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Steiner Ranch - Am I Missing Something?

We've lived out in Steiner Ranch for a little over a year, and I think that I must just be missing something when it comes to great food. That's what I'm hoping at least. Otherwise, we really do have to drive 30+ minutes to get a decent meal and that's the one blemish on our otherwise happy home location.

Thus far I know about the following:
--Lakeside Pizza and Grill: Good option for grabbing a pizza and a beer. Kid friendly but regularly packed. At some point though there's more to life than pizza and burgers.
--Fion: a wine bar within walking distance from home- what more could I ask for? The wine flights and cheese menu are completely unexpected in this planned community. Even so, they are not a true restaurant although you can order pizza out from Lakeside and bring it over to eat with your wine.
--Delicato Creamery: love them. The gelato is yummy and their tapas and fondue on Friday and Saturday nights is a close and fun option for meeting friends from the neighborhood. Sadly they are also small and not the best option for large groups or even a more traditional sit-down meal.
--Tutto Gusto: don't even get me started. Yuck! Double Yuck.
--Mood and Food: a little proud of their food but the polenta fries are good. The wine list could be better though.
--Lakeway restaurants: I'm just not impressed with what I've found. I've been to Pao's of course but really, every other experience in Lakeway has just been so-so.

So, what am I missing? There has to be a way to have a great dinner without driving miles and miles to get there.

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  1. I like Guadalajara in Cedar Park.

    1. Freda's on Pecan Park at 620 is a good happy hour experience. Crab cakes, seafood stuffed avacado, oysters on the half shell, gumbo etc. for half price - bacon wrapped scallops are full price but very good. There is a nice ambience and a decent patio when the weather is nice. Not recommended for kiddos in the bar area. About a mile south, you will find Reale's Italian, the Melting Pot (special evening fondue) and Midori Sushi. These are all ten to fifteen minutes from the entrance to Steiner Ranch. Another few minutes north on 183 is Jardin Corona for tastey mom and pop type tex-mex (this place could be cleaner and it can get very crowded). For the lake view, there is the Iguana Grill (mediocre dining experience with a great view of the lake, particularly at sunset).

      1. There's Los Pinos on Hudson Bend. One of the better mexican places in town and they've opened the patio.

        Is it Ropollo's (?) over on 620 at the HEB (not the one at 2222, but the one closer to 183) that makes great pizza and grinders. We made that place a regular lunch spot when we were working on the boat at AYC.

        3 Replies
        1. re: amysuehere

          It's Rudinos - and it is very good pizza! Also, Jersey Mike's a couple of doors down makes great super subs!

          1. re: Rene

            that's it! rundinos. Thanks Rene.

          2. re: amysuehere

            I think we'll have to try Los Pinos on our next quest for Mexican food. I didn't realize it was so close by. I think I'll also make my next HEB trip down by the Anderson Mill store so I can check out the pizz and subs options. Thanks for the insight.

          3. I know what you mean. We'll pick up Boathouse Grill every so often - decent burgers and shrimp, and we've enjoyed Ciola's in Lakeway. Los Pinos is a solid favorite as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: melissad

              Word. We do like Hill Country Pasta House (and they allow dogs on their patio), and the Oasis (I never want to go, but when I do I'm somewhat surprised by the ok food, and fabulous view). There is a Thai/Viet place near Ciola's and Blue Bamboo Thai/Viet in the Shops at the Galleria. Los Pinos is great- do try their house queso which is a meal in itself. Other than that (oh, and Buster's perfect BBQ, of course) we are at a loss also. Let '08 bring some options to our area.

            2. I take it you've been to the Iguana Grill and were not impressed? Personally I love the place but maybe I'm prejudiced because I love the view. I think their ceviche is the 2nd best in town, after Manuel's.

              Sometimes I like to go over to Carlos & Charlie's and fill up on their nachos. They're one of the few places left that still serve nachos the way they should be.

              1. Definately a strong second to the Los Pinos - try their melt-in-your-mouth-o-licious carnitas. You're lucky to be so close to that little gem of a place !!

                1. You haven't missed much...Delicato is a gem, if a bit small. Tutto Gusto is terrible (although I like their pizza). Fion is a Godsend. Lakeside is a disaster.

                  Another hound mentioned Los Pinos, which is a great reco....I also frequent the family-friendly Flores (by the 4-Points Home Depot). The food is Tier 2, but it is reliable and they have decent top-shelf margaritas. Siena at 2222 and 360 is the best/closest upscale-dining option (aside from Hudson's), and I think it is quite good. Others have panned it here, but I have always found the food very very good. Have not been to Bellagio (Jester), but hear decent reviews...Ciola's in Lakeway is solid, but not spectacular, Italian. There's another wine bar in lakeway that is nice (knowlegeable staff), but I can't remember the name...

