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Which Larry McGuire Restaurant Is Right for You?

By Megan Giller
June 3, 2014

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Larry McGuire's restaurants influence Austin's dining scene and - in our humble opinion - elevate it, from chic Vietnamese fare to revamped fine dining. But which one should you hit up? We broke down his restaurants by song to help you decide.

  • Photo by: Rebecca Fondren

    Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue

    The Song: "Roll Me Up" by Willie Nelson feat. Snoop Dogg.

    The Place: McGuire’s first restaurant (with co-owner Louis Lambert), this high-end barbecue joint boasts a classic cool interior downstairs and one of the city’s most popular live-music venues upstairs.

    What to Order: The brisket, natch, but also venture forth with deviled eggs topped with caviar, wood-grilled salmon and banana-bourbon pudding. The brunch menu’s breakfast Frito pie can’t be topped.

    You’ll Spend: Around $40 per person.

    Where: 401 W. Second St.; 512-494-1500.

  • Photo by: Flickr/Kellie CA

    Perla’s

    The Song: "You Make Me Feel So Young" by Frank Sinatra.

    The Place: The iconic South Congress destination is accessible, if a little bit touristy, and takes a simple, classic approach to seafood.

    What to Order: Oysters, lobster roll and any of the simply prepared fresh fish, plus fried pudding for dessert.

    You’ll Spend: About $50 per person.

    Where: 1400 S. Congress Ave.; 512-291-7300.

  • Clark’s Oyster Bar

    The Song: “Take the A Train” by Duke Ellington.

    The Place: Originally designed as Perla’s younger brother, the petite Clarksville spot has transformed into a fancier version, complete with a noteworthy wine program.

    What to Order: Start with oysters and caviar, then move on to the whole roasted branzino with salsa verde and wood-grilled Brussels sprouts. Finish with the Basque cake, a transcendent but not-too-sweet combination of almonds and cherries.

    You’ll Spend: Around $70 per person.

    Where: 1200 W. Sixth St.; 512-297-2525.

  • Photo by: Rebecca Fondren

    Elizabeth Street Café

    The Song: "Stephanie Says" by Velvet Underground.

    The Place: It’s young, buzzy and at a lower price point than the other restaurants. McGuire calls the hip French Colonial decor "whimsical."

    What to Order: Like McGuire, start your morning with a cup of Stumptown coffee and one of the best baked goods in the city (baguettes, croissants, macarons and more). For lunch or dinner, hit up the meatball banh mi or spicy bun bo hue soup.

    You’ll Spend: About $20 per person.

    Where: 1501 S. First St.; 512-291-2881.

  • Photo by: Spencer Selvidge

    Jeffrey’s

    The Song: "It Don't Mean a Thing" by Ella Fitzgerald.

    The Place: McGuire promises the redone Clarksville institution isn’t just for special occasions. “It’s not any more expensive than Uchi,” he swears. “You can split a steak." No matter what you order, it's worth it.

    What to Order: The burrata, peas and strawberries to celebrate warm weather, followed by the Akaushi New York strip steak. Top it off with chocolate soufflé with olive oil ice cream and sea salt.

    You’ll Spend: Around $100 per person.

    Where: 1204 W. Lynn St.; 512-477-5584.

  • Josephine House

    The Song: “I Was Made for You” by She and Him.

    The Place: The bright, classy house next to Jeffrey’s is gaining a lot of national recognition thanks to its precious decor and standout chef Alex Manley.

    What to Order: For lunch, start with the daily artisanal breads, and then move on to the Gulf shrimp with polenta, Swiss chard and a fried egg. Try the new three-course prix fixe dinner menu with dishes like fried squash blossoms and a petite Niman Ranch fillet.

    You’ll Spend: About $30 for lunch, $50 for dinner, per person.

    Where: 1601 Waterston Ave.; 512-477-5584.

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Places Mentioned

Josephine House of Clarksville

American • Clarksville

Food23 Decor25 Service22 Cost$49
 
 
 
Jeffrey's Restaurant

Fine Dining • Clarksville

Food25 Decor25 Service24 Cost$81
 
 
 
Elizabeth Street Cafe

Cafe • Bouldin Creek

Food24 Decor24 Service22 Cost$25
 
 
 
Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar

Seafood • SoCo (South Congress)

Food25 Decor23 Service22 Cost$47
 
 
 
Clark's Oyster Bar

Seafood • Clarksville

Food27 Decor26 Service24 Cost$51
 
 
 
Lambert's BBQ

Barbecue • Downtown

Food22 Decor22 Service20 Cost$36
 
 
 
 
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