Hungry & Desperate in Pflugerville.
So, I've been in Pflugerville for about eight months now and am rather
disappointed with the local restaurants. Here's a list of the places I've
tried, including brief descriptions. Someone please recommend some *good*
restaurants around here. I'm especially interested in cheap eats and diner
type places. I'm also looking for a decent burger joint (flame grilled, not
griddle fried). I cry a little everytime I pass the closed Hang Time Grill
(next to Jason's Deli in RR). That place was perfect.
Restaurant name / cuisine / # of visits
1) Los Jaliscienses / Tex-Mex / 5 - I really wanted to like this place
because it's just down the street from my apartment and the prices are dirt
cheap. The food is okay at best, the portions are big, but I didn't care
for the three salsas they bring out. I'll take one good salsa over a trio
of bad ones any day. Unfortunately, bad salsa is a deal-breaker for me.
2) El Rincon / Tex-Mex / 12 - This place is perpetually packed and I have
no idea why. The food is passable, but their salsa is so mild, an infant
could eat it. On the bright side, their tortillas are fresh (if a bit
heavy) and their outdoor patio is very pleasant in the spring & fall.
3) Springhill Cafe / Seafood / 2 - This place is incredibly tacky.
Everything is served on disposable plates with plastic forks. Their
borracho beans are straight out of the can. Menu is very heavy with fried
food and little else. Tables are covered with advertisements. Walls are
covered in old junk. Place smells like moth balls. Everything costs $3
more then it should. I can't believe they've been around for 20 years.
4) El Bandido / Tex-Mex / 1 - Located in what appears to be a double-wide
trailer, this place was really disappointing. The food was forgettable and
slightly over-priced. I hear they're moving to a nicer building very soon.
I may give them a 2nd chance, eventually.
5) Zorbas / Greek / ~40 - Wow! This place is awesome! Their marinated
chicken is flavorful and zesty. Their dolmathes are tangy and fresh. Their
humus has a delightful zing. Everything I've tried is really great.
They're daily lunch special ($7.57 after tax) is also super cheap. My only
complaint is they often play loud, fast tempo Greek dance music and it's
hard to enjoy your food with all that racket going on. Also, I don't care
for all those florescent lights. Makes me feel like I'm eating in a
McDonalds. Those two petty gripes aside, this place is a winner.
6) Fish Daddies / Seafood / 6 - I loathe chain restaurants, but this place
has a lot going for it. First, the whole place looks posh and really
deluxe, but the prices are insanely low. Most everything on the menu is
$8-$12, which is dirt cheap for fresh seafood. I just wish they had some
French bread / baguettes & whipped butter (I'd gladly pay extra). I also
wish their side veggies were a little better (they're undercooked and
over-salted). Incidentally, that aquarium at the front door is incredible.
I want one so bad!
7) Cafe Mangu / Cuban / 1 - This place has a lot going for it. The food and
service are both first rate, and the dining room is delightfully cozy.
Unfortunately, I don't think Cuban food appeals to me very much. Also,
their prices are bit higher than I'm accustomed to...$17 for a Sunday lunch
w/ Iced Tea? Yikes!
8) Dot's / Soul & Southern / 4 - When this place re-opened late last year,
there was an hour long wait for a table. Now, it's almost empty. I think I
know why...the food (which is still tasty) isn't quite as good as people
remember. Also, the portions are smaller and the prices are higher than
before. Lastly, the dining room is depressing, no music, no TV, no
decorations. It's a shame this place isn't open on the weekends, because
that's when I eat out the most.
It doesn't look like anyone's mentioned Baris Pizza & Pasta yet. We had pizza there awhile back, and it was pretty good. We don't live in P'ville, so we haven't been back. But, we'd ordered basically the same size & # of toppings that we usually get at Reale's and places like that for about $20 and only paid $14 at Baris. We thought the pizza needed a little more sauce and the crust needed a little more charring. But, we liked it. The place was noisy and there were a lot of kids. The table next to us all got mondo bowls of spaghetti, but from where I sat, it looked like too much pasta and not enough sauce.
I've Eaten at Baris several times, Typically I get the Spaghetti, which isnt bad but could defiantly use more sauce, The food is slightly above par, but the price is also semi-expensive.
I was actually looking for a good "Romantic" setting for my Girlfriend and I tomorrow night, Price isn't really a factor, however we aren't able to meet until at least 9 pm, so preferably a restaurant that is open until at least 10:30 pm, I thought about Casa Garcia's, but I'm not sure if they will be open late enough. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
I have lived in Pflugerville since 1984; there was only a single blinking light at Railrod and Pecan at that time, and no lights between there and IH35. I have tried all of the places on your list plus some (plus some that didn't survive). Here are my comments:
1) Los Jaliscienses / Tex-Mex - This place used to be Taqueria Arandas and it was fantastic at that time, by far my favorite place in P'ville. I have eaten there a few times since it changed over and, although they have a bigger menu now, the food is nowhere nearly as good. Too bad.
2) El Rincon / Tex-Mex - I am with you in that it is OK but not great, but you'd never know that by the brisk business they run. I go there when I'm really hungry but don't want to go very far.
