Eat, Drink, Man, Austin
September 23, 2009 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Austin TX restaurant recommendations for a group of eight guys getting together for the weekend, esp. BBQ and Mexican.

I have an annual trip that brings together a group of guys from around the country to a different spot every year. This year it's Austin TX. We've got a group of eight renting a house outside of town, but will definitely be heading into town for eats and nightlife.

The group tends to lean towards the boisterous, so any recommendations on restaurants? BBQ and Mexican are my preferred Austin cuisine, but open to anything, provided booze can be ordered.

note: I did do my due diligence and found a previous related question, but there's enough turnover in the restaurant biz that I think my Q is still worth asking...
posted by mcstayinskool to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
well if you are willing to drive Krues's in lockhart is really good. Big tables, good bar-b-que.

Haven't been there in a long time but iron works is good but i think the hours are weird.
posted by djduckie at 8:49 PM on September 23, 2009

Polvo's in South Austin is a great Mexican place - always crowded, delicious food, and lots of fun.

For BBQ, Artz Rib House and Rudi's are great in town. If you're willing to drive (it's worth it), go to Lockhart, TX or Taylor, TX.

You didn't mention sushi, but if you like it, you really need to go to Uchi. I'm serious.
posted by Pants! at 8:55 PM on September 23, 2009

Mexican: Polvo's on S. 1st is a good time.
BBQ: Yeah, if you wanna head to Lockhart, there's good BBQ out that way. In town(ish), your best bet is probably either County Line or Rudy's.
posted by kaseijin at 8:56 PM on September 23, 2009

On preview: Damn you, Pants!

(I just wanted to say "Damn you, Pants!")
posted by kaseijin at 8:57 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Damn you, Pants!

hey that does feel good...
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2009

People are going to get tired of me recommending this place, but Guero's on South Congress is the best Mexican restaurant in Austin.
posted by jayder at 9:42 PM on September 23, 2009

When venturing outside of the Austin city limits be aware that some places do not serve alcohol but may allow you to bring your own (e.g. Salt Lick), and/or do not take credit cards. With a party of eight it's probably a good idea to call ahead in any case.

Within Austin:

For Mexican, I like Curra's on Oltorf, or Maudie's for a more Tex/Mex experience. Finding parking for Curra's can suck when it's busy.

BBQ: I've been happy with most things I've had at Artz. I've heard good things about Lambert's downtown, but I've not been there myself.

With respect to Guero's I would like to register my firm dissent. The food is not that good, the service is basically adequate, and parking is a hassle in that area all weekend.

(djduckie: did you mean Kreuz Market in Lockhart?)
posted by scatter gather at 10:01 PM on September 23, 2009

Chuy's is tops for Tex-Mex, for my money. Booze a-plenty and it ain't fancy. Parking can suck, though.

"Damn you, Pants!" If I had a nickel for every time I said that, I'd have a helluva lot of nickels!
posted by GPF at 10:35 PM on September 23, 2009

Seconding Guero's on South Congress for Mexican food! Get some chips and queso.

Registering dissent for Chuy's. For my money, it might as well be TGI Friday's.

(Great, now I'm stuck here in China with no queso)
posted by alight at 11:30 PM on September 23, 2009

Rudy's for BBQ, Chuy's for Mexican.
posted by Nattie at 1:57 AM on September 24, 2009

(djduckie: did you mean Kreuz Market in Lockhart?)

of course he didn't mean Kreuz! He meant Smitty's! /bbqwar
posted by Pants! at 3:49 AM on September 24, 2009

When the Texas Monthly BBQ list came out last year there was only one restaurant in Austin on the list - Mann's. Since then the increase in business has affected the consistency a bit, but they still put up a mean plate of BBQ. Better for lunch than dinner. No booze, closed Sunday and Monday.

I went to Green Mesquite recently and was impressed. The place is nicer than the food, but overall it was a good time and good for the sort of thing you are looking for.

Rudy's is surprisingly good.

I like Curra's and Maudie's and Polvo's, I've never had a good experience at Guero's. Chuy's is good for what it is, and it might be good for your purposes - they are set up to handle a fairly boisterous group of 8 guys in a way that, say, Curra's is not.
posted by dirtdirt at 4:22 AM on September 24, 2009

agreed with Rudy's for bbq.

and if you can stand a place that feels a bit like a chain restaurant (but doesn't Chuy's?) and serves Polynesian Tex-Mex, you can try Hula Hut, owned by the same people as Chuy's, I think. Really nice location on Lake Austin, you can sit outside, etc.

I think the other Dining in Austin question mentioned Magnolia, but go, and get the gingerbread pancakes. Hut's Hamburgers for the onion rings too.
posted by jenmess at 4:38 AM on September 24, 2009

People are going to get tired of me recommending this place, but Guero's on South Congress is the best Mexican restaurant in Austin.

Man do I disagree. Guero's is the best Anglo-friendly interpretation of a Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin. Lovely salads.

