2 Lunches Midtown Needs from Austin, TX


I spent the past two days in Austin, TX and thanks to some great recommendations from Midtown Lunch’ers I had two lunches that I think Midtown desperately needs to incorporate into its repertoire: down home Texas BBQ and good Tex-Mex. Sure, we have the Daisy May’s cart… and I like the Daisy May’s cart. But for the price of a pulled pork sandwich at Daisy May’s, I had plate of BBQ that put anything you’ll get in NYC to shame. And I’m sure you can find Tex-Mex in NYC too, but nothing like the breakfast tacos I got in Austin.

Check both lunches out, after the jump…

So, like I said, you can get BBQ from Daisy May’s, but wouldn’t you rather have your BBQ come from a place that looks like this:


Sam’s was recommended to me by lunch’er Jeff on Twitter, and for $8.50 I got brisket, sausage, potato salad, beans, and bread. (They were out of ribs because somebody came in that morning and bought them all up.)


Sweet tea (with free refills) and some of the best banana pudding of all time put me over the $10 limit… but whatever, it was worth it. Most locals will tell you there is no good BBQ in downtown Austin, and some will even go so far as to say you have to drive 45 minutes to Lockhart if you really want the best Texas ‘cue. But for $6, my five minute cab ride to Sam’s was worth every penny. Was the brisket the best I’ve ever eaten? Maybe not. But the atmosphere can’t be beat… and I can’t imagine anybody going and being disappointed.

I almost went back the next day for ribs, and to try their mutton (which is supposed to be amazing) but I had a date with some breakfast tacos from Juan in a Million (recommended to me by a few lunchers in the comments.)


Another $6 cab ride from downtown was worth every penny to get far away from the craptastic tourist traps of Downtown Austin. I was tempted to try their famous “taco grande” (potato, egg, bacon and cheese), but two other creations were a bit more intriguing:


(On the right) The Migas, which is tortilla chips with eggs, onion, tomato & cheese. (On the left) The Machacado, which was shredded beef, with egg, tomato, onion and jalapeño. Both were amazing, and with the free chips and unbelievable good salsa, my lunch was under $6. Amazing. (And before you call me out on only ordering two tacos, it’s only because a couple hours earlier I had already had two just ok breakfast tacos from the Taco Shack downtown.)

All in all it was two good days of eatin’, and I will definitely be returning to Austin again… although between now and then, it would be nice to get some of this stuff in Midtown.

Sam’s Barbecue, 2000 E 12th St, 512-478-0378
Juan in a Million, 2300 Cesar Chavez Street, 512-472-3872


  • Hill Country 26th st. Texas owned “real deal” BBQ. But I WARN you. go there once and you are hooked.

  • The Machacado at Juan in a MM simply cannot be beat.

  • Juan and Million was on Man vs. Food and apparently there is a huge challenge there with one of their tacos…looks awesome.

  • Hill Country has a recession special. $30 for all you can eat on Mondays it seems (I haven’t tried this yet).

    And yah, my only (*only*) complaint about NYC: The best mexican and bbq in nyc is below the worst in the southwest.

    (though, el rey del sabor changed that slightly)

  • Oh man! I haven’t had Machaca in ages!! That’s the term used for this dried then rehydrated shredded beef.

  • No Juan special?

  • Adam, a $30 recession special?

    You just get your AIG bonus?

  • I haven’t eaten since last night and will not eat until at least 2-3PM today, thank you for making my day at least a little bit worse.

  • @Adam – You know, I’ve heard great things about the brisket at Hill Country, and I don’t doubt it’s delicious… but there’s something to be said about feeling like you’re eating BBQ in somebody’s house (actually I think their house might have been attached the back of the place.)

  • The brisket at Hill Country is definitely authentic, and quite smiliar to what you’d get in Lockhart, TX.

    But Sam’s is awesome. They had grape Kool Aid on the menu when I went!

    Are you planning on SXSW next year? Do I hear a road trip to Kreuz Market or Southside Market in the works?

    Also I think Downtown Bakery, Puebla, and/or Pinche may do breakfast tacos in NYC. Haven’t tried them yet, though.

  • That Sam’s plate looks SO GOOD. I want to go back to Austin right now and eat it.

  • Angie’s Taco are simply the best tacos in America, period. Sorry you didn’t get a chance to get there…..

  • There’s definitely a blue collar aspect missing from New York barbecue restaurants, I would suspect paying rent here is one reason. I would even go so far as to say the best Texas barbecue is never found in a big city and often found off the lesser highways and byways.

  • Interesting you find these 2 places. Ive lived in Austin for 14 years. For a really good BBQ you want to go to Rudys The Worst BBQ in Texas or Salt Lick. Sorry to say but Sams is over-rated and quality of meat is no where close.

    And about TEX MEX and Taco Havens… Juan just does not cut it. Try out TRUDYS. Thats the only place worth eating….

  • @Spot – I don’t know about Trudy’s but Salt Lick is too far away, and there were a lot of people who told me they didn’t think that Salt Lick is that great.

    In the end, I admitted that the meat at Sam’s is not the greatest you’ll ever have, but there is no way that anybody could be disappointed going to that place. And that’s why I was really excited about it…

  • did u by any chance get to try a kolache while you were down in Texas?

  • I really liked the puffy tacos at Angie’s when I tried them, but a friend pointed out that the cheese was shredded American cheese, which might turn some people off.

    Salt Lick is alright but really fun, and accomodates large groups well. A friend holds a yearly SXSW dinner there for a huge amount of people. For true BBQ fandom, Cathy did the “right” thing by going out to Lockhart, TX.

  • That BBQ plate looks dang good.

    Hey Zach, I just listened to that SXSW foodbloggin panel thing you were on. That was interesting. Question: So you quit your midtown day-job to blog, cool. So now you travel to midtown everyday to blog? I guess that means you’re still working in midtown. Maybe that wasn’t a question. Anyway, what’s up with that South Beach diet blogger on that panel?

  • @Jason – i don’t know how to answer that question. :-)

  • @Zach – I mean is she hot? ;)

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