Home » Tasty Bits

Austin Overrated: No, you should NOT eat at that Austin institution

18 March 2010 14,069 views 103 Comments

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.

fbga_blue

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*:

  1. Gueros Taco Bar
  2. Chuy’s
  3. Hut’s Hamburgers
  4. Threadgill’s
  5. Hoover’s
  6. The Mighty Cone
  7. Hyde Park Bar & Grill
  8. Cisco’s
  9. Trudy’s
  10. 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.

Alternatives include:

Instead of Threadgill’s or Hoover’s for Southern-style comfort food, how about Lambert’s, The Woodland, or even Night Hawk Frisco Shop.

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: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • FoodieIsTheNewForty

    I. Could. Not. Agree. More. about Trudy's, Hut's, Mighty Cone, Chuy's, and Hey Cupcake. There are enough mildly redeeming qualities about the others to leave them off my “DON'T GO THERE!” list, but none of them are favorites, either.

    Also overrated: Aster's, Suzi's (noooooo!),Somnio's (Sorry. Love the idea; don't like the food), Quality Seafood, El Chilito, Austin's Pizza, Zocalo, Mama Fu's (again, nooooooooo!), any Austin “New York Deli”…should I go on? ;)

  • drewthornley

    When I read the topic (and before I read your list), the places that came to mind were Hoover's, Threadgill's, and Guero's. And Hyde Park B&G isn't worth a stop, either, but I guess I didn't realize it was highly rated in the first place. Well done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=712695950 facebook-712695950

    First and foremost, I appreciate your willingness to take on the idea of over-rated restaurants. So much restaurant writing is devoted to celebrating eateries, whether they deserve it or not.

    I agree with many of the places your over-rated list, and disagree with a few of your alternate suggestions. Asti, for example, has never done it for me. And I don't really see Lambert's or Roaring Fork as direct alternatives to Threadgill's and Hut's, since the former are significantly more expensive options. But back on an agreeable note, I lament the passing of the Hyde Park fries, which used to be things of wonder. They have, in the past few years, been battered into uninterestingness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherk Heather Leah Kennedy

    + Torchy's. At least the last several times I've eaten there. Not nearly as good as when they first opened. I think they've spread themselves to thin with all of the different locations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heatherk Heather Leah Kennedy

    Too!

  • http://twitter.com/SummerH Summer Huggins

    Ohhh, it makes me nuts to hear folks refer to Hey, Cupcake as the place to get cupcakes in town. Cute trailer, yes, but the goodness stops right there. Sugar Mama's, Cupprimo, Delish and my kitchen all have them beat! ;-)

  • rusky66

    Hi5 on your blog…I was just debating Chuy's, Hyde Park B&G, and Guero's with the girlfriend a couple of days ago. Nice to hear my theories echoed. I also heard something similar echoed about Hey Cupcake while discussing the merits of the Mighty Cone compared to an awesome trailer next to the donut trailer on South Lamar that I can't remember the name of (A rare pig maybe???). Appears you're not alone with your position.

  • Tommy Sandwiches

    Nice list! I'd add Hula Hut and Shady Grove, but I still send folks to Hoover's. Also, Night Hawk is restaurant with a great personality and terrible food. And I never thought I'd see you dis the Chicken Cone! I had that on my “things to try” list solely on your raves, now will skip. Cheers!

  • http://adamnorwood.com/ Adam Norwood

    Thanks for posting the rare “do not eat here!” list — often much more insightful than a “best places to eat” kind of list. Talking to SXSW'ers and hearing that they've just waited a couple of hours to eat at Güero's for some “real Tex Mex” makes me die inside.

    The only item on your top (bottom?) ten that I don't agree with is Hoover's, as they still make some great chicken fried chicken and their ham steak with jezebel sauce is a surprising delicacy (DO NOT get the po-boy at Hoover's though, you'll be disappointed). I'm actually very sad to with some of the others on the list as they were so so good back in the day and have fallen far from their apex. Hyde Park B&G, I'm looking at you.

    But as the Roman fella said: de gustibus non est disputandum

    (PS: what's the story on the “Before Cones” place that was set up outside the convention center? A Mighty Cone knockoff, or?)

  • jordanbucher

    The only time I ever threw up in my first pregnancy was after eating those godforsaken fries at Hyde Park Grill.
    And long live Sugar Mama's!

  • Sea Island Mourner

    If only Sea Island Shrimp House were still around…

  • http://twitter.com/ediblearia Edible Aria

    Thanks for posting this!

