SXSW13 - The Food

While in Austin for SXSW I went to a lot of talks and parties. I will be recounting those experiences at length. Right now I am going to recount the restaurants and meals that I ate. Some experiences were better than others. I ate my way through Austin and learned a lot about what I will and won't eat when I get back into town.

Thursday

Snack Bar

Bleu cheese burger with local uncured bacon, medium rare and a side of flash fried brussel sprouts. Paired with a local dark Belgian beer. Finished up with bread pudding.

Snack Bar is a really nice place on South Congress about a mile south of downtown Austin. We ate outside and it was a really nice, mellow experience. Just what we needed after flying all day and then walking 3 miles trying to get our bearings in our new home for the week. The food was amazing, our waitress was awesome. I will make this a destination everytime I return to Austin.

Friday

Mulberry

Beet salad

Before the conference I was looking for something small and healthy so we ducked into Mulberry for brunch. I ordered the beet salad and it was fantastic. Perfectly roasted beats over greens with a light vinaigrette. Yum.

Whataburger

The bacon melt with fries

I had never been to a Whataburger before. Friends from Texas talk about how it is SO much better than any of the national chains. We went to the location near the Palmer center and it was a newer location so the restaurant wasn't shaped like a W. The food was welcome since we hadn't eaten all day, but it wasn't really all that great. It's fast food, which I totally expected.

Roppolo's

Pepperoni pizza - 2 slices

I've been to Roppolo's on Sixth Street before with my friend Grace Eyre. It is a standing room only pizza shop that makes really great pies. I have had other pizza in Austin and I think this is the best. Always good and really large slices too.

Saturday

Halcyon

Yoghurt parfait and a latte

I love Halcyon and have been their before. It is the best coffee shop in Austin. You can get all your normal coffee drinks but they also have a full bar and a humidor. I really like their yoghurt parfaits.

The Defiance Party

Weird candy wads that tasted like sugar, butter and nuts

I don't know what these were. They made me less hungry. I also have no idea what Defiance is. It was your typical promo party. No one cares what it's for but there is free food and alcohol.

The Fandango Party

Build your own taco bar - Chicken tacos that were massively overfull

This was a good party. Not for the vibe or the people. That, to be honest, was terrible. They did, however, have amazing free food that wasn't just finger food. Real build'em yourself tacos with really good quality ingredients. This was the best free food of the trip. Thank you Fandango.

It should be noted that we attended this party on the advice of Daniel Morrison from Collective Idea. We hung out while Fandango was setting up the AppleTV to stream their ads and promos on a wall. We all noticed that the wifi was open and the AppleTV was on that network. Chris Gaffney, also of Collective Idea, streamed He-Man and Nyan Cat on the wall until Fandango finally gave up and unplugged the AppleTV.

Hoek's Death Metal Pizza

Cheese pizza and pepperoni pizza

Daniel and Chris G. were all about this place. While the ambiance was hilarious, the pizza wasn't very good. They know their audience though. Most drunk people don't really notice if the pizza is great or totally middle of the road.

Sunday

Austin Convention Center Cafe

Asian noodle salad and a fruit cup

Man this was shitty. Overpriced, check. Tasteless, check. I really didn't want this but we needed food fast to get in line for Elon Musk. Consequently, we missed the talk (probably because of getting the crappy food).

Bar-B-Que Heaven

Brisket dinner - Brisket, beans, potato salad, onions.

Real Texas style brisket. So glad I found this truck. Just northwest of downtown, nestled in a corner lot. Super simple, really well cooked, moist, delicious brisket. Not much else to say.

Monday

Halcyon

Yoghurt parfait and a latte

I love Halcyon enough that I was there many times during this trip. This was another stop for a quick bite before attending talks all day.

Which Wich?

Muffalata sandwhich

On Monday I was looking to get away from the crowds for a bit and headed north on the bus to stop at a local comic shop. While up there I stopped in for my first experience in the Which Wich? chain. It was really great actually. To order you fill out the bag with the number of the sandwhich you want and check off everything you want on it. Then after a few minutes it pops back out on the other end. Awesome quality, nice people, totally enjoyed it.

The Rubyist Party

Tamales, taquitos and churos

Developer chow. That was the fare at the rubyist party and something or other Billiards. Soggy tamales, dry taquitos and stale churros. I did eat them though.

Franks

The Notorius P.I.G. (sausage with mac and cheese and spicy barbecue sauce) and a side of sweet southern slaw.

Chris Gaffney from Collective Idea really wanted us to go to Franks. It is an upscale hotdog joint just off of Fourth Street. The food was so so and expensive. The sausage itself was great. The toppings were strange and the bun was awful. The slaw tasted like it was from a kit and not an original recipe. I vote this as most oversold and overrated food of the trip.

Tuesday

Navajo Tacos

A pork taco and a chicken taco - both on freshly fried navajo bread.

This was a food truck right outside the convention center. Boy did they know it too. $6.75 per taco. Ouch. Mega gouging on the price. The food was terrific though. Really well cooked meats. Very moist and flavorful too. I really enjoyed them. At $20 for the full meal, I better have.

Wahoo's

Blackened fish taco dinner

Last year when I was in Austin, Grace Eyre wanted to go to Wahoo's. She said it was second to Torchy's when it came to Texas style tacos. I had the blackened fish tacos. They were covered in finely chopped cabbage and fresh salsa. They were very nice, filling and not fishy. Super good and reasonably priced.

Wednesday

Hill's

Chicken fried steak with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes. Everything covered in brown gravy.

Hill's is apparently an Austin institution. It is Texas diner food. Celebrity photos from when they were at Hill's are everywhere. The booths are all named after these celebrities. We sat right across from the Rick Perry booth. I have never had chicken fried steak before so I can't judge if this was “good” chicken fried steak. It was what it was and that is all I was looking for. If you want Texas style Americana, this is your place. It is fun, clean, reasonably priced and decent.

There you have it. A week of food in Austin. Writing about this was a very helpful excercise to jog my memory about a lot of the activities that went on during SXSW Interactive. You can read about those in my other posts. Cheers!