The Salt Lick: A User’s Guide
Award-Winning Barbecue | Coal-Fired Meats | Family-Style Meals | Generations-Old Recipes | Housemade Sauces
Meat: the beef ribs, which celebrity chef Bobby Flay raved about on the Food Network show The Best Thing I Ever Ate
Sides: coleslaw and sweet potato fries
Dessert: homemade pecan pie
Secret of Their Success:
The Roberts family has been whipping up Texas-style barbecue for more than 40 years, and they've learned some tricks along the way. First of all, their sauce doesn't contain any tomatoes, which tend to burn and turn bitter. Instead, it's loaded with sugars that caramelize when exposed to heat, creating a slightly crunchy exterior on the meat. The Salt Lick is also one of the only barbecue establishments in the country that cooks their meats on an open fire pit, rather than in a smoker. The flames from this oak- and coal-fueled fire impart the meats with a subtly smoky—and wholly unique—flavor.
In a state known for barbecue, winning the title of Best Barbecue in Austin just once is quite an achievement. But the Salt Lick catapulted beyond its peers, claiming the Austin Chronicle's award for best barbecue 10 years in a row. The restaurant's housemade sauce also garnered some national spotlight in 2008, when Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine named it the Best Barbecue Sauce in Texas. One judge simply stated, "I could drink this."
While You're Waiting:
Scan the dining room for famous faces. The Salt Lick's reputation for unparalleled barbecue has lured in dozens of celebrities over the years, including Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, and Willie Nelson.
Only order what you can finish. The Salt Lick doesn't allow diners to take home any leftovers from their family-style meals.
Thanks to a thriving mail order business, you can slather your face with the restaurant's barbecue signature sauce no matter where you are in the country. They'll even ship brisket and whole racks of ribs to your door.
If You Can't Make It, Try This:
Test your barbecuing chops at home. Grab a copy of The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love. It includes insider tips and family recipes for popular dishes such as coleslaw and sour-cream-cherry pie.
IM Thai Cuisine: A User’s Guide
Impressive, Extensive Thai Menu | Colorful, Flavorful Curries | Ample Vegetarian Options | Spicy Grilled Meat and Fish Dishes
Gang garee yellow curry with potatoes, onions, and carrots
Tiger Cry: a spicy dish of sliced grilled beef with onions, roasted rice powder, and dried chili in a chili-lime dressing
Pla Sarm Rod: mildly spiced fried catfish topped with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, and basil in tamarind sauce
Inside Tip: In Thai, the word “im” is an expression of satisfaction and satiation, often said after meals, much like Americans might say “I’m stuffed—let’s eat even more” after Thanksgiving dinner.
Massaman: a yellow Thai curry with Persian origins. It features many traditional Thai ingredients, including coconut milk and bay leaves.
Prik: Thai word for “chili”—keep an eye out for this if you’re looking for something spicy on a Thai menu.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Stroll through 51 acres of oaks, mesquite trees, and ponds at the scenic Stagecoach Park | 880 Main St.
After: Play classic pinball titles and old-school video games or sip a frosty brew in the beer garden at Pinballz Kingdom | 15201 S IH 35
An Italian eatery in Driftwood's Kyle-Buda area, Trattoria Lisina is a prime spot for a delicious plate of pasta. Trattoria Lisina's low-fat and G-free items make it easy to eat right. Save a few dollars by bringing your own bottle of wine —the restaurant is BYOB. Trattoria Lisina also provides alcohol, so diners don't have to worry about bringing their own bottle. Youngsters don't need to sit out a trip to Trattoria Lisina — it's super family-friendly and perfect for little diners and their folks. Looking to host a party but don't have the space at home? You'll love the private room offered at Trattoria Lisina — just right for large and merry gatherings. Eat outdoors at Trattoria Lisina (weather permitting) with their beautiful patio seating.
It doesn't get much more laid-back than Trattoria Lisina, so dress for comfort when you come. With food this good, you'll be running into Trattoria Lisina to pick it up yourself. Through their catering service, Trattoria Lisina can also set out a delicious spread for your next party.
With a parking lot adjacent to Trattoria Lisina, you won't get stuck circling the block. For those who travel by bike, Trattoria Lisina offers bike racks for diners.
Fancy snacks do come at a higher price, but wow are they delicious. Guests can opt to pay by credit card, and most major names are accepted. Conveniently serving three main meals a day, the restaurant is a great place to eat at any time of day, but is best known for its evening menu.
Get your fill of first-class tacos, tamales, enchiladas, and more at Luvianos Mexican Restaurant, an excellent Mexican spot revered by fans as one of the best.
If gluten is something you try to avoid, check out the G-free menu at Luvianos Mexican Restaurant. Low-fat fare is also available for those keeping an eye on their diet.