    While there's so much outstanding food here, no list of over-hyped, over-priced and generally disappointing Austin restaurants would be complete without mention of Houston's in the Crestview area..

  • http://atxglutenfree.wordpress.com/ Jess Meyer

    haha! I love that you made a list like this. It is very accurate! The only reason why I still eat at Guero's is they have a gluten-free menu and I don't have to worry about explaining things.

  • Pingback: Austin Food Lovers' Companion

  • Sara

    I think that some of those of restaurants come from a very nostalgic place. Even though I am only a part-time resident of Austin, I have been there off and on for almost 20 years (read: before the too-cool-for-school crowd came in to town and made it different. Not better, not worse, just different). I love Chuy's Tex-Mex and I would take a bath in their chunky salsa if I could. I named my wireless network after their amazing Special Enchiladas. The veggie burger at Hyde Park B & G is (or at least was) one of my favorites in town, and I love 2-for1 burgers at Hut's. Sure, are there better options out there? Yeah, there are, but I still love what, to me anyway, makes Austin my home :)

  • wamalarkey

    yeah, I tried a few “institutions” when I first moved here and was disappointed. Esp the Hyde Park Bar & Grill French fries. Truly nothing special about them at all. I was beginning to think I was crazy, so thanks!

  • http://kitschncalamities.blogspot.com/ jkru

    I can't stand Kerbey Lane. Even their *gasp* breakfast is overrated. 24 Diner is my new late night food spot in town!

  • Ilyse

    The City of Austin should put this out as a public service announcement!!! ALmost 100% agreed, except, I do like the drinks at Trudy's mucho and you know my feelings about Hey Cupcake — how can you not love cupcakes that taste like the ones you got at 4th grade bday parties?????? Anyways, Jodi, you are a genius. Keep up the good work, mi amiga.

    x,
    Ilyse

  • local

    wow. this is one of the most snaughty and revolting posts i've seen on a blog in a while. really terrible. and how do you write a food blog and admit to never having eaten a burger at casino? really disgusting.

  • http://www.austinkleon.com/ Austin Kleon

    I've never had a bad meal at Hoover's. That's the only one on this list I disagree with.

  • jodibart

    Agree about Suzi's. And Katz's of course. It goes without saying — don't eat at a New York Style deli in Austin. For that, you must travel to Houston.

  • jodibart

    Thanks for your note. I figured that after more than a year and a half of food blogging, I deserved to go negative this once. You are right about Lamberts and RF not being direct alternatives to Threadgills or Huts. What do you think about Nubian Queen Lola's as an alternative to Threadgills?

  • jodibart

    Good to know. I've only eaten at Torchy's once. I was sad that I missed the burger joint that Torchy's used to own. Shuggies….everyone loved it.

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Summer! My heart belongs to Sugar Mama's but whenever you want to whip up a batch from your kitchen, I'd eat the heck out of those too!

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Ivan. What did your girlfriend say when you shared the blog with her? The awesome donut trailer is Gourdoughs. I love that place. The donut you are thinking of is called the flying pig — donut, maple icing, bacon. YUM!

  • jodibart

    Thanks for the note, “Tommy.” Agree on Night Hawk for personality — love those waitresses. The food is just ok but its fun to order their baked potato when they come over with toppings and add 'em on for you. Muy fancy!

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Adam. Hoovers is by far the most disputed item on the list and you know I respect your opinion immensely.

    I didn't try that cones place at the convention center but it was definitely a Mighty Cone knockoff. I think they actually put sugar cereal in the cone. Genius?!

  • jodibart

    Ah, Mark!

  • jodibart

    You are so welcome. However, I must admit that Houston's is near and dear to my heart. We used to go all the time growing up in Maryland — my cousin met his wife there and my best friend worked as a waitress at both the Austin and Bethesda, MD locations. I LOVE their ribs and fries but do admit that the prices are higher than they need to be.

  • jodibart

    Since you are commenting from Brasil, the nostalgia is heightened, don't you think. We should do a blind taste test of veggie burgers and see if you still like it. BTW – 24 Diner has a KILLER veggie burger with actual veggies that you can discern inside. You must try when you come back home.

  • jodibart

    I do know your feelings about Hey Cupcake and I respect them. The one thing I like at Hey Cupcake (as you know) is that they serve (or at least used to serve) Celeste's Best vegan cupcakes and those are the bomb diggity.

