{getaway} Eats in Austin TX

Now I’m no expert on Texas. In fact, as a hippie liberal San Franciscan, it’s usually something I purposely don’t mess with (as advised by many a bumper sticker and t-shirt.) I’d just humbly like to share some of my favorite and most memorable food experiences from Austin.

Austin, Texas is a terrific town to spend a long weekend (or more) visiting. They’ve got so much to offer! Sights, sounds, history, bats, live music, art, you name it. On top of that, they have a wide variety of eateries and drinkeries (is that a word?) that are sure to please every palate. Heck, they’ve even got a wine country (sort of.) Simply put, I had a terrific time eating and drinking my way through Austin and I recommend you get your butt out there sometime.

Favorite overall: Uchi Being from San Francisco, you can understand we were all a little skeptical about going to a Japanese restaurant in Austin, but time and time again it surfaced in recommendations as the BEST restaurant in all of Austin. Turns out there’s good reason for that whole “assume = ass out of u and me” because, DAMN, that is a fine restaurant. The setting is lovely, the service is terrific, and the food is divine. It’s not pretentious, although it surely could be with the quality of food they’re producing. My favorite thing was little morsels of marbled beef that you cooked on lava-hot rocks at the table. The inventive sashimi was also a highlight. If Uchi were in my own city, I’m quite certain I’d frequent it with vigor. We ate there early so our drinks were happy-hour prices, but even so, when the bill came and it was only $25 a person for this incredibly thoughtful dining experience, it absolutely flippin’ boggled my mind.

For strong drinks and a good jukebox: Shangri-La The quintessentially perfect hipster dive bar. A couple video games, some mismatched furniture, strong pours on the gin, a devil-may-care design aesthetic, and a rockin’ jukebox. They have a large outside patio for balmy nights as well.

For BBQ: Sam’s BBQ Good LORD, how people in this town fight over the best BBQ. It’s completely overwhelming. I spent hours on Chowhound before the trip trying to figure out what was legitimate, what was overrated, and so forth, and all that happened was that I was even more confused. I went with Sam’s and I was happy with my choice. It’s not the most picturesque area but the brisket and sausages were excellent, and the place is a riot. Five people ate disgustingly well (including banana pudding, yessiree) for around $25.

Honorable Mention: House Park Bar-B-Que I didn’t eat here but anyone who comes up with the slogan “Need no teef to eat my beef” deserves kudos.

For something a little nicer: Parkside At first blush, Parkside seems a bit too clever and trendy, but quickly wins you over with inventive, delicious food. They have an excellent wine list, and it’s oh-so-easy to linger there over small plates until late.

For the infamous Frito Pie: Shady Grove Need I say more? It’s a bag of Fritos slit open with chili inside. You wouldn’t want to eat it every day but you shouldn’t die without trying it once. For what it’s worth, all of the other food at Shady Grove is top notch, and if you can snag a seat on the outdoor patio, you’ll be loath to give it up and move on.

For a pretty spot to sip on wine: Hotel San Jose The rooms at this adorable boutique hotel are a little too rich for my blood, but the common space has a well-designed indoor-outdoor flow that makes it a gem for a wine and cheese break after vintage shopping on South Congress.

For dessert on the run: Hey Cupcake truck Chase it down if you must, but everyone should experience a cupcake from a truck. There are actually multiples: a truck that drives around, and an airstream trailer parked on South Congress. I really wish I could remember which flavor I liked the best, but one gets confused when one eats them ALL.

For a throwback cocktail experience: Pêche And by throwback, I’m talkin’ like 1890s. Pêche is a gorgeous rambling bar in a room that looks straight out of the past, and the drink list is full of whimsical takes on old-fashioned cocktails. They’ve done a great job of making a comfortable, updated scene nestled within this funky space. The drinks are strong and served by knowledgeable folks.

For a food-friendly weekend: Austin is a great choice!

Sam’s Bar-B-Cue
House Park Bar-B-Q
Shady Grove
Hotel San Jose
Hey Cupcake
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