Austin, Texas is a melting pot of artistic culture of various mediums. Music, film, visual art and unique cuisines are all heavy influences to the capitol city. Every single time I visit Austin, grabbing a meal at Shady Grove is mandatory. The fresh flavors along with the beautiful environment make it a must see for anyone stopping by the music capitol of the world.
Most of the restaurant features al-fresco dining beneath the comfortable shade of giant oak trees in the center of their over-sized patio, which is a perfect treat to beat that legendary Texas heat. The bar can be found outside as well, featuring many native texas beers fresh on tap. Keeping strong to the local music scene, Shady Grove also has a stage, and hosts bands on a weekly basis. There is indoor seating as well, but you'll never get the full experience of this eatery by hiding under a roof. The staff are friendly, young and attentive. If they can't seat you quickly (it does get packed during peak hours), they will always make the extra effort to make you comfortable in the meantime.
My absolute favorite dish they serve at Shady Grove is the Tortilla Fried Queso Catfish, and it's perhaps one of my favorite meals of all time. The name sounds odd at first, but the flavors simply cannot be beat! The use crushed tortilla chips to bread some of the freshest catfish ever, and fry it until just golden and the fish is perfectly cooked. You can still taste some of that fresh water flavor in the fish that always makes me a happy camper. The fish is topped with some fresh pico de gallo, and a wedge of lime for a brightly flavored garnish. A slightly spicy queso sauce lies just beneath the fish, so that the breading stays crisp. What a slick idea! The flavors in this dish compliment each other so well, and I think it best represents the city of Austin on a plate. Just like the city, this dish seems a little weird at first, but the creativity of the flavors make it dance on your taste buds in just the right way to keep you intrigued. The entree does come with a side dish and a salad of your choice, which there are always differing selections. Personally I get my house salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a side of fresh, buttery, steamed broccoli. I'd hate to ruin such delicate flavors with some heavy fries on the side. Every time I think about that fish, I just want to drop everything and make the hour drive just to have a plate.
It's a truly delicious Austin experience. It is indeed the perfect representation of what the colorful city of Austin has to offer; creativity, healthy demeanor, outdoorsy lifestyle, and of course, a little weird. Stop by Shady Grove and enjoy the beauty of Austin, Texas.
For more information on the restaurant, including contact info, maps, menus and more at their website: