Austin Trip Report - November 2022

I’m spending a few days after Thanksgiving in Austin for vacation, mostly trying to focus on trying new and/or iconic foods. It’s my first time in Texas, excluding airport transfers.

I started off by visiting some Austin institutions that have terrible (aka 3.5 star) Yelp reviews.

My first stop was Texas Chili Parlor. Open since 1976 and a filming location for Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof film. Also the subject of a song by Guy Clark:

It’s close to the Texas State Capitol building and has kind of a dive bar aesthetic. I had the CHILI SAMPLER ($12.50) where one can pick three of their chilis. I had mine with the CHUNKY BEEF NO BEANS, medium (XX) spicy, the HABANERO BEEF & PINTO BEANS, which does have beans (gasp!), and the WHITE PORK CHILI Pork Sirloin, White Beans & Hatch Chile which also has beans. I also added some shredded cheese and sour cream on the side. All chilis come with a basket of plastic wrapped saltines, pickled jalapeños, and raw onions. Pretty good chili, though I thought it needed a little salt which was easily remedied with the salt shaker on the table. The beef in the traditional chunky chili was quite tender, as was the pork in the (New Mexico style?) white chili. The Habanero Beef & Pinto bean chili had ground beef and a little heat that was tamed by a little sour cream and cheese. Good chili flavor in the traditional beef chili.

I also had a Mad Dog Margarita ($8.00) Monte Alban Mezcal and Triple Sec with fresh lime, which is basically a margarita with mezcal instead of Tequila. It’s also mentioned in the above Guy Clark song. It may have been a little smokier than a regular margarita due to the mezcal.

Friendly service and they also gave me a bumper sticker.

Next stop for dinner #2 was Matt’s El Rancho. Open since 1952 and famous for the creation of the “Bob Armstrong Dip,” a dip with Texas queso, avocado, ground beef named after and invented by Texas politician Bob Armstrong. Naturally I had to try this dip. I had a small order ($9.95). It was like the topping of nachos, only with the chips on the side. A good dip, very rich. The avocado was slices of whole avocado rather than in guacamole form. The cheese was liquid and stayed that way.

I also had a Matt’s Knockout Martini ($18.95) Milagro Reposado Tequila, Cointreau & Fresh Lime Juice. An expensive cocktail but not really considering the shaker contained about 3 or so drinks! This was like a margarita but with olives and maybe some olive brine for some savoriness. Note that there are enough olives for about 3 drinks as well. Tasty and good to cut through the rich queso.


Wow - looks great! Thanks for posting!

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Next, for lunch I tried some Texas BBQ at la Barbecue in East Austin. I’m a BBQ newb. I got up too late to brave the Franklin line, I’m still on Pacific Time. Apparently lines are common at la BBQ as well but at 3pm on Saturday there was no line at all. They were sold out of a few items, including the beef ribs that I wanted to try and several of the sausages.

Upon entering, they give you a little piece of beef brisket to sample which was a nice touch. Very friendly service overall. I ended up getting a half pound of beef brisket and a quarter pound of the pulled pork, along with a side of coleslaw and pickles. It also came with raw sliced onions and some sliced bread. And a beer, a nice hazy IPA on tap - Heavenly Daze from local brewery Zilker. All in it was about $40 before tip.

The pulled pork was very good. Very tender and nicely seasoned with some smoke. Again I’m a BBQ newb from California but the brisket was excellent. Just the right amount of fattiness and with a nice salt and pepper crust on the outside. Beefy, tender, with a little smoke flavor (cherrywood?). Really great brisket. Didn’t need sauce at all. The pickles and slaw were a nice fresh acidic counterpoint to the rich bbq meats, as was the bread which was a nice platform on which to eat them.

extreme meat close up:




Since it was steps away, I also tried a vegan taco from The Vegan Nom food truck for a snack - the GRILLED AVOCADO REALE - Grilled avocado, caramelized onions, kale, pepper jack, black beans, verde, crema, cilantro. on a flour tortilla, which was delicious. Not missing meat or dairy at all - the avocado and the creamy “cheese” and “crema” and beans gave it a lot of rich meaty goodness, and the flour tortilla was nice and soft.

I walked down to E. Sixth Street and had another snack at Vaquero Taquero, an al Pastor taco on a flour tortilla. It was a pretty good al pastor taco that had some pineapple chunks in it.


I love your trip reports!! And am always consumed with envy at your capacity…


I have loved Texas Chili Parlor for a very long time. It’s a favorite weekday lunch for judges and attorneys working in the area. I doubt I’ll ever go to Austin again, it is so congested and I don’t know anyone there anymore, but I have fond memories.


For dinner on Saturday I went to Kemuri Tatsu-ya in East Austin, a Texas-Japanese fusion-y izakaya from the owners of popular Austin ramen restaurant Ramen Tatsu-ya.

I started with a Matcha Painkiller cocktail ($14) soba shochu, navy rum, fresh coconut, fresh pineapple, matcha which was served in a lucky cat cup. A nice tropical tiki style drink, a little on the sweet side.

