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If it can be tossed on a grill and slathered in barbecue sauce, it probably can be found at one of the many Austin restaurants that keep things classically Texas. But even though the city may have made its culinary name with sweet, smoky briskets and ribs, new and not-so-new cooking styles have made Austin a foodie destination.
Thanks to the popularity of “Tex-Mex” cuisine, Matt’s El Rancho on South Lamar has managed to become an Austin institution for more than 60 years. Since that time, Tex-Mex dining in Austin has gone uptown with Nuevo Mexican restaurants such as Manuel’s, an upscale Mexican eatery located in downtown Austin, and Garrido’s, a Warehouse District spot that marries traditional Mexican cooking with modern techniques. Foodies who consider eating an adventure are flocking to newcomers on the Austin dining scene including The Afin Modern Japanese Tapas Bar on North Lamar Boulevard, which turns out stunning sushi creations, and Foreign & Domestic, on East 53rd Street, where they utilizes local ingredients to reinvent classic American dishes at this updated take on the diner. Newcomers Asia Café (Sichuan), Indian Spicy Kitchen (Indian) and Mi Kefcito (Cuban) are also worth checking out.
Still, barbecue reigns supreme among Austin food worshippers and one of the newest places is Franklin Barbecue on East 11th Street, recently named the best barbecue restaurant in the country by Bon Appetit magazine. Lines form early here (about 10 a.m.) and Franklin only serves lunch, so plan accordingly. Other places where the barbecue is popular include Live Oak Barbecue on East 2nd Avenue and longtime Austin favorites Stubbs, (located on Red River Street), Sam’s BBQ (on East 12th Street), and Ironworks BBQ (downtown Austin). From traditional Texas chow to unique Southwestern twists on international dishes, Austin is now one of the top favorites for unique taste adventures.