Recently we went to Austin, Texas to visit friends and I had all kinds of plans for all kinds of places we were going to eat. Then within 24 hours hubby broke his arm in a swimming hole and boom, it was all about ERs and getting home early. So…we did get in a few places before (and after) the incident, but not much. Anyhow, here they are.
The first evening we arrived we went downtown and ate at Gus’s Fried Chicken. This place is a smallish chain, but our friends really like it and you know me, I am happy to try fried chicken anywhere, anytime. I really like that they advertise their fried chicken as spicy. There is no mild version, you eat spicy, or you eat something else—and there aren’t a lot of other options. We started with an order of fried green tomatoes ($6.75) and they were pretty good. The crust kind of fell off (the fate of frying things with high water content) but when you ate it together and dipped it in some ranch, it was tasty.
The chicken was very good. We got a 12 piece to share ($25.95) and some sides as well. We had mac and cheese, baked beans and potato salad. The chicken is clearly the star, and I would certainly eat it if it were in Indy. It has a really nice spicy edge to it—and let’s face it, I am just happy if there is any kind of seasoning going on with fried chicken. I don’t know why so many places just make it so bland. This one was not—it had great flavor and was nice and moist as well. The sides range from $2-abut $5 depending on the size and your choices and were all pretty solid as well. It’s rare that you find sides in places like this that blow your mind, and this was no exception, but they were all good. My favorite was the potato salad. They also serve sliced white bread with everything, which I later learned seems to be very common in Austin. FYI, the closest Gus’s to Indy is in Chicago and there are several throughout Tennessee.
We also went to this place called Torchy’s Tacos, which is a crazy taco place (also a small chain mainly from Texas). They have so many combinations of tacos, I was a bit overwhelmed. Of course, when I saw there was one with migas in it (I have a thing for migas or chilaquiles), I had to get that one. They actually have a large selection of breakfast tacos, which would certainly be what I would order in the future, as they were the best.
My migas taco had scrambled eggs, crisp tortilla strips, green chilies, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and tomatillo sauce. I had them on corn tortillas. The flavor was good, the tortilla choice was bad. Typically I like corn tortillas better because they are thinner and let the flavors shine through, but there was so much going on here and so much packed in, that they just fell apart, even with a double wrap. The other ones hubby and I split were salmon, tuna and carnitas. All sounded good on paper and were loaded with lots of stuff, but all suffered from somewhat dry proteins and a lack of flavor, even with everything going on. Our friend had two egg tacos that were both better. The place is packed though.
The last meal we got to have, as hubby enjoyed his pain pills and we prepared to leave the next morning was from Rudy’s BBQ (also a chain). You know in Austin, they are known for their BBQ, and this was a favorite of everyone we knew in Texas, and we needed something we could easily get carry out and take back to the house because hubby was in no state to go out. So we ordered lots of stuff. And they gave us even more. Sorry I was distracted and forgot to take any pics this night while we were eating, but you can use your imagination. We had sausage, brisket and turkey as well as lots of sides and two entire loaves of white bread (I told you it would reappear). They don’t sauce their BBQ in Austin, but they did send us with a giant bottle of their BBQ sauce, which is a mild tomato-based sauce. So, brisket-wise, you can get lean or fatty and boy oh boy, you’re crazy if you don’t get the fatty (I think you can get a mix too, but why bother?). I am not even a big brisket fan, but this was delicious, so succulent and decadent. It was clearly the favorite of the crowd we were eating with. Honestly, I think the smoked turkey was a close second for me; it was more flavorful than you might think and with some of the sauce on top, became a delicious dish as well. The lean brisket was too dry for me, but I guess there must be some people who like it.
I also liked that when we went to pick up our order, there’s a little gazebo in the parking lot where you pick up a phone and tell them you are there, grab an ice cold root beer and wait for them to bring you your order. That’s how it should be (and allows you to avoid the heaving crowds that are inside). Some nice southern hospitality for you.
So there you have it, sadly, they were all chains (albeit fairly regional ones) but they were on the whole good—I would skip Torchy’s probably. Hopefully, we will get back to Austin to see our friends and try more things and break fewer bones.