It sounds like you are going to be doing a lot of driving during your trip to central Texas. By category, here are some of my favorites. If you have specific interest, price level or taste that I did not cover, let me
know. Having moved to Austin four years ago, I know Austin and San Antonio better than Houston/Galveston or Dallas.
Many of the best bbq places are in the small towns outside of the big cities. If the restaurant does not have silverware and instead of napkins there is a roll of paper towels on the table, good chance it is authentic.
Brisket is king in Texas barbeque.
Louie Mueller in Taylor TX-about 25 minutes outside of Austin is a great place. They close each day when they run out of food, so plan on getting there before 2 in the afternoon. Probably the most consistently great bbq in
central Texas. Rudy Mikeska's Bar-B-Q is across the street and they have a good reputation, although I have not been there yet.
Iron Works 100 Red River, Austin 512-478-4855
The best bbq in Austin. It is a renovated 75 year old cast iron plant (hence the name) that is famous for their beef ribs. They are located near the convention center downtown and is your best bet if you do not want to
travel to the small towns.
Otto's in Houston. Once again if you want to taste good bbq without a long drive, Otto's is your best bet in Houston.
Elgin, Texas. Driving on Highway 290 between Austin and Galveston you will find this small city that has great smoked sausage (no jokes, this is a PG rated board). I prefer Myers BBQ as it is less greasy, but Southside bbq
has a large following as well.
Coopers Old Time Pit in Llano Texas. Located about 40 miles north of Austin, they have a wide selection of bbq and it is all great. You will smell the smoke about two city blocks away. How often can you find bbq mutton and goat.
Lockhart Texas is the self-proclaimed barbeque capital of Texas, located about 20 miles south of the Austin airport. Kreuz's Market is 100 years old and even though they recently moved to a new larger location they are still as authentic as you will find. They do not have forksand their specialty is pork chops. Do not ask for sauce, they insist that their bbq is so good, it does not need any condiments. That is a sentiment you will find in many quality places; it is the meat, not the sauce that makes Texas barbeque great. Gourmet magazine recently said Blacks Barbeque in Lockhart was the best in Texas. It is very good, but I am Kreuz's faithful.
Salt Lick in my opinion, is highly over-rated. Located 25 miles south of Austin, it is in a dry county and you bring your own beer. It is an amusing sight to see people lined up at the restaurant lugging large coolers behind
them. Overall, I think they are very inconsistent and the quality of the barbeque is worse than any of establishments listed above.
Las Manitas 211 Congress Ave. Austin Texas
They are a casual restaurant that epitomizes Austin. Some of the best migas and authentic central Mexican cuisine is found here. If it is a nice day, ask for a table on the back patio. They are only open for breakfast and
lunch (I think).
Guerros 1412 South Congress
Another casual and authentic Mexican restaurant. Killer margaritas and a good option for dinner. They still have the picture of Clinton eating half the menu, similar to the one in Katz's in NYC.
Fonda San Miguel 2330 West North Loop A little more upscale than the other two, but probably the best authentic Mexican restaurant in Austin.
Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery in San Antonio 218 Produce Row. A Tex-Mex favorite where people go more for the experience than for the food. Not that the
food is bad, but is a huge, colorful and fun restaurant.
Chuy's a Texas based chain that has reliable and cheap tex-mex food.
Henry's Puffy Tacos-a San Antonio greasy spoon that has really good tacos (they are puffy of course)
Boudro's on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. One of the more upscale places along the riverwalk, famous for their guacamole that is prepared tableside.
Star Canyon has two locations, the original in Dallas and a second one in Austin. The Dallas location is far superior. A good restaurant that highlights local ingredients and culture.
Goode Company in Houston. They have 3 restaurants located on one block, the bbq is very good and the hamburgers restaurant is one of the best. The
style of burgers you will find in Texas is a thin burger with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayo, mustard. I am not a fan of this type, but Goode Co. is as good as it gets.
Hoovers-2002 Manor Road, Austin Texas
The best southern style restaurant in Austin. If you want to sample chicken fried steak, this is the place without a doubt the best in town. You might hear about Threadgills, but that place has become nothing more than a tourist trap.
Castle Hill 101 West 5th Street Austin Texas. A great casual restaurant that has been popular for years. The wine list is extensive with a modest mark-up. Their sister restaurant, Mirabelle is located in northwest Austin and is also fabulous. They have an eclectic yet simple menu.
Austin Diner (FKA Laura's Bluebonnet Cafe) 5408 Burnet Road. Your best bet for breakfast in Austin
Treebeards-several locations in downtown Houston. Excellent Cajun food in a casual cafeteria style setting. Most of the lawyers in downtown Houston
live there, or so it seems.
Bob's Stteak and Chop House in Dallas-Typical "clubby" steakhouse, but they prepare everything extremely well.
Del Frisco's Double EagleSteak House in Dallas and Fort Worth. Another high-end steak house that is a local legend.