    Also, the Mexican Martini at Trudy's has so much alcohol in it that it almost makes me think the food tastes good when I'm under the influence.

  • jodibart

    Do you mean snotty? Or snooty? Or haughty? Or a mixture of the three? I've had a burger at Casino — went there with an ex-boyfriend on Valentines Day. It was just ok. I'd try it again though.

  • jodibart

    Respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ivan.collins1 Ivan Collins

    My girlfriend agreed on Guero's and Chuy's calls but said I'd have to try the Hyde Park fries myself. She admitted she was really hungry when she ate them last…we'll see. Also did some research on the awesome food trailer by the house. Here's their website. http://oddduckfarmtotrailer.com/ That's a pretty awesome menu for a trailer!

  • Sara

    Definitely nostalgic! But sometime I am nostalgic even when I am in Austin! :)

  • Ilyse

    that's why I love them so very much! Also, I swwwwwwwwwear that Hey Cupcake cupcakes are good when they are just out of the oven. After that though, agreed, they probably aren't worth it, but I love them anyway b/c my friend, Kari, and I going every year on our birthdays and share one so I'd prob. still love them if they were made of shoe leather.

  • http://www.tipsytexan.com/ Tex

    As a second-generation native Austinite (not AUSTONIAN like that ridiculously named building downtown–it should be AusTINian, but I digress), it is with great pleasure that I read this post. Having spent my entire life here I hate to see an Austin “institution” get thrashed, but so many of these places need a wake-up call. It is a tribute to this city's ideals that we take offense when one of our local establishments comes under fire. But many places that Austinites have reverence for are mediocre at best. Especially for expatriate Austinites whose memories of the city are from their college days, they forget that the city has evolved considerably in the last decade and a half. Magnolia and Kerbey Lane were great when you needed a place to go after a high school football game or for an all-night study marathon in college. But that does not mean they are great. Guero's is one of those places that newly minted Austinites take their parents on their first visit to Austin; but it is sure as hell not the pilgrimage site people make it out to be. The city has such a strange relationship with its restaurants–we get up in arms when a lackluster place like Maria's Taco Xpress gets the boot, but fail to support a place like Capitol Brasserie when they were trying to do something good and different downtown. We romanticize places like Huts as if we still lived in the 80s or 90s when that was the best thing around. Shuggies, from the folks that brought you Torchys, had truly remarkable burgers, and nobody bought them. I wish Austin diners & drinkers would get their heads and hearts out of their asses. It is one thing to support the local guy, but it is another to blow smoke, and proclaim things to be great when they are merely passable. And Jodi, I appreciate your courage in taking on this subject. It is hard to make a negative post especially about a topic people get so fired up about. I made a critical tweet about a beloved establishment the other day–one that is in honest need of constructive criticism–and started a small firestorm. I think all of this is part of the growing pains of a city and dining scene that are maturing at a quick clip. When people are used to tasting crap, they will proclaim a merely good drink to be great. When reviewers say “it was good, but it could have been better”, some people will take offense. But as the scene matures and as the critics mature, I hope that people's expectations will also mature. The good and great places will thrive, the rest will suffer, or stay open to cater to that once-a-year onslaught of Austonians every spring…

  • saycheeseplease7

    BLASPHEMY! Not really, you're totally entitled to your opinion – I'm just a big Kerbey Lane fan. I think it's because it's such a tradition of mine to visit when I go up with family or friends. I've heard good things about 24 Diner so your comment and this blog have definitely solidified my decision to go there the next time I visit our fine state's capital.

  • saycheeseplease7

    BLASPHEMY! Not really, you're totally entitled to your opinion – I'm just a big Kerbey Lane fan. I think it's because it's such a tradition of mine to visit when I go up with family or friends. I've heard good things about 24 Diner so your comment and this blog have definitely solidified my decision to go there the next time I visit our fine state's capital.

  • Pingback: Tasty Touring » Blog Archive » Tasty Tuesdays: Austin’s Most Underrated Restaurants

  • Foodloveaustin

    I've discovered this blog, apparently a little late in the process, but hey, it's great! I couldn't agree more about Guerro's. The atmosphere in the front is nice for a drink, but I don't like most things on the menu. When it's hot, the tortilla soup is good, but that isn't even consistent. If you haven't already, try the migas at Habanero on Oltorf – nice chunks of fresh jalapenos — family run and my bf says their veggie tacos are the only interesting ones around.

