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M I A in Austin???

Where can I get:
Classic Mexican food? (not Tex-Mex or Sonoran)
Authentic Carnitas? (Red Robin has them but they're rather bland)
Really great bakery?
Best eggs benedict?
Classic breakfast food? (Not Migas or anything stuffed in a tortilla)
Best fish tacos?

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  1. Bakery... depends on what you want. Oddly enough, the best bagels I've found in town are at Randalls (I go to the one at Brodie and Slaughter). I have tried every place in this town looking for a good bagel and those are the best around here IMHO. My husband's from NYC and they are the only ones he willingly eats in town.
    For other things, it depends... I think Central Market makes a pretty good loaf of bread to make french toast with, but their cookies are lousy. Quack's makes a better cookie (many of the Whole Foods cookies used to come from Quacks... don't know if they still do), but I'm not impressed with alot of their stuff.

    Classic breakfast food: I agree, this place has issues with good breakfast food. There is Kirby and Magnolia, but they are always busy. I went to the new Village Inn in South Austin recently, and they do a decent breakfast and I was far more impressed than I thought I would be. My general standby for solid breakfast fare is Jim's(south location... I can't speak for the others). However, Jim's on Saturday and Sunday mornings is different than Jim's on other days. On Sat/Sun AM, the crews working there have probably been there for 20 years minimal. Those are prime time shifts. The average age of a waitress on those shifts is probably 45. Consequently, the service generally rocks. I've eaten there at other times, and I have to say, the quality is much better on those shifts than other times (think W/Th/F evenings). I am also partial to Galaxy for a good breakfast. They aren't as classic as the other places, but respectable and very accomodating.

    Fish Tacos: best I've eaten in Austin are at El Chile. I've gotten a bit bored with El Chile's menu but I really like their fish tacos.

    9 Replies
    1. re: shan

      re: bagels
      I do find Randalls bagels passable but lacking in moisture and chewyness. I usually grab a few at central market (hot jumbo bagel?).
      Second choice is surprisingly, the bagels at Fiesta. Don't discount the Fiesta bakery either, I love their pan frances, much lighter than CM's baguette, which I find a bit too dense.
      and they offer quite a variety of breads in addition to the mexican specialties.

      Fave fish taco's are Polvos, but only if you are a serious garlic lover!

      1. re: shan

        Depends what you want in a bakery, because I worked in an amazing bakery when I was 16 and no danish or donut in this town comes close to the late Butterflake in NH. BUT if it is bars you seek, like lemon bars or toffee bars, you must run and not walk to MadCakes on Spicewood next to Triumph Cafe. And I agree Sweetish Hill is good for breads. The best biscuits in town for my money come from Cipollina. And Upper Crust has good scones. Any one have a rec for really good donuts, muffins or danishes?

        1. re: kirelerya

          For donuts we have an old-school heavy hitter:Mrs Johnson's on Airport...ol Mrs Johnson comes hobbling in there every afternoon and fires up the fryers and starts rolling dough...as she's done for most of her 87 years....ok,not really but they do have great donuts and they are open all night long.

          1. re: scrumptiouschef

            I have started going to Mrs. Johnson's and their donuts rock. I have never, ever been a cake donut fan because they are always greasy, cold, dense rocks. However, they are now my favorite donuts there...I even tried a non-glazed cake donut there earlier in the week and thought it was fantastic. They are crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.

            All of their donuts we've tried are fantastic, but be sure to ask if they are fresh because the day old ones aren't as good.

        2. re: shan

          Bagels in Austin? No, there are not...Not baked here. Just round bread with holes in it. Try the frozen H&H bagels (from NYC) found in the Central Market frozen food section.

          Breakfast, nope, none to be found. Magnolia? Kerby? So sad....

          Try Taqueria Arandas on S 1st. Nice eggs with beans and papas for under $3.00 before 11a, about $3.35 after 11a. Nicely cooked sunnyside-up...We now have a Galaxy in Clarksville. One choice of eggs - scrambled. Enough said...But, their burger is good.

          1. re: AustinBear

            I like the breakfast at East Side cafe, but am rarely willing to wait for a table. Also, a good and vastly underrated place is Azul on E. Cesar Chavez. It's one of the few breakfast places that doesn't have a 30 minute wait on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

            1. re: karrieleague

              As for East Side, call merely one hour in advance and you'll rarely wait. This is one of the few places that books minor reservations (less than a party of 8) on short notice.

