With Ararat gone, where should I go for that funky feel, vegetarian delights, ethnic atmosphere and a decent bill? I loved sitting on the floor, eating outside, the occasional belly dance and yummy veggie grub. I have LA'ers coming this week to visit and need to impress, yet relax in an authentic Austin vibe. Would love a similar Mexican idea too (I've taken them to Guero's and Curra's)- something authentic with lots of choices but not $10+ margaritas. Gracias!
I doubt anything could really re-create Ararat, although if you called ahead to Aster's Ethiopian place (I-35 and Dean Keaton) and request that they turn the AC off before you arrive, you would at least get somewhere close!
One of my favorite Mexican hangouts is Jorge's, on Hancock Drive at Burnet. I suppose this is partly because I live in the neighborhood, but the food is decent (not outstanding) and the 'ritas cheap and strong. It's a great place to be Friday evening when half the families in the neighborhood stroll in for dinner.
Of couse, if you live south of the river you have a lot more local choices.
Just in case anyone missed it, there was an article in this week's Chronicle that detailed what was going on with Ararat. Apparently one of their former belly dancer's bought the place and is remodeling. She's hoping to reopen under a new name, Farah's I think....or something like that. It looks like, from the article at least that she'll be trying to correct some of the permit issues that Ararat suffered and also bring the structure itself up to code.
As for the "Ararat family" (as per the article) the former waitress that purchased the joint a few years back is currently running frequent fundraisers (I think there was one this past weekend) in hopes of reviving Ararat at some point in the future at a location closer to downtown (as yet to be determined).
So, perhaps, at some point in the future, we can once again have yummy food minus all the terrible no AC, crappy venue problems......one can hope...