[AUS] Just moved down South and feeling food despair.
- tom in austin Oct 20, 2006 06:56 AM
I just moved from living in the near SoCo district to the remote Manchaca and William Cannon zone.
I'm looking for eateries within a mile of that intersection that are worth a damn.
I've already hit:
Every single one of these places had something I liked about it, but left me somewhat cold overall.
Now, other than Seoul/DK's, does anyone have any suggestions? Remember, I know all sorts of good stuff north of Ben White. I need CLOSE places that can be my Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday places. When suggesting places to try, please recommend dishes that rock the house as well.
Thanks in advance!
Bakehouse(Manchaca near Stassney)-I have breakfast there often. The 1/2 order of Eggs Benedict w/ their own hollandaise is pretty good.
Sawadee(Stassney/Manchaca)-Thai Restaurant that has a very decent lunch buffet.
Dong Nai(Target Shopping Center, Lamar/Ben White)- one of my new favorite Vietnamese restaurants.
Central Market Cafe-always decent.
Taqueria Arandas(Stassney)-hit and miss.
Taqueria that I can't remember the name of, but it's on the feeder of Ben White near Bannister (across Russell from Sweet Cleaners) is excellent.
Dairy Queen(Stassney)-decent burger-what can I say?
Cheery Creek(Stassney/Manchaca)-great fried catfish and decent bbq.
re: tom in austin
Bakehouse sucks for lunch and dinner. The menu is all over the place and everything we had, that was recommended, tasted like it was made by that one grandma everybody has that doesn't know how to cook but thinks she does.
I have heard good things about their breakfasts though.
It's nothing spectacular, but Hunan, at Manchaca and William Cannon, has some pretty good but standard Chinese. Don't get your hopes up too high, but do try the combination moo shu.
The Michoacana supermarket in the shopping center at S. First and Stassney has a great lunch counter, and would be good for take out.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Krispy Kreme. Despite scepticism over chain donut places, each time I go there, and it's rarely, I feel like I remember what a donut is. They melt in your mouth. The gods on Olympus would have eaten them.
Galaxy Cafe at Brodie & Slaughter is a nice place for a salad or sandwich (and weekend brunch).
Lee's Kitchen at William Canyon and MoPac by the Gold's Gym has the best Viet. food I've had south of the river. Their bahn mi are boring but the other items I've had (mostly pork based) have been good to great. The Chron reviewed in the near past if you want specific names. Cypress Grill is also in this shopping center if I recall correctly if you want decent but not great Cajun.
By Central Market you have the new Hyde Park (about the same as the original with good fries and ok other food) and Madam Mam's which has seemed better to me but maybe that is because it is much cleaner than the Drag one.
Somebody posted on another thread that Tino's Greek Cafe opened a location at Brodie & Slaughter next to the Galaxy Cafe. I've only been to their north location, but it was good. You get some chicken or mystery meat and a bunch of mediterranian sides -- humus, babaganoush, stuffed grape leaves, etc. It's a good weeknight kind of place.
My favorite chinese food in the area is Ng House, at Westgate and William Cannon. I've enjoyed their specials, as well as BBQ pork ho fun, MaPo DoFu, and the spicy half duck is wonderful, covered with a slightly sweet, spicy sauce and onions.
I know it is less than perfect, but I love the po-boys at the Evangeline Cafe (that bread!), and their Oysters Contraband appetizer is decadent and delicious. The Evangeline salad with their cajun spiced grilled shrimp is healthy and light and satisfying, especially if you indulge in a pistolette (a puffy roll type thing) on the side. They have some good music there, too.
There is another cajun place - I think it is called Cypress Cafe, but I only went once and wasn't impressed.
Tino's has become a regular haunt. It is actually around the corner from the Galaxy Cafe (good spinach salad with shrimp and homemade roasted shallot vinaigrette) in the same shopping center. Like Brian Lindauer said, a great weeknight place - just avoid the steamed veggies, and I have been leaning more towards the chicken (moist with crispy roastedy bits) and falafel than the gyro (mystery) meat...