              In addition to a slick reservation for noon (booked at eleven), their fresh specials are honest-to-god fresh, not just stuff they're trying to get rid of.

              1. re: karrieleague

                I completely second the East Side Cafe. Lived down the road there in Hyde Park for a while, and they were a real standout whether we wanted breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tom's bang on target about calling ahead, too.

                If you like eggs benedict, they won't disappoint - the eggs are cooked perfectly, and the hollandaise is rich, creamy and created from scratch. Herbs straight from their garden round out the fresh deliciousness. They also offer the variant with smoked salmon instead of ham, but I forget what they call it. I want to say eggs franciscan, but I'm not sure that's right. It's very good though, whatever it's called.

                If you do end up having a bit of a wait for a table, go take a stroll around the garden and see what you're going to be eating in a little while!

                East Side Cafe
                2113 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722

                1. re: Rowlock

                  They just call it the "Smoked Salmon Benedict".

                  I had it recently and can confirm that it truly satisfies.

          2. I'm in the Foodservice Equipment Mfg business and I avoid eating at chains(especially for breakfast), unless they are independent. I like my eggs fresh, with bright orange yolks; my ham to come from a hog; my bagels dense and chewy; my Hollandaise sauce made from scratch and no grits, ever! I'm a purist...

            5 Replies
            1. re: robotmeister

              I like a more tricked-out breakfast than you, so this might not be your cup of tea, but...

              I really like Eastside Cafe's weekend brunch. Everything there is pretty good. My standard play is to split the baked brie w/ apple chutney, then get the smoked salmon benedict. The Hollandaise sauce that comes with it is delicious and fresh. I trade away the sides that come with it for bacon; in my opinion, Eastside makes the best slice of bacon in town.

              The wine list there is also a treat, although that normally doesn't come in to play at breakfast.

              1. re: tom in austin

                I went to Eastside this weekend and had the smoked salmon benedict. I really wanted to like it, but it was just okay. The Hollandaise was good, but I thought it was somewhat boring as an entire composed dish. Maybe I just wanted some stronger flavors. I got the bacon too. It was good with a nice smoke flavor, but a bit fatty. Eastside is definitely better than Hoover's across the street, but I think I may stick with their lunch and dinner menu.

                1. re: shan

                  Shan: Bummer! The flavor combinations for me are usually pretty ideal, capped by a perfectly poached egg. About one out of every ten times, I'll get overly fatty bacon, or imperfectly cooked bacon. In general, I find their brunch to be superior to their dinner.

                  Robotmeister: Eastside Cafe is on Manor road. Information available on their website:

              2. re: robotmeister

                Being a newby here, where is the Eastside Cafe and what are their hours? Do the serve breakfast 7 days a week?

                1. re: robotmeister

                  Was going along with you all the way until you got to the grits....grits are forever in my books! Bring 'em on.

                2. for non tex-mex mexican i like tacqueria arandas (cheap) or fonda san miguel (expensive)

                  i'm not sure what authentic carnitas are, but the carnitas at Angie's are divine.

                  there is no bakery in town i'm absolutely in love with but i like Uppercrust for cakes, Texas French Bread for ciabatta and ginger snaps (and turkey sandwiches!)

                  i've not eaten a lot of eggs benedict, but Y Bar and Ranch in Oak Hill has delicious lobster eggs benedict and one with salmon. they also serve a classic one.

                  i like omelettry for classic breakfast in normal sized portions (nothing is bigger than your face which is rare to find these days). for a treat i like the chocolate chip pancakes with no syrup, just lots of butter.

                  guero's has my favorite fish tacos in town.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: yimay

                    Angies has carnitas? Yum! Where is the Omelettery? We live in the Hill Country...a barren place for foodies. We do like the Y Bar & Grill and Flores on Wm. Cannon @ 290 W has a pretty decent spicy salsa. We have not been to Fonda San Miguel yet (we're newbies) I grew up in So. CA and learned what good Mexican and Asian food tastes like.

                    1. re: robotmeister

                      Angie's Carnitas are phenomenal...Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

                      1. re: robotmeister

                        Omelettry is on Burnet I believe...

                    2. Regarding an Austin bakery - there's two I like. Russell's on Hancock west of Mopac and Upper Crust at 45th and Burnet (mentioned above). Of course, this partially depends on what type of baked goods you're looking for - Upper Crust has really good breads, cakes and pastries, Russell's concentrates more on pastries and cakes (they do wedding cakes as well - including the one at my wedding), but also bake bread for their lunch service. Russell's baked apple fritter is probably my favorite pastry indulgence in town - it's really good.

