Austin Restaurant Reviews
Apart from on tourist- and student-heavy 6th Street, Austin's restaurant scene is geared to local tastes and is arguably more diverse than the celebrated music scene, which is concentrated within a few narrowly defined genres. Though Mexican, Tex-Mex, and barbecue are the default cuisines, everything from Brazilian to Pacific Rim fusion has made headway here, and there are strong vegetarian and natural-food followers. Austinites, in fact, have some of the most adventurous and educated palates in Texas.
Around mid-year, many of Austin's best restaurants participate in Restaurant Week, when prix-fixe menus are offered for a low price, with some of the proceeds earmarked for charity.
Austin has plenty of families with young children and plenty of restaurants that work well for them.
To find the best barbecue, local consensus tends to be that you've got to head out of town to Lockhart, Luling, or Llano, in the Hill Country. Nevertheless, there are several fine options within the city limits, the bulk of them simple places where your meat is sliced and placed unceremoniously on the plate (or even on wax paper), with pickles, onions, and jalapeño slices, and you eat at picnic tables, using paper towels off the roll as napkins.
In some places the music and food share nearly equal billing, like Threadgill's, whose massive chicken-fried steak is as much of a draw as the well-known blues and rock acts on stage, and Stubb's Bar-B-Q, which hosts a popular gospel brunch on Sundays and is a major player on the club scene.
Finer dining has exploded in Austin, and upscale Continental—especially Central European (the area was settled by Germans and Czechs)—and New American establishments offer traditional fare and inventive dishes with Southwestern touches. Some of the best restaurants in town are in well-heeled hotels like the Driskill and the Four Seasons.
Austin is a casual city, and the dress code is almost always "come as you are"; a few restaurants require a jacket for men. Tips are generally 15% to 20%. Smoking is prohibited in most restaurants and bars within Travis County, which includes Austin.
Luby's is a Texas-based chain with five Austin locations serving affordable Southern food. The staff sees that young children (and their parents) are taken care of and kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal Wednesday evenings and all day Saturday. Chuy's, Serranos Café & Cantina, and Romano's Macaroni Grill, chains with several Austin locations, are well-attuned to children's needs. Restaurants in this chapter that are especially good for kids are marked with duckies.
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