Welcome to the “eat this, not that” post for surviving SXSW crowds at your local favorite restaurants. Yes, it is that time of the year, when tourists descend upon Austin and non-festival locals go into veritable lockdown. Here’s a handy set of options for dining that won’t include the need to elbow check a hipster, or three, in order to reach the hostess stand.
Barbecue. When Franklin’s is mobbed…BAHAHAHAHA! When is Franklin’s not mobbed? When the line at John Mueller Meat Co., LA Barbecue, Micklethwaite Craft Meats and of course, Franklin’s is just too long, head over to Blue Ox BBQ. Open from 11am to midnight Sunday – Thursday, and until 2am on Friday & Saturday or until sold out, this is one of the few spots for ‘cue that has evening hours. Conveniently located in the fenced courtyard of Buzzmill Coffee, you can get much needed caffeine, or enjoy your meal with something from the full bar. Oher options are Freedmen’s, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, Mann’s and Brown’s Bar-B-Que.
Tex-Mex. You know that La Condesa, Tamale House East, Licha’s Cantina, Guero’s and Chuy’s will be swamped, as will all the taco trailers you love in the downtown/East Austin corridor. Here’s your chance to explore your options. Yes, you can go to Veracruz All Natural at Radio coffeehouse, but you can also get your breakfast taco on at Habanero. Needing a plate of nachos compuestos to soak up last night’s excess? Amaya’s Taco Village’s North Central location and Southpark Meadows promises to meet your cheese-laden needs. If it’s enchiladas you’re after, visit Enchiladas y Mas or any of the Maudie’s locations. There is a reason that Maudie’s has seven restaurants in Austin, and it isn’t just their solid margarita (get one topped with prickly pear or sangria). If it’s past last call, and you are in desperate need of huevos a la mexicana, a cup of coffee and a campechana, then La Mexicana is your 24 hour savior.
Date Night Dining. We all know that a good majority of Austin’s fine dining is in the epicenter of festival madness. Yes, you probably still can get in to Qui, or Uchi or Bufalina, but avoiding the crowds in favor of a more romantic atmosphere is the best way to impress your date. Whether you choose the glamorous Green Pastures, the vibrant beauty of Fonda San Miguel, lush and hearty flavors from Siena Ristorante Toscana, or a decadent sushi experience at Musashino Sushi Dokoro, it will be a meal to remember. Bonus points for contacting the restaurant to plan your menu and wine pairing in advance. How romantic would that be, to walk in and be seated, cocktails or bubbly immediately appear, and the dishes arrive magically, with perfect timing?
Brunch. You want it, need it, won’t give it up just because it’s SX. I suggest Cherrywood Coffeehouse (crawfish omelette), Lucy’s Fried Chicken (Chicken N Waffles, or The Kinky-Fried-Egg Man), Chinatown Westlake (dim sum), or Russell’s Bistro (crème brûlée French toast).
Have I left off one of your favorite escapes from SXSW? Let me know about it in a comment.