been getting a lot of hype but I wasn't a fan
    uchi (sister restaurant to uchiko) is always good

    1. Good to hear from you again, LewisvilleHounder - appreciate the reciprocal advice on Asian in the Dallas Metro. I've been out of the game myself, having had little ones, but if I were in your shoes, I'd park the car around 4th and brazos and walk to Backspace for the happy hour menu, then venture, on foot, down to the Rainey street area SE of the convention center Check out Bangers, Raj Majal, and El Naranjo. There may be some places in between, (Les Amis, for example). If you want more suburban suggestions, let us know;

      5 Replies
      1. re: rudeboy

        I will look into this area and the restuarants mentioned. I appreciate it. I prefer the city as we are staying in Cedar Park, which there are few options.

        1. re: rudeboy


          How does say Bangers compare to Blind Tiger? Look like both specialize in sausages. Which is the better sauasage maker?

          Garaj Mahal and El Naranjo used to be food trucks correct? What are some of your favorite dishes at each?

          The reason I ask is we have an awesome Indian chef that we know that has yet to be beaten. He is looking to open his place soon in Carrollton close to the new 99 Ranch.

          El Naranjo looks to be a mix of Oaxacan and Yucatecan specialties. Do they have specials or any off menu items? My wife and I toured Oaxaca and had our fair share of moles and the fare down there during the week. We were impressed with mole verde, chapulinas (crickets), mamey (aka Sapote), tamales, and tlayudas.

          I do apperciate the recommendations and have been googling around downtown Austin.

          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            I've been to Bangers three times, and have yet to find anything that I am even moderately excited about. If you want some fabulous sausage, go check out Salt & Time, or hit up Dai Due at the Saturday downtown farmer's market.

            You might also like La Condesa, if you haven't been. Their small plates are really interesting.

            1. re: Optimista

              I would go with La Condesa before El naranjo. They have a really well-prepared brussels sprouts with grapes and lardons.

            2. re: LewisvilleHounder

              I went to El Naranjo in Oaxaca, and it seemed like a tourist trap - that was before the revolution. But for Austin, it is a good destination. I had all seven moles and crickets of all three sizes when I was there.

              "Frank' is good and cheap for sausages and nice cocktails.

              If you are like me, and normally go to the streetside stalls and the old lady food-stands, then you might want to do your food on North Lamar. Shalimar is down and dirty. The goat is incendiary. Just spend all of your time on N Lamar between 183 and Braker. You have indian, viet, chinese, mexican, and all others. Best spot in Austin.

          2. can't argue with chrisdds98 or rudeboy on their suggestions, but we recently finally hit B. Gilmore's brick and mortar version of his odd duck for lunch several days ago and really loved it for the locally sourced ingredients and great value. a list of several larger plates, and 8 to 10 small plate items of which we tried the tater tots, zucchini pancake, carrot salad. then we split a housemade bologna sandwich, she had a very nice orange margarita and me an iced tea - bill was like 40 bucks. we scarfed and smiled the whole time. great experience and service. I liked that the restaurant didn't feel like some in austin do (e.g. Contigo) where they think they're a lot better than they really are and sell you a chicken thigh for 20 dollars and get one of the most forgiving of all meats wrong.

            4 Replies
            1. re: slowcoooked

              Haven't been there, slowcooked, but need to - is the bologna itself house made?

              1. re: rudeboy

                Yep, pork and beef. served thick sliced and fried on a very nice house made ciabatta with some nice veggies and a basil sauce. next time I'd ask for extra of the sauce on the side.

              2. re: slowcoooked

                I was looking at Barley Swine and Foreign and Domestic. F&D seemed to havbe a limited menu and maybe they have quite a few specials not on the menu. Never been so I am unsure.

                When I look at the menu for Uchi vs Uchiko they look the same to me, with very few differences. Since you all are local is there a huge difference between the two?

                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                  With Foreign and Domestic and Uchiko, you could stay on the north side of downtown. I think that combination would be an awesome diptych. I'd just have trouble deciding which to go to first. Maybe Uchiko, then F&D, then go for gelato and nice drinks at the lovely Dolce Vida at 43rd and Duval. That's three quick stops, avoiding downtown, and back to CP pretty quickly. You could sub Uchiko for something else, since you've already been there, or go back and taste some different stuff.