  • Foodloveaustin

    P.S. I quit eating at Cisco's after a few attempts when I moved to town 15 years ago. I always felt like I had lead in my stomach for hours afterward….never realized it was the biscuits!

  • jodibart

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Foodloveaustin! Agreed on the atmosphere in the bar and out front — as well as the side patio when they have live music.

    I haven't been to Habanero in so long but will have to add their veggie tacos to my list of dishes to try.

  • jodibart

    I want to love that place but you can only ride so long on a reputation, you know?! If you like biscuits, check out Dai Due at the Farmer's Market (check their website/e-newsletter for weekly menu). They do a delicious biscuits and gravy with local sausage. Yum!

  • jodibart

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Foodloveaustin! Agreed on the atmosphere in the bar and out front — as well as the side patio when they have live music.

    I haven't been to Habanero in so long but will have to add their veggie tacos to my list of dishes to try.

  • jodibart

    I want to love that place but you can only ride so long on a reputation, you know?! If you like biscuits, check out Dai Due at the Farmer's Market (check their website/e-newsletter for weekly menu). They do a delicious biscuits and gravy with local sausage. Yum!

  • When in Rome

    Chuy's and Hey Cupcake are both great! I totally disagree on those. Chuy's has huge and tasty burritos and strawberry margaritas. Also, their happy hour includes chips, salsa, queso, meat, beans….for free! And I just downright disagree with the statement that Hey Cupcake has dry cupcakes…I find them delicious!

  • jodibart

    I hear lots of great things about Habanero. Thanks for adding to the mix!

  • jodibart

    Good point on the happy hour freebies at Chuy's. I've heard good things! As for Hey Cupcake, I figured someone must love what they are doing since they have trailers all over town now. Thanks for commenting, When in Rome.

  • When in Rome

    Chuy's and Hey Cupcake are both great! I totally disagree on those. Chuy's has huge and tasty burritos and strawberry margaritas. Also, their happy hour includes chips, salsa, queso, meat, beans….for free! And I just downright disagree with the statement that Hey Cupcake has dry cupcakes…I find them delicious!

  • jodibart

    I hear lots of great things about Habanero. Thanks for adding to the mix!

  • jodibart

    Good point on the happy hour freebies at Chuy's. I've heard good things! As for Hey Cupcake, I figured someone must love what they are doing since they have trailers all over town now. Thanks for commenting, When in Rome.

  • http://twitter.com/veganLazySmurf Lazy Smurf

    I'm late to this post too but I have to say, as a vegetarian, it breaks my heart every time I see someone come to our city think they should go to Mother's (gross), Casa De Luz (great if you are sick and need really bland food), and Mr. Natural (nice to have in the neighborhood but thing I would ever seek out) when we have so many fantastic options. The same 3 places win all the awards every year just because they have been around forever and everyone knows their name.

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Stephanie. What three places would you suggest instead to a vegetarian visiting our fair city? Also, I miss West Lynn Cafe — it was owned by the same folks who owned Mother's but I really liked it.

  • http://twitter.com/veganLazySmurf Lazy Smurf

    I'm late to this post too but I have to say, as a vegetarian, it breaks my heart every time I see someone come to our city think they should go to Mother's (gross), Casa De Luz (great if you are sick and need really bland food), and Mr. Natural (nice to have in the neighborhood but thing I would ever seek out) when we have so many fantastic options. The same 3 places win all the awards every year just because they have been around forever and everyone knows their name.

  • jodibart

    Thanks, Stephanie. What three places would you suggest instead to a vegetarian visiting our fair city? Also, I miss West Lynn Cafe — it was owned by the same folks who owned Mother's but I really liked it.

  • http://twitter.com/veganLazySmurf Lazy Smurf

    There are so many but I always recommend Bouldin Creek, the Popcorn tofu po'boy at Wheatsville, and Counter Culture. And Toy Joy for dessert!

  • jodibart

    I'll have to try that Po'Boy. At Wheatsville, I find it hard to resist their tempeh pasta salad with some kind of peanut sauce. Ah-maz-ing.

  • http://twitter.com/veganLazySmurf Lazy Smurf

    There are so many but I always recommend Bouldin Creek, the Popcorn tofu po'boy at Wheatsville, and Counter Culture. And Toy Joy for dessert!

  • jodibart

    I'll have to try that Po'Boy. At Wheatsville, I find it hard to resist their tempeh pasta salad with some kind of peanut sauce. Ah-maz-ing.

