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Aug 29, 2006 06:36 PM


Coming from non-chowhound town to Austin for the weekend...

Desperately seeking some/one of the following:


1. Chicken Wings (hotter the better)

2. Vindaloo

3. Shawarma

4. Anything that is Mex-Tex related and a *must not* miss in Austin

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  1. I'm not a wings or India food guy, so I can't help on 1-3, but I'd recommend Maudie's for Tex-Mex. There are several around town (http://maudies.com/locations.html) and you really can't go wrong with any of the enchiladas or with the Rockin' Ruthann's.


    3 Replies
    1. re: yongi

      I'd have to disagree re Maudie's. I was not impressed at all on my visit, and it's definitely not something I would characterize as an Austin "must not miss". I'd opt for Matt's El Rancho. It's popular among foodie freaks in Austin to turn their nose up at Matt's, but it's solid tex mex in my book. El Azteca is also good, and Las Manitas on Congress is worth a visit.

      1. re: cstrombe

        I'll add a second to both -
        NO to Maudie's and
        YES to Las Manitas

        Las Manitas is an Austin institution. The building will be torn down and re-"developed" into condos, so be sure to get it while you can!

        1. re: Gleep

          Las Manitas is acutally moving just a few doors down. Also, not being replaced by condos, but a hotel.

    2. "4. Anything that is Mex-Tex related and a *must not* miss in Austin"

      What does this mean, exactly? Are you looking for a specific dish? Or cooking style?

      Tastes vary. Everyone has different criteria for judging “good” Chinese food, for example. For some it’s the quality of the fried rice and spare ribs; others decide based on salt-and-pepper shrimp and pea-pod stems; some only judge a place by its char siu, salt fish, and sweet bean curd. And so on.

      As for Tex-Mex, there are enchiladas on the menu at modest mom-and-pop taquerías catering to Tejanos; interior/regional-Mexican restaurants; and places that cater to Austin's dining majority of white middle-to-high-income locals and tourists, plus students (or what some people call gringo-Mex joints). In other words, even what is meant by “good enchiladas” is not self-evident.

      The more specific you are about what you want, the better the advice you'll get.

      By the way, barbecue is one of the things that the greater Austin area does very well. You might want to consider subbing that for wings, vindaloo, or shawarma.

      1. For shawarma, Marakesh on Congress Avenue downtown is servicable, and it's close to a lot of the fun stuff. If you want to branch out a little, Alborz is a Persian restaurant on W. Anderson Lane near MoPac.

        For "mex-tex," MPH hit the nail on the head.

        1. For chicken wings, go to Pluckers. There's one in West Campus on Rio Grande, one at Burnet and 183 and one somewhere way up north. Get the Fire in the Hole if you want it really, really hot. Medium is plenty spicy for me. They also have waffle fries for dipping in your ranch dressing. Good stuff.

          1. Thanks for the help.

            Not sure what i mean by tex-mex to tell the truth, I just assumed it was something native to be found in Austin...maybe tex-mex is not the word i was looking for... maybe just mex? or tex?

            I read about the BBQ places on another listing here.

            Coming from a place with very little good Indian food I thought there might be some in Austin, is why I ask.

            I read about the Texas Chili Parlor and am looking forward to trying that place out... especially their xxx chili.

            3 Replies
            1. re: stangoldsmith

              Sorry, we get so picky about Mexican cooking, and I know it's kind of off-putting! Generally, I think you can split the restaurants up like this:

              Tex-Mex - Generally refers to the best known style of Mexican cooking, things like cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, fajitas, etc. Some examples from the recommendations are Maudie's, Matt's, Chuy's, etc.

              Mexican - again, I'm lumping a lot in here, but it can vary from traditional specialties from the Mexican interior (Austin restaurants in this style include Azul Tequila, or Fonda San Miguel if you have the money), taquerias that serve inexpensive food like tacos and tortas to Mexican-Americans and immigrants, and places that straddle the line, like Polvo's and El Chile.

              I don't think you can go wrong with -any- of the recommendations given, except maybe Matt's - I'm not fond of it, and I'd avoid it like the plague on a UT game day.

              1. re: stangoldsmith

                Don't feel bad. There's disagreement even among locals about what Tex-Mex is. For instance, mkwng just defined Tex-Mex below as what some call "gringo Mex," but I include Tejano cooking (homemade tamales, tortas, barbacoa, menudo) in this category, and I place food from the interior regions of Mexico in the category of “regional Mexican.”

                I asked what your definition of Mex-Tex was so that we local ‘hounds would have a better idea of your preferences. Since you say "something native to be found in Austin," which covers a lot of chow—-much of it mediocre, unfortunately—-here are my recs:

                El Chile (very good Tex-Mex, plus regional-Mexican offerings)
                El Chilito (their separate take-out taquería with outside tables)
                Las Manitas (a downtown classic for breakfast--through the end of the year)
                Habañero Cafe (great-tasting food--breakfast and lunch only)
                Taquería Arandas (a good approximation of down-home Tex-Mex)

                In my opinion, "funky and fun" and "typical Austin" joints often serve the worst chow. In this category I include places like Chuy's, Trudy's, Güero’s, Maudie’s, Matt's El Rancho, etc. These places are fine for chips with salsa and strong drinks, but not so great if you want good, authentic Tex-Mex.

                Polvo's has some die-hard fans, who like its "typical Austin" vibe and its fajitas, etc. Polvo's may not the worst in town, but it's not the most delicious, either. I think they do a bad job with Tex-Mex basics, and better regional-Mexican food can be found elsewhere. You can do a search for more opinions on it; there were a few good discussions on its merits in the past couple of months.

                Even better options are available on the Hispanic east/southeast and north sides, though these places don’t cater to Austin’s dining-out majority of white middle-to-high-income locals and tourists, plus students. They’re great for adventurous ‘hounds who will track down the best food, no matter where it’s located. If you’re interested, just do a search for "Austin" and "Mex" to pull up some old threads on the subject.

                Have a great visit,

                1. re: MPH

                  "In my opinion, "funky and fun" and "typical Austin" joints often serve the worst chow."

                  So very, very true. This statement can also be applied to BBQ.