Austin, TX recommendations
December 5, 2005 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in downtown Austin, TX for a conference at the end of this week and would appreciate recommendations to any good food/brew in the area.

I'll be at the Hilton Convention Center and without rental car, so walking distance radius, please. Also, does anyone know how tough it is to use the Austin bus system? I'd love to go from the Hilton, (at 500 E. 4th St) to the Austin Homebrew Supply store: 7951 Burnet Road

(Small town boy with no city bus experience)
: )
posted by spock to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
7900 Burnet is going to be about 75 blocks north of you, so that's kind of a haul. The bus system is okay. I wouldn't do it :-)

You should try the BBQ at Iron Works, which is at 1st and Red River, just a little south of you.
posted by popechunk at 8:02 AM on December 5, 2005

I didn't think you could do it on the bus system without multiple stops, but you may be in luck.
(Go to the Cap Metro website if you want to plan a different time.)
posted by j at 8:09 AM on December 5, 2005

BTW, I didn't mention 6th street because I assumed you could find that one on your own
posted by popechunk at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2005

I'm a fan of the "warehouse district," which has gotten increasingly busy in the last few years.

My favorite beer joint is the Gingerman.

There's also the bitter end/bsides.
posted by fnord at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2005

Hey fnord, I'd heard that Bitter End was no more due to a fire.

I second the Gingerman. LOTS of good beer.
posted by popechunk at 8:25 AM on December 5, 2005

Third Ginerman - their on-tap selection is ... WOW. Bitter End is done due to fire (ntm location allegedly sold to W Hotels). Fado might be cool. Saba, which is next door, has a good happy hour. Kyoto has a killer happy "hour" on Sushi, 6-6:45PM. It's right above the Elephant Room which is a cool jazz lounge if that's your thing.

If you clarify what food/price range/crowd you're going for I could list a few more.

Bus to 79th and Burnet? HAHAHA. Good one.
posted by fourstar at 8:41 AM on December 5, 2005

If you want good Mexican, head over to Congress and 2nd and hit Last Manitas. Breakfast and lunch only, but very tasty.

I'm w/ everyone else on the Homebrew place. It's way out of your way and public transportation can be spotty outside downtown.
posted by Gilbert at 8:47 AM on December 5, 2005

And while you're at Gingerman, be sure to try Real Ale. IMHO, it's the best local brew right now.
posted by popechunk at 8:54 AM on December 5, 2005

Response by poster: The site is pretty cool. It looks like three buses and a total of .8 mi walking (each way). That doesn't sound too bad. Is there some other reason you are recommending not taking the bus?
posted by spock at 9:04 AM on December 5, 2005

If you're going to be downtown, head to the Capitol building and the big bus stop in front of it. Wait for the #3 and take that north. It'll take you up along Burnet quite a ways to Anderson Ln and then turn left. Lucky for you, the place you want seems to be right there. Just get off at the first stop after it turns and go back to Burnet and head north.

To get back, just go to the bus stop you got off on. The #3 loops around the Northcross Mall and heads south back down Burnet (if I recall correctly). I used to do this ride all the time and it's not bad.

As for food downtown, Hut's is great for burgers and Frank & Angie's which is right behind it, is great for pizza. If you have time to kill, try Curra's, which you'll pass on Burnet if you make your sojourn, is great Mexican.
posted by picea at 9:07 AM on December 5, 2005

The Hilton is nice, and there is tons to do within walking distance.

If you're looking to "go out", both Sixth Street, and Fourth Street (aka Warehouse District) offer many choices. Sixth Street is a little younger more party typoe crowd. Fourth Street is a little older, a little more upscale crowd. Both areas are easy walking distance, and picking a place is as easy as just walking from one bar to the next to decide which place looks good to you.

If you're interested in beer selection, yes the Gingerman is very good.

As far as food goes, there are some good choice in the area. Moonshine has a good Sunday brunch. As mentioned above, Iron Works has good barbecue. I like Stubb's Barbecue, and Artz Rib House (which isn't as close) also.

