Stacy Lambe already introduced you to Trudy's, the Austin-based chain that serves Mexican food and killer margaritas all around town. But Lambe wasn't alone at SXSW. Kevin Farrell,co-owner of one of New Orleans' hottest new restaurants and bars, Booty's Street Food, was in Austin to speak on the "Blog to Brick: How We Turned Our Blog into a Bar" panel but broke away to see what was up on the Austin food scene. His report: the scene is good.
Like Lambe, Farrell did his part to support the local food truck economy, and spoke particularly highly of two: the Korean-Mexican fusion Chi'Lantro -- "This truck was somehow every single place I went all week long. Their kimchee fries are their claim to fame, but they make amazing korean pork burritos." -- and The Butcher's Son, which serves 'inspired sliders" including chicken thighs and mashed potatoes. Not only was The Butcher's Son Farrell's favorite mobile kitchen at SXSW's food truck park, but it "was one of the best meals I ate in Austin."
But Farrell didn't spend all his meals roaming the streets. He managed to sit down at actual restaurants, too, including Halcyon on 4th Street, which he calls "part dessert restaurant, part cafe, part bar, part high end smoke shop." "Think adult milkshakes, s'mores and fancy imported cigarettes. Perfect after-sex dining," he says. And as for Easy Tiger, a German-flavored restaurant and beer garden, Farrell was struck by the happy staff. "Cafe upstairs, German restaurant downstairs, and enormous beer garden in the back," Farrell gushes of this local favorite (pictured below). "This place has it all, and the staff loooooves working here. Everybody was obviously proud of the food and the good vibes they were putting out. Gorgeous design. Loved it." He was also quite fond of the French cuisine at Chez Nous, a casual spot with fairly fancy prices.
Speaking of French, Austin resident PJ Raval, the director of Before You Know It, suggested visitors try Justine's Brasserie. "It's a French restaurant, but it's got that cheap joint feel to it," he says. "It's a great place to bring a couple of friends and have a bottle of wine and have a good meal, and just get away from the festival and have a great conversation." And Paval's also quite fond of Frank, a fancy hot dog and sausage place on Colorado that also serves veggie and gluten-free fare.
Elsewhere in Austin, our previous travels Chuy's, one of the first places to label its cuisine "Tex-Mex," and Rosie's Tamale House serves similar dishes, as does Polvo's, which is best known for its lunch specials, daily lunch specials. And the lesbian-owned El Sol y La Luna serves live music alongside its formidable Mexican cuisine. Live music also comes with the meal at Stubbs Bar-B-Q, the place to go for Sunday gospel brunches, though many say its BBQ doesn't hold a candle to Salt Lick on Presidential Blvd. And Woodland puts a more refined spin on Sloppy Joes, fritters and other Southern food that keeps locals coming back for more. Lambert's too is on the upscale side of the BBQ spectrum.
For less site-specific dishes, try Eastside Cafe, a lesbian-owned joint serving organic fare like sesame catfish or wild mushroom crepes. And elegant Italian can be found at the always-hopping South Congress Cafe, while Uchi offers diners adventurous sushi in the heart of Austin. And no matter what taste lingers after dinner, be sure to replace it with one of Amy's Ice Cream's dozens of flavors. Perhaps Amour, a sweet cream blended with cream cheese, cinnamon, pears, and red wine?