Bites and Barbecue in Austin
Making the list for travel in 2018 was Austin, Texas. This wasn’t my first trip to Texas. My college roommate was from Houston and I have visited Dallas and San Antonio with work. However, many of you may be scratching your heads and wondering why in the world would Austin make it on the list over so many other cities, especially since I live in Nashville.
Reasons I chose Austin:
Live Music (not to mention it’s home to Austin City Limits)
Authentic Tex-Mex Cuisine (um, hello queso!)
Friendly, Hospitable People
Matthew McConaughey ( c’mon ladies, Am I right?)
These are all reasons why Austin is both weird and awesome. More importantly, this is why you should make your next weekend getaway in Austin, Texas.
Given that I only had a few short days and a sprained ankle, I did my best to eat my way through the city. Below you will find some of the establishments I had a chance to check out.
Terry Black’s Barbecue
1003 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704
It would be a cardinal sin to arrive in Austin and not experience their barbecue. In doing my research and asking for recommendations, of course, everyone said you have to go to Franklin Barbecue. Franklin Barbecue is world renown for its delicious meat, but it’s also known for its line that begins hours before they open. Did I really want to commit to standing in line for 4+ hours for one meal? All I could think about are the tourists that line up for Pancake Pantry and Biscuit Love. With the limited amount of time, I couldn’t dedicate that much of it to one place.
One other restaurant continued to pop-up during my research, Terry Black’s Barbecue. Come to find out, even though they get their fair share of tourists, that’s where many of the locals eat. Opting for a late lunch, we made our way to barbecue heaven. As our Uber approached the restaurant, we saw the line that winded around the building. I hopped out and grabbed a place in line while my friends went next door to the local market and grabbed us a beer to sip on while waited. Even though the line looked rather daunting, we made it through in less than thirty minutes, so I’ll consider that a win.
Once it made it inside, we were informed of the rules.
Grab a tray
Scoop the sides
Choose your meat
Smile and be happy, you’re in Texas eating BBQ
I had on good authority that the beef ribs were the can’t miss item, so without hesitation, I quickly ordered one. The guy behind the counter laughed at me because the rib was massive. We began to chat and I told him I was from Nashville and I wanted to sample a little of everything. Approximately one hour and $52.00 later, I had sampled my fair share of Texas BBQ.
Even though I was stuffed, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. While I enjoyed everything I sampled, without a doubt that beef rib was incredible.
1800 E 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78702
When a restaurant makes Bill Addison’s Best New Restaurants in America list, you know it’s most certainly worthy of checking out. Suerte, which is best known for its creative use of masa and its innovative yet simplistic dishes was quite the standout during our trip.
The servers were incredibly helpful and guided us through the menu and made sure we didn’t miss any of the favorites. At times I am guilty of ordering what’s pretty. I’m not going to lie, I want a picture-perfect dish for Instagram or my blog, but it goes without saying every dish was photogenic and delicious.
There were two exceptional dishes we had that evening: chips, salsa, and caldera cheddar as well as the goat barbacoa. While these may sound rather basic, I can assure you they were far from ordinary.
709 E 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78701
One of my favorite things to do while on vacation is to talk to the locals, bartenders, Uber drivers, really anyone that will have a conversation. I can read list after list or Yelp about what’s near me or highly rated, but sometimes it’s nice to have an insider’s perspective. After chatting with one of our bartenders, we ended up at Easy Tiger for our caffeine fix.
Easy Tiger is an artisan bakeshop by day and beer garden/whiskey bar by night. Sounds like the perfect concept, right? While meandering throughout the streets of Austin, we popped in for a cup of coffee and some avocado toast that hit the spot. If my schedule permitted, I would have loved to check out the beer garden. I can imagine it’s perfect on a hot, sunny day.
Guero’s Taco Bar
1412 S Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78704
Gang, I failed you during my visit to Guero’s Taco Bar. Not one picture was taken even though copious amounts of margaritas, chips, and queso were consumed. To be quite honest, we were having way too much fun catching up and the people watching was priceless. The queso was full of flavor and the margaritas were potent. What more do you need? Maybe a sighting of Matthew McConaughey? While he has been known to pull up a seat at the bar and have a drink or two, unfortunately, we did not run into him.
Guero’s is what I’d like to call a neighborhood taco shop. The food is classic and uncomplicated, the cocktails are plentiful and the atmosphere is lively.
Tip: Grab a table on the sidewalk, soak up the sunshine and enjoy Congress Ave.
It seems a bit counter-intuitive that someone would come to Austin and seek out sushi given the abundance of Mexican and BBQ restaurants throughout the city. Nonetheless, Uchi was a restaurant that my Austin friends raved about and told me it was simply a can’t miss. Given the size and popularity of the restaurant, I’d recommend that you make reservations.
We arrived a little early an enjoyed a bottle of bubbles at the bar and perused the menu before we were ushered to our table. Trying to plot out our dishes for the evening became quite difficult because we basically wanted one of everything. As we described our dilemma to our server, she just smiled. (Obviously, this wasn’t the first time she had heard of this.) Seeing that she was the expert, we decided to roll the dice and go with “dealers choice". Typically, this is something that you do at a bar when you can’t decide on a cocktail, but I’ve occasionally done this a time or two at restaurants and it has worked beautifully.
Our server did not disappoint. The dishes were beautifully plated and filled with an abundance of flavor.
Tip: One of the most unique dishes we had during the evening was the Uchi salad. While I won’t spoil the surprise with a photo, I’d highly recommend ordering this dish.
When crowdsourcing recommendations for brunch in Austin, Holy Roller was by far the fan favorite. “Inspired by the spirit of punk rock with a hint of religious kitsch,” Holy Roller’s brunch will most certainly have guests singing their praises by the end of the meal. This is yet another restaurant that doesn’t take reservations so arrive early and prepare to post up with a cocktail or coffee.
Seeing that this was our farewell meal, we loaded up on all things carbs and alcohol. To share, we ordered the Trash Fries and Brussel Sprouts with Apple Butter. Both dishes were perfect for sharing among the table. In true Austin style, I opted for The Local, which seemed like the quintessential brunch dish for Austin. Complete with Stiles Switch brisket, soft scrambled eggs, BBQ sauce, green apple, and cheddar cheese, it’s safe to say that no bite of this dish was left behind. My friends literally had to roll me out of the front door because I was in a total food coma. Yet another reason they call the restaurant Holy Roller!
If 2019 travel plans have Austin, Texas on the list, make sure you check out one or all of these restaurants. Each establishment provides a unique dining experience and culinary creations that won’t disappoint.
Until Next Time!