Enjoy a drink with your dinner — this restaurant has a full bar to serve up a glass of wine, beer, or more.
Don't stay cooped up on a beautiful summer day! At Luvianos Mexican Restaurant, you can dine outdoors on their lovely patio.
A relatively loud restaurant, this is not the place for a quiet night out.
You can also grab your food to go.
Luvianos Mexican Restaurant has easy parking nearby for diners who wish to drive.
A meal at Luvianos Mexican Restaurant will typically set you back about $30.
Breakfast bites, light lunches, and delicious dinners are all offered at Luvianos Mexican Restaurant.
For the area's highest rated Mexican cuisine, be sure to check out Luvianos Mexican Restaurant.
So what are you waiting for? Dine at Luvianos Mexican Restaurant and enjoy the tasty flavors of Mexican fare.
Dress down for your next pizza party — Fox's Pizza Den Kyle serves a low-key slice in Kyle's Kyle district.
Keep your diet in check at Fox's Pizza Den Kyle, a local restaurant with gluten-free and low-fat menu items.
Little ones are free to make a mess at this pizzeria, where the whole family is invited to dine.
At Fox's Pizza Den Kyle, there's no need to confine your meal to a traditional dining room — outdoor seating is available when the weather is warm.
Don't go off the grid! With the free wifi at Fox's Pizza Den Kyle, you can surf the web and get some work done.
This pizzeria will bring your food right to your doorstep if you prefer to make it a night in, or swing by the pizzeria yourself to carry out your meal.
Score a close parking spot at Fox's Pizza Den Kyle.
What's the best kept secret around? It's how Fox's Pizza Den Kyle keeps their food reasonably priced without sacrificing taste.
So head over to Fox's Pizza Den Kyle, where you can sit down to a delicious pizza in a relaxed, casual setting.
If you're looking for the hottest pies in town, you'll want to place your order in quick to Fox's Pizza Den Kyle.
Winter is officially over and we're now smack dab in the middle of prime patio season here in Austin. These are some of my favorite places to enjoy drinks outside.
Ables on the Lake | 3825 Lake Austin Blvd
You can’t beat the location, right on Lake Austin. Is it just me or do cocktails taste better when you're looking at a body of water? It’s a great spot to go for lunch as they offer a legendary Bloody Mary served with their signature garnish. They do a Bevo Tea that's super refreshing, and they also have happy hour Monday-Friday, 4-6 pm.
Easy Tiger | 709 E. 6th Street
They have a great location on 6th Street right along Waller Creek that creates a perfectly relaxing atmosphere. It feels like a Sunday Funday seven days a week here, with everyone mingling at their picnic tables or playing ping-pong. They also make some of the best baked goods in town, so I highly recommend their sandwiches and pretzels.
El Alma | 1025 Barton Springs Road
Mexican food and a killer patio. The patio is actually located on a deck above the restaurant, and it overlooks downtown and Butler Park. It would be criminal to go to a Mexican restaurant and not order a margarita, so I’d start with that, and then follow it up with some of their addicting sangria. Enjoy their happy hour daily from 3-6 pm.
Hotel San Jose | 1316 South Congress Ave
This seems to be one of those hidden gems that people often forget about. Their patio is located in their courtyard, next to their pool, and it’s a very chill atmosphere. Be advised that there's a limited food menu, so it’s not the place to go if you're hungry. However, if a cheese plate is what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place. I always get one of their House Specialties as they're some of my favorite cocktails in Austin. The Tropical Sangria is light, refreshing and made for easy drinking, as is the Champassion and Tinto de Verano. I always feel as if I am on vacation when sipping cocktails in their courtyard.
Elizabeth Street Café | 1501 South First Street
Go for lunch and continue sipping cocktails into the afternoon. Everything I’ve had from here has been delicious, both food and drink. The Green Mango & Cucumber Salad may be one of my favorite salads in Austin, and no meal here is complete without at least one carafe of punch. The punches change seasonally, but are always unique and delicious.
