With our beloved SXSW upon us, I thought it apropos to shoot you straight with three must-haves for the festival: comfortable shoes for your daily trek, a foldable tote to hold your new collection of swag and t-shirts and, most importantly, arrive sporting a comfortable waistline to allow flex while you feast.
In Austin, one thing we do well is practice patience for gastro fare. Below is my officially unofficial list of lines Austinites most love to wait in!
This year, SXSW has rounded up some of the city’s best mobile kitchens and will fashion one massive cluster of snake-tail lines at SouthBites. Located at 604 Driskill Street, on the southeast corner of Cesar Chavez and Red River, you will find truck fare to please any Austinite.
The event will feature many of our ol’ favorites like Chi’Lantro, Gourdough’s and East Side King, accompanied by Micklethwait Craft Meats, Holy Kombucha and Garbo’s Lobster Truck, to name just a few. It’s our opportunity to soak up some sunshine out of the office and open the floodgates for gastro delight. Grab your shades and some time to gather for a long lunch with your fellow food adventurers.
Walk like a local through some of the most frequented lines in Austin. With wrap-around queues that magically move quickly enough to satisfy your hunger, you can experience a vast cuisine triage when you take a taste at any these three concepts.
Escape the SX buzz when you venture off to Ramen Tatsu-Ya, located at 8557 Research Blvd., #126. Day or night, people arrive to stand in this express lane of food lines, pausing for steaming bowls of noodle soup that will fulfill their ramen dreams.
In Austin’s premier brick-and-mortar ramen shop, the experience serves up freshness, authenticity, and lots of slurping! While in line, wave hello to the friend you’re bound to run into when you walk inside the door. Take a look at the menu and size up the options visually as they’re delivered to the tables around you, then pair up your bowl with the perfect beer or sake. A few rules apply. I’ll call this bowl etiquette:
- There are two parts to your bowl; enjoy them both equally. Approach the bowl with your nose first, like a glass of wine. Take in the aromatic steam that visibly dances and taunts you, before digging into the noodles, never allowing them to get soggy.
- Other tips direct from the masters…“Chopsticks only! Never share your ramen. Slurp!” Just do what they say and no one gets hurt.
- The magic word is “Sumimasen!” Know it, say it, Google it. I can’t give away all the secrets.
You’ll find dozens of unique and original flavor options to top off your bowl, allowing creativity that will keep you coming back for more.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Hopdoddy Burger Bar delivers a burger massive enough to knife and fork it, crafted fresh daily and stacked atop scratch-made buns. Although there are multiple locations, I suggest you stand in the mix at 1400 S. Congress. Come hungry, bring friends, take selfies, photograph your food and you’ll fit in just fine. This line is a bit slower to progress, but when you take into account that you will be nibbling on about half the farm, your taste buds and tummy will concur this meal is well worth the wait.
Don’t miss out on your adult beverages. Considering “hop” is in the name, start by browsing the beer selection, which also boasts the status of crafted and fresh! Once again, knowing the rules of the game before you arrive is always helpful…
- In Line: Feel free to browse the menu and enjoy a drink, or do dessert first and pick up a hand-spun shake.
- At the Table: A staff member will assign you a table number. Go there and wait for your food to be delivered to you. Parties larger than six will be split, so pick your favorites in advance.
- At the Bar: Feel free to snag a seat or two at the bar to skip the line altogether. The full menu is available to enjoy.
Make some new friends and become one of the thousands of stories that emerge from the granddaddy line that is Franklin Barbecue. Since 2009, Aaron and Stacy Franklin have rounded up barbecue fanatics at their East Austin location. The menu at Franklin is simple and consistently delivers satisfaction through pounds, plates, sandwiches and sides.
Signature brown paper signs are a standard at Franklin’s. The messages vary, some announcing the delectable and savory bits you will (with all the luck of the food gods) be able to taste, others listing daily specials. Alas, there is the one sad and always apologetic message that will inevitably announce that your time in this line is over.
“Sorry, Sold Out.”
Now located in a brick-and-mortar operation at 900 E. 11th, demand for Franklin’s has only grown. The line, although a doozy, has taken on a life of its own. Here’s the key to making the most of your line experience:
- Show up with the realization that “time is on your side, yes it is.” Consider this a great way to spend your morning. Connect with the community, spend time outdoors and by all means put your phone down!
- Bring a good attitude, conversation, chairs, coolers, and a place to put your litter.
Need a Break from the Lines?
Rest your feet and enjoy a bit of air conditioning or heat (dependent upon our fickle Mother Nature as of late). Here are a few places you can find comfort at the bottom of a glass.
- Whip-In: Food, ice cream, and specialty beverages of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic sort.
- Darwin’s: Cool, dim interior, yet still open air from 6th Street windows…and live music.
- Brew Exchange: Duck in for their varied selection and exchange prices.
At SXSW, anything goes. Feel free to comment with suggestions for others who are out practicing their queue-standing skills, and see you at SX.
What are your SXSW plans?