SXSW Eats: How to Use Tech to Eat Like a Texan
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
March 09 2012 11:19 AM ET
Starting today, tens of thousands of techies, music heads and cinephiles are converging in Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Interactive, Music and Film Festival — or as the cool kids call it, SXSW. TechNewsDaily editor Seán Captain will be among them, eating out for a lot of his meals (if not all of them). Can a New Yorker get the same results as Texans and eat for less through the wonders of modern technology?
Zagat released its 2012 Texas Restaurants Survey that shows Texans lead the nation in dining out — with a statewide average of 3.8 meals per week — and they do it for less. The average cost per meal in Texas is $32.17, compared to the $35.62 national average. How do they do it?
Some Texas foodies use their Internet connections to find deals. According to the survey, 46 percent buy group discounts from sites like Groupon, 36 percent have downloaded restaurant-related apps to their smartphones and 27 percent follow eateries via social networking — presumably to jump on specials. Internet reservations have nearly doubled this year over 2010, Zagat said. Eddie V's, Uchi, Salt Lick, Uchiko and Wink were the most popular Austin restaurants.
Despite their techie leanings, Texans maintain strict mobile manners. The survey revealed that Austin diners consider it "rude and inappropriate" to talk, text, tweet or email on a phone while at the table. But they say it's "OK" to take photos of their food or dining companions.
The etiquette is looser when scarfing down at a food truck, a national trend that's particularly popular in Austin. Nearly one-third of respondents said they buy from these mobile vendors.
You can bet Seán won't spend $30 at a food truck. In fact, he could end up eating for free. The Three Little Pigs, one of the most frequently mentioned trucks in Zagat's survey, will be part of a SXSW Squarespace.com promotion giving away food in front of the Hilton all week.
That's not the only free food available during SXSW. Twitter could be Seán's best source — @southbyfreenoms is the one to follow — and a sure way to bring his food costs way below the national average.