Tips for Dining Out in AustinAug 17th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: show tips, the show
Whether you’re just visiting, or are a longtime resident, Laura Kelso, author of the e-Novel Lonestar Dish, offers tips to help make your next dining experience in Austin one of your best.
Top 10 Ways to Find – and Get the Most – Out of Local Dining Spots
1. Research, research, research. Read reviews, ratings, and readers’ comments. Check out sites like TexasMonthly.com, Statesman.com, CultureMap.com, Dishola.com, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. There is no single food authority, so cull through your favorite online and print publications, and see who and what speaks to you most.
2. Find others who share your tastes – friends, family, co-workers – and get personal recommendations. Nothing replaces a mouth-watering description about a dish from a hole-in-the-wall that you might have never considered previously. Word-of-mouth finds are still some of the best!
3. Check out what the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance is saying about new — and old — Austin culinary haunts. Few folks are more passionate, or more prolific, than these central Texas foodies. Don’t miss outstanding restaurant picks in their 2012 City Guide.
4. Ask folks in the restaurant industry where they eat. Often, they have the most adventurous and diverse palates, and because they’re “in the biz,” they almost always have the inside scoop. To illustrate this point, ChefsFeed is a new mobile app that serves up info about where some of the country’s best chefs eat — and what they like to order.
5. Food trailers are your new best friends. This is particularly true in Austin, where food trucks are creating innovative, authentic cuisine at almost always affordable prices. Get out and sample some of this four-wheeled food frenzy!
6. Don’t be afraid to hit the strip mall. Low rent restaurants can experiment at lower risk than eateries in high rent districts. This is especially true with authentic ethnic cuisine. Who knows; you might just discover the next Uchiko…
7. This can be challenging for some eaters, but try to take some menu ordering risks. For example, don’t always ask for the roast chicken or the pesto pasta. Try the pig brains…okay, maybe not the pig brains, but consider the sautéed sweetbreads (thymus gland and sometimes pancreas of calves) or the huitlacoche (corn fungus) tamales.
8. I generally like to ask the server what he or she recommends. I don’t always take their advice, but I enjoy hearing their perspective, as well as how passionate they are about the dish (especially when it comes to that day’s specials). At many restaurants, there is a good chance they’ve sampled everything prior to serving it.
9. It’s easy to fall into a restaurant or take-out rut. Keep a running list of restaurants that have piqued your interest handy (taped to your fridge, perhaps) so the next time you’re wracking your brain about what to eat, you have your go-to list handy.
10. Be open-minded, and try not to be afraid to order the wrong thing. Even if you pick a plate you don’t enjoy, chalk it up to culinary experimentation, and know there is always dessert!