  • http://twitter.com/veganLazySmurf Lazy Smurf

    It is so good, but probably the most fattening vegan meal you will ever find in your life! It is sad the West Lynn Cafe closed and hard to believe that we still don't have anywhere really nice that is all veg, I love to recommend the Daily Juice too.

  • Pingback: Tasty Touring » Blog Archive » ACL Weekend: Links to Get Down

  • The Hungry Texan

    So I finally ate at Torchy's *the one on William Cannon) HUGE wait, $3.50 to 4.00 for a Taco? Really? Really? No way, it's Taco Deli for me.. or for the cheap side.. Arrandas!

  • jodibart

    yep. daily juice on 45th and duval is great

  • jodibart

    Agreed that Tacodeli rocks.

  • jodibart

    yep. daily juice on 45th and duval is great

  • jodibart

    Agreed that Tacodeli rocks.

  • Old Timer

    I will remain anonymous, so I am not run out of town. I really enjoy your writing and love that you have the courage to actually write something negative. I wish more of our blogging community would do the same, they have become much to powerful and influential to not cover both sides of the story. I agree with most of your list, but come on, recommending Dai Due biscuits, much less the gravy is a horrendous error IMHO. They are both bad, really bad. People follow him and think they enjoy his food, but in a blind taste test as you suggested for other things, much of his food would be dead last. It is our infatuation with the man that keeps him in vogue. One suggestion, please don't recommend places you haven't tried based on what you have heard from others, that is what got this food community in the mess that it is today, which is in a free fall decline. We used to have a good food community, but it is no where near that any longer and I believe some (maybe a lot) of that is because our bloggers want to be popular and wont address the negatives, and choose to follow along with what the popular crowd is doing when it comes to food. I like your work a lot, I really do. Really though Dai Due Biscuits?
    Keep up your good work!

  • Old Timer

    Well said Tex, I couldn't agree more. One thing, lets not confuse bloggers with food critics, at least not qualified food critcs!

  • jodibart

    Hey Old Timer,

    Thank you for commenting! I really appreciate you reading the entire post — comments and all. I'm kind of blushing at the fact that you like my writing. Thank you!

    I try to be judicious about writing negative posts — mostly because I wouldn't want to harm a small business owner publicly just because I had a bad experience or two. Also, I'd rather use my tiny platform to share good experiences and recommendations about where TO go — rather than where to boycott.

    I'd prefer to let the waiter/manager know about the problem than to generally air my dirty laundry here (although I reserve the right to air my gripes on Yelp–because one bad review on Yelp is usually evened out by others on all parts of the spectrum).

    That said, this blog post had been boiling up inside of me for a while, and was written in the midst of SXSW, when I was going crazy with all of the bad restaurant recommendations I was reading/hearing. I'm glad I wrote it because the places listed don't seem to be hurting for business, and also because I wanted something to point people to when they ask me what I think about the iconic spots listed above. It's come in handy more than a handful of times since then!

    As for Jesse and Dai Due — what can I say, I'm glad they are part of our food community.

    Have a great weekend, Old Timer, and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. That means so much to me and fuels my blogging!

  • Old Timer

    I will remain anonymous, so I am not run out of town. I really enjoy your writing and love that you have the courage to actually write something negative. I wish more of our blogging community would do the same, they have become much to powerful and influential to not cover both sides of the story. I agree with most of your list, but come on, recommending Dai Due biscuits, much less the gravy is a horrendous error IMHO. They are both bad, really bad. People follow him and think they enjoy his food, but in a blind taste test as you suggested for other things, much of his food would be dead last. It is our infatuation with the man that keeps him in vogue. One suggestion, please don't recommend places you haven't tried based on what you have heard from others, that is what got this food community in the mess that it is today, which is in a free fall decline. We used to have a good food community, but it is no where near that any longer and I believe some (maybe a lot) of that is because our bloggers want to be popular and wont address the negatives, and choose to follow along with what the popular crowd is doing when it comes to food. I like your work a lot, I really do. Really though Dai Due Biscuits?
    Keep up your good work!

  • Old Timer

    Well said Tex, I couldn't agree more. One thing, lets not confuse bloggers with food critics, at least not qualified food critcs!

  • jodibart

    Hey Old Timer,

    Thank you for commenting! I really appreciate you reading the entire post — comments and all. I'm kind of blushing at the fact that you like my writing. Thank you!

