Austin Overrated: No, you should NOT eat at that Austin institution
Like many locals, I get a bit angry when SXSW rolls around each year. Our city swells to the point of supersaturation, the traffic is horrendous, there are lines at restaurants we can usually get into easily, and those who work downtown (like me) are subjected to the sound of loud music and revelry while we toil away at our desks.
And while I get annoyed at some of the people who come here (see my friends Boots in the Oven’s posts on fashion at SXSW for examples), I still firmly believe that life is too short to eat overrated food.
I wanted to take a few minutes to give our out of town friends some honest tips on where NOT to waste your time eating while in Austin for SXSW. Like any city, Austin has restaurants that we are famous for. Some of these spots live up to the hype and some do not. Here is a quick blog post on where to avoid along with some alternative dining options.
For the love and pride in the wonderful eats options the city of Austin offers, please don’t listen to whomever told you to eat at these over-hyped and often disappointing restaurants*:
- Gueros Taco Bar
- Hut’s Hamburgers
- The Mighty Cone
- Hyde Park Bar & Grill
- Hey Cupcake
I apologize if my decision to include any of the restaurants above hurt your feelings or made you feel indignant. Please note that they are in no particular order but here’s my rationale for including each of them: I don’t taste the love in their food. As we all know, love is the most important ingredient and while some of the spots above have been in business for a long time and used to put the love in there, from my experience, they don’t anymore.
Choices abound when it comes to Tex-Mex but Guero’s, Trudy’s, and Chuy’s are limp versions of what Tex-Mex can be. For fun atmosphere, strong margaritas, and killer salsa, I recommend Polvos.
Hut’s Hamburgers was the gold standard in Austin for many years but now are known mostly for their onion rings. Great burgers are not hard to come by in our great state but my personal favorites are the Big Ass Burger at Roaring Fork and the ones they serve at 24 Diner with the Challah bun. They also serve burgers at Casino el Camino and Jackalope and I’ve heard good things about both.
To me, both the Mighty Cone and Hey Cupcake are the most overrated food trailers. I fell in love with the chicken cones served at the Hudson’s on the Bend booth at Austin City Limits two years ago and had one every day. However, when Hudson’s decided to open a year-round trailer, the magic of those cones seemed to disappear. I find them generally lacking in excitement and flavor and the french fries they serve are worse. Hey Cupcake is an adorable looking trailer and a great marketing idea but their cake is dry to me. As an alternative to these trailers, there is a plethora of other trailers and small, family owned small businesses who are bringing love into every dish.
I probably feel the most guilty about thinking Cisco’s is overrated because of it’s long history in Austin and the many well-known Texas politicians who ate here regularly — including President Lyndon B. Johnson. Also, I’ve heard the family business is now for sale and might not be long for Austin. They are famous for their biscuits and migas and to me, the biscutis are heavy, hard, and make me feel like there is a lead weight in my stomach for the rest of the day.
Hyde Park Bar & Grill french fries are famous. They are battered, and then deep fried. I’m not much of a fan of battered fries in general and these just offend me. The spices used also turn me off. I once ordered a key lime pie here and it was barely edible. If you are in Hyde Park, I’d recommend going to Asti instead — each dish I’ve sampled there is delicious and the atmosphere is laid back and welcoming. If the weather is nice, pick up some cheese, crackers, and meats from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and have a picnic.
*The opinions expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of anyone else.
If you are a local or a regular, what Austin restaurants do you think are overrated? Which of the above do you disagree with? What would you add to the list?
For more thoughts from my fellow Austin food bloggers on the best food experiences to be had in Austin, check out Austin Food Lovers’ Companion, “The Food Lovers’ Guide to Austin“Tags: chuy's, cisco's, gueros, hey cupcake, hoover's, hut, huts, hyde park bar & grill, Mighty Cone, SXSW, threadgill's, trudy's