Chowhound Assignment:Go A Place Never Reviewed On This Board Part II
Now that we've hit 50 responses to Part I it's time to reinvigorate this discussion.We've all gained valuable,important information from the first post; now it's time to redouble our efforts and get down to business.What are some of your favorites you've never seen mentioned in this space?
Mi Ranchito 5200 E.William Cannon Open Daily 7am-11pm
I just finished a Chorizo and Egg breakfast taco so delicious I feel like riding straight over to El Meson and dropkicking the owner or cook or both into the middle of next week.
El Ranchito is located inside a quick mart off William Cannon on the southeast side of town.It's a humble brightly lighted cafe with 3 small tables tucked into the corner of the building.Walking in the good smells of frying bacon and onion hit hard.
I begin to get excited when I see the small salsa bar,6 or so Lexan pans filled with Salsas[both green]Sliced Radishes,Sliced Limes,Pico de Gallo,Sliced White Onions and Home Charred Jalapenos.
It's breakfast time so I go for two breakfast tacos:one Bacon Egg and Cheese and one Chorizo and Egg.I ask if the tortillas are homemade and get the response I always dread "no".I ask for corn and after a couple minutes here comes the chow.The tortillas are doubled up and lightly oiled and griddled.They are so delicious I go back to the counter and ask the counter man again if they're homemade,he smiles"they are a specialty of the house".I accept the response and get back to attacking these beauties.The Chorizo is insane.Easily the best I've had in Austin.It's not mixed with the eggs but served as a mini omelette on the tortillas with the Chorizo as the stuffing.It's ground fairly fine with larger chunks mixed in...coloration is brick red instead of orange,it's not fatty but intensely flavored of Hog.I'm near delirious at this point but I soldier on tacking hard into the Bacon,Egg and Cheese.Once again the eggs are cooked separate with the Meat and Cheese serving as garnish.The bacon is slab cut,crispy and delicious.These folks have their meat/game face on big time.I slather each taco with the two green salsas.One is a loose,hot tomatillo base and it's very good.The other is of the pureed poblano style..hot and delicious but not terribly complex.
After the feast I sit agog for a few minutes collecting myself.Finally,slowly arising I step into the clear,warm Winter light of the out of doors and make my way to mi moto.It's terribly late in the year[final day]to make this sort of discovery.It's important.Delicious.Affirming in the way of discovering a favorite new author.I can't wait to get back to Mi Ranchito and try more of this family's take on Mexican home cooking."Pura Tradicion"
I'm glad to hear your report scrumptiouschef. I haven't tried thier breakfast yet but it always smells good. I like their carnitas as well as the pork verde. The pork verde and the corn tortillas are very similar to Los Comales in looks and taste. I see that they also have tinga chicken. Speaking of El Meson he seems to have deleted some good items like pipian chicken(even though they're still on the menu).
Back to Mi Ranchito for more delicious home cooking from this tiny,quickmart-bound taqueria.
Breakfast tacos are no longer an option as it's past their time and the restaurant has rolled over to the lunch menu.Large color photos of all the dishes are on the wall,a bad sign to be sure but....I eat flautas only once or twice a year but sometimes they're all I want..this is one of those times.
15 or so minutes pass from the ordering and here comes the platter:She's running loaded with a good half dozen Chicken Flautas straddling the styrofoam with the obvious sides of Salad[shredded iceberg and Crema]Spanish Rice[bright red]and Refried Beans[three or so tablespoons].
The Flautas are not on the homestyle corn tortillas[I reckon they're too fragile for deep frying?]and I take this to be an ominous sign....The filling is an odd paste of Chicken mixed with Potatoes....they are ok but not destination worthy...the Salad is nothing special....the Rice nondescript....the beans not in the running with many of my other joints.
Had this been my first meal at Mi Ranchito I probably would not return.With all the competition you normally only get one shot but.....with recent memories of their otherworldly Chorizo breakfast tacos still fresh in my mind I'm planning a return trip soon.
This is an old post, so maybe no one cares anymore, but Mi Ranchito is not just for breakfast tacos. It has the best mole I've had in Austin. Also, their pork in red sauce is really good. And each plate is plentiful, and only 6 bucks. They also have a unique selection of salsas to try, including a peanut salsa, unlike anything else I've had at a mexican place. I'd say, just skip the flautas
El Dorado Meat Market 5001 Airport Blvd
I loved the dustup when El Dorado Meat Market announced they were opening a taqueria in their storefront on Airport Blvd...Bobby,the owner of Tamale House next door went apoplectic in the media at the nerve of a businessman trying to ply the taco trade so close to the legend.
Accusations flew hot and heavy across the 50 or so feet blacktop separating the two[I loved when the El Dorado guy called Bobby out over his food not being "Mexican" enough].
I've bought lots of good meat from the El Dorado butcher over the years but until today had not sat down at the lunch counter and tried any of their warm offerings.
