After I returned from Texas last month, I mentioned I would put together a post with some of my favorite venues in the Hill Country of Texas. Some of them are local gems – some are chains – but all of them are good! And they’re all things that I can’t track down living in the midwest. The food is one of the biggest treats about visiting my parents.
Here are my two cents:
Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Austin – A farm to table concept. We enjoyed Bacon Wrapped Texas Quail, Steak Tacos, Chorizo Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Medalions, Baja Style Fish Tacos, and two incredible desserts. Every single one of us had rave reviews of our plates – that never happens in our family. But, seriously, everyone loved their food.
The Salt Lick, Driftwood – This was my second time here. And honestly? I find it underwhelming. My parents enjoy it a lot, but I much prefer Cooper’s BBQ (see below). I had a Pulled Pork Sandwich and it was okay. I did not enjoy the sides much at all. Others had Turkey and Thurman’s Choice (brisket, pork ribs, and sausage). I think everyone else enjoyed it more than I did. From what I know, it’s a well known destination for locals and tourists alike. Wait times can exceed an hour and a half here (they generally don’t take reservations). But, it’s BYOB (a concept totally foreign to this northerner) and there is live music on the weekends – which makes the waiting time much more manageable. Though it isn’t a favorite of mine, the popularity speaks for itself.
Daddy’s Gourmet Burgers, San Antonio – Mom and I tried this on a whim when we found ourselves in San Antonio for pedicures. We use the Yelp app quite frequently to find new places to eat. This place had 5/5 stars. They have a small menu – my mom and I both got the special for the day which was the Daddy’s Thick and Juicy on a Jalapeno Bun. The burgers were excellent and both were delivered exactly how we ordered them. We had a side of fries that I didn’t love, but mom enjoyed. We also tried Non Venemous Rattlers (fried pickles), that were just okay. Go for the burgers, not for the sides.
Cooper’s, New Braunfels – They have several locations, but I’ve only been to New Braunfels. I’m sad that I didn’t make it there this trip, but this place has my favorite BBQ, no questions asked. The sauce is delicious – but don’t go expecting thick, rich sauce – it’s on the runnier side (as I’ve found with many places in Texas), but the flavor is phenomenal. It’s rustic – meaning you eat at picnic tables and there are community loaves of white bread. But, man, in my opinion, this is the bee’s knees.
Moonshine, Austin – An excellent recommendation made by my parents. When they were building their house, their builder took them there, otherwise I’m not sure they would’ve found it otherwise (as there seems to be such a large number of excellent restaurant choices in Austin). Our table enjoyed Warm Bacon Dip, Broiled Rainbow Trout, Cedar Plank Salmon, the Cowboy Rubbed Flat Iron Steak, Molasses and Chile Cured Pork Chop, a Fudge Stout Brownie, and Peanut Butter Mousse Pie. Yes, we ate well that night. And again, all of us thoroughly enjoyed our choices. Highly recommend! They were on a wait (we went on a Monday!), so I can imagine they are pretty darn busy on the weekends. Be prepared to wait.
Pecan Street, Johnson City – This place isn’t too far from where my parents live and they grab a bite here quite regularly. I’ve joined them a time or two and each time, it’s been delicious. The last time I was here I had the Fish Tacos. They were quite tasty! Fun fact, I’d never had a fish taco until visiting Texas. This wasn’t the first place I had them, but they’re among the best I’ve had. Being a brewery, they also have a good selection of beer brewed on site. I’m not a huge beer drinker, so I haven’t tried any of it, but it can’t be too bad if they’ve stuck around for as long as they have! This would be a great place to try between Thanksgiving and Christmas, because once you’re finished, you can head over to see the Johnson City Christmas lights!
The Hula Hut, Austin – I have not personally eaten here, but my parent’s have and they enjoyed it quite a bit. They had also recommended Moonshine to us and we thoroughly enjoyed that. In general, I very much trust my parent’s recommendations! It’s on Lake Austin and isn’t a far cry from downtown. I’m hoping to make it there on my next venture south! If anyone else has tried it, I’d love to know what you think!
Chuy’s, Austin – I know this is a chain, but it’s a chain we don’t have in Wisconsin. I’m not a chain restaurant kind of girl, I’ll avoid them as much as I can, but I can’t help but enjoy Chuy’s! Their chips and salsa are my fave. I stick to Chuy’s special because there’s just somethin’ about those blue corn tortillas that make my heart pitter-patter.
There you have it – in the seven years I’ve been visiting my parents, these places have risen to the top of my list.
What are some of your favorite places in the hill country?