Next the BEEF IN THE HEART OF TEXAS ($6) glazed beef heart, smoked dry aged beef tare, charred herb miso, yuzu, garlic which was quite good. A little chewy to be expected from beef heart, but flavorful and beefy, with a sweet smoky tare sauce and a little garlic.

And then the HOT POCKETZ ($11) brisket and smoked gouda stuffed tofu pockets which I thought were ok. These were brisket and smoked gouda wrapped in a tofu skin, and also some fried cheese, with a side of hot sauce. I thought the smoked Gouda and fried cheese kind of overwhelmed everything else.

Also, the CHILLED CHAWANMUSHI ($16) egg custard, smoked trout roe, poached shrimp, charred corn, avocado, okra, which was served cold, and was probably my favorite dish of the night. A cool savory egg custard (chawanmushi is a Japanese steamed egg dish usually served warm) that mixed well with the fusion elements of okra, corn, and avocado. Very nice.

For a main, I got the BRISKET ($18/lb) sesame-pecan rub, serrano limón miso, which was thankfully available in a quarter pound portion and recommended by my server. This was an ok brisket but nowhere near as good as the one from la Barbeque, which I guess would be expected. I probably should have gotten something else.

Overall kind of a mixed experience at Kemuri. My favorite dishes were the “chawanmushi” and the beef heart skewer.

More pics:

Finally for dessert on Saturday I had a sweet kolache from Batch Craft Beer and Kolaches. A Texas kolache is a Texas version of a Czech pastry, and they come in both savory and sweet forms. They were about to close up a little early so didn’t have much of their usual selection. I had a strawberry and cream kolache, which was a nice dessert. Kind of like a danish but with a less sweet and more bread-y texture to the dough, and filled with a sweet strawberry filling. I also had a nice DIPA with it that I forgot the name of. Kolaches and beer - a winning combination.


Whew. You certainly had a very ‘filling’ visit! The Chawanmushi looks great. We have a branch of Ramen tatsu-ya here; not my favorite ramen shop in Houston but not bad. Maybe the other one will wind up here soon.

Great reports.


For Sunday lunch I had a couple breakfast tacos.

First, a straightforward bacon and egg breakfast taco from Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop in East Austin, open since 1962. This was just a really good breakfast taco. They flour their bacon beforehand so it crisps up really well, and it was definitely a crispy piece of bacon with almost like a batter crust around it. It was also filled with some scrambled eggs and a flaky flour tortilla that is made in house. It came with a spicy green salsa on the side.

Next I walked a few blocks north to the East Austin location of Veracruz All Natural, which now has several outposts around Austin. It’s in a converted school bus parked in a cool food truck park that has several other trucks and a number of picnic tables and counters. I got their migas taco, which has bits of tortilla chips along with eggs, avocado, and shredded cheese. Very good! The tortilla chip bits were a mix of softened and crispy.


Thanks! Re: Ramen Tatsu-ya - good to know, I was thinking about getting a bowl there but we have some pretty good ramen shops here in SF too.

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Genius, simplicity. Craving now.


For dinner on Sunday I went to Odd Duck in the South Lamar neighborhood, just south of the Colorado river. This restaurant used to be a food truck, and true to its name has a pretty eclectic menu.

I started with an Odd Fashioned with Balcones Rye ($17), which was a good old fashioned.

For food, I started with the Green chile fritters, chickpea spread, oyster mushroom, manchego, apple gastrique ($14) which was delicious. The fried balls were crunchy on the outside with a creamy savory center flavored with green chile. They were on top of a chunky hummus-like spread and topped with manchego cheese and a sweet-sour sauce.

And then for a main of sorts, the Grilled quail, XO fried rice, braised greens, persimmon BBQ, fried chicken skin ($27) which was also delicious. This was a whole deboned quail, nicely cooked with a crispy skin, and stuffed with the “XO fried rice” which was a little wetter than a fried rice and more like a rice stuffing. It was on top of some greens that tasted like vinegary collards which added some nice acidity, and also had some crispy fried chicken skins. Excellent.

Finally for dessert, the Lime mousse ($12) pear sorbet, apple relish, puffed rice, butter mochi, mint which was a nice mix of textures and flavors. The mochi was pleasantly chewy but not too much, tasted more like a mochi cake. Refreshing pear sorbet, light creamy lime mousse, and crispy puffed rice.

Overall great dinner.

More pics:


For lunch on Monday I had some more breakfast tacos, what a great Tex-Mex invention.

First a couple of tacos from El Primo, a food truck in South Austin. They have some picnic benches to sit on next to the truck. I had the migas, ham, and egg (on the top I think), and the the sausage and egg (on the bottom probably). They came with cheese inside, and there were also squeeze bottles of a spicy red salsa and a milder green salsa on the table. Delicious tacos. I liked the migas, ham, and egg one the most. Everything was chopped up and mixed into nice cheesy eggy meaty packages on top of some nice flour tortillas.

