Ill be upfront..this was my first visit to Austin so in no way is this intended to be comprehensive. I will say that I did my best to combine internet research with reliable recommendations and then mixed in a bit of wanderlust to build what I found to be a great weekend for those who put gastronomy ahead of any other pursuit when in a new town..
Stared with a business meeting Thursday Night..7pp, of which I only had met 2 before..didnt want the typical expense account steakhouse,so I settled on Lamberts Downtown Barbeque (2nd and Guadalupe)..great vibe, and the smoky aroma outside the front door told me I was in the right place..Prices were fair for entrees, mid teens for the que, mid 20s for other entrees. You can see it all online..staff was young, friendly and attentive..nice local beer selection and the courtyard seating would be fun for a casual group. Serious thumbs up on the coriander scented ribs, and the beef brisket was moist , tender and went great with the mustard sauce on the table. Was really a perfect place to showcase some Austin BBQ for guests,..they handled the large group well..
Met my wife for drinks later at the Four Seasons..I know..overpriced hotel lobby bar lacking any character... but I worked for them after graduating from CIA so I had to check it out..no cucumber to muddle in my Hendricks(wah), but the piano man playing a lush 20 minute medley of Pink Floyd amonst the chattering glitterati was amusing for us both. Bmy Bride selected froma lenghlty listy of Mojito variants and was pleased.
Had Friday meetings but was free by 4pm..had a drink at a place called the Speakeasy on Congress so expected a classic cocktail scene..they didnt know what Campari was and never heard of a Negroni, settled for a Shiner Bock....oh well..
Found our way to Parkside on 6th for dinner..snagged a place at at the bar with my wife for 3 hours.. what a treasure among the party bars in this area..quality up and down the menu..feasted on oysters from RI and BC(and a crisp sauvignon blanc), had the hand rolled gnocchi with arugula pesto, the ceviche, and finally could not resist the marrow bones served with grilled toast, wilted flat leaf parsley and sea salt..everything executed flawlessy..nice wines by the glass as well..almost went back again but needed to see more of Austin..had a drink at Max's Wine Dive..cool place for a casual home style meal and a great glass of wine from the large list..think their rule is that they will open any bottle if you commit to two glasses..fun.
For the adventurous..we moved a bit outside of downtown to find a bar called The Good Knight..was still looking for the hand crafted cockail place and found it in the most unlikley place..cabbie was concerned for our safety as it was known as the hood years ago and frankly had not a fare there in years either..he gave me his card and asked if I wanted him eto stay close by..Wife had an Aviator Gin cocktail with Violet Liquer, I found my bitter Negroni with Hendricks and a slab of toasted orange rind..Even had a jukebox so selected some Miles Davis, Joe Strummer, Edith Piaf and Rolling Stones..the setting was cozy, dark, sultry and eclectic in so many ways..cheese plate and pork rillette nibbles were fine, not outstanding, but was perfect for an hour of substance, reflections and conversation.
A few other places that we mixed in were Cain and Abels up near the campus..had an amazingly difficult time finding a bar along Guadalupe up there and finally asked for directions for something to drink..anywhere..they had about 40 Taps and 5 IPs, so I was hoppy(sarry!). Also had a beer at The Tavern in the Lamar area, did some shopping at West Elm, the cool record store called Waterloo and grabbed the new Keith Richards tome at Book People..cant always be eating right?
Final place to review..best for last..Went to Winks for dinner..where to start?? Greeted by name at the door by the host, greeted by name by the server, possibly greeted by name by the back waiter as well. A friend had provided a comp bottle of Roederers as we were seated so we were in good frame of mind. I enjoy a lively dining room so be warned.. its tight, loud and buzzing. Completely appropriate to converse with you dining neighbors 18 inches away about their next menu selection..We saw the tables turn twice while there as we grazed our way thru the entire appetizer list..our server split them when appropriate..the stars of the night in order..mussels, fois gras, tartare, lobster agnolotti, and we also enjoyed the antelope steak with berry zin reduction. Server made some great wine pairings for us that either complemented or contrasted with each dish..this is a kitchen at top of game, with service to match..an adjacent wine bar next door handles the overflow..make a point to remember the hosts/GM name, Im not so good at that(Mike/Mark??) and he caught on at the end of nite and gently chided me for it..well deserved I suppose and given the dining experience..its all good..
Went back to Lamberts for Sunday Bruch before flying out and was impressed again..28 a head, but reserve early and make sure you request a table along the wall and not right next to the buffet line..also, oder your Bloody Mary regular before asking boldly for the spicy..forgot where I was..
So there you go,,hope it helps, I get alot of advice off this board and jsut trying to contribute where I can..enjoy
Lamberts Downtown Barbeque
401 West 2nd Street, Austin, TX 78701
301 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701
Cain and Abel's
2313 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78705
Max's Wine Dive
207 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701
1014 N Lamar Blvd Ste E, Austin, TX 78703