A Twitter friend (and fellow photographer) will be vacationing in Lago Vista this summer and wanted a list of places to eat and wanted to know what Sandra Bullock owns.
@LH: @AsYouWish Japanese, American, TexMex, BBQ. Something different that no other cities would have. &little unique shops too if you don’t mind.
So, armed with her requests, it’s time to make a list of things that are uniquely Austin.
Sandra Bullock’s places
Walton’s Fancy and Staple – E and I ate here once to “carb load” before a bar crawl. 😉 It was outstanding. I didn’t know/remember she owned it until you asked about her. It’s also on the Austin Food Tour.
Bess Bistro – This one doesn’t seem to have quite the following.
My fave is Odaku, but I really only get veggie sushi there. E likes their teriyaki chicken skewers.
People here go nuts for (Uchi and) Uchiko, but I don’t get it. I’m not willing to try. Friends of our’s spent $125 at Uchiko for two with wine and stopped for pizza on the way home. They were not impressed. But, it’s über-trendy right now if you care about such things.
Gourmet hot dogs: Frank or Man Bites Dog (a former food trailer) 
Amy’s Ice Cream – I hear Mexican Vanilla is their best selling flavor. Their vegan ices are quite good, too. (mmmm strawberry!)
One of our faves: Magnolia Cafe.
My favorite downtown: Moonshine Grill. It gets busy for dinner, so either go early or plan to wait a long time.
Chez Zee is fabulous. wow!
We just discovered Red’s Porch with our childfree cocktail/restaurant explorers. Ask to sit upstairs. Take sunglasses/hats. It really is a big ol’ porch.
A couple of our regular haunts: Kerbey Lane Cafe and Opal Divine’s
Burgers: Big Daddy’s Burger Bar (try the Bloody Mary Catsup) and Hop Doddy
Alamo Drafthouse Dinner at the movie. Go 45 minutes early to get seated and place your (initial) order, so it takes about 3 hours. Your munchkin is free for the first show on weekdays (or something like that).
(Some of these don’t claim to be TexMex, but authentic Mexican. I didn’t know if you cared about that.)
My favorite so far is Manuel’s.
Up north, we like Texican.
For really casual, we like El Mercado (with table service) or Torchy’s Tacos (order at the counter). Torchy’s is the big story for food trailers.  It started out that way and quickly grew into a brick-and-mortar store and now has several locations, including DFW and Houston.
Taco Deli – some of the best salsas anywhere.
If you want a date without the kiddo, Vivo is it. Romantic, good drinks, roses for the ladies, …and 18+ to get in.
The “nice$t” Mexican place in town is Fonda San Miguel. I hear it’s great, but we’ve never been.
(Interestingly, this was the easiest category and the first one I could list….said the vegan.)
Pok-e-Jos – @E285’s favorite
Franklin BBQ – @maczter says it’s quite good, but you have to get there at ~10:30am and wait outside because they stop serving when they run out…at ~2pm.
Stubb’s BBQ – They also have a live music venue that can hold thousands. When there is a band, the restaurant is quite busy, too, so check their calendar before you go.
Salt Lick – an Austin icon. Not the best BBQ, but a great venue/experience and a pretty little drive out to it.
County Line BBQ – Take the tiny one out back and feed the turtles ($0.25 for the food in a gumball machine). There are about a million of them.
I could name my faves, but that might send y’all all over town. Our local IBA chapter has a great map of cute shopping districts that are full of locally-owned businesses.
 Speaking of food trailers, you’ll want to hit one of the bigger areas of them. Some are all packed into the same parking lot. It’s very hit/miss. If the one person working the trailer doesn’t show up for work, they won’t be open. So, hit an area where there are several so you will have better odds of eating and more variety, too. It’s like a food court and it’s totally Austin. It looks like the biggest area of them is South 1st.
If you like Indian, you must try Clay Pit (table service) and/or Tarka (order at the counter). They are owned by the same guy and are both quite good.
Thai? Our fave is Titaya’s.
Italian? Reales (pizza and) Cafe.
At any of these places, ask for local beer (512, Independence, Circle, Twisted X, Live Oak) and even local liquor (tea-flavored vodka, other locally-made vodkas)
Depending on how mobile the little one is, you might want to go to the new splash pad in Leander or Volente Beach Water Park (water slides in lake water) which are both geared for younger kids.
These links might also be helpful:
So, now, those of you who haven’t yet come to visit us have a little incentive! 😉