    I try to be judicious about writing negative posts — mostly because I wouldn't want to harm a small business owner publicly just because I had a bad experience or two. Also, I'd rather use my tiny platform to share good experiences and recommendations about where TO go — rather than where to boycott.

    I'd prefer to let the waiter/manager know about the problem than to generally air my dirty laundry here (although I reserve the right to air my gripes on Yelp–because one bad review on Yelp is usually evened out by others on all parts of the spectrum).

    That said, this blog post had been boiling up inside of me for a while, and was written in the midst of SXSW, when I was going crazy with all of the bad restaurant recommendations I was reading/hearing. I'm glad I wrote it because the places listed don't seem to be hurting for business, and also because I wanted something to point people to when they ask me what I think about the iconic spots listed above. It's come in handy more than a handful of times since then!

    As for Jesse and Dai Due — what can I say, I'm glad they are part of our food community.

    Have a great weekend, Old Timer, and thank you so much for taking the time to comment. That means so much to me and fuels my blogging!

  • Old Timer

    For the record, I am glad Jesse is part of our food community too. He does do some things very well, and I appreciate his local, seasonal, and sustainable style. I just wish we (as a community) would be fair with the praise as well as the criticism. Lets praise those things that are done well, but we shouldn’t praise everything the guy does because we like him. What is his incentive to do better and improve on things if we worship everything he throws on a plate, even if it isn’t good!
    I appreciate your position re: criticism, however, your “tiny space” combined with that of your fellow bloggers has become a giant space. Did you know (I am sure you do) that Austin has the second largest population of food bloggers of any city in the US. Second only to NYC. Think about that!
    If we are going to be that big as a community, we must realize that it is no longer a “tiny space” and recognize the influence you guys wield.
    The food bloggers here have become the food critics of our city, and while some might be qualified to be so, others aren’t.
    I wish we had all local restaurants here, but the fact is more and more big chains move in every day. They are supported for many reasons, but one reason is, our locals play in to their hands by serving mediocre food. Mediocrity breeds mediocrity, lets challenge our locals to step up and be better.
    Obviously we have some good food and good chefs here, but to the average diner, a great review leads one to try a new restaurant. When it isn’t any better than the chain on the corner, the convenience and the price of the chain on the corner is going to win.
    The critic not only influences the diners, but the restaurant owners and staff as well. Mediocre is easier to do than great food and when we accept it, praise it and support it (not to mention cheaper to produce), we will get more and more of it.
    Thanks for letting me use your “tiny space” to vent a little, I will now step down off of my soap box. I do like your writing and have read your blog for awhile now. I am a big fan, hope that makes you blush again!

  • Kathryn Hutchison

    Also, Swad. Veggie and Indian. Cheap and awesome. Also, still relatively unknown in hipster circles, so it's a safe bet during SXSW.

  • jodibart

    Yes anything that “far” away from downtown is probably a safe bet during SXSW. I visited SWAD for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it. So delicious and a very sweet girl who was eating there with her family helped me and my friend discern the best way to eat everything. So many yummy dipping sauces!

  • jodibart

    Yes anything that “far” away from downtown is probably a safe bet during SXSW. I visited SWAD for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it. So delicious and a very sweet girl who was eating there with her family helped me and my friend discern the best way to eat everything. So many yummy dipping sauces!

  • jodibart

    Hi again Old Timer! I apologize that your comment took 2 months to get posted. It got caught in my spam folder unfortunately. By the way, have you tried Franklin BBQ? The reason I ask is they get rave reviews and I think their brisket deserves every one. Their sides, however, are forgettable.

  • jodibart

    Hi again Old Timer! I apologize that your comment took 2 months to get posted. It got caught in my spam folder unfortunately. By the way, have you tried Franklin BBQ? The reason I ask is they get rave reviews and I think their brisket deserves every one. Their sides, however, are forgettable.

  • Nunya

    I grew up in Maryland too, how funny! Can I add Kerbey Lane to the list?

  • jodibart

    Hi Nunya: Hi fellow Marylander! I used to think that maybe Kerbey Lane was overrated but have had two very good experiences there lately and really like that they have used local producers before that became the cool thing to do.

  • jodibart

    Hi Nunya: Hi fellow Marylander! I used to think that maybe Kerbey Lane was overrated but have had two very good experiences there lately and really like that they have used local producers before that became the cool thing to do.

