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austin soul food

i've been to austin many times, & consider the city a hub to explore and soak up the
wonderful bar-b-que in taylor, luling, lockhart, and beyond. austin proper is a mixed
bag of the usual suspects: threadgills, curra's, matts el rancho, etc. safe fare that the wife
would feel comfortable eating. well, this visit she ain't comin', & i'm looking for some
good downhome, soul food. location is not important, altho i'm usually runnin' around
south austin. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, late night, whatever, i'm looking for
your best ideas. i'm hungry!! please help!!

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  1. This is what I would eat if I were visiting Austin from out of town:
    Hoover's beats Threagills any day of the week. Good chicken fried steak and peach cobbler.
    Sam's BBQ on East 12th (I think) for some serious hole-in-the-wall BBQ. Open really late (I went there at 2 am once).
    Angie's on East 7th has great carnitas
    El Chile on Manor is great interior Mexican. they also own the taco joint a few doors down called El Chilito...their migas tacos are wonderful.
    Don Luis (Parmer and Mopac) for barbacoa
    Uchi for fancy-schmancy sushi
    Kerbey Lane for pancakes

    3 Replies
    1. re: adewaal

      My fave was Dot's Place( it burnt down , but rumored to reopen in Pf-ville).Heaven!
      Ben's Longbranch has great smothered porkchops (think it's on Wed)
      Gene's has great poboy

      1. re: Rustcat

        Oh, how I miss Dot's... That was some good eatin'.

        Did you ever buy any of their cakes? I vaguely remember one of the women who worked there selling cakes on the side -- huge, creamy, coconutty affairs of varying flavors; so loaded with sugar that when consumed they set your whole body rattling. It may or may not have been affiliated with Dot's proper.

        1. re: tom in austin

          Dot's is open again. It is in Pflugerville.

    2. For soul food proper, you can't go wrong with Soul Food Wednesday at Ben's Long Branch (11th just east of I-35). Last time I was there, I had the liver with a side of delicious greens, and was quite satisfied. Any other day of the week, I like their barbecue, especially the ribs, their peach cobbler, and their banana pudding.

      Other good choices for down-home southern cooking are Gene's New Orleans Style further east on 11th and Tony's Southern Comfort on East 6th.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Knoblauch

        A very underrated soul food joint is Galloways Sanwich Shop[they don't serve sandwiches by the way]it's run by a Black cat who is also the chef.He has daily specials that fit the Soul Food bill nicely.Roasted Pork Shoulder,Fried Chicken,Smothered Pork Chops,Green Beans,Broccoli and Cheese Sauce etc.At lunch time the joint fills up with working class folks from the neighborhood.He also serves a damn good breakfast[the man knows what an over medium egg is].Roll in there around noon or so while the pickings are still good.It's just east of the intersection of Chicon and E.12th st.There is a small parking lot just east of the restaurant.Not sure why he never gets mentioned on the board but I've never had a bad plate of food there.

        1. re: scrumptiouschef

          yea, i've heard of galloway's. thanks for the location! i'm sure that's one stop
          feed me some more guys i'm still hungry!

          1. re: scrumptiouschef

            This was a great idea for a thread, phatues. Thanks for starting it.

            Galloway’s probably never gets mentioned on this board because no one knows about it! You really can't judge a place by how often it comes up on the board. Almost everyone has dined at most chains as well as the popular Austin “institutions,” even though the chow is almost invariably underwhelming. That's why so many 'hounds chime in on those threads. The really great holes-in-the-wall, however, are known to just a lucky few. Yet they could really benefit from our financial support, just as we benefit from the deliciousness they add to the Austin dining scene.

            So, thanks for sharing this tip, scrumptious! I think I'll check out the soul food at Galloway's on Thursday or Friday.


            1. re: rudeboy

              Let me first say that I hadn't heard of Galloway's before this, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

              I see your point: you can't count on a restaurant having delicious food just because it is mentioned frequently. A really popular mediocre restaurant will be recommended more often than a relatively unknown great restaurant simply because so many people have tried it. Variations in tastes and selectiveness almost guarantee recommendations for a popular restaurant, and people will work harder to find at least one good dish at restaurants they are dragged to with any regularity.

              That does not mean that great restaurants can't be popular or that unknown restaurants can't be bad, just that being mentioned a lot does not necessarily result in a delicious meal. Gene's, for example, is mentioned quite a bit and has been consistently good to my tastes when I've been there. On the other hand, there are almost certainly delicious dishes out there that have never been mentioned.

              I find that following the recommendations of 'hounds whose tastes I can calibrate with my own leads me to better food than I'd get simply by counting up the most frequently mentioned restaurants. Trying restaurants that have never been mentioned can sometimes be even more rewarding.

