STEVEN FRENCH Is the standard Drag fare getting old? Are those iconic Austin eateries too mainstream? Do you yearn to be the person in your friend group who always has the best food suggestions? Well, look no further: here’s a list of a few (relatively) more obscure restaurants to explore here in Austin!
La Barbecue Alternative to: Franklin Barbecue Location: 902 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702 Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am- sold out
While Franklin Barbecue will always hold a special place in this reviewer's heart, let’s be real: it can be rather difficult to find a three hour gap in your morning schedule to wait for a taste of that meaty magic. The wait at La Barbecue is usually around thirty minutes to an hour, and it’s just about as good as what Aaron Franklin is cooking. While I definitely recommend the deliciously smoky moist brisket, the entire menu has amazing options. Additionally, for those of you who are 21 and older, La Barbecue provides free beer while you wait in line. Who doesn't love free stuff?
Counter Cafe Alternative to: Hopdoddy Location: 626 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703 Hours: Daily from 7:30am-4:30pm
While its hours of operation are a bit strange, this little gem is totally worth a visit. This small establishment boasts incredibly friendly service and mouthwatering food. The Counter burger and the roasted vegetable sandwich are both to die for (even for those not keen to veggie sandwiches). My only qualms with Counter Cafe are the price, though comparable to Hopdoddy, and the wait.
Titaya’s Thai Cuisine Alternative to: Madam Mam’s Location: 5501 N Lamar Blvd C101, Austin, TX 78751 Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-10pm Saturday-Sunday, 12pm-3:30pm, 5pm-10pm
While Madam Mam’s will do in a pinch, I usually look elsewhere for my Thai food fix. Having tried a number of different Thai places around Austin, I can say with confidence that Titaya’s is this reviewer's go-to place. Not only is it reasonably priced, but the food blows away the competition. I’ve yet to find another Thai restaurant that can really spice up its food without covering the medley of other flavors in the dish. Though I particularly enjoy the chicken pad kee mao, I’ve yet to have a dish there that was anything less than stellar.
24 Diner Alternative to: Kerbey Lane/Magnolia Location: 600 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703 Hours: 24 hours, except Wednesday from 1am-6am
Back when I was a freshman, I could get a meal at Kerbey Lane for about $8, be full, and have some leftovers to take home. Today, it's noticeable that the portion size has decreased while the prices have increased. In my journey to find cheaper late night breakfast food, I discovered 24 Diner. The menu hosts a wide array of alternative takes on classic diner foods. While it swings more towards the pricey side, the portion sizes and superior quality more than make up for the price difference when compared to Kerbey. I’d recommend the chicken and waffles, M’s grilled cheese (add bacon, of course), and the roasted banana brown sugar shake.
These are but a few of the different food places I’ve had the pleasure of trying in my years in Austin; however, I am still looking for new places to go to. If you have any special food places that you hold near and dear, let this food enthusiast and Catalyst know in the comments below!