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Best Austin Area Dining Experiences

  • Threadgill's (Austin): As the locals say about this place, "It's world famous, at least in Austin." What's so famous about it is the honest, old-style cooking that Austinites have been praising for years: the chicken-fried steak with cream gravy, the fried okra, and the ham steak with Jezebel sauce. Local musicians love playing here; the owner is one of the city's biggest supporters of live music. There is no restaurant more Austin than this one.
  • Kreuz Market (Lockhart): It's a short, pleasant drive to Lockhart and to this pilgrimage site for the barbecue faithful. Kreuz has amazing sausage and ribs. But don't expect to be putting any sauce on your meat. That would be an insult to the cook, and they take these things personally down here. If you positively must have that rich and tangy Texas barbecue sauce, then steer your car toward Black's, also in Lockhart, and held in high esteem by the must-have-sauce crowd.
  • Curra's Grill (Austin): It's not the decor (or maybe it's the absence of decor) that brings people from all walks of life to this homey eatery in South Austin. It's for Curra's particular style of Mexican cooking that is, for locals, a delicious departure from standard Tex-Mex, without getting too far away from Tex-Mex's comfort food aspect. Not that the visitor would recognize them, but the place gets a lot of local celebrities.

Best Bets For...

  • The Best Food: Uchi, 801 S. Lamar Blvd. (tel. 512/916-4808), has received national attention and glowing reviews from just about everyone.  Don't think of Uchi as just a great place for sushi and Japanese cuisine. It's a great restaurant, period, with creative cooking that transcends its humble roots. The setting, in a beautifully revamped 1930s house, is transcendent too.
  • Most Impressive Vegetarian Cuisine: Given all the dietary strictures of macrobiotics and veganism, it amazes me that Casa de Luz, 1701 Toomey Rd. (tel. 512/476-2335), can produce the delicious meals that it does. Vegetarians of all stripes leave here completely sated.
  • Best Quintessentially Austin: Its laid-back Texas menu, huge outdoor patio, and "unplugged" music series all make Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs Rd.; tel. 512/474-9991) the ideal Austin restaurant.
  • Best Brunch: At Fonda San Miguel, 2330 W. North Loop (tel. 512/459-4121), a large spread of cold and hot dishes explores the cuisines of central, southern, and eastern Mexico.
  • Best if You're Game for Game: It's a bit of a drive and more than a bit of a wallet bite, but if you want to see how tasty venison or bison can be, you can't beat Hudson's on the Bend, 3509 Hwy. 620 N. (tel. 512/266-1369).
  • Best View: The easy winner is the Oasis, 6550 Comanche Trail, near Lake Travis (tel. 512/266-2442), which has multiple decks that afford stunning views of Lake Travis and the Texas Hill Country.
  • Sweetest Contribution to the Dining Scene: For years, Amy's has been Austin's favorite ice-cream stop. College-age servers put on a show for the customers, tossing scoops of ice cream about and crushing toppings into it with rhythmic glee. The ice cream is rich and the flavorings are natural and distinctive. There are 10 locations in Austin, including the airport. Central locations include 1012 W. Sixth St. (at Lamar; tel. 512/480-0673); one in SoCo, 1301 S. Congress Ave. (by the Continental Club; tel. 512/440-7488); and one just north of the UT campus, 3500 Guadalupe (tel. 512/458-6895).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.