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As for bars, I like the Dog and Duck for its pub scene. The bar at the Four Seasons is above average but not up to its counterparts in other cities. The bar at the Driskill isn't bad. Starbar used to have decent drinks, but I haven't been in ages. I enjoy margaritas on the deck at Trudie's near campus. Ditto with Z Tejaz on 6th. What I haven't found is a bar that mixes drinks on par with some of the better bars in NY and elsewhere, though. For that kind of experience, you might be better shaking a few up at home.

 

Castle Hill is at 5th and Lamar these days. Modern American with a touch of seasonal Southwestern. I think their menu and winelist can be found at www.castlehillcafe.com. Also, they allow corkage for $8 or at least they used to.

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As for bars, I like the Dog and Duck for its pub scene.  The bar at the Four Seasons is above average but not up to its counterparts in other cities.  The bar at the Driskill isn't bad.  Starbar used to have decent drinks, but I haven't been in ages.  I enjoy margaritas on the deck at Trudie's near campus.  Ditto with Z Tejaz on 6th.  What I haven't found is a bar that mixes drinks on par with some of the better bars in NY and elsewhere, though.  For that kind of experience, you might be better shaking a few up at home.

Well, I guess it's all about atmosphere (and, probably, age). For me, the 'pub scene' at the D&D is sorta fun, but that's not what I'm interested in most of the time these days. I want something soothing, pleasant, intimate and smooth. Like a well-made Manhattan. D&D and many other bars in Austin are just too frenetic for me. And although I haven't been to the D&D in a long time, and things well may have changed since the smoking legislation, when I think D&D, I think young people, darts, and lots of smoke.

 

At the Driskill, I think comfy chairs, cool jazz, subdued and interesting conversation. Ditto for the Four Seasons. And B-Side. I have my 'standards' that I order, so I'm woefully unaware of barkeeps that are mixing up interesting and unusual concoctions and, although I easily could get into that, thus far I just haven't.

 

I'd a hundred times rather sit by the big windows at the Four Seasons and gaze out at the lake than go to the D&D (although I have poured beer there at some of the livelier St. Pat's Days and had a hell of a great time).

 

Obviously all a matter of personal preference. And sadly, I guess it's obvious I'm getting old. :D

 

Sigh.

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I'm another ex-Texan who will be going to Austin to visit relatives.  Some live in Austin and some live near Temple, which is where I will spend most of my time,

Up in Temple and surrounding area, I've found many good, small Asian restaurants. Because of the proximity of Ft. Hood and its huge number of Asian brides, there are many small, hole-in-the-wall Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai etc., restaurants and markets.

 

Also, you asked elsewhere about Mikeska's BBQ. My personal opinion is that if one opened up here in Missouri, I'd be thrilled. But in Central Texas, where you have so many excellent BBQ options, Mikeska's is really a big notch down. I only eat there if I'm driving somewhere and there's one along the highway and I'm REALLY hungry for BBQ. And even then, I'm usually disappointed.

 

But those Asian restaurants & markets are worth seeking out -- although I can't think of one to recommend specifically. I usually just stumble into one or another of them and haven't had a bad meal yet.

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Actually, Temple has had a Chinese population from the beginning because it started out as a railroad town. There is at least one beautiful mansion with a Chinese style tiled roof, and there have always been good Chinese restaurants there. IMO, the Chinese restaurants were the best in town, and I remember always getting really good fresh vegetables there. While most of Temple is Czech or German, there were several Chinese-American students in the high school when I was there.

 

I've asked my sister to take me to Quality Seafood for lunch on my first day. I want to try their gumbo and etouffée, and I may get some take out for later.

 

In Temple, I think you have to get closer to Killeen to find the non-Chinese Asian restaurants, and we very seldom get to Killeen. I'll probably try to find another BBQ place in Temple - there are quite a few, I think.

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In Temple, I think you have to get closer to Killeen to find the non-Chinese Asian restaurants, and we very seldom get to Killeen.  I'll probably try to find another BBQ place in Temple - there are quite a few, I think.

Killeen has some nice Korean restaurants, including my favorite--Korean Kitchen. Its been run by the same family for 2 decades plus, I believe. Very homey and very good.

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I didn't mean to give the impression that I prefer Dog and Duck to the other bars I mentioned, just that when I'm in the mood for a pub, it fits the bill.  I usually end up there mid-afternoon while running errands downtown, and most of the time it's sleepy and quiet with above average food.