Walking into the tiny storefront it's really really quiet.I'm the only customer and everyone seems surprised to see a patron stroll in.As you enter, the cafe is hard left with the grocery section dominating the right hand side.The butchery is to the rear left and was my favorite in town until I discovered La Michoacana on E.7th st.
I ask if the tortillas are homemade,"no",ask if Posole is available,"no",request Al Pastor and Barbacoa and settle in for my feast.The senora pulls out a couple refrigerated tubs of meat and tosses everything on the flat top[all the appliances are shiny and new appearing and the joint is meticulously clean].
5 or so minutes pass and I'm presented with two handsome,plump tacos.The Al Pastor is fake but good with little charred bits upping the flavor profile.It's not delicious but adequate,on par with Arandas for quality.The Barbacoa is not barbacoa,it's deshebrada which I love...I relax and tuck in.The Deshebrada is good,not on par with El Rinconsito but well prepared and served yeoman style.The corn tortillas are doubled up and griddled without oil.They are ok.
There is a small,cold line near the counter where you help yourself to salsas,onion,cilantro et al.I love both the red and the green salsas.The red is orange-y in hue and really hot.The heat hits quick with a long smoky finish. The green is also very hot,it's not tomatillo based but a puree of Poblano...simple,spicy and good.
My original intent was to dine on Posole at the nearby La Canaria but they were closed.El Dorado Meat Market offers good,midline tacos at standard pricing,service is fast and friendly.The canned goods section featured a product I'd never seen anywhere:Canned Posole,one with chicken and one with pork.I'm not brave enough to try it but it's always exciting to see what sorts of things are being shoe horned into tin cans and sold as food.
Casita Taco 2310 S. Lamar Blvd
I'm starting to mellow a bit. Used to be when I'd walk into a Mexican restaurant in Austin and see Chips and Salsa being charged for I'd turn on heel and walk out.I don't like being charged for what is a Texas birthright...free chips and salsa brought to table by a smiling Mexican girl.
Casita Tacos nearest competitor is Maria's Taco Express and she's always charged so I guess they're doing their part to keep up with the joneses by charging as well.
Instead of storming out firing volleys of curses at the joint I calm myself and think about what to order.Roasted Pork is my lifeblood,I keep it in my fridge at all times and eat it in the form of Carnitas all over town on a weekly basis.In skilled hands this dish can be one of the best things you'll ever eat.
The chef at Casita Tacos has a good hand with the Hog.I order a Roast Pork Taco,Chips and Salsa and a side order of Refried Pinto Beans.The counter girl is friendly and chatty and the restaurant itself is very modern and clean as a whistle.It looks like a cheery little cafe in Portland OR.
I adjourn to the back patio and 10 or so minutes pass when my food is delivered.The Corn Tortillas are storebought but good,doubled up and not oiled before hitting the griddle.The Roast Pork is really good.It's the La Hacienda style,fatty and extremely moist.A squeeze of lime is all she needs.Portion is plump...not big but generous.The Refrieds are my favorite style....creamy with chunks throughout and a nice pig flavor.They are garnished with a bit of molten cheese which I could've done without.The Totopos are hand cut and fried,better than average to be sure but not outstanding.The salsa that comes with is orange-y in hue and very mild.I blend in some of the Habanero salsa that sits to the left of the counter and it becomes much better.Tidbits of sweet onion sit on the bottom of the small styrofoam cup and they are really good.
Casita Taco offers Breakfast Tacos,Breakfast Burritos and Migas til noon.I'm curious about their $6 Tostada as all my normal sources charge about $2.50.It's like finding a $6 Bahn Mi,what makes it $4 better than....? As I bus my table I compliment the kitchen on the deliciousness of the Pork and ask if it's the specialty of the house."Everything is the specialty of the house",ahhh classic restaurateur speak.Something tells me these folks will do just fine.I'm not down in the South Lamar province to often but Casita Taco offers a good take on the Mexican classics.
Chief's BBQ 7811 S 1st, Suite 104 Mon-Sat 1030a-9p, Sun 11a-6p
Chief's is located in a small business park almost on the intersection of Dittmar and S 1st. The big smokestack and BBQ contraption outside of the building kind of give a slight hint as to what is in store for you.
I was on my way to find a tasty sandwich of some kind when I saw this place and it sparked my curiosity so in I pulled. Outside, there are a few wooden picnic tables with wooden bench seats. Nothing of notice really. There were a few people already dining on some vittles so it looked like I wasn't alone on my gastronomical adventures. Inside is a bizarre mix of a barely working color TV, some newspapers, a Trash receptacle and some small wooden tables here and there with sparse seating. The counter to order took me some time to find as it's tucked away on the far left side of the place with huge boxes of napkins, cups and other necessities blocking the view into the back of the restaurant.
I took in the smells and noticed that were barely any smells inside, apparently all of the cooking is done outside on the huge BBQ contraption. I read the menu and my choice, a sandwich called the 'Homer' with a side of fried okra and a root beer soda (guilty pleasure of mine to have root beer and BBQ). I grab a seat and wait for my order to arrive while reading whatever was available.
