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Where to go for food & drinks and avoid SXSW crowds?

Posted by on March 8, 2013

Austin, I know how it is.  We love that SXSW brings $125+ million dollars into our economy each year.  We love that our city is an international destination for techies, music aficionados and film lovers.  We adore that our city is beloved by so many tourists.  And we hate that we have to forgo our regular schedules and avoid the restaurants and bars we consider our own in order to steer clear of the SXSW crowds.  So where do you go to eat and drink in (relative) calmness during the madness of South By?

I want sushi but can’t even find a parking place at Uchi, or any of my usual downtown & nearby spots. Where do I go?

  • North: Tomodachi Sushi has fresh flavors and delicious specialty rolls. Try the Ex-Girlfriend!
  • Central: Roll On Sushi Diner is the gateway drug to sushi loving.  Vegetarians will enjoy the Respect My Asparagah roll and the suspicious of raw fish will certainly fall for the Beefy Texan with its brisket goodness.
  • South: Nanami Sushi Bar & Grill will tempt and tease your taste buds.  Sit at the sushi bar, order the tasting menu from Chef Jason Liao, relax and enjoy.
  • West: Cho Sushi Japanese Fusion is serving it up in Lakeway. Order the Bentley roll (fatty tuna, spicy crab and cucumber with seared kobe beef and honey-bourbon glaze) and live it up!
I’m craving barbecue but don’t want to wait hours in line.  Where do I go?
  • North:  You can eat at Rudy’s and not be afraid of someone revoking your ‘cue card.  The chain was born in San Antonio, after all, and let’s face it, if it wasn’t decent eatin’, there wouldn’t be restaurants in five states (and a thriving online business).
  • Central: Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew will wow you with their chicken, and there’s usually local beer on tap.
  • South: Have to say, I’m not fond of much barbecue I’ve tried in South Austin, and the Salt Lick in Dripping Springs will be overrun with SXSW visitors.  Your best bet is to call in an order at John Mueller Meat Company and arrange to pick it up right at opening. (512) 571-6509
  • West: Go old school with County Line on the Lake.  Always a sure bet, consistent with their meats and hey, that bread is damn good, too.
My girlfriends don’t want to reschedule our usual brunch fun.  Where do we go?
  • North:  The jazz brunch at Manuel’s is delicious and lively.  Do not pass up the mango daiquiri!
  • Central: You cannot go wrong with Fonda San Miguel.  Yes, I realize I’m giving you two Mexican restaurants on this list, but really, if you love brunch, you will love FSM’s brunch.  Pricey, but oh so worth it.
  • South:  Jack Allen’s Kitchen will rock your brunch like nobody’s business.  The JAK’d up brunch buffet features comfort foods:  chicken fried pork tenderloin, layered enchilada casserole, green chile pork & eggs, Mama’s Sunday chicken and much, much more.
  • West:  Baguette et Chocolat is *the* brunch spot when you are on the West end of Austin.  You will not be disappointed in the Croque Madame breakfast sandwich (ham, swiss cheese, French mornay sauce and an egg on top).
I want to hang out in a bar with locals, not imports, and we aren’t talking beer.  Plus, I don’t want to spend a ton of cash.  Where do I drink?
  • North: C-Hunt’s Icehouse near Research Boulevard on Burnet Road is the place for you, as there are no drinks over $3 (serves beer/wine/cider only).  Their motto is “every hour is happy hour!”
  • Central:  Workhorse Bar will make you happy with their beer selection and food.  They make good cocktails here, too.
  • South: The new Casino South Side Lounge is the pretty little sister of the gritty bad boy big brother we know and love on Sixth Street.  Since you can bank on it that Casino El Camino will be overrun with SXSW’ers getting yelled at by the kitchen staff, join us on the South Side.  The patio is smoker and dog-friendly.
  • West:  The League Kitchen & Tavern isn’t exactly the cheapest joint around, but it’s not as pricey as downtown drinking, either.  Beer prices range from $2.50-5.00, but if you spring for a classic cocktail you won’t regret it.


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