Like many recent visitors, I made a long weekend journey to Austin for ACL, thinking that the food would be secondary to the music. Well, I was wrong. While I had a lot of fun at ACL, it is the food that really stood out for me and took center stage during this trip. Here is an overview of where and what I ate and what I thought:
Cafe Magnolia - this place was open and near my hotel when I got in late, a decent tofu stir fry which did the job and satisfied my rice craving. The fact it is open 24/7 is a real plus.
Dominican Joe - I love how Austin has so many independent coffeeshops and this place was excellent. Smooth coffee, no bitter aftertaste but even better were their vegan doughnuts! They were not greasy, just the right amount of glaze and the dough had a slight crispy-ness that gave way to a lovely chewy softness. Went back the next morning for more coffee and to try their muffins which were also excellent.
Franklin's BBQ - OMG!!!!!! I have died and gone to food heaven!!! This place lives up to the hype and yes, it beats Salt Lick hands down. I don't like brisket but the brisket here was unbelievably amazing!!!!! I am a convert. The ribs were too die for as well and while I though the pulled pork was a touch dry (even after dipping in some sauce) it could also be that I was just too stuffed at that point and my stomach was rebelling. My husband disagreed with me on the pulled pork and said it was excellent. He also ate the Tipsy Texan and loved it. Yes, get in the queue at 10:30am and yes stand and wait almost 2hours but it is worth it!!!! Plans to visit the BBQ places in Lockhart were ditched after eating at Franklins.
Second Bar+Kitchen - I really wanted to like this place because I had heard so many good things about its' sister restaurant Congress which was recently named one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit. Unfortunately, the pulled pork shoulder pizza I had was very greasy, the chiles made it too spicy depending on which bite I had/whether it contained chile or not and my husband's burger was average at best. Nice decor though and a good location in the downtown area.
Uchiko - another OMG meal! This place is something I would expect to find in Manhattan sporting some Michelin stars. We ate mostly sushi and a few rolls and it was all amazing! Unusual flavor combinations that worked and a knowledgeable waiter who was as excited by the food as we were (how refreshing was that?!) When he realized we had not tried their wagyu beef, he brought us a single bite portion which was perfect. We let him pick our dessert and again, unusual flavor combination of mushroom and chocolate but it worked. I only wish I had had enough time in my trip to try their sister restaurant Uchi.
Fonda San Miguel - authentic authentic mexican/Yucatan food. There were dishes I had not heard of before so I tried one of them - the pollo pibil. The meat was steamed in this giant leaf and had a wonderful earthiness to it. I loved it! Had to fend off my husband after I foolishly let him have a bite. The only negative was the guacamole that everyone agreed was way too spicy (and this coming from a group of spicy food lovers). All the other dishes were delicious though so I like to think the guacamole was a one-off accident.
And last but not least the food at the ACL festival. I've been to festivals in CA and England and the level of food offered at ACL was amazing. Here I was expecting funnel cake and corn dogs and instead I see Tim Love's Lonesome Dove, Wahoos (outside So Cal???), organic food stands etc. from the numerous list of dishes i tried, here are two that I remember: Olivia's fried chicken - sadly cooked a touch too long so that the batter was just a tad too burnt/too crispy but the meat inside was still moist. The chicken and avocado cone at Mighty Cone - simple and yummy.
Overall, this trip was memorable because of all the amazing food I had. I will book my tickets for ACL 2012 just so I can go back and try all the other places I missed, like all the food trucks I saw along So Congress, Uchi and to have another chance to eat at Franklins.
Thank you Awesome Austin!
801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Fonda San Miguel Restaurant
2330 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78756
515 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756