La Tapatia must be the taqueria Franktex means on Ben White near Banister, and yeah, it is pretty durn good, and cheap, and reliable. Their breakfasts are huge and good. Tacos and tortas are good, and lots of their meats are really really good - especially the pierna and al pastor. I have a friend who lives on their cheese enchiladas with green sauce. Hey - read MPH's awesome report in the middle of this:
I second Lee's Kitchen....and even though their banh mi are different, I really, really love them. The bread is not the traditional baguette style, but is yeasty and crusty and delicious. My husband and I get one grilled chicken, one grilled pork and go halfsees. Good pho, not transcendental, but good.
Yaghi's Pizza on William Cannon just west of MoPac (I think, I always get delivery) is my second favorite pizza in Austin. Their regular pizzas are good, but we are addicted to their spinach bread - looks like a calzone, filled with mozzarella, spinach and fresh garlic. Stromboli is also nice, but a little greasy sometimes.
El Regio on Stassney and South First has great roasted chicken, with the most amazing green salsa - hot, but creamy and addictive. You can get a half or whole chicken with roasted onions and corn tortillas and that salsa...mmmm.
The Flip Happy Crepe trailer on Oltorf and S.Lamar is very yummy and fun to boot, especially as it gets a little cooler. As Amysuehere so rapturously reported, the ham, gruyere and green onion crepe (eaten hand-held burrito style) is very, very yummy. I didn't like the spicy pulled pork and pickle crepe, pork tasted too strongly of tabasco and seemed mismatched with the delicate crepe.
I better get some work done....
re: tom in austin
I hate to potentially contribute to your food despair about the new nabe, tom in austin, but for what it’s worth, I just had a bad dinner at NG House last night. Starters included pan-fried pork dumplings with incredibly gummy, overly thick wrappers. The filling was sweeter than the usual pork filling—almost like Swedish meatballs—though the dipping sauce tasted fine. I also tried the salt-and-pepper calamari, which came on a bed of diced red and green bell peppers and julienned cabbage that quickly encouraged sogginess. The calamari pieces were salty, with a thin, relatively light batter, but there was no peppery spiciness and the texture of the calamari verged on rubbery. The best appetizer was the spicy cucumber, but then again, this salad is just cucumber slices, sesame oil, and hot red pepper flakes. When I think of it like that, I’m astounded by the mark-up.
Of the main courses, all three were mediocre: the sautéed pea pods were crunchy, but had absolutely no garlic or other flavor; a duck special with mushrooms and crispy tofu skin tasted like meat boiled in plain water—I’m assuming a bad source for the duck, as even “hot pot” duck dishes are almost always deeply flavorful; and lastly, a special of spicy flank steak with sesame seeds, garlic, and hot red pepper flakes that didn’t taste like flank steak to me and was only faintly spicy, even in comparison to the other completely bland main courses. This last dish reminded me of steak tips at an old-school diner in terms of consistency and sophistication. I hope that this was not the jalapeño flank steak that the “critic” at the Chronicle gushed about.
All in all, there was not one really outstanding dish among the bunch. In fact, the lack of seasoning was so pronounced that everything needed salt, which is both unusual and undesirable no matter what the type of cuisine. Obviously, some dishes at NG House are authentic in origin, but in terms of execution, what I sampled on the plate yesterday tasted no better than much gloppy Americanized Chinese food. I’ve certainly had worse in town, but that doesn’t make the chow at NG House good. Perhaps this is yet another example of how being one of Austin's top ten restaurants in any category—in this case, “authentic Chinese”—is not indicative of food quality.
This was just one dinner, of course, though our group tried several items on the menu. But I was so disappointed in the chow that I threw out the abundant leftovers. Bottom line: I won’t be back anytime soon, even if I happen to be close by.