                  I really hope someone sees the untapped opportunity out this way and opens a good restaurant (or two, or three, or......)!!!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bababooey

                    I live walking distance to both Siena and Bellagio and Bellagio is the absolute winner of the two. However, Siena offers a very nice weekday lunch and on a cold day a glass of wine by the fireplace is very nice.

                    Mood and Food at the top of the hill on 2222 approaching 620 (from Mopac) used to be a great deal for a really tasty brunch, but they've quit doing it. They had an amazing duck confit crepes with a lovely reduction sauce that was very addictive. Tried the happy hour one evening and felt ripped off.

                  2. I also love Los Pinos - good homemade food and delicious salsa. The word must be out because it always seems busy. Another favorite of mine and my family's is Rocco's down at 620 and Lakeway Dr. We always have good food and it is consistent. I usually go for the Pepper Steak Marsala and am never disappointed. Tomato Caprese salad is great too. There's the new Kahuna's Icehouse right in front of the Home Depot/Target on 620 near 71. I haven't been there, but it seems to attract a pretty good crowd.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: texasgirly

                      I saw Kahuna's when I was driving down in Lakeway the other day and thought we should try it soon. It replaced a pasta place that was just dreadful, so hopefully this new venture will be better. I expect we'll get out there this week, so I'll report back on my findings.

                    2. Anyone visit Pao's Mandarin House recently?

                      I had a delicious shredded pork dish for lunch there last year. Other positives: The server spent about 15 minutes in explaining in detail how the dish was prepared, described their other specialities. The large carving at the entrance was intricate and impressive.

                      -----
                      Pao's Mandarin House
                      2300 Lohmans Spur, Lakeway, TX 78734

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sweet100s

                        Went to Pao's about six months ago looking for something different to eat while we were working on the boat. Sunday lunch.

                        I personally don't remember what we ate, but we both came away with overpriced Americanized Chinese as our impression. Decided we wouldn't go back.

                        1. re: amysuehere

                          At Pao's I've ordered well off the Chinese menu (which you have to request) and the weekend dim-sum menu, which feature items like spicy beef tendon, duck tongue, spicy tangy bean curd, sesame-seed cake, salted fish, seaweed salad, Hunan-style Chinese bacon, etc. My last visit could have been as much as a couple of years ago, but I have very good memories of the pork and squid dishes, the seafood hot pots, and the traditional appetizers. I hope more 'hounds chime in with recent reports on their chow.

                      2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Hudson's on the Bend. It's the number 1 rated restaurant in Austin and a 5 minute drive from the entrance to Steiner Ranch.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MerBuc

                          Good point. I guess it's just an assumed location. Of course, from a $$ perspective it's a treat more than a regularly visited restaurant. I just recently took a cooking class with Jeff Blank and it was amazing!

                        2. As you may know, Tutto Gusto has reorganized and is now Quinlan Park Grill. While not Hudson's on the Bend, it is a marked improvement over TG. The menu is classic American - burgers, salads, steak, even BBQ - and fairly extensive for a small restaurant. The food is much better than TG with solid burgers and salads and decent kids meals. They're still working things out (the queso was thick as clay on my first visit), but I am more likely to dine here now than as TG.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Bababooey

                            I was very excited to see that TG has become the new grill but haven't tried it yet. The reviews on the Steiner Ranch Blog were mixed and they seem to be either really good or really bad. I thought I'd give it another week or two to settle in before trying it.

                          2. A few new options are opening up in Lakeway. We tried Kahuna's Ice House and it was a decent week-night option. While the fish tacos can't even begin to compare to Wahoo or those from the West Coast, they are grilled and reasonable for distance relative to home.

                            There's also a Which Wich down at the Hill Country Galleria that’s a nice option before a movie or for a quick bite while out to eat.

                            I would still love to see more variety, particularly in nice dining experience that aren’t as high-end as Hudson’s, but progress is better than nothing.

                            1. There is a Mimi's Cafe opening at the Mall and there is an Asian place open there already

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: amykragan

                                We've been to Mimi's for brunch and it's just okay - pretty typical large chain fare. It will do in a pinch but I'm pretty addicted to the Blue Star Cafeteria for Sunday brunch if I'm at all inclined to drive.

                              2. How about Johnny Fins. They used to be a really trendy party place, but the last couple years they have transitioned into a more family oriented place. I liked to party there, but now that I have a family, we can still go and get good food, while sitting a foot off the water and they are totally kid friendly.
                                Then there is Los Pinos. Best Mexican out this way. Florez by the Home Depot (not the one in Lakeway) is good as well.
                                Rocco's can compete food wise with most places in Austin without the drive.
                                Go west young one to Backstage Steakhouse. Very good.
                                Eclectis is Poodies Hilltop, and you never know who might pop their head in, aka Willie Nelson. Pretty cool, food is ok, but we go for the experience.
                                Just wait, things are moving this way.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: blamranch

                                  We finally tried Backstage Steakhouse this weekend and it was amazing. The service was fantastic and the food really great. We started with red chili pork flautas, complete with fresh hatch chilies. We both had steak for dinner although the five spice chicken and catch of the day (snapper with spanish rice and hatch chilies) were hard to pass up. We will definitely be driving out there again instead of driving into downtown. What a gem!

