Birdman in the Bistro goes to SXSW Austin Texas: From fine dining to BBQ

Birdman in the Bistro

Were they really thinking about Sparrow with the saying: Keep Austin weird!?

Greg Graham’s Birdman in the Bistro column has been in food recovery since jetting back from SXSW in Texas. He has edited his exhaustive notes and we present the best that Austin has to offer.

This is a cut-and-keep column if you are getting tempted about a trip to the original Austin SXSW in 2024.

On the Corporate AMEX – a little bit fancy

Jeffrey’s – Clarksville

What a beautiful stylish restaurant with outstanding food and service. Fine dining at its best and all aspects of the experience were memorable. From incredible starters such as king crab and avocado on mini-toast to awesome truffled devilled eggs and for mains the melt-in-your-mouth tomahawk dry-aged beef. Plus, leave room for desserts they are out of this world.

The dish you must try: Chocolate & the dulce de leche souffle were worth the wait

Soho House

A bit posh and trendy with great food in a very cool space overlooking a terrace and fab pool. Club Cecconi’s serves northern Italian-inspired dishes with a great spin on the classics.

The dish you must try: Fresh Spaghetti and lobster

Cheap & Cheerful

Best Texas BBQ

Birdman in the Bistro

Chefs prepare a feed for Aussie SXSW delegates

Salt Lick – Driftwood

I’m a big fan of Salt Lick and enjoy being out in the country. However, so many Texans swear by Franklins BBQ (you have to stand in line for 3 – 4 hours ), Terry Blacks, Stubbs, or Le Barbeque. Salt Lick has great fire pits and all-you-can-eat family style with excellent beef brisket, sausage, pork ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, and beans. Plus, bread, pickles, and onions. Always pick up some BBQ sauces/rubs as the merch stand is great with a good selection of T-shirts.

Great Mexican

Birdman in the Bistro

La Condesa – 2nd St, CBD

A cool mix of Mexican meets Austin with seasonal produce sourced from local farmers. A James Beard-nominated restaurant La Condesa serves some of the best Mexican I’ve tasted. Great snacks and starters plus some delicious tacos and tortillas, leave some room for dessert as the churros with cinnamon sugar, melted chocolate, and dulce de leche are the best.

Texas Chili Parlor: Lavaca St & 15th

A local dive bar near our hotel turned out to be a real gem. With cheap flavourful Mexican food and excellent margaritas. It is an iconic down & dirty location used by Quentin Tarantino in one of his films and the Texas-style chilli with beans is the go-to dish. By the way, did I mention the margaritas were top-notch and cost-effective?

Austin local delights

Gus’s World-Famous Fried Chicken – San Jacinto CBD

For over 60 years Gus has been delivering the world’s best fried chicken. I like that you could order light or dark pieces of chicken and various parts such as breast, thigh, wing, and leg plus hot & spicy. A great selection of sides including fried pickles and fried green tomatoes. I’ll be back next year to visit Gus for sure.

Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls – Congress Av & 2nd St CBD

Austin has quite a few “famous” places but I know a good lobster roll and Masons changed my life. The lobster comes straight from Maine, it is delicious and fresh. With great produce let the lobster shine and that is what Mason’s do. A simple toasted brioche bun with fresh Maine lobster and warm butter poured over it and you are in heaven.

Birdman in the Bistro at Austin Rodeo

Outside the rodeo is the fairground with carnival rides and very American fairground food. Delights such as cotton candy, funnel cakes, corndogs, giant pretzels, and candy apples. Cannot vouch for the nutritional value however bloody delicious and clogged a few arteries.

P. Terry’s Burger Stand: Congress Ave & 6th St, CBD

Texas has lots of great burger joints however I like the never frozen burgers and fresh-cut potatoes at this burger bar. Reminds me a little of In-n-Out burgers and that’s a good comparison plus the hand-spun thick shakes are damn good.

Read other Birdman in the Bistro columns here.

See also: Mediaweek’s Trent Thomas and Sparrow in Austin at SXSW

SXSW Day 6: Sparrow goes to the rodeo, then tackles the Metaverse
SXSW Day 5 with Tourism Australia: Mediaweek launches Road to SXSW Sydney
SXSW Day 4: Sparrow with TikTok in Austin, missing Deepak Chopra again
SXSW Day 3: Sparrow on Amy Webb, Ed Helms and Brian Baumgartner
SXSW Day 1 and 2: Sparrow at the keynotes including Disney and AI insights
SXSW Day 1 and 2: Trent Thomas visits Prime, Paramount & Audible
SXSW interview sessions: TikTok’s Anny Havercroft with Mediaweek in Austin
SXSW Creative Industries Expo with Trent Thomas: Mediaweek guide to eye-catching brands, services and products
SXSW 2023: Sparrow’s festival wrap from streaming platforms to AI

To Top