Stuffed Grape Leaves in Austin
I'm sure there are lots of us here who are fans of stuffed grape leaves. Phoenicia's are good, but they're more expensive than I would like. Sarah's on 53rd and Burnett have much cheaper grape leaves with more olives in them (I actually prefer them). Of course, neither place offers them as a side dish on their plates like Kismet Cafe near campus does. And if you do order a stuffed grape leaf at Sarah's as a side with something else you've ordered, you'll end up with one of the ones they keep with the rolls and kibehs underneath a heat lamp (dry and strange). If you do go there for some grape leaves to take home, make sure you get a little jewel box from their deli bar instead. They're packed in olive oil and are as texturally wonderful as you'd expect. Thank God for olives.
Anyways, I can't think of any other places where I've had memorable grape leaves. You guys have any recommendations? Specifically, I'm putting together a little appetizer platter for Saturday, and I'd like to avoid Phoenicia's expensive grape leaves or the tinny canned variety that I can buy just about anywhere. The grape leaves will be part of an anti-pasto platter with some prosciutto, garlic toast, marinated veggies, etc. Then we'll have a slightly wilted spinach bacon salad followed with roasted potatoes and poached, spicy buffalo/pork meatballs (or grilled, I've not decided) and a demiglaze sauce.
My meal description didn't really matter, but I wanted to let you guys know that I was serious (and make you jealous. $10/head if you want to crash, and you have to be tolerant of an absurdly cute dog who is overly excited around visitors. For those of you who love dogs - yes, he is that cute, and I named him after a family friend who first taught me about food).
I'm not a huge grape leaf fan but my SO really likes the ones at Byblos (parmer at 35) and other friends have mentioned Longhorn PoBoys in the campus area (Dean Keaton at Robert Dedman) for a good stuffed leaf. My other thought it to call Grapevine Mkts prepared food section. I've never bought anything there I haven't liked.
I love stuffed grape leaves, but don't profess to be an expert.
I had the worst dolmas ever at Longhorn Po-Boys! Unless everyone else makes them wrong, I'm pretty sure that the dolma filling shouldn't be undercooked, crunchy rice and grains.
I do like the (fresh) ones at Pars Deli. I don't know how their price compares to Phoenicia or Sarah's though.
they also have them byt the pound at the olive bar at the new south Spec's location. While not the best I have had, they are pretty good, not dried out, submerged in olive oil.
Whole Foods has them on the salad bar and they're pretty good. In oil. Perhaps a quick balsamic reduction on top would spiff them up a bit, but they're pretty good alone. You can probably ask the deli guy to get you a bunch and it's weighed as salad bar which may come out not too expensive.
Central Market serves two dolmas alongside their Mediterranean Salad. They are simple, but they are quite good, in my opinon.
And I'll mention the stuffed grape leaves at Tino's Greek Cafe. Anderson Mill Road and 183, although I think they have a south location as well.