  • http://www.thetastingbuds.com Peter Tsai

    How did I not see this before??? Great topic I ALMOST agree with the list above 100%. I kind of do like Chuy's – they put crack in the jalapeño ranch sauce and the chips. Trudy's might have a star by it saying skip everything but the Mexican martinis.

  • http://www.thetastingbuds.com Peter Tsai

    How did I not see this before??? Great topic I ALMOST agree with the list above 100%. I kind of do like Chuy's – they put crack in the jalapeño ranch sauce and the chips. Trudy's might have a star by it saying skip everything but the Mexican martinis.

  • Pingback: Tasty Touring » Blog Archive » Austin Visitor’s Guide to 24 Hour Eats

  • http://twitter.com/jackiehuba Jackie Huba

    Amen on Sugar Mama's! I agree that Hey Cupcake is very dry.

  • jodibart

    Thanks for reading and adding your two cents, Peter!

  • jodibart

    Thanks for reading and adding your two cents, Peter!

  • Chris Lloyd

    Is it weird I want to make out with this list? I felt like a stranger in a strange land for not liking Chuy's. I agree almost 100% with this list (I would eat at Hut's). Thanks for this.

  • jodibart

    Aw, shucks, Chris. And it probably needs to be updated but I have to wait until I'm in a bitchy mood again like I was when I first wrote this ;-)

  • Chris Lloyd

    Is it weird I want to make out with this list? I felt like a stranger in a strange land for not liking Chuy's. I agree almost 100% with this list (I would eat at Hut's). Thanks for this.

  • jodibart

    Aw, shucks, Chris. And it probably needs to be updated but I have to wait until I'm in a bitchy mood again like I was when I first wrote this ;-)

  • Charlie

    As a cupcake lover, I finally found someone who agrees with me about Hey Cupcake. They are huge, dry, too airy and smothered with too much, too sweet frosting. A much better cupcake experience can be found at Sugar Mama's Bake Shop on south first. They are manageably sized, dense, moist, and magical. The flavors are a lot more current and change every time I go in there too.

  • Charlie

    As a cupcake lover, I finally found someone who agrees with me about Hey Cupcake. They are huge, dry, too airy and smothered with too much, too sweet frosting. A much better cupcake experience can be found at Sugar Mama's Bake Shop on south first. They are manageably sized, dense, moist, and magical. The flavors are a lot more current and change every time I go in there too.

  • jodibart

    Hi Charlie – I totally agree with you both about Hey Cupcake and Sugar Mama's! Have you seen Hey Cupcake's ridiculous cartoon campaign? http://www.mrspriggy.com/. “Don't be a Lazy Cakes!” Insanity.

  • jodibart

    Hi Charlie – I totally agree with you both about Hey Cupcake and Sugar Mama's! Have you seen Hey Cupcake's ridiculous cartoon campaign? http://www.mrspriggy.com/. “Don't be a Lazy Cakes!” Insanity.

  • http://twitter.com/secretdonkey Mark Gilmore

    I'm stumbling across this about two and a half years after the fact, but I couldn't surf on without giving kudos. It's still spot on…

  • http://twitter.com/secretdonkey Mark Gilmore

    I'm stumbling across this about two and a half years after the fact, but I couldn't surf on without giving kudos. It's still spot on…

  • http://www.antseyeview.com seanmcd

    Jodi, what about some higher end restaurants? A lot of list is low price, OK quality.

  • jodibart

    Hey Sean – That's a VERY good point. I think it might be time to write a new post with a new list of overrated restaurants. After all, I wrote this one 3 years ago! I'll put it on the “to do” list. What restaurants do YOU think are overrated?

  • http://www.antseyeview.com seanmcd

    Jodi, what about some higher end restaurants? A lot of list is low price, OK quality.

  • jodibart

    Hey Sean – That's a VERY good point. I think it might be time to write a new post with a new list of overrated restaurants. After all, I wrote this one 3 years ago! I'll put it on the “to do” list. What restaurants do YOU think are overrated?

  • http://www.antseyeview.com seanmcd

    Jodi, I tend to focus on the positive, not the negative of restaurant choices. Great ones that stand out are: Congress. One that has lost its favor with me is Hudson's on the Bend :(
    Admittely I am a Chuy's fan, not because of the authenticity of TexMex, but because of the value and consistency over the 29 years I have dined there. We should invite Sam Eder, my foodie that guides me to best and not so best dining in Austin and around the USA. Hope you are well.