3) Springhill Cafe / Seafood - OK food if you can stand the smell and the dust everywhere (don't look!). I can't understand how they can charge so much and still serve everything on paper plates and plastic utensils. Way overpriced.
4) El Bandido / Tex-Mex - They are in their new building now. BTW, they are the only restaurant out of many to ever survive that trailer, so I guess that says something. I have yet to eat there, however, since every time I have tried to go they have been closed, with no sign as to why. What gives? BTW, the place directly across from the old trailer (now a dog groomer) has also been very bad for restaurants; there have been at least 4 there since 1984, and now it is vacant.
5) Zorbas / Greek - Wow! My wife and I totally agree.
6) Fish Daddies / Seafood - Supposedly Fish Daddys, Cheddars, and Posadas are all owned by the same company, but I actually like Fish Daddys. Try their fish tacos!
7) Cafe Mangu / Cuban - We ate there once, and the service was horribly slow. I have to agree with you, cuban food just doesn't appeal to me, at least the food at this place.
8) Dot's / Soul & Southern - Oh how I wish for the old Dot's! As you said the food is not as good, the portions are smaller, and the prices are higher. And the old place, even though it was a dump, at least had character. This new place is just so bland!
9) Charlie's Steak House - The closes thing we have to a good downhome old time restaurant. This place used to allow smoking everywhere, but now only in the bar, which is fine by me. The food is good but not the best in the world, but it does serve to remind me of my country roots.
10) Casa Garcia's - Pretty decent Tex-Mex at reasonable (not cheap) prices, but the best thing is their variety! You can always find something on the menu to appeal to your taste buds.
11) European Bistro - I haven't been in years, but it used to be quite good, but be prepared for a very leisurely dinner. Prices are a little on the high side too. I remember when this used to be Kansas City Steakhouse; it was my favorite restaurant in town by far. I was sad to see it go.
12) Four Seasons Chinese - Not really in Pflugerville at Bratton and Merriltown, but it is my favorite Chinese restaurant ever. It is run by the same family that has owned it since it opened. My wife and I eat there so often, we should have a table with our names on it! Everything there is fantastic, but you absolutely MUST try the egg drop soup - thick and rich but not greasy!
I was going to mention that place. I haven't been, but there was a post about it recently:
According to this post, it is on Grand Avenue Parkway just east of I-35 (strip center on the north side of Grand Ave. Parkway). It's called Addis Ethiopian Cafe.
The European Bistro in downtown Pflugerville offers EXCELLENT Hungarian, Austrian and German food. I highly recommend the stuffed cabbage rolls. Their sausage is homemade and so are their desserts. It's a family-owned and operated restaurant. I've never been disappointed with anything I've ordered there.
As for the Pizza and Wing Pfactory, I'll never eat there again. My husband and I ate there last Friday (3/7/08) and I asked for something (butter on the bun) to be left off of my supposed "Best Burger in Pflugerville", and the waitstaff and cooks proceeded to loudly ridicule my request in the kitchen, which we were seated near. This, after I clearly explained that my eating any dairy would harm my newborn, who I am nursing. Should I have produced a doctor's note from the Pediatric GI Specialist??? My burger was just ok anyway. The Sonic across the street has better burgers and they were SOOOOO much nicer to me when I asked that they leave the butter off of my bun before they toasted it. (The nice car hop even told me she watched the bun get toasted to make sure it was how I needed it.) My husband ordered a pizza and he said it was ok. Such a shame too... If we'd like our meal, we would've brought our family and friends there and could've brought them more business. This was a Friday night and the place was empty. Looks like they could've used a good referral, but they're not getting one from me. In fact, I'm telling my fellow mothers how unreceptive they were to the request I made for the sake of my baby!
So my advice is to skip the Pizza and Wing Pfactory and hit Sonic or order from Papa John's!!
Another viewpoint on European Bistro:
European Bistro Pflugerville Texas
Motoring up Dessau Road on the backroad to Pflugerville from Austin it takes strong self control to resist the numerous Taco Carts dotting the streetsides.
I'm on my way to Cafe Mangu to see if all the fuss over their roasted pork can be independently verified or if it's just so much chaff blowing in the Texas wind.
It's a pleasant ride once you get past Hwy 183,sparse development and light traffic are increasingly rare this close to Austin proper so I soak it all in knowing it'll be gone by perhaps this time next year.
Turning West onto 1825 I'm quickly in the old downtown proper part of Pflugerville and suddenly my bike has wheeled itself into the street parking in front of European Bistro...sometimes this is how it works I reason.
I walk into the empty restaurant which has the appearance of being decorated by a team of elderly Bavarian women hopped up on Vienna Roast.It's really nice in a grandmotherly way;dim lighting,framed artwork,a pretty piano for banging out some showtunes when the crowd gets all saucy on Pilsener Urquell.