              1. re: Knoblauch

                Exactly, Knoblauch. Deliciousness and number of mentions on chowhound are not directly proportional.

        2. Any true soul food lover has to visit Gene's on East 11th for the Thursday lunch special of smothered pork chops. They are absolutely delicious. The rest of the menu is also excellent.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Greg Spence

            And Gene's banana pudding is the stuff of legends. It comes in ridiculously large sizes (the large is probably a pint) and is quite cold which surprisingly adds to the nice experience. I read in a magazine once "There is no shame in good banana pudding" and Gene's lives up to that billing.

            1. re: Greg Spence

              Gene's is incredible. I've had some awesome soul food experiences and Gene's is right up there with the best.

            2. Gene's on East 11th. I just went there for the first time today and nearly slapped my mama it was so freakin' good. It was, hands down, the best catfish I have ever eaten. The filets were substantial--thick, but not too thick to gross me out texture-wise. The coating was light and stuck to the fish perfectly. It was seasoned perfectly with salt and pepper, and I doubt much else.

              Add to that a side of green beans cooked with bacon and other fat as well as jambalaya chock full of sausage and chicken and this was absolutely one of the best "soul food" meals I've had in ages.

              1. Some great suggestions on soul food already. The only one I'd add to the list is Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Kitchen on Rosewood. She used to have a website, but I couldn't find it on google.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rollledspleen

                  If you really want to see the Queen light up,roll in her front door with a ice cold six pack[perfectly allowed]get a shrimp po boy with hand cut fries and be ready for a wait...food this good takes time

                2. Rolled down on the 12th and Chicon zone today for lunch.Spotted a nice looking food trailer crouched down behind a big cement slab on the northwest corner of the intersection:Reggies.
                  Signs touting Boudin,Fried Fish,Chicken Gizzards and Dirty Rice magnetized me.I parked in the alley,navigated past a couple pretty decent looking hookers[wearing heels...which helped me determine they weren't Austin girls who apparently all bought stock in some flipflop company a few years back]ordered the Fried Catfish Platter which came with either Fries or Dirty Rice and Hushpuppies.Reggie was working the counter,very cool young cat from Beaumont...as soon as I found it he was from Beaumont I knew I was in for something good,those folks over in East Texas really know how to eat.He did not disappoint.My stryofoam box came loaded with 3 big filets,perfectly cooked and sitting on a big bed of nice,hot crispy fries...the hushpuppies were homemade and stand at the top of the hushpuppy pecking order in Austin[best I've had in this town]...service was fast and friendly...got to see a couple drug deals go down in the alley and across the street...guys rolled by blasting Paul Wall and Fabolous in their shiny Cutlasses and Grand Marquis...the sky was clear,ambience was stellar and the food was top notch...set me back $6.75...he stays open past bartime on Friday and Saturday night but is closed on Sunday and Monday.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    reggie ain't from beaumont--- he was sent from heaven!

                    1. re: phatues

                      Thanks to the tips here, I enjoyed two great lunches at Reggie’s this week. The place was a little hard to find on my first visit. It’s located on Chicon itself, away from the corner of East 12th, but in the same general area as Sam’s and Galloway’s. [I passed up Galloway’s this week to make a second visit to Reggie’s, but I still mean to try their soul food soon.] As scrumptiouschef noted, Reggie’s red trailer is on the back of a concrete slab. The entire area is surrounded by triangular pennants that go all the way around the top of a surrounding chain-link fence, kind of like a banner. There are also about 4 or 5 picnic tables with umbrellas on them, though I had to get my lunches to go. Reggie’s is open from 11 AM to midnight most days, but they stay open until 4 A.M. on Friday and Saturday nights. There was one person ordering on my first visit, and a couple of folks eating at the tables on my second.

                      Like scrumptious, I loved the catfish basket ($6.75). It came with three large pieces of catfish, hush puppies, and fries. Reggie sure knows his way around a fryer. The coating on the catfish was just cornmeal, salt, and pepper, but it was perfectly done, with moist, flavorful catfish and a good crunch to the coating—even 20 minutes later, when I was able to eat my to-go order. The 1/3-inch thick, square-cut fries weren’t soggy, but they’d steamed somewhat in transit. They were still very good. And, I am in love with Reggie’s hush puppies. I hate hush puppies that are over-fried to the point of being almost jawbreaker-like. The ones at Reggie’s had a texturally pleasing contrast between the just-crisp-enough exterior and the fine cornmeal interior, seasoned with salt, pepper, and green onion. I wonder if they use self-rising cornmeal to make the hush puppies so light. They tasted like they were fried in the same oil as the catfish, which made them even better.

