This past weekend Nick and I decided to head down to Austin Texas to visit my brother who just moved down there last year for work. We had always wanted to go visit him, but kind of wanted to wait until SXSW next year (or the year after), but when Fall Out Boy decided they were going to start touring again, and made Austin one of their stops, we decided that was enough of an excuse to head down there. Yeah I know, Fall Out Boy is for 12 year old girls… oh well, I enjoy them. Plus there was absolutely no line at any of the bars at the venue. But the concert aside, we knew we were going to be eating a lot of food and drinking more than either of us had in quite a while, so I knew I’d have to come back here and give my thoughts.
If you’ve read any past articles you know that I’m a fan of the BBQ that Chicago has to offer, so I was pretty excited about heading down to Texas for some real BBQ. However, we really didn’t eat that much BBQ, we ate a lot more Tex-Mex than I expected… Tacos for dinner, Tacos for lunch, late night burritos… that was the majority of our food consumption. The only BBQ place we went to was the world famous Salt Lick, which is about 30 minutes outside of downtown Austin… and not as good as I was expecting. I’m not a huge fan of brisket and non-babyback ribs, so the fact that Salt Lick only has giant ribs and brisket was a little disappointing. Now that’s not to say that the brisket wasn’t bad, but it was dryer than I expected it to be, and a little tougher/chewier than I thought good brisket normally is. The BBQ sauce also threw me a bit since it’s a brownish/yellow color instead of the deep red that I’m used to. I’m assuming it’s a mustard based BBQ sauce, hence the yellow, but either way it was still pretty good. So while Salt Lick was good, I can’t imagine it’s anywhere near the best BBQ in Austin. We actually wanted to check out my brothers favorite BBQ place, Franklin’s, but it’s normally a 3-4 hour wait and when they run out of food that’s it. Nick and I actually drove by at 12:30 on Monday and it was already sold out, so we were out of luck.
The other thing Austin is known for is it’s food trucks. When we first got in on Thursday night, it was late and we hadn’t eaten yet, so the food trucks were our best option. My brother lives on a street where most of the houses have been converted into bars where you sit around and drink in their backyards, and since they don’t have kitchens, the food trucks either park in the back or in an empty lot just down the street. We opted to check out our options in the empty lot and were pleasantly surprised by “The Beef Cake Shop” which is a slider truck. I wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous quite yet so I went with 2 “Maverik’s which is basically just a bacon cheese burger, but the bacon and cheese are mixed in with the meat. I also got a “Matador” which is ground angus beef with Texas chili seasoning and cheddar cheese… it wasn’t nearly as good as the Maverik’s. Overall “The Beef Cake Shop” hit the spot that first night, but it wasn’t my favorite place of the weekend.
Friday morning, while my brother went to work, Nick and I decided to head out and grab some breakfast. We made our way over to the “Counter Cafe” which has apparently been featured on “Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives”. We both ordered breakfast tacos which were just bacon, eggs, potatoes and cheese on a tortilla…. they were incredible. Definitely a solid choice to start off the morning. And I’m not going to go into everything we did on the trip, since this site is mainly dedicated to food, but I highly recommend, if you go to the Counter Cafe, make your way up to 11th street and check out the Graffiti Park… it was incredible.
Alright enough of that, back to the food. Friday night we made our way over to the Craft Beer bar on Rainey St. and ate at “The Bacon Bus” food truck in the back. Nick and I had BLT’s and Mike had the bacon waffles and chicken. Everything was delicious and had I not thought that it would have ruined me for the night I probably would have gotten the grilled cheese with bacon or the burger, but the BLT definitely hit the spot. Mike seemed to enjoy his bacon waffles and chicken as well. So now that we had a decent base going it was time to head out drinking for the night…
After heading out to “Dirty 6th”, just to see what it was all about, and running into “Boy Meets World” aka Ben Savage, we decided to call it a night and head back towards Mike’s condo. On the way we stopped at the Chi’Lantro Korean BBQ food truck and got burritos. My brother had been talking about this burrito since we got there and I thought there was no way it would be as good as he said… boy was I wrong. I don’t really eat burritos either, but the Seoul Burrito w/ Fried Egg was the most amazing thing I tasted in the time we were there. Stuffed with caramelized Bulgogi, cheese, rice, and whatever else, this thing is exactly what you need at the end of a long night of drinking. Mike even said that sometimes he can’t even wait to eat it until he gets home so by the time he makes it back he’s got burrito juices dripping all the way down the front of his shirt and pants. Thankfully we were in no hurry so we just sat down on the curb and savored the deliciousness of the Korean BBQ burrito. This thing tasted so good it would probably make Kim Jong Un rethink his ridiculous ways. I almost wanted to get another one on Saturday night, but instead we opted for some really shitty tacos from another food truck.
I don’t even remember the name of the food truck behind Bar 96, but it might have been called Back Street Grille, it was not good. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but the beef in the cruncy tacos looked like something you would find on the side of 6th street after a long night. Nick actually seemed to like his shrimp tacos and Michael liked is other specialty taco, but the beef tacos were pretty disgusting. I would rather eat taco bell that has fallen on the floor than eat the crunchy beef tacos from this place ever again.
The next day we went to P. Terry’s, which is a burger place in the same vein as In-N-Out or Five Guys; it was just what we needed after another long night of drinking. We kind of paced ourselves Sunday before the Fall Out Boy concert and ended up having dinner at another Tex-Mex place across from the venue, called Pelons. We all got tacos, again, and even though we had those terrible crunchy beef tacos the night before, that’s exactly what we ordered. However, since we were at an actual restaurant, these tacos didn’t taste like the meat came from a sick cow.
The last meal we ate was before heading to the airport Monday morning when we ventured into Moonshine, which was a lot fancier of a place than we were expecting. We would have loved to have eaten at Franklin’s, but that was the morning we drove by and it was sold out by the time we got there at 12:30. Moonshine was ok, but it seems more like a place that the business professionals in Austin go on their lunch break. Nick and I walked in in shorts and t-shirts while everyone else was in button downs and dress pants… not that I cared, but it should have been a tip-off as to what the menu was going to look like. Don’t get me wrong, the food was good, but it’s not really what I was looking for.
So there you have it, my food adventure in Austin Texas. Coming from a guy who doesn’t really like food, as is the whole point of this site, I actually did enjoy the offerings of Austin. I’m a little upset we didn’t get to try any of the little dive BBQ places, but we made up for it with all of the Tex-Mex we ate. I don’t think this is the last time I’ll be visiting Austin so I’m sure I’ll get my fill of BBQ the next time… hopefully for SXSW next year!