SXSW Regulars List Austin's Best Eats, Favorite Venues, Insider Tips

Sarah Lim
Man or Astro-Man perform at SXSW 2010

How best to navigate the basic human necessities of food, tunes and quality mingling at South By Southwest? THR polled four repeat customers for their take.

Thousands of music enthusiasts descend on Austin for the South By Southwest music conference this week, which, within 24 hours of arrival, will swiftly separate the weak from the rock-n-roll mighty. How best to navigate the basic human necessities of food, tunes and quality mingling? THR polled four regulars for their take:

Favorite Austin Restaurant:
Scott Igoe (music booker, Jimmy Kimmel Live; SXSW panelist): "Iron Works Barbecue (100 Red River). The food is fantastic, the meat falls off the bones and everything is cooked with love.  Sitting out on the back patio eating brisket, baked beans and potato salad is a great way to start a night of live music."
Shirley Halperin (THR music editor): "The Green Mesquite (1400 Barton Springs Rd.). When I saw this barbecue mainstay featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, my immediate thought was, ‘Been there, ate that! Thank you, SXSW!’ A world-class joint that doesn’t make you feel like an alien from out-of-town with margaritas the size of small waterfalls." 
Perez Hilton (celebrity blogger; host, “One Night in Austin”): "Moonshine (303 Red River). During the last few years, BMF Media has been throwing parties and swag suites out of there, and I like free food and drinks!"
Kim Buie (vp of A&R, Lost Highway Records): "Las Manitas on Congress. Sadly, It’s no longer there. It was a SXSW tradition, and by some accounts, a great cure for a hangover. There was nothing fancy about it -- it was simply a humble little joint with terrific Mexican food."
Best Industry Hang: 
Hilton: "The best hang in the past was always The Four Seasons, but now that The W has opened up, I think a lot of people will be staying there instead and it will be a great place to network."
Igoe: “It’s a toss-up between the Driskill Hotel and the Four Seasons lobby. Depends on what you’re looking to get accomplished: to see or be seen.” 
Buie: "The bar at the Driskill."
Halperin: "Gate 13 at the Austin-Bergstrom Airport. Most may look bleary-eyed and beaten milling about the American Airlines terminal waiting for flights back to the coasts, but at least they’re cheerful knowing they’re hours away from home. A guaranteed good mood equals a prime opportunity to network." 
Best South By Southwest Venue: 
Igoe: "Stubbs. So many great memories:  Foo fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, seeing The Killers for the first time…  Great sight-lines from all over the venue, especially the old oak tree that sits off to the side -- kept me dry during a Cult performance in the rain."
Hilton: "Any venue without lines! With so many musical options, I'm not a fan of waiting in long lines at SXSW."
Halperin: "The French Legation in East Austin. Trees, grass, shade and a grand museum on its pastoral grounds, this slice of Texas history (by way of France) is the perfect, almost serene backdrop to a day of quality tunes."
South By Southwest Insider Tip: 
Hilton: "Rent a bicycle! It's the best way to experience the festival. That way, you don't have to worry about walking all over the place or trying to get cabs. Lance Armstrong owns a bike shop in Austin. I rent one from there every year."
Igoe: "Don’t plan on seeing everything on your ‘must see’ list -- it won’t happen.  You’ll be lucky if you get to half the shows you want to see. Drink plenty of water in between the beers. You’ll thank yourself in the morning."
Halperin: "Eat a good breakfast. If you’re like me, supermarket-bought nachos with cheese whiz roasting in the sun is not your idea of sustenance. Treat yourself to an Eggs Benedict with some fruit on the side at the hotel and plan for a sensible dinner every night."
Buie: "No meetings before 10:30am, and a good pair of sensible shoes!"