                      On my next visit I ordered the pork-chop basket (also $6.75), with dirty rice and two slices of buttered toast. The battered and fried 1/2-inch-thick pork chop was chewy but well-fried and tasty, though the unseasoned coating needed a bit of salt. The best part of this meal was the generous side of dirty rice, which was a nice deep-reddish brown color and well spiced without being really spicy. It contained plenty of ground beef and pork, plus chicken giblets. The dirty rice was flavored with the usual mirepoix, salt, and pepper, plus chicken broth. The toast was just standard slices of white bread, toasted and buttered. That day I also ordered a side of fried chicken-gizzards. They used the same batter for these that they’d used for the pork chops, so this dish also needed salt. Chicken gizzards are pretty chewy, and I suppose they’re an acquired taste. I like them generally, and I thought Reggie’s version was very good. They were even better dipped in the Louisiana-style cayenne-pepper-based hot sauce that came on the side.

                      All baskets are $6.75 (catfish, pork chops, wings, shrimp, and one other item that I forget), and they come with dirty rice, hush puppies, dirty rice, or toast. The sign makes it sound like you only get one accompanying item, but I got two both times. They also offer “sides” (chicken gizzards or boudin) for $4.00, though these servings are big enough to be a meal in themselves.

                      My favorite items were the catfish, hush puppies, fries, and the chicken gizzards. Overall, Reggie’s serves well-executed, satisfying soul food in a friendly atmosphere. Reggie himself was cooking both days. He had someone helping him with the orders, but he personally thanked me for my business each time. I plan to go back soon.

                      1. re: MPH

                        Funny, I stopped by Reggie's earlier this week too. I'm glad you tried the pork-chop MPH because I was torn between ordering that or the catfish, and decided to stick with the latter. It's a good catfish, and I too was surprised at how long it held its crisp. The hushpuppies, while good, were not as onion-y and slightly sweet as I like them. But still very good. I haven't really sought hushpuppies much here in TX since I had more than my fill while living in NC the past two yrs. The gizzards were great to snack on.

                        Great little place. Chalk up another great find by scrumptiouschef.

                        1. re: Nab

                          Nab, I hate to tell you this, since you lived in NC and probably consider their best as your “base level” of deliciousness in hush puppies, but the ones at Reggie's are by far the best I've had in Austin or San Antonio. I’m glad you got to enjoy the chow at Reggie’s, too.

                          Just a quick note to say that the trailer may not be open until 4 A.M. on all weekends. I went by with a few companions at 2 A.M. last night to find it closed. Luckily, nearby Sam's is open until 3. Their lamb ribs were very good last night, followed in quality by the saucy, tender brisket. The pork ribs were flavorless and rubbery, but they'd also been sitting around all day. We followed up the ‘cue with a decent banana pudding for dessert.

                    2. re: scrumptiouschef

                      That is too funny! Thanks for letting us know about Reggies.
                      From and Austin girl who proudly wears heels everyday...a dying breed, no doubt!

                    3. Consider what Austin has to offer in the way of a Latin Soul Food Exploration. I would suggest starting the Day at “Sazon” on South Lamar with a order of Chorizo con Huevo. Head way south to the “Empanada Café” located at 2201 FM 1626 in Manchaca for an empanada bunch with fresh fruit juice. Followed that by a light lunch at “Habana” on South Congress with a Cuban sandwich or make trip over “Mi Colombia” on East 7th for a more serious lunch with some Pollo Guisado and Papas Rellenas along with some beer. An afternoon soccer game at Zilker Park, followed by short siesta. Then begin the night at “Dona Emilia’s” on San Jacinto with a tuna appetizer & watermelon mojitos on the patio, followed by a dinner of coffee crusted tenderloin or Sea Bass paired with a some wine. Have some coffee and pastries for dessert at “Buenos Aires Café” on S. First Street. Check out the salsa at “Copa” on Congress for late night.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Don_ya

                        That sounds like a terrific WEEK...

                        1. re: Don_ya

                          I wholeheartedly second the recommendation for Mi Colombia--it's between Comal and Chicon on the North side of the street in a little house. I like the Ropa Vieja which comes with maduros (fried sweet plantains) and rice. It comes with a small side salad, and they will try to give you some bottled Italian dressing in a little ramekin on the side. Ask for their homemade or at least much tastier cilantro dressing instead. Mr. Diva likes the fish mayonesa. And do get the Papas Rellenas to start, and if you don't have a huge appetite, (I get full fast, but I'm a 105 lb. small person), consider sharing one with a companion.

                          1. re: Don_ya

                            Seven meals a day... you must have a truly unique metabolism. Good locations though.