                      1. I had breakfast on Sunday at Austin Diner on North Burnet. I t was very good, and the home fries were the best I've ever had. They actually tasted like potatoes and were well seasoned. It may have been a one time thing, but I'll find out soon enough when I go back.

                        1. I too am on a quest for the best eggs benedict (other than at my house - add wine merchant sauce as a layer...mmmmm).

                          So far, the best one I ever had was at Gumbo's Sunday brunch, but they stopped the brunch. Bummer.

                          North by Northwest does a version with a crabcake. When it's on, it's really quite yummy. When it'f off, lackluster at best.

                          Congress Street Cafe has two versions on their Sunday brunch, but I'm sorry to say I have yet to try them.

                          Kerby Lane's are a sad story.

                          Eastside Cafe's sounds interesting...

                          My biggest complaint with getting Eggs Benedict out is that no matter how much you insist you want the yokes soft boiled (just where the whites are white and the yellow is warm, thank you very much), the bugger always comes out hard boiled.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: amysuehere

                            amysue, tell me about this wine merchant sauce - I, too have been craving eggs benedict and plan on begging my S.O. to make them for me this weekend.

                            The best Eggs Benedict I've had in an Austin restaurant is at Eastside cafe. (The regular kind is much better than the smoked salmon, in my opinion).

                            I was recently looking over the Four Seasons' brunch menu, and they appear to have E.B. as well -- if you can splurge, I'll bet they're divine.

                            -- and it was SO much better than the Smoked Salmon that we were delighted they made a mistake.

                            1. re: catarata

                              Speaking of Four Seasons, you reminded me that the Mansion at Judge's Hill also has several versions of eggs benedict AND I have a $150 gift certificate. hmmm....

                              1. re: amysuehere

                                I wouldn't advise brunch at the Mansion, unless you are looking to gamble away your 150 bucks.

                                1. re: txtoddy

                                  ? What would you suggest I do with the $150 gift certificate.

                          2. amysue, that sounds delicious. I'll have to try to save some red wine to make it with (always easier said than done!)

                            $150 gift certificate! Wow, that's fun. I hope whatever you get there is good, I think that place is SO cute, but it seems to be having some problems (they've gone through 3 chefs I think?) The one time we went there, some things were really good, but some were not, and the service was so bad that it still makes me laugh to think about it. Our poor waiter was so flustered that he ran away in the middle of dinner (Literally! This was after he brought the wrong wine, then broke the cork in the wine, spilled the wine, and brought us the wrong apps...)
                            Maybe the waiters are more together (sober?) at breakfast?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: catarata

                              holy-moly! he actaully ran out of the restaurant?! What a disaster. I hope they comped your meal. We had one of those type meals at North by Northwest once. We still talk about it. What did you like? What didn't you? I suspect we'll go to brunch with some friends, but just in case we decide to go for dinner...

                              1. re: amysuehere

                                I just looked at their menu and it is COMPLETELY different from when I went. The menu used to be divided into Air, Land, and Sea categories - and now it's a more traditional first, second, and third course-style menu. The brunch looks really good I will cross my fingers for you that it is!

                            2. bakery: sweetish hill, love it.
                              the bake house on manchaca actually does a decent job of breakfast food. it's an authentic diner.

                              1. I think the Bakehouse on Manchaca does great truckers' breakfasts--bacon and eggs, potatos, grits etc. The basics, but ample and good. It helps if you like your classic American breakfast a bit on the greasy side. Whole Foods bakery has, in my opinion, the best fresh breads in town, but for other stuff I'd go to Sweetish Hill on West 6th.

                                1. For fish tacos, I'd suggest:

                                  Wahoo's (Cal-Mex, cheap, can be ordered blanckened)
                                  Z'Tejas (Catfish + cabbage/carrot mix)
                                  Roaring Fork (Fried, delicious, cheap during happy hour)
                                  Berryhill Baja Grill (Houston chain w/ location on 360, fried or grilled, generous portions)

                                  1. For classic (more interior) Mexican, the fallback expensive choice is Fonda San Miguel.

                                    For a similar idea at much lower prices, try Manuel's on Congress Ave or El Chile on the East Side. Chango's (owned by Manuel's) also does fast-food style interior Mex (like tacos al pastor on freshly made corn tortillas) that is quite good for the low price.

