I don't claim to know everything about Austin. It's not my town. I'm no Tolly Moseley. But there are some places that Austinites take for granted. And some others, if the truth be told, that don't live up to the local hype. So take this list as an outsider's objective view of the places he wouldn't want to miss -- and make it your own.
This classic Austin diner may be best known for giving the world Janis Joplin, who played there in her breakout years, but it also gave the world a gigantic, wonderful chicken fried steak with cream gravy, and plenty of other Texas classics.
One of the oldest hamburger restaurants in America, Dirty's is one of the "holy trinity" of Texas burger classics -- the others being Chris Madrid's in San Antonio and Keller's in Dallas. Where is Dirty's in that mix? You'll have to decide for yourself.
Long before seasonal food and on-site gardens became fashionable, this humble little restaurant was serving traditional food with flawless integrity. An Austin classic.
No one coud have predicted that a high-end sushi restaurant would become the most sought-after and admired restaurant in Austin -- by a huge measure. But the food is far beyond sushi as you know it.
Hidden away in the North Loop, Ned Elliotts temple to meat is radical, original, intense, and unique. It's a one of a kind restaurant that feels right in the neighborhood but has attracted national attention.
Some of the most original, refined, and intense food in Texas is being served at this classy if somewhat dull looking restaurant in the ATT center. It lacks the edge and panache of some Austin restaurants but it bows to none in the caliber of the cookery.
A sister restaurant to the enormously popular Uchi, Uchiko is like it an enormously creative high-end sushi restaurant, loosely speaking, but even more creative and bold than its sister. Many Austinites like it even better than Uchi!
With a talented young chef, a white-hot media spotlight, and a devoted audience, this modernist-casual spot brings Austin a kind of flashy and flavorful high-end restaurant food it has never seen before.
You may hear more about Coopers, Mueller's, or Smitty's, but anybody who knows barbecue in the Lone Star State will tell you that the king of Texas Q is a young man named Aaron Franklin, whose low-key, modern Austin restaurant puts the lie to all the old-timey rigamarole associated with the state.
Though it's by no means hip, and somewhat more expensive than most austinites like to pay, the refined, creative american food at Congress is some of the best in the US, and never fails to deliver an amazing experience.