                                  Johnny Fins is next on our list to try as is Poodies.

                                  However, now that we have the Fion wine bar I can subsist on wine and cheese alone within walking distance from my house. I hope the restaurant that opens up next to it will be decent.

                                  1. re: everydayfoodie

                                    The restaurant opening next to Fion is going to be a cafe owned by the Fion folks. Sounds like they will have contemporary american fare.

                                    BTW - Quinlan Park Grill has closed and rumor has it that a Thai restaurant is moving in [someone said it was a restaurant with other location(s) in Austin??]

                                    1. re: Bababooey

                                      There was an article about the new restaurant on the Steiner Blog today. The new place will be Thai Harmony and will be run by the same folks the run Thai Passion. I have some small hope it will be good.

                                      http://steinerranchinfo.com/2008/08/t...

                                      While poking around the blog I found this link about the restaurant next to Fion.

                                      http://steinerranchinfo.com/2008/06/a...

                                      We really enjoy Fion so I'm excited that the owner is involved in the new restaurant endeavor.

                                2. Ciola's in Lakeway is a great place to eat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: amykragan

                                    Amy, I've had an amazing mushroom risotto at Ciola's, served with something on special... pork chops in a sweet red pepper sauce that was delicious also.

                                  2. ciolas is excellent as is hudsons and hill coutry pasta is a ok choic e.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: nytexan

                                      Steiner Ranch Steakhouse is not the place to go! Sat 7/25/09 experience at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse was horrible. Had to seach out wait staff for drinks on patio. Steaks were poorly done and improperly cooked and over seasoned. Poor service abounds. Waited 25 minutes for drinks after being seated and another 20 minutes to have orders taken. Not sure why they even asked how we wanted steaks cooked, because no one's steak was cooked to order. Bobby's fovorite was two bites at $42 or $21 per bite. DO NOT GO!

                                      1. re: KreweOfUtopia

                                        General Manager at Steiner Ranch has contacted us and offered a gift certificate to let them prove themselves. Very polite response and we will try again and report back to my fellow Chowhounds.

                                        1. re: KreweOfUtopia

                                          Second try was much better. I still think the steaks are over seasoned. Sporadic performance between my two visits force me to not return.. III Forks is always great and a better value.

                                    2. Coming from fantastic restaurant city Chicago, we have been so frustrated looking for places to eat in the lake area. And Austin in general, to tell the truth - it seems like people have been burned for so long by anything but tex-mex and bbq, the standards for value and quality are really low. And the prices out here rival manhattan - crazy.

                                      I gotta say though, that we had one of the best steaks of our lives at The Trading Post in Bee Caves. And the rest of the meal was a fantastic surprise as well. Please support this great 'indie fare' over in Gallerialand.

                                      Other pleasant surprises are:
                                      Ciola's
                                      Cafe Bleu in Volente - most satisfying meal on the water, every time
                                      Mizu Sushi (before the big move to the steakhouse)
                                      Verde's Mexican on Hamilton Pool Rd. - sophisticated for adults, but big play yard for kids

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: khouston

                                        You should start a new post for this. It will get lost here

                                        1. re: khouston

                                          I got drug around in Chi-town to many places with "vertical food" plates. It's okay, but I preferred the out of the way Polish and Puerto Rican and Central American places.

                                          If your high water mark for Austin restaurants in general is the Trading Post, then, well, not sure what to say.....

                                        2. Tonight was our 3rd time visiting the Fion Pub located in Steiner Ranch and sadly our last. Beer selection is great. Saturday we dined there, only 3 nights later I ordered the exact same meal, this time it was served cold. Only 2 entrees were ordered yet it took 1 1/2 hours get them only to return one of them (a simple chicken breast sandwich was served cold). We didn't even come close to finishing our meals. We were sat. Then after we were told that our server would get us dishes and silverware, we sat for 10 minutes with appetizers before finally approaching her at the bar to get "said" silverware and dishes. After completing our app, we sat for another 20 minutes before again approaching her to order our dinner. Her response, "Oh yeah". Most unbelievable moment was when our server came to check on us. She literally asked if we were good, she answered for us, kept walking and wasn't even away from the table while my husband requested an additional beer. She kept walking. After waiting (and once again trying to flag her down), he finally got up and went to the cooler himself to get a second beer. SAD!