If you can make it outside of downtown, the Mexican (Tex Mex) food at Matt's El Racnho or Guero's is very good.

If your price range is a little higher, Thistle Cafe and Gumbo's are very good.
posted by stovenator at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2005

Holy hell. Bitter end is gone? I had some great memories there.

I dig Fado's as well. Pretty typical "Irish Pub in America" place.

I gotta mention Lovejoys, which looks like it's closing in March of next year.
604 Neches. See if they have their Espresso Stout. One of the finest brews I've ever had.

A couple other places of note.

The Draughthouse - up on 41st & medical parkway.

As always, there's the Alamo Drafthouse.
posted by fnord at 9:31 AM on December 5, 2005

Best answer: The sad fact is that Downtown Austin is generally the worst place to eat in town. The further you can go, the better the food gets. Downtown is generally fancy, overpriced and mediocre.

Definitely go the the Alamo Drafthouse for a movie and brews.

The Bitter End B-Side is open and has good beer. (The restaurant itself never really made me happy.) Gingerman has quite the selection.

There is a Curra's east of South Congress on Oltorf that is closer than the one on Burnet that's already been mentioned. The Orange 'Dillo (local shuttle) will get you within a few minutes walking distance and it's free. They serve interior and Yucateca styles of Mexican food and their Currita Margarita comes in a pint glass and will make you wobbly. I like their cochinita pibil and their al pastor.

Many people swear by Las Manitas, including my sister and wife. I hate it. Instead, take a cab east on 7th to El Azteca. I love the Carne de Puerco Chipotle cooled down with a coupla margaritas on the rocks. After the meal you get a choice of sherbert or a cookie. Go with the cookie. Ignore the fire and the cooling promise of the frozen treat and get the damn cookie. I love that cookie. If you need a Mexican restaurant to walk to, I suggest Manuel's just north of 3rd on Congress. It's kinda a modern take on Mexican, but their ceviche is consistently excellent and their drinks are just dandy.

Another excellent choice (and accessible by a cab ride but not foot) is Maria's Taco Xpress on South Lamar. Gorditas are the food of the gods. Their migas are pretty good, too.

Moonshine's sunday brunch is pretty good. I tried it for the first time a few weeks ago. Modernized southern comfort food. Easy walk from downtown.

Close to downtown on South Congress (still the Orange 'Dillo route) is Vespaio. It's one of the best Italian places in town, but definitely on the more expensive side. Even closer in is Jo's Hot Coffee Good Food. It's the place to go to sit on the sidewalk and stare at the freaks from behind your dark glasses. Plenty of weird hair and tattoos rubbing shoulders with the Botox Betties.

Maybe a short list of decent downtown restaurants unencumbered by long editorials:
Noodle-ism - W 5th - cheap, quick pan-asian noodle dishes
Scholz Garden - San Jacinto - German food and beer
Texas Chili Parlor - Lavaca - chunky red chili
Dona Emilia's - San Jacinto - South American Food
Habana - 6th St. - Cuban food
Mike's Pub - E 7th - great burger place hidden in a parking garage
Ranch 616 - Nueces - had some good meat/game dishes there.

As for the Austin Homebrew Supply trip, your question made me spend five bucks so I could post here after lurking for years (and acquiring reams of useful information).
I live just South of Downtown and have planned a trip to the store in order to pick up ingredients. I intend to go Friday or Saturday. Moving North/South on regular buses (not Dillos) in Austin has been, in my experience, a difficult venture. Feel free to drop me a line and maybe we can carpool.

Beer and Food, I must buy my clothes in the Husky Boy section of Montgomery Ward.
posted by Seamus at 11:05 AM on December 5, 2005

Ooh, I have two more downtown(ish) places to eat. The Clay Pit (Guadalupe at about 16th) serves really tasty Indian food w/ a modern flair. For down-home greasy meat and taters, try The Hoffbrau (W. 6th, across from Katz' Deli). It's not fancy by any stretch, and there's no menu to speak of (you get to pick a small or large steak), but it's as old-school as it comes, and it's definitely an old-Austin experience.
posted by Gilbert at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2005

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