In 1984, Becks Prime was hardly more than a double drive-thru and a mission: to serve fresh, made-to-order burgers that upped the ante on traditional fast food. The restaurant has grown to 13 locations since then, and fewer customers are wearing "Vote Mondale" buttons, but not much else has changed. Cooks still prepare the food using never-frozen Angus Beef burgers, Boar's Head hot dogs, and marinated chicken breasts, all grilled to order over mesquite wood coals. Thick-cut fries and milkshakes round out the menu of American classics. The restaurant's passion for fast, high-quality burgers has caught the attention of the press in a big way?Becks Prime has been lauded by Zagat, Thrillist, and The Daily Meal.
Though chef Daniel Nemec specialized in classic French cuisine at the Texas Culinary Academy, his heart lies in the smokehouse. As the leader of Woodfire Kirby’s kitchen, he draws from his experiences growing up in Corpus Christi, where steaks and barbecue pepper the culinary landscape and are considered legal tender.
Nemec imbues hickory flavor in ribs, chops, and sirloin burgers, but demonstrates the wood’s versatility with a menu that also includes wood-fired soups and thin-crust pizzas. New york strip steaks and blue-ribbon fillets are cooked to a choice of six temperatures, including classic medium rare and charred-yet-red pittsburgh. Available raw, grilled, or poached, seafood showcases spices that range from asian to argentine to creole.
A private room welcomes up to 48 visitors with a high-definition TV and four banquet menus, and the dining room attracts nighttime guests with handcrafted cocktails and a buzz as vibrant as a birthday party inside a hornet nest.
It's not entirely surprising that filet mignon is the signature dish at Y.O. Steakhouse. What is surprising is that the meat is buffalo, and that buffalo is only one of several exotic game animals on the Y.O. Ranch. This 48,000-acre sprawl of Hill Country provides chef Tony Street with many of his popular dishes. The wild game special appetizer, for example, acts as an introduction to uncommon meats with grilled quail breasts, wild boar sausage, and venison roll-ups. For dinner, guests can order elk tenderloin in a blackberry port reduction, or venison chops with forest mushroom bread pudding. Of course, Chef Street has also mastered the ubiquitous beef steak. His rib eyes and sirloins are all USDA Prime and cut in-house, then prepped in the classic rancher's style: spiced, charred on a flattop griddle, and served to whoever wins it in a poker game. Seafood is likewise cooked with Texas flair, and ranges from red chili-rubbed salmon to chicken-fried lobster. Each entree finds a place inside a rustic yet swanky dining room, where candlelit tables sit beyond 100-year-old brick arches.
When Ben Googins met Rio de Janeiro native Elias Martins while teaching English in Brazil in 1998, he couldn't have guessed that the two would wind up making p?o de queijo?cheese bread?on an episode of the Cooking Channel's FoodCrafters with celebrity chef Aida Mollenkamp. Their journey began as Googins learned more and more about the Portuguese language and the generous, hospitable Brazilian culture via Martins's family and their flavorful cooking. The duo eventually moved to Austin in 2006, bent on realizing their dream of opening their own restaurant. After their handmade foods gained popularity at the downtown farmers' market, their all-natural malagueta sauces appeared in Austin's flagship Whole Foods store. They finally opened Rio's Brazilian Caf? in 2010, where the staff makes caipirinhas and creates contemporary and traditional Brazilian recipes from scratch. The last Saturday of every month, diners can enjoy feijoada, a classic Brazilian stew made with pork, beef, sausage, black beans, and the juice of one soccer ball.
The restaurant still, of course, makes its renowned cheese bread. The basil variety was the favorite of Fearless Critic, which noted that the restaurant is "one of the few places where carnivores, vegetarians, and gluten-intolerant diners can all happily coexist." The restaurant was also a Critics' Pick for Most Charming Brazilian Outpost in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin 2011, and has appeared in numerous publications and on TV shows such as Good Day Austin and Fox 7 News. According to Eater Austin, celebrities Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara have noshed at the cozy eatery, whose bright yellow and green exterior and outdoor patio give way to a similarly vibrant and eclectic dining area.
Tillman's Roadhouse sends traditional Texas dishes through the gourmet gauntlet to create a dinner menu of grilled goodies including steaks, ribs, and fish. Awaken dormant appetites with a trio of fries cut from Kennebec, purple peruvian, and sweet potatoes, dusted with seasonings, and served with housemade ketchup ($9). An entourage of smoked-gouda grits and battered green beans flanks wood-grilled pork tenderloin ($19). Truffled-goat-cheese tater tots guard a precious 12 oz. wood-grilled rib eye with threatening spears of grilled asparagus ($29). Fans of basketball, tigers, and pumpkins can coordinate interests to eats with sweet-potato gnocchi, bathed in maple-chipotle brown butter with roasted squash, spinach, and hazelnuts ($17). Finish culinary sojourns with table-side s'mores, a collection of flavored marshmallows, cinnamon grahams, and dark-chocolate bark that inspires nostalgia for the five-star camps of your childhood.
The Great American Land and Cattle Company provides steaks that are cut onsite and cooked precisely to specifications. They arrive with an eclectic smorgasboard of sides: pineapple coleslaw, fries or veggies, and "Texas caviar"?that is, beans. The most popular cut is the tender ribeye, but the menu has all degrees of fanciness covered, from filet mignon to country-fried steak in gravy to steakburgers. If you'd like yours extra-spicy, you can order it tampique?a?covered with grilled onions and green chilies or jalape?os.
Though the company produces its many seasonings and sauces with steak in mind, the kitchen's not a beef-only zone. It also makes room for pulled-pork sandwiches, Cajun-style chicken, and charbroiled cold-water lobster tails, among other proteins. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, music and other live entertainment drifts through the dining room and onto the patio as the mountains in the background sway gently to the beat.