If you've got some cash to spare at SXSW and you love comfort food, Moonshine (303 Red River) will scratch your itch in more ways than one. Located directly across Red River from the downtown Hilton -- no cabs or buses needed -- this high-end down-home restaurant is nestled into the rustic limestone of the historic Waterloo Compound, a series of buildings that comprise Austin's oldest commercial district.
While nearly every dish on Moonshine's menu is fantastic (except for the griddled polenta, which comes drenched in an abominable and entirely out-of-place marinara sauce), there is one dish that stands out as the best: pecan-crusted catfish with crawfish tails in brown butter with homemade hot sauce. Trust me -- it's every inch as good as it sounds. It comes with seasonal vegetables and your choice of sides, but do yourself a favor and order the nearly perfect macaroni and cheese to go along with it.
If you're eating with a group and want to spend precious stomach space on starters, the corndog shrimp are excellent (and Haven could learn a lesson or two from Moonshine in this area). And Monday through Friday, Moonshine offers a 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., which is an excellent time to try one of their signature cocktails. The Ruby Slipper -- a sweet and tart mixture of vodka, champagne, grapefruit juice and grenadine -- is my favorite, but feel free to experiment. And no authentically Texan meal would be complete without a fat slice of red velvet cake at the end. Luckily, Moonshine turns out a cake so good, it'll make want to you slap your grandmother.