I have an audition in San Antonio tomorrow afternoon and will be driving down from Dallas. I figure on stopping in Austin for a quick lunch – where should I eat? Bonus points if it’s not too far from I-35, because I won’t have time for much of a detour.
Skip Austin and eat BBQ in Elgin.
What type of food are you looking for? There are the typical chains…like Cheddars, Chilis, Baby A’s, which is an Austin staple, is off of 35 to the left…around Howard Lane. It all depends on what you are looking for.
I’m actually driving a similar route tomorrow, Waco to San Antonio, my home.
http://www.oasis-austin.com/gallery.php Oasis (I see they rebuilt it after the fire)
From what I remember the food was nothing to write home about but the views were amazing.
From IH-35 that’d likely be a three hour side trip, depending on traffic.
I’m looking for something unique to Austin. If I can find it anywhere and everywhere, I’m not interested. I want someone’s favorite hole in the wall, that I would never find without a recommendation.
As for type of cuisine – I like most things, so go with your gut.
I’d love to, but I’m trying to lose weight and barbecue is one of my trigger foods.
That’s about right… we had my in-laws 40th anniversary party there a few months back- it was a great venue for that, but I don’t think I’d have gone there for the food.
But… that being said, I’d skip Austin at lunchtime (might even go so far as to avoid 35 through Austin entirely and take that new Hwy 45 bypass from Georgetown to Buda)
I’d probably get lunch in New Braunfels at Oma’s House (I-35 @ Hwy 46)
A good BBQ place is Salt Lick in RoundRock. Most Austinites love Baby A’s. I’m still thinking, trying to picture 35.
Baby A’s is Mexican food, right? Hmmm. Might be a bit heavy for the middle of a 5-hour drive.
(I know, I know, I JUST said I like most everything and then immediately started saying “… but not that.” It drives me nuts when my wife does that, so ignore me and suggest whatever you want, folks.)
Someone on Facebook suggested Whip Inn – Indian food with a Texas flair, he said. Anybody ever eat there?
I haven’t tried it, but I heard its good! Someone above mentioned Oasis, which is also good, but further from 35.
If you want BBQ, try Franklin BBQ. It’s about 1/2 block off IH-35, and it’s outstanding. Better than either The Salt Lick or either of the BBQ joints in Elgin. If it isn’t the best BBQ joint in Texas, it’s on the very short list of them. The catch is that you may have to wait in line awhile. Open at 11. You might want to be in line earlier than that. At least you won’t be going on a Saturday, where the wait is frankly ridiculous. (see, e.g., this post on Chowhound about an Austin foodie trip.) And I love their BBQ, but waiting in line for 2 hours + for take out BBQ is unbelievably silly.
No to BBQ? I was going to mention Uchi, which usually gets a lot of raves, but they’re only open for dinner. Taco More is getting love on chowhound and yelp too. They are open for lunch. I’ve not been there—more of a Taco Xpress guy when I’m in Austin—but chowhound is usually reliable IME. I don’t find S. Lamar that hard to get to from 35—Riverside to Barton Springs usually does the trick—and so you can hit Matt’s El Rancho for good Tex-Mex.
Casino El Camino is a bar, but it has awesome burgers, among the best I’ve ever had. Right on 6th street. I think they’re open at 11 AM, at least they mention a Happy Hour starting at that time.
Or, you could always just visit the flagship Whole Foods at 5th and Lamar. I’m sure you can find something to eat there.
The Whip-In is right off of 35, and has quite a devoted following. A lot of beers to choose from too, for consumption and retail sale. I didn’t eat when I visited, and the menu didn’t impress me, but I live down the street from Little India in Houston, so I’m probably jaded.
Edit: The Oasis is fantastic for the views and the overpriced margaritas, and the people watching. Avoid the food, unless they’ve really improved it since their decks burned down. It is also to hell and gone from 35.
Austin’s a cute little city but I their restaurant choices seemed a bit limited on my last visit–over a year ago. There’s a reason you’re still getting recommendations for barbecue even after you said you were not interested. Yup, Austin has lots of barbecue. Surely some Austinites will drop by with suggestions…
There’s Tex-Mex in Austin, too–but you’re headed to San Antonio! In that fair city, consider checking out some new options mentioned in a recent Houston Press article.
Cuba Bakery (512-782-0361) in Round Rock. Take the Hwy 79/E. Palm Valley Blvd. exit, turn left (go under 35). Should be about a block or so on the left.
Really good Cuban sandwiches* and Cuban coffee. In fact, order me a “media noche” to go and I’ll buy you a fried chicken plate at Mary Ann’s Pig Stand while you’re in SA.
*a pannini-style hot-pressed sandwich. Roasted pork loin, ham, swiss cheese, dill pickles, mustard. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
it’s probably not what you want to hear, but unless you are leaving really early in the morning, I would suggest just a whatever place on 35. The reason being is that I have driven to Austin from Ft Worth many, many times. The traffic can be horrible. The last time I drove it (about 4 weeks ago) it took almost 4 hours due to construction traffic (it usually only takes me 3 to north Austin). It might be longer for you depending on where you are in Dallas. Lunch off the beaten path and dealing with the lunch time crowd can easily add a minimum of an hour. San antonio is another hour away, depending on where you want to go. That’s a minimum of 6 hours.
Maybe dinner in Austin on the way back?
Just don’t forget to grab some sausage puffs and kolaches in West on your way back. Exit 353.
Considering the weather today, I may have to play it by ear and see how much time I have when I get to the area. I’m thinking I may just have to grab a burger and then get something good for an early dinner after the audition.
Be safe driving! What the HELL is with this weather? Broke my heart that some of the Chihuly sculptures at the arboretum were damaged by hail.
There is a Five Guys mostly right off 35 in Temple if you’re stuck with a burger.
Tulsa Oklahoma. It’s a little out of the way, but worth it if you want a steak.