responding (in part only for now) to this:
"Hey Sambamaster.....what were your final and/or most memorable bites of your Austin tenure?"
What a question! I've lived here since 1971....how can i possibly answer the part of "most memorable" in a few lines?
Anyway, I am in austin for a few hours and my ONE meal was at Asia Cafe...Tues. night...
It was great as always....not sure why they closed down, maybe they replaced the woks, or someother gear...and the usual chef was not there...but it still rocked.... tried a new dish i'd not had before from one of the marker boards: Salted Chicken...it was very simple and not salty at all...small chuncks of boneless chicken dusted with cornstarch and fried...absolutely not greasy at all...almost seemed baked, but no way. maybe the salt is used to dry the meat to get the exterior almost crunchy, but not quite. good foil for the spicy stuff...sell it to the kids as chicken nuggets while you parents eat the good stuff....
my last meals were a bit confused because I didn't really have time to do it correctly...packing those CDs! But had huarche and taquitos at La Michoacana (still one of the best Mexican experiences in town) and bought some machacado which i'd not seen there before. whipped up some great machacado con huevos on sunday up there in Kansas...better than any rest. in austin! also ate at Sea Dragon a couple of times...that shrimp with black pepper is great...and i don't think it really is "salt and pepper shrimp" it's better than any version of that dish i've had here.
Tony's Pizza on W. 5th
Chopsticks on Airport
the original Little Thailand
the old school China Palace
Hector's Taco Flats
Tien Hong when it first opened
Victor's Italian Village
Gondola House (and their sandwich shop where the original Conan's is now)
La Costa Vasca
The Belgian Restaurant
Taco Village when it was on E. 6th where Dario's is now
anyone else remember that far back?
re: The Chowhound Team
so let's ignore the fact that history helps us understand where we are today: what we might be missing and aiming for, or what we might be glad to be rid of...and how things evolve in general.
The Austin restaurant scene has changed dramatically and not always for the better. Asian and ethnic places like Asia Cafe, some of the Mexican/Latin American offerings have improved, but much of the "native" cuisine has been pushed out by trendoid, culinary school places. Though Saccone's is the closest thing to the paradigm of E. Coast pizza for now, Tony's was in some ways far more satisfying...especially since Tony was there making pizzas with all his character and quirks.
We are where we are in Austin because of where we've been. I for one, would rather have the old school lasagna and honesty of Victor's Italian Village than the pretentious junk served by Vespaio, replete with attitude and sticker shock. The waiters with bow ties were an added bonus.
sorry to offend with these things. (read it while it lasts......)
Actually, knowing that a satisfying local mom and pop pizzeria pizza place existed here, along with honest old school lasagna gives me some hope. Perhaps they were swept away in the dot-com development frenzy, when it seems a lot of these pretentious "Italian" places popped up....and perhaps there is a chance that something like that might return...hopefully in deep south Austin!
there was one other place downtown called Italian Garden. It was ok, the novelty was that they served a small 6" pizza with most entrees!!! Now, to make this post legit according to the moderating moderators who are there to make sure we stay totally on target, this place still exists, but in far north austin....it is on what used to be the Mopac access road around howard lane, or past that, not sure, and don't know what the street is called now that we (you!) have to pay to drive on the new mopac. i think it is still the same owner....my sister used to trek up there once in a while before she moved to denver! she still raved about it.
I am not supposed to say this, but Victor's had a very interesting pizza crust, almost the texture of a cracker....lots of oil? not sure. anyway, it was unique. Anywhere you can get such a crust in Austin today? (there, make it legal by bringing it around to today!!!) The crust was crisp and certainly not doughy. Anything like that?