This detailed report is posted in the spirit of airing new perspectives on NG House, which has gotten a few raves on this board, and of sharing what was good and bad there. The more specific data we get from fellow chowhounds, the more tips we'll have that will allow fellow 'hounds to make informed, and hopefully delicious, chow choices. If you check out NG House, tom in austin, I hope you'll report back on your experience.
re: tom in austin
Ng House is pretty mediocre. I've tried authentic dishes there and I've tried gringo dishes there. So far every meal there has felt like a waste of a dinner.
Take tonight's order:
The Salt & Pepper Shrimp & Scallops was pretty bad: not crisp, but sort of sad, gooey fry coating, and so over-salted that it was tough to get through. In fact, I abandoned the S&P S&S two thirds of the way through.
Which is odd, because the Salt & Pepper Shrimp & Scallops was a very small portion. It reminds me of the old Woody Allen anecdote from Annie Hall about the two women at the diner: "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."
As an appetizer to split, we also went with the S&P calamari, and they were considerably worse than a to-go order from TGI Friday's. [Note: that sentence was hyperbole, I have never been to TGI Friday's.] Again massively salty, and the same gooey, non-crispy, half-assed fry technique.
Tonight's order of Shrimp & Lobster Sauce was standard. Not bad, but nothing great. What you'd expect from any random Chinese restaurant. The lobster sauce was actually a tasty savory sauce, but the shrimp was extremely flavorless. Several bites in, we pegged what the problem was (possibly): the shrimp had the exact flavor that poorly reheated shrimp possess. If you heat frozen shrimp rapidly using hot water and then cook them normally, you'll get a dried-out, slightly rubbery shrimp that has been drained of a fair bit of flavor. While I cannot say that Ng House used this technique, the shrimp featured in the Shrimp & Lobster Sauce definitely tasted like it.
This was ordered as a dinner meal, which meant it came with a cheese puff and a fried eggroll. Both of these could have been microwaved out of jumbo freezer packs from Sam's, or delivered in bulk.
The high points were the soups: hot & sour and eggdrop, which both were the peer of any generic rubber-stamp Chinese restaurant in Austin. Nothing special, but not foul or immediately regrettable.
Barring the intercession of a strong personal recommendation including directions on what to order, this visit to Ng House was my last.
re: tom in austin
Yeah.. I stopped eating there too. Quality has slipped, and I think the place could be a bit cleaner.
I went there a few times because their orange beef was on par with some of the best in the city imho, but after eating there the last time, I refuse to step foot in the place again.
Polvo's, Habanero's, Las Palmas, Cilantro, El Regio for mexican.
Din Ho for chinese.
P.Terry's, Wally's, Dirty Martin's, Players, and Casino El Camino for burgers.
House Park BBQ for BBQ.
Tony's for homemade southern soul food.
Milano Pizza for pizza and great pepperoni rolls.
Hog Island for cheese steaks and hoagies.
I forgot Cilantro's on Stassney @ Emerald Forest. Little hole in the wall, but great Chiliquilis!! And 'The Reggie', El Regio on S. 1st/Stassney. There's not a better 'fast'food'/drive thru in town. $6 gets you half a chicken, tortillas, grilled onion, limes, rice, and two hot sauces that kick ass!!!(Watch out for the green, it's hot!)
Probably more than a mile, but in Texas, what really is within a mile?
Pho Thai Son, on William Cannon between Brodie and Mopac has good pho and amazingly quick service.
Culvers actually does a decent burger (I'll even venture to say it can be better than In n Out), and a decent fish and chips too.
*I like the Chinese at Wok on Fire:Big helpings ( unlike the miniscule Hao Hao servings) , quite tasty, and the place is clean . Don't be fooled by the modernist decor the Thai style fried rice is a keeper.
*Texican is decent Mexican . The cabrito is good , if you don't mind eatin' a baby goat :)
* Ray's bbq just opened at ol' Slab Shack location Very good ( the sides aren't that great, but the "Que is great). FAR better than Railroad bbq.
