Cocktails:Peché Austin - Across the board, everything here was great last year. Haddington's - Wonderful flips and fizzes, and blue corn whisky that I've never heard of anywhere else. Lambert's - Sazeracs so damn good that I didn't drink anything else while inside for five hours. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="375" caption="Street Food: Bacon waffle cone, filled with brisket, jicama slaw, chipotle aioli."][/caption] Brunch: Old Pecan Street Cafe - I went here for the first time with a friend when I was down last year, and remembered it being good. It's not stunning food but it was a solid brunch each of the three times I've been, and the waitstaff here really goes above and beyond to make sure people are taken care of. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="375" caption="Beef Tartare at Parkside Restaurant (2010)"][/caption]
Appetizers/Small Plates:Parkside - Enjoyed dinner and an unconference here in 2010, and was so surprised by the wonderful execution. We had the lovely tartare pictured above, fresh and flavorful oysters and outstanding libations. The funny thing about Austin is that I never expect to get the food I do given whatever the restaurant is named. I don't know - Parkside just sounds ... under the radar? But if this is what under the radar calls itself, that's where I want to be. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Bacon Gorgonzola Burger with onions, and a side of grilled brussel sprouts"][/caption] Lunch or Dinner: Lambert's - Already mentioned under "cocktails," this was one of my two best food experiences on this trip. The appetizers at a party hosted here were so good that we stayed on for dinner. Slices of fried green tomato topped with crab salad, baby brisket sliders, deviled eggs, ribs and FRITO PIE. Yeah. Maybe I'll just move there. 24 Diner - I am NUTSO about burgers. I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Maybe you don't know that because this is primarily a site about ethnic food, not cheeseburgers. When I find a great burger, I will sing its praises and get in fights defending its honor. You should think nothing of hopping in a cab over to this place. It's just a few minutes from the convention center and I am telling you this: your face will never be the same after eating a burger made of high-quality brisket. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="2010 BBQ Excursion: Blacks, of Lockhart, TX. Brisket and ribs and more, oh my..."][/caption] BBQ: Black's - See the picture above. It's an establishment for a reason. Over the course of this visit, there were also Korean tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches that tasted amazing because they were free (and came with free beer), these addictive individual Sticky Toffee Puddings made by an Austin company, wines from Texas and many, many other things. There were other things besides eating and drinking going on at SXSW like parties, seeing friends and -- oh yeah -- an actual conference with panels and things to learn. Here's a photo from the panel I moderated at Techmunch Food Bloggers' conference on Sunday. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Techmunch Austin 2011 panel with Stefanie Michaels, Gaby Dalkin and Erik Trinidad"][/caption] The panelists who participated on this session are talented, very smart and were fun to work with. If you don't already read their sites, check them out as I know you will love them: [/caption]
Honorable In-Flight Mention:Tenneyson Absinthe: I met Tenneyson founder Graham Wasilition last year, while I was in town for SXSW 2010. My friend Lindsey of Lush Life Productions introduced us, and four of us tasted his category-bending yet traditionally-crafted absinthe in the backseat of his car. The Austin-based spirit company's product is distilled in one of the most respected absinthe towns in France. True story. You'll be hearing more about Tenneyson here, as Graham is now a client of mine and I can't wait to get this stuff in your mouth. I happened to have a small gift vial of Tenneyson, which I mixed with tonic to drink on the flight down. Pick up a bottle for yourself on either end of your trip in Austin or in NYC. Austin definitely holds its own in the food and beverage world, so I can't wait to go back and cast the net a little farther off the beaten path!
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