              3. For adventurous eaters who want to try a lot of dishes for an anniversary meal, I would go with Lenoir.

                If you both get different dishes, you can try a lot of stuff. The cooking there is really top notch and the setting is quite romantic.

                I would also suggest LaV as the food is well executed and the setting and service are beautiful. The seafood based dishes at LaV tend to be better in my opinion.

                7 Replies
                1. re: lixlix

                  I've been hearing great things about Lenoir, although I haven't been. How are the wine pairings? Upcharge thirty bucks, so one has to ask.

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    I'm not a big drinker so I usually just get a glass each and skip the pairings.

                    I find the food a great value at $38 for 3 courses.

                    Usually me and the wife get 2 of those and then add a dessert.

                    1. re: lixlix

                      Funny how CH works. You are a man, but I always though that you were a woman. Good to know. Not sure why. No offense intended, and there's nothing in any of your posts that would indicate gender-specific. I'm obviously a boy.

                      Anyhow, I digress. Maybe a good idea just to get a glass. It does sound like a good deal.

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        Women can have wives too these days ...

                        LH, not sure how you both feel about a community table for an anniversary dinner. Barley Swine is community tables as well, which I have found to be only enjoyable, but I also wasn't looking for a romantic experience.

                        Last time I was at Barley Swine it was chef's tasting only. Previously when ordering from the menu I thought everything was perfection ... the chef's menu seemed a little uneven to me, but perhaps it was just my choice being taken away. The cobia and chocolate foie gras soup were both excellent and memorable. Always have an interesting chocolate experience there.

                        1. re: foiegras

                          Given the username, it doesn't seem unlikely that she's a lady. ;-)

                          On topic, I ate at Odd Duck recently and while it was mostly good, I wasn't as impressed as I had expected given all the fuss.

                      2. re: lixlix

                        I think lenoir has great food. i wasn't a fan of the community tables though. can be really annoying if you're sitting next to someone obnoxious

                        1. re: chrisdds98

                          But can't that be fun anyway? You could have a nice conversation at a community table, but the obnoxious ones, you will remember forever. I love community tables.

                  2. I agree with chrisdds98 - not impressed with qui, sadly.

                    I think Uchi is totally different than Uchiko. And I prefer it, actually. There are a few things that we always get there - the hamachi nabe, the bacon steakie, the pitchfork roll. All fantastic. However, you'll need to arrive early or you will almost certainly have a long wait. They do take reservations, but they are very, very limited. This doesn't sound like it'll be an issue for you, though.

                    The Carillon is also wonderful, and hasn't been mentioned here. They just rolled out a new 4 course / $50 menu that I really like. Atmosphere is a little staid, the upside being that you can actually have a conversation with one another without shouting.

                    I've been to Odd Duck twice now, and very much enjoyed it both times, but I don't think it rises to "one awesome meal in Austin" status.

                    I love F&D, but the menu is actually as limited as it looks. They don't usually have a ton of specials.

                    Lenoir is fabulous, too - but it may be too late for you to get a reservation there for this weekend. They fill up way in advance, and it's a teeny tiny restaurant.

                    Oh! Wink also does a nice tasting menu, and they source locally, as well. And if you tell them it's your anniversary when you make the reservation, they'll print out custom celebratory menus for you.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Optimista

                      If you don't mind eating at 5, that is the best way to hit Uchi as a couple. Sit at the sushi bar, hit the Sake Social menu and add some things from the specials and standards. Then treat yourself and finish your mean with Foie Nigiri.

                      1. re: SlickTheCat

                        I started eating at Uchi when it first opened. To me, it's lost it's shine. I really wouldn't waste a meal there since there are so many new restaurants opening in Austin. Plus, Dallas will have it's own Uchi's soon.

                        1. re: topeater

                          You have a point about there being an Uchi in Dallas soon, topeater. But I totally disagree about Uchi having lost its shine. It has something that many of the newer places lack, and that is consistency. I have literally never had a single bad bite of food there, and I have eaten MANY meals there. Of course, I grew up eating Asian food so my preferences tend that way - but I've tried pretty much every upscale place in this town, and Uchi is still very high on my list.