It’s March, and with that comes a couple of my favorite things. March Madness and SXSW.
Since a lot of people will be coming to Austin for SXSW (Music, Interactive, or Film), I thought it would be cool to give you a guys a couple of recommendations for where to eat or drink. We are all about supporting local eats here in ATX, so no chains will be recommended.
There are enough options here that it can be overwhelming for anyone. It’s overwhelming for me and there are a few spots where the tourists go that aren’t necessarily the top spots.
I know what it’s like looking on Yelp when arriving in a new town – you’re just hoping and guessing the restaurant will be good and that reviews weren’t fake. Let me help you guys out. Noob it up—>
Don’t do P. Terrys – Do Hopdoddy
P. Terrys is okay for a fast food burger, but for a real burger, go to HopDoddy on South Congress (aka SoCo). They have an array of burgers to choose from, and make their buns fresh and in-house.
I like the Primetime burger. It comes with Texas Akaushi Beef, brie cheese, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions, and steak sauce. I also love the Nutella and Chocholate Pretzel shake (maybe a little too much). Hopdoddy has a nice selection of local brews on tap, too. Major perk.
Austin has a ton of food trailers or “roach coach” options. There are food trailer parks on South Congress, South First Street, and on the rapidly growing East Side. Plus, you will find random food trailers all over the city.
You have to hit up the food trailers on South Congress because they are being closed after SXSW! For what? The group that owns ACL (the festival I dread every year in Austin) is going to build a hotel and other restaurants. There is a petition going around to try and stop it, though.
My favorite spot in the SoCo food trailer park is Hey Cupcake!
I know they are growing and expanding, but you have to stop at a Torchy’s location. I love their fried avocado taco, and the salsa is incredible.
My favorite queso in town is at Matt’s Famous El Rancho on South Lamar. The “Bob Armstrong” is worth the trip. Their chips are big – you know, the ones so gigantic that you have to break them into three pieces before you dip them into the queso. Stellar.
Currently, my favorite mexican restaurant is Papolote Taco House on South Lamar. It’s actually more like authentic mexican food, rather than “tex mex,” but it’s very fresh and the lunch prices are killer.
Don’t Eat at Stubbs or Salt Lick
Stubbs and Salt Lick are good, no doubt, but there are much better BBQ options in ATX. Those are just the places out-of-towners eat at, and we feel obligated to take people there who are visiting. Let’s stop that.
Instead, you need to try Franklin BBQ, which has received national attention as one of the better places to eat BBQ. The lines can be long and once they run out of food that they have prepared for the day, they are out.
If you don’t go for Franklin (or you get there too late), try Mueller BBQ. The guys who started Franklin were apprentices under Mueller and the Mueller family has a long history of producing great BBQ. The best ribs I have ever eaten. Period.
If you want to venture out of Austin, then you need to check out Blacks BBQ in Lockhart. It’s worth the trip!
East Side Eating
In the last few years, the East side of town has become a popular place to hang out, grab a beer, and eat some grub. Some of the SXSW shows are even on the East Side. It’s the new, hip Austin.
It’s a little out of the way from downtown, but Jack Allen’s kitchen has my favorite happy hour in town. The food is incredible and the appetizers are half-priced. The apps are big enough to be considered a meal, so Jordan and I usually get a couple of those, plus, homemade guacamole with pumpkin seeds. Yummy.
Our favorite apps are the BLT Sliders (grilled pork belly, micro greens, fried green tomatoes, house made pimento cheese and JAK’s slaw) and the Barbacoa Stackers (slow roasted barbacoa, layers of refried black beans, jack cheese, JAK’s slaw and cotija cheese).
Another happy hour hot spot for us is Red’s Porch on South Lamar. I like to get competitive with shuffle board, washers, and darts while having a local brew. Plus, they are dog friendly. They will bring our dog a bowl of water before us. I respect that.
For those beer drinkers out there, this is for you. Austin has a lot of local breweries to choose from and most local spots will have a few on tap. A few of my favorites are the Live Oak Hefeweizen, (512) Pecan Porter, Independence Bootlegger, and any beer from Adelberts.
These are just a few of my Austin favorites and by no means a full review of all eats in Austin. I’m no food critic, but I do love to eat good food. I hope this helps if you’re visiting Austin for SXSW (or anytime).
I’m hungry now.
— Geoff Whitmore