*Thai Kitchen's not too far is it ( yummy)
*Milanos is the best pizza in the area , but Brick Oven is tasty ( but not cheap)
*Galaxy Cafe is good for a healthier slant
ALSO....I'd like a Double Bacon Butter Burger on sourdough with onion rings , and a root beer, plus a chocolate custard concrete double malted for dessert.(Culver's, I love their burgers) Requst the sourdough , and make sure they Double malt your malt....yummy
One new place that you might try is that new Brazilian Steakhouse in that God-Awful location by the Holiday Inn Expresson the 290/71 West Feeder. Something like Churrascaria something. I know, I'm suggesting a place that I have never actually been to, but I'm hoping that someone else on this board has. I hope this place has good food and that it makes it. But honestly it has 2 big strikes against it going in.
1. The previously mentioned location. Hard to get to, impossible to see unless you have already exited, etc., etc.
2. Long and difficult to pronounce or remember name. I've already forgotten it, myself.
El Reggio chicken at Stassney and S. 1st (?) Get 2 half chickens. Avoid the red sauce. The green sauce rocks the world.
For good Pho and Vietnamese I like the place in the parking lot of the small Target behind Strait Music on S. Lamar and Ben White. I don't know the name and it has no windows.
It's not super close, but Galaxy Cafe over off of Brodie is decent for sandwiches and wraps and the like. Decent burger and get the sweet potato fries, they are delightful.
Arandas has a location by the Dairy Queen at Stassney and Manchaca. Get the tacos al pastor, the tostadas, and the sandwiches. The burritos are good too. Avoid the enchiladas, they are boring. They also sometimes have beef soup (Caldo de reys?) that is good with tons of lime squeezed in, rice, and corn tortillas.
Ditto on Madam Mam's. It is fantastic. I love the Panang Curry.
Resurrecting this great thread. I just moved to the Westgate area and am looking forward to trying the places mentioned above as well as trying out new ones.
I tried El Regio and it was awesome. The Carne Asada is as good as the chicken and the portion was huge. My husband couldn't finish it all. I agree about the red and green sauce, the green was spicy and far superior. Macho Taco on south Manchaca makes a similiar green sauce.
We tried Bakehouse for breakfast last week and were impressed with the food and prices. I had the migas, which wasn't as good as Habanero's or Galaxy Cafe but was light years above Magnolia. I would order it again. My husband had the french toast which has 3 large pieces of texas toast and my daughter had the Italian Omelet which she devoured (she's only 10).
We tried Seoul's for the sushi and were a little underwhelmed. The prices were good, but the amount of fish in the rolls explained why. My friend ordered the korean food, which looked/smelled incredible, so we plan on going back to give that a try.
I'm looking forward to trying some of the chinese food around. We used to go to Wok on Fire for the thai style fried rice, but that's a little too far south now.
I very recently moved to Austin near S 1st and Stassney and I'm so happy to find this thread. I pass El Regio every day and I had no idea it was as good as everyone is saying it is.
1st Wok is the only place close that I've eaten at (nonchain) and it has decent Chinese and delivers (across from El Regio.)
We moved far north from far south (San Leanna) last year, and there are certain places that we very much miss:
Evangeline Cafe -- I'm a vegetarian, so not a great judge of their specialties (I did so love their vegetarian gumbo), but have you indulged in their dessert? The pistolette, a bengiet-type (sp?) dough item, is stuffed with chopped nuts and cinnamon and honey and whatnot, and covered with powdered sugar. It is heavenly with their chicory coffee. It's probably my favorite dessert in Austin (aside from the wonderful woman who made our wedding cake).
Pho Thai Son (we loved their V4 dinner and pho)
Garibaldi's -- for their wonderful hard shell tacos with the potatoes. Mmmmmm!
Maudie's (it was our neighborhood joint, but their formerly-stellar service went downhill before we moved and we went there less.)
Central Market -- we preferred their salad making skilz to those from Central Market North.
Yaghi's Pizza -- Their pizza was pretty good, but I really did enjoy their dough knots and marinara dipping sauce.