We are spoiled for choice when it comes to dining in Austin. From local restaurants to grocery stores, there are countless delectable options. Even our eclectic collection of food trailers are dishing up gourmet eats at a reasonable price!But, taking kids out for a meal can sometimes seem like a chore. Will they behave? Is it easier to just stay home and eat cereal for dinner?Fortunately, there are plenty of places around town where you can grab a bite to eat and let the children run free! Here are a few of my family’s favorites:Midway Food Park | 1905 S. Capitol of Texas Hwy., AustinMidway is an outdoor park with seven food trucks, ranging from Dock & Roll Diner (seafood) to CoolHaus (ice cream sandwiches). The park has a festive carnival atmosphere, with carousel horses hanging from a tree, Christmas lights, a stage for live music, and brightly colored picnic tables with umbrellas. Kids love the colorful playscape (pictured above), rocks to climb, and the large fenced-in field strewn with balls. In fact, Midway is so entertaining for children, you may have a hard time getting yours to eat at all.Two things to note: 1. Go early, as food does sell out and lines get long. Parking also becomes scarce and visitors have to park on the grass. 2. Each food truck sets their own hours, so not all of the trucks are open at the same time. Check their individual Facebook pages for hours.The Salt Lick Round Rock | 3350 E Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock | (512) 386-1044There is no disputing that the Driftwood location of The Salt Lick is worth the drive, but if you’re looking for quality barbecue a little further north, the Round Rock restaurant is a great alternative. Ribs and brisket and smoked turkey, oh my! Seating at picnic tables is casual and the outdoor playscape keeps antsy kids happy.Central Market | 4001 N Lamar Blvd, Austin | (512) 206-1000It may seem odd that one of our go-to dining destinations is a grocery store, but when it comes to relaxed family atmosphere, Central Market is tops. The cafe serves up delicious meals and dining on the patio with free live music Thursday to Sunday is always a treat. As a bonus, kids eat free on Tuesdays after 5 p.m. Children have a blast on the massive playscape, and can burn off a little steam in the neighboring field. Family walks to the duck pond after dinner are the icing on the cake.Whole Foods | 525 N Lamar Blvd, Austin | (512) 542-2200My kids can’t get enough of the flagship Whole Foods Market downtown. The awe-inspiring array of soup, salad, cookies and other miscellaneous food bars are something that you have to see to believe. My kids love crafting their own meals, one fresh roll or spoonful of lo mein at a time. The options are endless. With to-go meals in hand, we head up to tables on the rooftop plaza and let the kids enjoy the small wooden playscape.Southpark Meadows | 9300 S Interstate 35 Frontage Rd, AustinThis shopping center in South Austin has a large playscape flanked by several restaurants, so you have your choice of where to eat. Mama Fu’s, Jason’s Deli, Waterloo Ice House, and Amy’s Ice Creams - you can’t go wrong. Dine, play, let the kids get wet in the seasonal water bubblers, and delight in the occasional band playing on the stage in The Grove. It’s a great place to hang out as a family.Photo of Midway sign courtesy of Midway Food Park, photo of Coolhaus courtesy of Coolhaus, photo of Amy's Ice Creams courtesy of Brandon Bergara
I don’t know if Austinites like spending time in coffee shops or actually drinking coffee more. Whatever the case, we’re always thinking about the next place to go for a cup of jo. In many cases coffee shops serve as ‘offices’ for local small businesses. Even in the 105 degree summer heat we don’t miss a beat.
Mozarts |3825 Lake Austin Blvd.
This is probably one of the more iconic coffee shops in town as it sits overlooking Lake Austin. Thus, the atmosphere is calming, relaxing and easy on the eyes. The abundant seating on the deck is shaded by large trees and is the perfect place to work if you’re looking for an outdoor office for the day. They offer traditional coffee drinks as well as pastries. Dogs are also welcome on the deck.
Jo’s Coffee | 1300 South Congress Avenue
Jo’s on South Congress is probably most famous for their ‘i love you so much’ street art on the side of the building. It has become a bucket list photo op for tourists and locals alike. Aside from cool graffiti, they also serve a great cup of coffee, imagine that. The ‘iced turbo’ is a menu favorite, and they also offer sandwiches and baked goods. Outdoor seating only, so keep that in mind on rainy days or those 100+ degree summer days.
Flat Track Coffee | 913 E. Cesar Chavez Street
This is a hidden gem hidden just east of I-35. No bells and whistles, just a focus on great coffee. This is the type of place you grab a cup of joe and are on your way. The menu is limited but executed perfectly, and the crown jewel is probably their espresso. Don’t plan your next meeting here as they have very limited seating and no wi-fi. But for coffee connoisseurs, this place is a must try.
Café Medici | Various Locations
Really really great coffee. I like the downtown location as it has plenty of seating (two stories). It’s also fairly quiet, and the type of place you can go to to get stuff done. The Clarksville location is also great, slightly smaller, but located in one of my favorite little neighborhoods; it really has an awesome old Austin feel to it.
Curra’s | 614 East Oltorf Street
Curra’s (A Mexican restaurant famous for its avocado margaritas) might be the most odd ball selection on this list. However, if you're a fan of drip coffee, they have their own brew that pairs perfectly with their breakfast tacos. They also sell their coffee beans by the pound.
Houndstooth Coffee | Various Locations
This is one of those Austin coffee shops that has a cult-like following, and you can’t make a list of places to grab a cup in Austin without including Houndstooth. Maybe it’s the sleek, simple design, their friendly and knowledgeable baristas, or the simple fact that they just make fantastic coffee. You be the judge.