Well, yes, I like it, too, for the pub atmosphere. And, as you said, the food is quite tasty.

 

But the more I think about this overall 'bar' thing, the more I am settling in with the thought of B-Side being my favorite.

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Liz: Castle Hill Cafe is at 5th and Lamar. Right across the street from the Treaty Oak. There's plenty of parking behind the restaurant. Reservations are advisable.

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I don't think there is anywhere that combines great beer and bbq because we take our bbq wayyyyy too seriously down here! You go and drink your artisanal beers , or you go and eat bbq and drink Shiner Bock.

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point well taken, so before i hit The Draught House that seems to be conveniently opened till 2am where should i go for a serious bbq?..

nothing to do with beer/bbq subject but Fonda San Miguel would be one of 3 dinners i'm planning while in town for business.

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PM Jaymes and get her to reply to this: she knows her "Q" better than most of us in here! All I can say is that there are lots of good places to sample bbq. I like to take out-of-towners to the Salt Lick because the bbq is pretty good and the atmosphere is cool. It's a bit of a drive outside of town: about 30 minutes. ANd it's is more of a destination restaurant because the drive through the Hill Country is nice. I only go there during the day.

 

In town, there is Ruby's http://www.rubysbbq.com/site/press/ It's central and the food is good. It's about a 10 minute drive from Draught House.

 

Also, this list is pretty helpful

 

http://www.texasbbqreview.com/

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Helena! I'm pouting that you're in town and I'm not. Look, for barbeque, just go to Smitty's. It's in Lockhart, but that's only a 30-minute drive from Austin. If you've got time, the thing to do is to sample a little 'cue from Black's, Smitty's & Kreuz. But if you're in town on business, and pressed, then just go to Smitty's, walk through the building, have a little brisket and a hot link.

 

Right in Austin, the BBQ is good compared to what you'll get in New Jersey, but nothing like Lockhart. I even hesitate to recommend a place in town, because the best places are all out of town a short way, Mueller's in Taylor, Cooper's in Llano, Smitty's, Black's & Kreuz in Lockhart, City Market in Luling. Those places always are high on the "best in Texas" list.

 

And one thing I need to tell you, if you're expecting those sweet, mushy, "fall of the bone" ribs that you get in restaurants elsewhere, these aren't like that. They've got texture, and you can actually taste meat instead of all that sauce. And the beans aren't those sweet, sticky mushy things, either. They're soupy southwestern pintos, best eaten with a spoon.

 

A lot of people do like the Salt Lick because the atmosphere is fun and the drive is real "Texasy," although the 'cue has slipped over the last few years. Although, frankly, it's out of town, too, and if you're going to drive to Driftwood, you might just as well go to Lockhart.

 

If you absolutely have to stay in town, I guess the Iron Works downtown isn't bad. And Green Mesquite has good ribs and the brisket is okay, too. Although really, I shouldn't be giving advice about in-town places because I haven't gone to any in quite a while. I will say, though, that I only went to Stubb's once, and the brisket was awful, so I can't recommend that. And I hate to admit it, but I've never been to Sam's (something I'm going to correct next time I'm back here), but it gets very high marks among folks whose opinions I respect. A lot of people like Artz for ribs, but I'm more a brisket gal, and I think their brisket sucks so I try really hard to avoid it.

 

Although actually, the truth in my opinion is that if you're staying in Austin proper, they're probably all about the same. Everybody has their two favorites -- their "in town" favorite, and "out of town" favorite. And I'll get disagreement, but I do believe that as long as they smoke with wood, there isn't that much difference in the in-town places. And they're all great if you're coming from somewhere that doesn't have much of a barbecue tradition, but second rate compared to the real "greats" right outside of town.

 

And get a combination plate -- sliced brisket, a couple of ribs, and a hot link. Order your brisket to be cut from the "wet" or "fatty" side.

 

But lordy, girl. You've come a long way from NJ. Go another half-hour down to Lockhart. Try the real deal.

 

I hope you're planning on getting to Central Market north and chatting up Foodie52, and the new Whole Foods, too.

 

Central Market is a great place for a lunch or light dinner as well.

 

Helena, one last thought. Lockhart is just a quick and easy 20-minute drive south from the airport on good, well-marked roads. So if your flights either arrive, or depart, sometime around noon, you might could work Lockhart into your schedule on a travel day. Especially if your flight home is around lunchtime, make the run down to Lockhart, have a little lunch and some samples, and buy some by the pound to take back with you.

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