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Austin Restaurants

1728 Barton Springs Road
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 474 4452

Velvet Elvises papering the walls and hubcaps on the ceiling set the mood; the Hatch green chile sauce provides a caliente kick to the enchiladas and burritos; the potent margaritas—made with fresh limes, not sour mix—keep the buzz going. (Yes, this is where First Daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush got busted for underage drinking in 2001.) Chuy's food is pretty straightforward Tex-Mex but it compensates for a lack of surprises with gargantuan portions and gregarious service. Three other locations have sprung up around town, but the original on Barton Springs remains the classic.

Driskill Grill
Driskill Hotel
604 Brazos Street
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 391 7162

Ornate chandeliers, dark-wood paneling, and etched-glass partitions make a trip to Driskill Grill feel a bit like traveling back to the days of Wild West outlaws. But chef Jonathan Gelman's kitchen is as innovative as any in town. You'll find refreshing takes on classic dishes like lobster with pineapple carpaccio, watercress, and passion fruit, in addition to well-excuted standards like steak with bleu cheese potato confit and roasted asparagus. The wine list covers a lot of ground with an impressive range of prices and regions. Consistently named as one of the best restaurants in the city, the Driskill is the ideal place for a romantic night out as well as a worthy anchor to the city's grandest hotel.

Fonda San Miguel
2330 W. North Loop
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 459 4121

The haciendalike Fonda San Miguel has been an Austin eating institution for over 30 years and is well worth the detour off South Congress. There may be more conveniently located taco joints in central Austin, but none offer Fonda San Miguel's authentic Mexican cuisine or atmosphere—or, for that matter, its potent, frozen fruit–filled red sangria. The warm sunset-orange walls are adorned with distinctive artwork by Mexican artists, and most of the produce comes from Fonda San Miguel's own garden, one of the largest restaurant gardens in Austin. The menu, with signature Mexican dishes from seven regions, includes the Yucatán specialty cochinita pibil (pork baked in banana leaf) and camarónes Tikin Xik (achiote-seasoned shrimp). All entrées come with a side of divinely buttery frijoles that will make you forget every pasty lump of refried beans you've ever been served elsewhere. Finish off your meal with two scoops of the house-made sorbets (ask for the guanabana).—Carolina Santos-Neves

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Sundays 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Hudson's on the Bend
3509 Ranch Road N. 620
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 266 1369

This stone cottage, about 20 miles west of town in the Hill Country near Lake Travis, offers the quintessential Austin experience: It's sophisticated, but not ashamed to be a little bit country. Chef-owner Jeff Blank wows foodies and good ol' boys alike with his inventive use of wild game, such as the rattlesnake appetizer served with a pistachio crust and creamy chipotle dressing. The entrées change seasonally, but the mixed game plate with venison, quail, and buffalo is a staple and a great place for first-timers to start. With white tablecloths, twinkling candlelight, and a plentiful wine list, Hudson's is plenty romantic, too.

1204 West Lynn Street
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 477 5584

A venerable neighborhood bistro that's a favorite among celebs and politicos, including a former Austin resident named George W. something-or-other. They come partly for the low-key atmosphere—it's in an old storefront in the artsy Clarksville neighborhood just off downtown—but mostly for the imaginative yet always reliable menu. The food is hard to categorize, with elements of Latin, Southwestern, and Continental cuisine. Some have called it "New Texan," but we simply call it tasty. The menu changes daily, but crispy oysters on yucca root chips (reportedly a W favorite) and venison loin with corn-truffle pudding are among the stalwarts.

The Oasis
6550 Comanche Trail
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 266 2442

Like a zany tree house for adults, this restaurant is famous for its series of multilevel decks—more than 40—arranged some 450 feet above Lake Travis. There's no better view of glorious Texas sunsets and the surrounding Hill Country. The restaurant's proximity to the heavens may have contributed to a lightning strike that destroyed part of the complex in June 2005, but the owner began rebuilding immediately, and today you can barely see any aftereffects of Zeus' fury. Perhaps it was the quality of the food that made him so cross: The menu is thankfully unambitious—not veering much from fajitas, burgers, and the like—but the amazing view more than makes up for the lackluster cuisine. As such, the Oasis is best for munchies and margaritas. Do consider a designated driver: It's a curvy 25-minute drive back to downtown.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.

Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood , Texas
Tel: 512 894 3117

If, in your mind, Texas + food = barbecue, the Salt Lick is the place for you. A hoppin' joint out in the middle of the Hill Country, a 30-minute drive southwest of Austin, it's jammed most weekends with 'cue aficionados lining the indoor wooden picnic tables and eating themselves into a carnivorous stupor. Go with the family-style option, and for less than $20 per person the waiter will bring platter after platter of first-rate ribs, brisket, sausage—plus all the sides—until you say uncle. It's BYOB, so make sure to bring a cooler of ice-cold Shiner Bocks (brewed in nearby Shiner, Texas). Oh, and your credit is no good here—cash only.

6416 N. Lamar Boulevard
Austin , Texas
Tel: 512 451 5440

In 1933, Kenneth Threadgill obtained the county's first post-Prohibition liquor license, converted an old Gulf gas station into a beer joint, and started hosting legendary late-night jam sessions. In the 1960s, a disheveled hippie named Janis Joplin first made a name for herself here. It became a restaurant in 1981 and though it's mellowed considerably with age, it remains the city's best source of Southern-style comfort food. The chicken-fried steak is justifiably celebrated, but the long list of veggies—steamed okra and tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and so on—is pretty impressive. The second location (301 W. Riverside Drive) is more centrally located, but the original, located north of downtown, is worth the extra drive.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.