It is Kreuz's in Lockhart; and there is also Black's. The two are in eternal competition as the "oldest in Texas" (because Lockhart was the first stop north of San Antone on the Chisolm trail).

Salt Lick is a party and a half. My band used to play there a lot and everyone seemed to be having a blast.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:25 AM on September 24, 2009

Salt Lick because it has an all-you-can-eat option and it's BYOB! I'd say that's about perfect for a group of 8 guys. It's a little ways out of town, and some might tell you it's not the best bbq around, but don't listen to them. I love the food.
posted by Durin's Bane at 5:38 AM on September 24, 2009

County Line on 2222 has damn good ribs and a view of the creek.
posted by spamguy at 6:32 AM on September 24, 2009

If you want strong margaritas you have to check out el Caribe. It's a bit north of downtown/soco area, but lemme tell ya, their margaritas come with a warning when they bring them out, and after 2 you are set :D

The food is tasty, but I'm veg, so I've only had a few dishes, and they have a salsa bar with a bunch of different kinds of salsas. Small place, but worth checking out if you want to drink on the cheap.
posted by theRussian at 7:19 AM on September 24, 2009

Salt Lick is more about atmosphere. Their BBQ is fine but not worth the trip on its own merits, IMO. I'm a big fan of Hoover's, which has very good BBQ and also very good southern home cooking in general.

There's also Lambert's downtown. This is a distinctly upscale and fancified BBQ and home-cooking type place, which is weird, but the food is damn good.

Guerro's is a fine Mexican joint—great tortilla soup—but be prepared for a long (possibly 90-minute) wait. Especially if you go there on a weekend. I haven't been there in forever, but Matt's El Rancho is an institution.
posted by adamrice at 7:19 AM on September 24, 2009

Gonna dissent on Guero's. It's one of those "Austin institutions" that kinda sorta leaves you wondering why exactly it's an institution. Not that it's bad, per se, it's just sort of unremarkable. You eat at Guero's and, a week down the road, you won't even remember it. My $0.02, anyway.

The problem to me is that Guero's tries to be a taqueria in a city where there are much better taquerias, instead of trying to excel at Tex-Mex, which they could probably do better. Their tacos are good, but if you want a good authentic taco experience, then hit up one of the numerous taquerias on East Riverside and skip Guero's. If you want good Tex-Mex, then yeah... pretty much every other recommendation here will still serve you better. My personal faves to suggest to folks is, as mentioned, Polvo's. El Caribe is also pretty good (and I go there often), but kind of in an area of ATX that is less fun for visitors. Maudie's is also good times... and great for breakfast/brunch, since you can get pancakes as well as huevos rancheros. That said, Trudy's also has a fairly decent weekend Mexi-American brunch buffet. Juan in a Million (on E. Cesar Chavez) also has some damn fine breakfast tacos.

I do love some Salt Lick for BBQ, but if you're gonna drive that far out of town anyway, why not just go to Lockhart?
posted by kaseijin at 8:20 AM on September 24, 2009

Oh, and Maria's Taco Express is good for breakfast, too!
posted by kaseijin at 8:20 AM on September 24, 2009

jayder: Guero's on South Congress is the best Mexican restaurant in Austin.

I cannot express how much I disagree with this statement. We live within a few minutes walk of Güero's and we have eaten there all of once. Why? Because our tacos consisted of dry chewy hunks of beef on dry crumbly tortillas, for which we had to wait 45 minutes and pay way more than they were worth. I want to give them another try at some point because I feel like I haven't given them a fair shake, but our experience there was terrible.

If you really want tacos (and you should), I like Torchy's for more Anglo-friendly fare and Tacodeli in general (especially for breakfast). There are loads of taco places in town, though, and there are really authentic and delicious ones to be had if you look around on the East Side, which is generally east of I-35 (it helps if you speak a little Spanish).

Curra's down south is good, but probably not equipped to handle a boisterous crowd of eight guys. For a group your size, I'd recommend checking out the restaurants on Barton Springs -- Chuy's, Uncle Billy's, and Shady Grove are all pretty good.

Uncle Billy's has really very decent BBQ and they brew their own beer (I love Uncle Billy's and will shamelessly plug them given the chance). Shady Grove has tasty Chicken Fried Steak. Chuy's is sort of unremarkable Tex-Mex, but they'll easily be able to handle a crowd your size and they make tasty drinks (the Bush sisters got caught there for underage drinking).

Most of Magnolia Cafe's food is merely so-so, but their Mag Mud queso is delicious. Open 24/7, so if a craving for queso hits at 2am, it's your place.

Austin has a strong Yelp! community if you run out of recommendations from here. Most of the reviews are pretty even handed, and most of the ratings are fair.

kaseijin: It's one of those "Austin institutions" that kinda sorta leaves you wondering why exactly it's an institution.

I feel like there are a lot of those in Austin. Threadgill's and Matt's El Rancho spring to mind. But then again I think bland flavorless gloopy food is gross.

posted by malthas at 10:06 AM on September 24, 2009

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