Barbeque is king in Texas, and everyone has a favorite restaurant. Aside from politics or football, nothing strikes up a heated discussion more quickly than trying to name the best barbeque around. You haven’t sampled Texas cooking without taste-testing a selection of brisket, ribs, or sausage—with sides of potato salad or slaw and fruit cobbler for dessert.
If you’re awed by the Texan mystique, head to the Salt Lick in nearby Driftwood. This renowned barbecue restaurant will fulfill any fantasies about Texas cowpokes and the rest of us dudes. Week-end nights often find a line of cars stretching far down the road waiting to be directed by a parking lot attendant sporting double pistols in his holster. What’s more authentic than a Texas sharpshooter rounding up the herd?
Guests enter the restaurant by an open pit where meat has been smoked since 1967. Savor traditional barbecue plates with all the trimmings while dining at wooden tables and benches. Save room for homemade cobbler and pie after the heartier fare. Bring cash and your favorite adult beverage.
If you’re entertaining a crowd, check out the Salt Lick’s beautiful special event facility. The spacious pavilion on the banks of Onion Creek is shaded by huge pecan trees. Or choose the rustic elegance and Hill Country views from Thurman’s mansion to impress guests.
Classic soda fountain meets campy kitsch at this downtown joint. Walls adorned with University of Texas and Dallas Cowboy sports items, wallpaper dating from the 1950’s, old photos and album covers under glass in the booths, vintage photos on the walls, and blue plate dinner specials make reminiscing everyone’s sport.
If bubba food—burgers, fries, chicken fried steak, and hot dogs—fills your tummy most evenings, this is your hangout. Hut’s greatest claim to fame is its thick, juicy hamburgers. Take your pick from 20 different selections, including the All American Buddy Holly burger with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, onions, pickles, and cheese. Buns are fresh and large, just right for the two-handed whoppers served at Hut’s. Forget about cholesterol for one meal and order the combo basket of onion rings and fries. They’re hot, crispy, and oh, so yummy. If you brought your he-man appetite, finish up with a strawberry or chocolate milk shake.
Just as the clientele is a mixture of families, students, and business people, Hut’s is a mixture of old and new Austin. It has done a good job of preserving the culture of old Austin in a quick food environment (can’t call it fast food--it’s a couple of notches up).