                                    1. For straight up breakfast I recommend the Nighthawk on Burnet. Sometimes Austin's Diner can pull together a good breakfast special. The Omlettetry is hit or miss...more often miss - they overload their omlettes and drown things in queso. Kirby, Magnolia, and Starseeds are in my unpopular opinion barely edible drunk college kid food.

                                      Bakery recs: Mi Victoria on Burnet - also has pretty good tacos and prefectly reasonable salsa. The other bakery is a Mexcian bakery on South First next to Polvo's.

                                      I'm a big fan of Polvo's. I always gorge myself like some kind of monstrous reptile when I eat there. Not proud, just saying.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hooliganyouth

                                        hooliganyouth, what do you order at Nighthawk?

                                      2. Straight up breakfast is also good at Jim's, various locations (local-ish chain out of San Antonio). They do basic breakfast quite well in my opinion, and serve it all day. Another good spot for breakfast is Cafe Java, and they also serve breakfast all day.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: cstrombe

                                          I highly recommend Cafe Java as well for breakfast. They are very reasonably priced and local and also homey. Their prices won't break your bank and unlike some other more well-known places, you won't be waiting an hour to eat either. I heard that they opened up another location in Round Rock besides the location that I'm familiar with on Metric Blvd.

                                        2. regarding breakfast, i think old pecan street cafe on 6th has a good weekend brunch. the bread you get there is amazing too!

                                          1. At the El Dorado grocery store on Airport, just north of 51st, there's a taco bar where I found excellent carnitas. The sign says that the taco bar is operated by El Meson, which is a restaurant on Burleson road that serves excellent and authentic Mexican food. The tingas (shredded picante chicken) were also nice.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Vgracewing

                                              Tequila Azul has homey, not Tex Mexy mexican food. I get the albondigas

                                            2. El Meson had carnitas on special today. Delicious. I ordered a carnitas taco and enjoyed it beside my usual pipian. (For those who haven't had the El Meson pipian, you are missing out.)

                                              The carnitas was delicious. Thick, heavy, with subtle flavoring -- not bland, but takes a couple bites to get into it.

                                              I also ordered a side of shredded cheese to throw on the second half of the taco (do it up Angie's style, so to speak). I felt that the carnitas was enhanced by the cheese.

                                              1. Classic Mexican - I agree with Polvos
                                                Carnitas - there is a mexican store called El mercado spread through out the city, and you can't really eat there, but their carnitas, cabeza, and lengua are all great.
                                                Great bakery - my favorite is a mexican bakery called joe's bakery on east 5th (nopalitas are also great here for vegetarian breakfast tacos)
                                                Fish tacos - Mariscos seafood grill on burnet. Also has the best ceviche. Nothing creative just classic mexican seafood rest.

                                                1. I'm not big believer in purist breakfast items since I'm always eating breakfast on the run and I'm not a big believer in bakeries and eggs benedict, however:

                                                  I really love Cura's for good Mexican although it can be off at times. Polvos is usually the winner for me though.

                                                  Best fish tacos imho are over at Taco Deli. Their mojo fish tacos are just too good for words. Be prepared for long lines if you there for lunch.

                                                  Best wishes on your search.

                                                  1. Once again, Enoteca to the rescue for egg Benedict. They have sort of an Italian version that was very good, and, amysuehere, hear this, the eggs were perfectly cooked. I would advise getting the Hollendaise on the side as it was pretty rich and got nauseating before I finished.(just me maybe)

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: singlemalt

                                                      Enoteca? Really? It'll be hard to get the hubbers to go back, we had such a miserable experience there before but I'll give it the ole college try. What do they do to make it "Italian"? Maybe if I entice him with a description...

                                                      1. re: amysuehere

                                                        Eggs B== instead of English muffin they use It. style bread and for meat use prosciutto. The eggs were done perfectly for my taste.

                                                        1. re: singlemalt

                                                          Hoover's used to have an eggs benedict with a jalapeno cream spinach hollandaise sauce, but it wasn't on the menu when I was there a couple of weeks ago.

                                                      2. re: singlemalt

                                                        Finally got to Enoteca for brunch. Don't want to slam a place I like too much, but basically: disgusting.

                                                        Would have rather gone to Magnolia or Kerbey Lane. Gah. Gimme a time machine and I'll take that meal back.

                                                        The strengths that folks on this thread are hailing aren't legit. The bread they replace the english muffin with is borderline wartime atrocity for the job it has been tasked for; moreover, that is just the start.

                                                        Bail. Out. Now.