I'm eventually noticed by the lone waiter seated and presented with a menu.I order the Pilsener and set back to study the menu.In years past I've always ordered the Hen Soup,a rich chicken soup with a deep broth and tiny delicious dumplings throughout.It's not on the menu and I begin to get a little panicky;I don't like the idea of missing out on what my bike had in mind when she parked herself at the front door.The waiter confirms my fear...there is no hen soup to be had.I keep from getting wild eyed by focusing on the menu which is a trek through Hungary,Germany and Austria.There's Bratwurst to be had along with Duck Liver,Stuffed Cabbage,Wiener Schnitzel and of course Goulash the version of which European Bistro offers trumpets Prime Beef Tips so at that point I'm had.I love Beef Tips and I figure Goulash to be a specialty given the slant of the menu.
The waiter brings a couple wafers of bread with a small ramekin filled with a spread of White Cheese blended with Red Pepper.The bread is lightly warmed but stale.I'm glad the portion is tiny because it is not delicious.The Prime Beef Goulash arrives lightning quick sharing a plate with a goodly sized portion of Spatzle Dumplings.I'm starving so I tack in and begin rampaging my plate.The Spatzle of the past at European Bistro was very good.Fluffy and nubby to the tongue.The current version is tired.Plumb tuckered would be a better word.It's barely warmed,slightly gummy and unappealing.I beg for a cup of the Paprika based sauce the Beef is sitting in and begin resuscitation on the patient.The addition of the good sauce saves the Dumplings from being inedible.
The Prime Beef Tips are a mixed affair.The speed at which they arrived and the somewhat mealy texture of half or so of them suggests they have been par-cooked and temped per order.Unconscionable given that I'm the sole diner in the house.I'm completely famished but it takes steely reserve to finish mowing through my plate.The menu mentions a salad coming with each entree'.I'm not offered one but had I been I would've been tempted by the Russian Beets with Fresh Mayonnaise.
So after a couple years absence the food that I formerly found to be delicious has seriously careened downhill.I ask my server if the restaurant has changed hands and he reports that no,the two little old ladies that started the Bistro lo those many years ago are still in power.I've seen the same thing happen to many of my former favorites;The Chef and owner get fat and sassy.The ardor of local media and a loyal clientele base pull off the hat trick of creating a restaurant that rests on it's laurels and shifts its' focus off the food to creating nice pleasing ambience with little to back it up.
As I motor back down Dessau Road into Austin I content myself by reflecting back on past delicious meals I've enjoyed at European Bistro.It's a small comfort but one I savor as I make future plans to hit a couple of the Taco Carts I see lining the roadsides.....perhaps there's a lean and hungry chef or two inside these little metal contraptions on the long southbound blacktop.
I don't know if you'd feel like coming all the way up to Georgetown, but the Monument Cafe is a really good diner experience. We've been there about five times now, and for the most part, they make standard diner dishes with high quality ingredients. The only misstep I had was a shrimp dish that was doused in cream and cheese. I would recommend staying with burgers, sandwiches, soups, and their surprisingly good veggie dishes.
I think it would be great to amass a list of good restaurants on the far north side. I can understand why most people on these boards consider it a culinary wasteland and stay down south. But still, when you live and work up here, you don't always want to drive 20 miles for a taco. I will say that the dinner at Nonna's--also in Georgetown--is excellent. Fresh Italian food with everything made in house. Since it's BYOB, it's pretty darn cheap relatively, though we're still talking $15-$20 entrees. However, this doesn't seem like the kind of thing you're looking for.
I've had hit or miss experiences at Zorba's. Despite the name and the decorations, the food is Middle Eastern rather than Greek (maybe the correct term would be "Greek-inspired"). And you'll know you’re in TX when you pronounce the Greek menu items properly and the waitress corrects you with the wrong pronounciation…! ;) That said, their salads are good, their hummus is decent, and the pita is fresh grilled. Avoid the lamb, though.
Check out Chola - the Indian restaurant right next to Zorba's. The food is fab. They have a mix of northern and southern, and I suggest you try one of the samplers on your first visit.
Ward's Cafe in Round Rock (in the mini storage) has good burgers, and surprisingly, so does Fuddrucker's.
I forget the name, but the Vietnamese place on Louis Henna (S side of L.H., just W of I-35) has decent food too.
Lastly, I think Mariachi's de Jalisco just opened a new location in Round Rock. They have great salsa. Be sure and try the Carne Asada, Tortilla soup, and beef soup.
I have to disagree a little with the Chola review.
While this may be good Indian food for Pflugerville, it is not good Indian food. The seasoning of all dishes is much lighter than more authentic places, calculated to appeal to American tastes. Nothing is too hot or too spicy. In fact, my Indian co-workers were able to point out several dishes that are completely made up. They were American style dishes slightly modified to appear Indian (I wish I could remember which ones they were and report it, but I just remember the conversation and not the dishes).
While off-topic for a discussion of Pflugerville, I would suggest that anyone looking for Indian food travel a little further and dine at Swad, Madras Pavilion (both vegetarian) or Shalimar.
This is not exactly in Pflugerville, but it's close. Check out Bombay Express on Parmer at 35. It is in the shopping center next to the big Walmart.
They have a daily lunch special that usually runs under $6 for some great food if you like Indian food. This is a vegetarian only restaurant, but even if you are a carnivore, you'll leave satisfied. I highly recommend an order of their samosas for an extra $2. They are light and crisp, never overfried.