                          2. Ray's BBQ is doing a Soul Food Thursday -
                            i have have not made it yet, however, i have been told that the main dish rotates out -
                            this week was meatloaf -
                            i will be waiting for the oxtail to make an appearance -
                            they will be driving to Houston just to acquire a decent batch

                            1. Back to Reggies'.[NW corner of 12th and Chicon]..I've driven by several times in the last two weeks and the situation was grim....no Reggie...daytime...nighttime...anytime...no Reggie.A friend called me yesterday"I just rolled by and Reggies' cookin.I jumped on my hog and put the hammer down."Where you been man?" "Ah had a death in the family and had to go back to Beaumont".Whew.I was afraid he'd shuttered.The Boudin was sold out so I went for the Chicken Wings with Dirty Rice.Reggie has a better take on his Catfish than his Chicken.The 7 wings were cooked perfectly but underseasoned,the Dirty Rice was cooked right but not dirty enough...I like my dirty rice to be more like FILTHY RICE....I want the flavors just shooting all over the place.No dice.Reggies' hours are Tuesday-Saturday 11am-4pm.He's gonna start staying open til 11 when Summer hits.I lobbied for 2:30 am on the weekends and he said we'll see.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: scrumptiouschef

                                For real-deal truck stop style southern and diner favorites go to Arkies Grill in the 4700-4800 block of E. Ceasar Chavez. It's the kind of place that does magic with canned green beans and has a Friday lunch special of salmon croquettes. Every waitress has worked there for 15 years or more, it's that kinda place. I have had good luck with the fried chicken and the burgers and they often have soul or southern style sides--the fries are nothing to write home about. Go for breakfast or lunch during the week, they are closed at dinner time and I think they have weird hours on weekends. Always ask for biscuits on the side if you go for lunch.

                              2. Dot's is indeed open again. The food is just as wonderful as before but somehow I can't help but miss the old building. Standing in line while weaving my way through that metal pole maze with the chipped blue paint just seemed to add something.

                                I tested out the po-boy's at Gene's one time and was sadly under-impressed. It was good but not great. I was born down there in Chalmette and am convinced that a perfect po-boy can NOT be found outside of Louisiana. I would love to proved wrong.

                                Hoover's has some good dishes.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: bloody hammer

                                  Try the softshell crab po-boy (seasonal) at Evangeline Cafe on Brodie in South Austin. I don't know if it will stand up to your native scrutiny, but it's one of the better p-b's I've had in Austin.

                                    1. re: bloody hammer

                                      Rolling up on Galloways I'm greeted by a pair of hookers in the parking lot.Just as we commence to chat a Galloways worker runs out and starts shooing them off."This man came to get fed not to get picked on by y'all two.

                                      Off my game I try to steady the ship:

                                      "What's y'all's names?"."I'm Throaty and this is Red".

                                      Stuff this good just writes itself I'm standing there thinking before the Galloways man leads me inside.

                                      I make my way to the steam line,pick up a pamphlet with a comely young lady who looks like a girl from a Li'l Jon video on it and I start daydreaming...Mr Galloway shakes me from my reverie "You want some of that?" he inquires gesturing towards the brochure."Uh yeah,why do you know her?"He slowly shakes his head in disbelief"No I'm talking about the energy drink"I look again at the pamphlet.Sure enough it's an ad for an energy drink.I drink enough coffee to kill a horse so I'm not interested in some weird re-marketed Mountain Dew-style product.

                                      "Nah man I came to get fed".Surveying the country feast at Galloways steamtable does my heart good.There's a big pan filled with thick fried Pork Chops,a second pan filled with Roasted Chicken in Smothering Gravy,smaller tubs include Sweet Potatoes,Gumbo,Red Beans and Rice and Mustard Greens.

                                      I make my selections as a hubbub erupts across the street."Wonder whats going on over there?".I inquire out loud."THEY SLINGING CANE,WHAT YOU THINKS GOING ON OVER THERE?"a nearby gentleman exclaims.

                                      I make my way to table with my bounty and begin to feed.The smothered chicken[thighs but with a white meat option if you prefer]is succulent and perfectly cooked.The smothering gravy[Galloway just flat brings it when it comes to gravy]is chicken-y,creamy and sits just right in your mouth.The Red Beans and Rice need a splash of Crystal and they're fine.Not likely to make you forget Li'l Dizzy's anytime soon but good.The Sweet Potatoes bear little resemblance to the Sweet Potato pie filling you get on Wednesday.They need some butter or cream to allay their stiffness.I eat them anyway.The Corn Bread muffin is dry but once crumbled into a bowl of the gravy and eaten as mush it's fine.

                                      I ask Mr Galloway if the recent local rag's article about his cafe' boosted the business."Well,we saw a few people come in that were new faces but not too many".

                                      It's a good thing he concentrates on feeding his neighborhood a job he does quite well.How was your latest meal at Galloway?

                                2. Queen Lola is up to her old tricks:Making delicious food and helping people who are down on their luck.