Next I walked down the street to Vegetarian/Vegan restaurant Bouldin Creek Cafe and had a Neal Taco ($4) with eggs, spinach, mushrooms, and cheddar-jack. One can also get it vegan with tofu instead of eggs and vegan cheddar. It came with some moderately spicy tomato salsa on the side. Very good taco, and fairly large. Spinach and mushrooms and cheese and eggs just kind of go with each other. Good coffee too, also had a cortado to drink.

Bonus pic of the Greetings from Austin mural which is down the street:


Breakfast tacos can be quite addictive :yum:. Looks like they stuff 'em quite full. I’d be limited to one.

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Monday for dinner I went to Suerte, an innovative Mexican restaurant in East Austin.

I had the SORAYA ($16) mezcal, tequila blanco, sweet vermouth, amaro, chile morita, xocolatl mole bitters to drink, which was quite nice, stirred and strong.

I started with the TUNA NEGRA TIRADITO ($24) bigeye tuna, burnt habanero broth, suerte pico, candied este chiles. Delicious! The “burnt habanero broth” was more like a dark salty spicy and slightly smoky sauce. There were pieces of meaty fresh tasting tuna, avocado, and some crisp watermelon radish in there. It was all topped with a large crispy fried tostada. I ended up breaking this into pieces and making little tostadas with the stuff in the bowl.

For a main I had the SUADERO TACOS ($23) confit wagyu brisket, black magic oil, avocado crudo, onion y cilantro which are one of their signature dishes. These were some great tacos. Suerte makes their own masa in house, and the tortillas made from it in this dish were excellent - great texture and corn flavor. The suadero, which is beef brisket, was kind of like a beef version of carnitas with some tender fatty parts and crispy parts. The avocado was a bit like a simple guacamole with a bit of acid, maybe from lime juice, and raw onion which was a nice topping for the rich suadero.

For dessert I had the TRES LECHES ($12) bay leaf soaked sponge cake, vanilla chantilly, apple jelly. candied pecans. I’m pretty much a sucker for any tres leches cake - a cake soaked in three types of milk - regular, evaporated, and condensed. And this was a good one. Extremely moist without falling apart, topped with whipped cream (vanilla chantilly?), some squiggles of an apple flavored jelly, and some crunchy candied pecans.

Great meal!


I was flying back home Tuesday evening and decided to brave the Franklin BBQ line for lunch that day. Franklin Barbecue, owned and operated by Aaron and Stacy Franklin and opened in 2009, is probably the most famous BBQ restaurant in Austin. It’s near the Texas State Capitol.

The line wasn’t too bad actually. I got there a little after noon (they open at 11 a.m.) and it took me only about 40-45 minutes to get to the front of the line. And when I left, the line was even shorter. As we were waiting a friendly employee went down the line and asked me what I was ordering. I think it was to let them know when things would start running out as his notepad had a bunch of tick marks on it.

I got the brisket of course, half a pound’s worth. Like at la Barbecue they give you a little taste of the brisket before you order. I also ordered one pork rib - they only have beef ribs on Saturdays and apparently they sell out quick. And a jalapeño and cheese sausage. It came with a couple slices of Wonder bread. Pickles, sauces, and sliced raw onions were available at a self-serve counter.

The brisket was great! Moist, tender, flavorful. There were I think several parts of the brisket there - the fattier rich large slices and also some of the leaner end of the brisket sliced into chunks rather than slices, which while less fatty was still pretty moist and tender and had more of the flavorful rub part I guess. Delicious.

Brisket comparison with la Barbecue based on one visit to each - to my novice BBQ palate they were actually pretty close. Slight edge to Franklin, which may or may not be due to mental hype. La Barbecue does have better pickles.

The rib I ordered was also good but as expected did not reach the heights of the brisket. Very tender with a nice rub. The jalapeño and cheese sausage was also good, the inside of the sausage was very nicely seasoned and fatty and porky with a good amount of heat. The casing though, which I believe is a natural casing, was a little too tough and chewy. I actually ended up not eating that part.

Excellent brisket worth waiting in line for. Maybe come on a weekday!

Meat closeup:


Tuesday lunch lineup:


And that’s a wrap for 4 days and 4 nights on this Austin trip. Some delicious bites, including some great Texas BBQ and some great breakfast tacos. I :heart: breakfast tacos.


Loved reading this! Thanks!!!


Fabulous! Thanks for posting!

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Excellent trip report, Mr. Happy. It is very clear that most of what I know about the Austin food scene from my days there in the 60s and sampling places now and then since then is very dated or completely useless :grin: Time marches on.

Awesome pictures, too.


Great reports what is this? Reminds me of 80s Montreal !


Nicely done @Mr_Happy ! I braved the Franklin line when I went about 9 years ago and found it totally lived up to the hype - great to hear they are so consistent. Brisket of course, but their Tipsy Texan sandwich is pretty great too, chopped brisket with coleslaw, pickles and sliced sausage.