After a few minutes, some more people arrived and ordered some food and my order came out. The 'Homer' is simply a mixed BBQ sandwich of brisket, sausage, pickles, onions and BBQ sauce over everything. The fried okra actually looked promising and it delivered. In my opinion, their fried okra is actually better than most other places I've tried in Austin as the okra is bright green like it's almost fresh, the batter mixture is very crispy with hardly any 'sogginess' to it at all. I pour on some of the BBQ sauce from my container and am surprised to see that their sauce is actually the vinegar kind of sauce, rather than the usual messy ketchup variety in most other place. It's simple enough with visible spices mixed and a little heat to it. Nothing of remark however. Next, I tried the sandwich. The bread itself was the typical white bun bought from grocery stores and and the sandwhich itself was decent. The brisket was overcooked however and tough to eat in some parts. The sausage was better with a slight spice to it and cooked rather nicely. They had the vinegar sauce poured over everything on the sandwich to complete the meal. My main complaints were that the brisket could have been cooked better and the sandwich itself could have been a bit hotter in temperature when served.
This place is definitely not the best BBQ I've had in or around Austin (love me some Smitty's and Kreuz). However, for being within walking distance of my house in S Austin, I can't complain at all. It's a nice alternative from the other fares around where I live and gives a decent menu that can be picked through for some time to come. I plan on going back and trying their signature 'beans' dish. Beans with choice meats, sauce, cheese and onions and jalapenos.
Together Restaurant Mon-Sat. 11:30am-9pm(?); Sun. for dinner only; 9200 N Lamar Blvd (next to Thanh Nhi and where the Mongolian Grill used to be)
I noticed this new Korean restaurant after visiting Thanh Nhi yesterday and went back today with a Korean co-worker. I'm glad I went with him because the specials are all in Korean (both on the menu and on the wall signs). The "regular" Korean fare was translated and there's a translated lunch menu on the outside window with some interesting choices.
My friend ordered us the "spicy fried chicken" and some pan-fried dumplings. The dumplings were tasty enough but nothing to get excited about. The fried chicken was more interesting. It came on a large platter and wasn't as boney as I thought it might be initially. The sauce had a medium spicy kick to it and the chicken was still pretty moist. He said the friend chicken is usually associated with drinking and he agreed with my comparison with American buffalo wings--though this chicken was better quality than that. We also had the typical 6 or 7 side bowls most of them good, none stellar.
My friend translated more of the specials and they have a large "do it yourself" soup pot for 4 people, a couple of whole fish specials, some saam, and this special sushi seafood that he said was unique to Korea. The lunch menu outside also had a pancake option that sounded intriguing.
All in all we were satisfied but not blown away. Still given the relative scarcity of Korean restaurants in town this is a nice place to check out. It'll help to bring a Korean friend to translate though...
Many months ago, fellow hound, ktown378, tipped me off to a somewhat hidden Korean place on Anderson close to Lamar that specializes in "gamja tang". Gamja tang translates into potato soup, which is a pretty funny misnomer, since this soup is largely swine. I like those kinds of misnomers. It's another hangover remedy to add to the list -- spicy broth enhanced by the big honkin' pork bones, and assorted vegetables like cabbage, green onions, watercress, and I think sesame leaves. Oh yeah, and a couple of potatoes.
Well, I couldn't find the damn place ktown378 was referring to, but I'd heard about another place on N.Lamar (at Airport) that also serves up a supposedly good one.
Knowing the name, Manna Korean, is pretty useless since the sign is not in english:
It's attached to the Han Yang Market and you enter the restaurant via the market.
Pretty small menu, soups like gamja tang and kimchi jigae on the one side, and bulgogi and other plates on the other. Everything is about $6, IIRC.
Gamja tang comes out in a furiously bubbling big bowl, with a bowl of rice, a small plate of red chili paste, and some sliced jalapeno and garlic to add to the soup.
Not dangerously spicy on its own, but after melting some paste and adding the jalapenos you'll be sweating like a ... ahh, never mind. The soup gets better and better, the potatoes thickening things some, pork falling off the bone, broth getting more and more concentrated in flavour, it's a pretty damn good soup. And quite healing, I might add.
They've got a small help-yourself kimchi table with four kinds that are not bad.
Still gotta get to Together Restaurant soon. Great name.
Chef, I know I owe you a B'ham report, unfortunately I can't provide it, and can only say that a return visit to B'ham is in order.
Manna Korean Restaurant
6808 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78752
austin, tx, austin, tx
re: Carter B.
Hah thanks, Carter, but unfortunately I've just realized that my post must be disqualified from this thread. KPeff has mentioned this place on a coupla occasions:
Forgive me, scrumptiouschef. I promise this wasn't some sneaky trick I pulled just to get a post in here. =)
re: Carter B.
There's a 888 that does Vietnamese on Oltorf east of 35. I don't think it has any relationship to 888 on Anderson.
I've driven past the one on Anderson but never been in. A friend of mine likes Korean food but lives in Beaumont, so when he comes up I'm sure we'll wind up going there.