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Posted: 1:27 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dining for less than $40 a day at SXSW: Day 1 

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REAL: Dining Guide, Top 25
#16. La Traviata: The signature spaghetti Bolognese combines veal, pork and beef.

By Matthew Odam

Folks attending South by Southwest often approach eating with a guerrilla mentality, stuffing their pockets with complimentary snack bars and bottled water, scavenging parties for free food, and sometimes forgetting to eat altogether.

Slow down, people.

You can find time to eat a good meal and still see all the movies, panels and bands you’ve had marked on your mental calendars for weeks. You can even sit down and eat. A meal with friends (or by yourself) offers a chance to recharge your batteries (and your phone) and get a taste of what Austin has to offer.

Below I give a blueprint for eating on less than $40 a day in the parts of town populated with SXSW events. I included tax and 20 percent tip.

As for drinks, that’s on you. Fill up on coffee wherever you’re staying. Carry a water bottle. And scour the parties for free alcohol.

And, for you non-SXSW folks, this piece can serve as a reminder of places you need to try or revisit without breaking the bank.

DAY 1 ($38.18)

Breakfast: Two migas tacos at Veracruz All-Natural ($7.80)

My favorite tacos in town come from this East Austin trailer: fluffy eggs with a nice salt-pepper balance, fresh veggies, a soft swoosh of avocado and crunchy tortilla strips served in a pillowy homemade flour tortilla.

1704 E. Cesar Chavez St.

Lunch: Buffalo chicken po-boy at Turf N’ Surf ($10.88)

The former trailer took up residence inside the Lavaca Street Bar and serves a host of seafood, land-based protein and veggie sandwiches and salads. This free-range bird is fried, tossed in hot sauce, and buried beneath a heap of crisp veggies and bleu cheese crumbles.

405 Lavaca St.

Dinner: Spaghetti Bolognese or carbonara at La Traviata ($19.50)

Take a minute away from the madness to dine like a more civilized person in this charming Italian restaurant on Congress Avenue. The spaghetti Bolognese mixes three meats for a hearty and oily pasta dish, but the carbonara is my favorite: whip the golden egg yolk into the tender mound of pasta flecked with porky bits of pancetta and top it with cracked black pepper.

314 Congress Ave.

Matthew Odam

About Matthew Odam

Matthew Odam is the restaurant critic and reporter at the Austin American-Statesman, where he also covers the local film scene and writes film criticism.

Connect with Matthew Odam on:Twitter

Send Matthew Odam an email.

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