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austin and dallas: a short texas visit


bethala
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hi, i'm bethala, a texan who has become a new yorker. i believe this is my first texas post. my boyfriend, jared, and i will be visiting austin (my hometown) and dallas this weekend. we will be in austin from thursday through saturday, in dallas from saturday through monday, then back in austin on monday. as a new york texan, i'm very excited about the eating that lies ahead, particularly the tex mex food. like many texan egulleters, i love and respect tex mex food, and i miss it madly. here in new york, i scarcely try it, as it almost always disappoints. back in my UT days in the 80's, i went to spots like trudy's, chuy's, taco cabana, gm steakhouse (closed), the filling station (closed?), matt's el rancho, the UT student union (cheap breakfast tacos!), banh's (closed?) and the like, and yes, even to hole in the wall (closed) for the occasional chili dog. i could be nostalgic and go back to some of the old spots, but after lurking around the threads here, i think it will be better to forego nostalgia and sample what the "new" austin has to offer, rather than be disappointed with the old ones. below is our tentative schedule. i welcome any comments.

AUSTIN:

thursday lunch:

el chile cafe & cantina: for a tex mex feast, with margaritas, OR

hoover's: for chicken fried steak, with sweet tea and maybe a slice of chocolate or coconut cream pie. i'm hoping jared will order the catfish sandwich so i can have a bite.

thursday dinner:

uchi: we love sushi, and i am intrigued by chef tyson cole's use of local texas ingredients in traditional sushi and japanese dishes. i'm also excited about uchi's wine list, which has the rare domaine du viking 2002 vouvray as well as an impressive selection of sakes.

friday breakfast

hoover's for a breakfast big enough to tide us over to an early (4:15) dinner with my father. the decision: a sweet breakfast of pancakes and sausage, or savory sausage, eggs, and cheese grits with a biscuit?

friday dinner:

pappadeaux. i've never been. the louisiana part of me is very curious.

friday cocktails:

the peacock: this seems to be the spot for well-made classic cocktails.

saturday breakfast: migas

magnolia? trudy's? polvo's?

saturday lunch:

we'll be driving up I-35 to dallas. any tamale or bbq shacks we should check out along the way? is the chech stop along this route?

DALLAS

saturday dinner (with lola, my best friend from college):

lola: i've heard many good things about the food and wine here.

sunday lunch:

joe t. garcia's (fort worth). i had lunch here in 2002 (mini chimichangas, chicken flautas) and thought it was some of the best tex mex around. is that the case, or was i just in a state of new york deprivation?

sunday dinner:

open. we will be visiting a cousin who lives in frisco, so plano or frisco suggestions are welcome. my cousin has also mentioned javier's. we may well be too full from joe t's.

AUSTIN Part 2

monday lunch:

hoover's or el chile, depending on what we did thursday.

monday shopping:

rosie's tamale house: for tamales to take home.

central market: for austin grand prize hot sauces, recently featured on the Saveur 100 list, and for anything else that might tempt us.

texas french bread: for pecan scones, if they still make them.

tuesday breakfast:

austin bergstrom international airport: i hear you can actually get good migas here. if we can't do a final hoover's stop, this will be our last taste of texas before heading back to brooklyn.

some of you might be wondering where bbq enters in. well, much as i love bbq, i don't think we'll be able to cover that texas food group on this visit because it's so short. believe me, an actual tear came to my eye when i was looking at the hoover's menu and realized i wouldn't be able to try everything. if we don't get a chance to go to elgin or lockhart and get some to take back, my dad can get some later, freeze it, and fedex it, as he's done before.

i feel a bit guilty asking for your help, as i've been so inactive on egullet over the last few months, but i will do my best to provide a full report when we get back.

thanks,

bethala

Edited by bethala (log)

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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I can only comment on Austin.

You've done a good job picking restaurants. Most are what I would recommend as well.

Don't go to Pappadeaux. There are many Cajun restaurants such as Gene's, Gumbo's, Nubian Queen Lola's and not quite Cajun Quality Seafood which has a superb seafood gumbo.

I'd be interested in seeing what you think of Uchi compared to NYC restaurants such as Nobu.

Peacock is indeed the number one cocktail lounge. It's no Pegu Club or Milk & Honey, but you're not going to pay NYC prices either. Weekend nights are lively, usually with a good dj or band. Just don't go on Thursday nights, which is lesbian night, unless you're into that.

The Czech Stop is indeed along the way to Dallas. It's in the city of West. Alternatively, you could take a slightly longer route and pass through Llano for Cooper's BBQ. The drive is also much more scenic, passing through the Texas Hill Country.

You should stop by the Whole Foods flagship. It's gigantic, though still not quite as good as Central Market. Nevertheless, it's a spectacle worth seeing.

It'd be a shame if you missed out on good BBQ. Sam's BBQ is open until 2 or 3am and is the best in the city (House Park is another contender but their hours are more limited).

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As for Plano/Frisco, you may want to consider the Shops at Legacy, a booming hipster area on Legacy and the Tollway, just a hop down from Frisco. It has a number of good eating spots, including Nikola's (Italian) and a new Fireside Pies (Pizza). Be prepared for parking problems and long waits, however. Fireside doesn't take reservations. There's no shortage of restaurants in Frisco either for that matter, but they're mostly chains. 9 Fish had pretty good sushi for a while, but I haven't heard anything or been there recently. Maybe the Babe's has opened up there. It's a fried chicken place that is to die for. However, I'd also imagine quite a wait again if it's new.

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I would find a substitute for Joe T. Garcia's. The outside dining area is nice, but the inside is noisy and obnoxious and the food is bland and tasteless. It's not Tex and it's definitely not Mex. You could do better at Taco Bell.

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thanks for all your replies! i’m really looking forward to this trip. the last several years when i’ve visited texas, it’s been for holidays or funerals, so there wasn’t a lot of eating out. my family is chock full of great cooks, but getting out should be fun.

kent wang, i won’t be able to compare uchi to nobu or its ilk because i’ve never been to nobu, so i’ll just take it on its own merits. i will, however, enjoy seeing how peacock compares to pegu club and milk and honey, whose cocktails are rightly renowned. pappadeaux is a bit non-negotiable, as it’s my dad’s choice. i’m not too worried about having a stellar gumbo experience, as i am my own best seafood gumbo cook (i've got louisiana roots on both sides). i'm assuming fried items will be safe bets. i had also really wanted to try quality seafood, based on reading your posts, but just don't think there's time.

kevin 72, i’d read about babe’s on someone’s blog and had intended to ask about it here. is there supposed to be a new one opening in frisco? that would be great road food for the trip back to austin.

planojim and kent, thanks for the bbq recs. i will try to squeeze in some sort of bbq from in or around austin. missing it would be a shame indeed. i also hope to try to stop by one of the taquerias listed in this austin chronicle article.

slo_ted, i think joe t garcia's is already in the bag with our dfw hosts, but what alternatives would you recommend? i agree, the outside area is very pleasant – that’s where i sat a few years ago - but i also enjoyed the food a lot. like i said, perhaps i was suffering from tex mex withdrawal at the time. as i am now...

thanks again,

bethala

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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As for Plano/Frisco, you may want to consider the Shops at Legacy, a booming hipster area on Legacy and the Tollway, just a hop down from Frisco.  It has a number of good eating spots, including Nikola's (Italian) and a new Fireside Pies (Pizza).  Be prepared for parking problems and long waits, however.  Fireside doesn't take reservations.  There's no shortage of restaurants in Frisco either for that matter, but they're mostly chains.  9 Fish had pretty good sushi for a while, but I haven't heard anything or been there recently.  Maybe the Babe's has opened up there.  It's a fried chicken place that is to die for.  However, I'd also imagine quite a wait again if it's new.

Don't forget Jaspers up in Shops at Legacy.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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slo_ted, i think joe t garcia's is already in the bag with our dfw hosts, but what alternatives would you recommend?  ithanks again,

bethala

Maybe the off-shoot, Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana?

Haven't been there yet, but here tons and tons of positive things about it.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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