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Thinking of moving from Brooklyn, NY to Austin--what would I be in for, foodwise?

My husband was offered a job in Austin and we're debating making the move...and of course I'm worried about giving up all the great food here.

More specifically:

Is there a great cheese shop? (not just whole foods)

A good French bakery?

How's the pizza?

Is there much takeout and delivery?

Is there dim sum, or any kind of Chinatown? (Long shot, but figured I'd ask.)

Any Malaysian restaurants?

Advice on any of this is greatly appreciated...

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  1. Answers, in order, starting with the one in the topic:

    culture shock and relative deprivation
    not much, especially not from good mom and pop businesses
    approximately 5 dim sum places, and a brand new, pre-fab "Chinatown" business center
    one that I know of that features some Malaysian dishes, plus one decent Indonesian place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: televiking

      really? are you kidding? antonelli's? sweetish hill? phoenicia? shagnai? relally?

    2. Well, we could really use a cheese shop and the pizza will not be up to Brooklyn standards. But, let me tell you what you will find in Austin:
      Amazing taquerias
      Wonderful Tex-Mex
      Superb BBQ (espcially if you are willing to drive 30 minutes out of town)
      Lots of people supporting organic and local food
      Soul food and Southern food
      Lots of vegetarian friendly establishments
      Decent farmer's market
      And overall, a highly educated population that tends ot be pretty open minded; lots of parks and green spaces; lots of spring festivals

      1 Reply
      1. re: Honey Bee

        Spot on! That's why I want to move. Great music scene. Some pretty good brews too ie. Live Oak.

      2. We recently moved to Austin from Atlanta (Which is a very good dining city but not up to the standards of NY!) And have been a little disappointed with the food so far. Your best bet for cheese is Whole foods (It is a fairly impressive selection though!), no cheese shop in town that I know of, We've been to most of the bakeries and some are borderline good, but nothing thats really impressive. But with a trip out to wine country in Fredricksburg (about an hour away) There are some better bakeries to be had. There is some fairly good pizza, (Vespario, Mandola) but coming from NY don't expect anything up to those standards, plus being a college town you have to learn to weed through the massive amount of bad pizza out there! Asian restaraunts are kind of a weak point but once again if you can weed through all the bad there is some good as well, Uchi is a really great place for Sushi by any cities standards. We've found a few restarants we've liked, but overall this is not going to be anywhere near up to level of what your used to. On the plus side I do agree that there is definetly some good tex-mex to be had, with the expection of Salt Lick I have not been impressed with the BBQ, but I like Georgia BBQ which I've realized since moving here is MUCH defferent then Texas BBQ. Hope that helps!

        1 Reply
        1. re: mapep

          you want barbecue? make a day of it and drive over to cooper's barbecue in llano. or louie mueller's in taylor (they've opened a store here in austin); and then there's southside barbecue and market on 290 e in elgin; or snow's barbecue in lexington. i'm convinced the best barbecue is outside of austin, although rudy's ain't bad. failing all else, there's black's and kreuz's in lockhart. BTW some of the best pizza in town is at frank & angie's, a little place off 6th street (owned by the same people who have hut's hambburgers). the best food isn't always found in fancy places...especially in austin.

        2. central market is by and far the best place to buy cheese and also fresh baked bread (many more cheeses/ more informed staff). bakeries are sorely lacking. there is a fine amount of takeout, but very little delivery. ive found that for as many things ive had to go without, i have developed a taste for/ discovered just as many new ones here. it's certainly not brooklyn... but you CAN eat very well here. dont mind those naysayers.

          1. Cheese is a very sour thing in Austin. Whole Foods and Central Market have a large selection of expensive cheeses but they are very clueless about what they are doing. The staff has no idea what they are selling, there is very little raw milk cheese, no special attention to local cheeses, and poor treatment of the cheeses themselves. The cheeses are pre-packaged wrapped in plastic (so they can suffocate I guess) and can stay on the shelf for weeks. The selection is large enough that you can find some nice finds, and if you are careful with the dates that also has not suffered too long. It is like many things in Austin, there is some her but it takes time and effort to find it. This does not come close to Murray's in New York or Formaggio Kitchen in Boston.

            2 Replies
            1. re: moosy

              not true; Antonelli's in Hyde Park has fabulous cheeses, at least a dozen of which are made and marketed in texas. the young ocuple who operate the store pooled their life savings to open the store and it has been thriving for several years. they also have classes... and if you really believe that business about WF cheese, i urge you to contact cathy strange,the award-winning fromagiere who wrangles their cheese department.

              1. re: gumbosally

                you just replied to a 4 year old post. Might have been true back then
                At least i know Antonelli's wasn't around then.

            2. Iffin you get homesick we have Sasha's gourmet Russian market...

              1. I hope you like tacos.

                Seriously, most foods rooted in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East are extremely difficult to find in good incarnations. There are a few respected Italian places, so I hear, but as someone who's been on a student budget for nearly 10 years, I evaluate a city/neighborhood's offering with a strong bias for good value, and I've been spoiled enough in the past to expect a variety (more than 2). The French/Italian options in Austin are pricey, and I had a terrible experience at Aquarelle (leaving me with 1 French option).

                Delivery is very limited, and compared to living in New York, will feel nonexistent: vast majority is Papa Johns/Pizza Hut and a few mediocre--terrible by nyc standards--Chinese places.

                Seriously, if you love tacos, Austin is a food mecca for you. If not, I hope you have other strong reasons for coming here. Especially if driving 30 minutes out of town (or to the other side of town) doesn't sound like a good way to get dinner.

                Not to hate on Austin: the food doesnt suck here, and is often good. But it's rarely great, unless you love tacos. I like shopping for food here much more than eating out.

                1. I'm afraid that I'd have to agree with televiking's, Honey Bee's, renz's, and similar responses in this thread. I moved to Austin from Brooklyn (after living in Boston before that), and I've found that the cheese shops, pizza, European-style bakeries, take-out and delivery options, French restaurants, and too many more options to name do not stack up favorably to what's available in Brooklyn and surrounding burroughs. I'd also add that there's no comparable Italian, in terms of both restaurants and charcuterie and other foodstuffs for sale. I miss being able to choose from a large selection of imported Mulino Bianco products, for example. Texas in general is lacking in quality chocolatiers and cheese makers, restaurants featuring almost exclusively local ingredients, deli favorites, and other things. I also really miss Jamaican beef patties. And Mr. Falafel.

                  But there is good Tex-Mex and Mexican food, especially when you get off the beaten track. We have a wealth of options for barbecue—some of which is transcendently good. I've found several burgers to love. And let's not forget that the local Southern-comfort/soul-food options can be very good. Specific dishes include fried catfish, chicken-fried steak, biscuits & gravy, and all manner of pork chops. I've got a few favorites for fried chicken in town, but I've had better fried chicken in NYC and even Brooklyn (such as Blue Ribbon's version). Kolaches, a Texas-Czech delicacy, are delicious and can be more or less easily found in this part of the state. We also have a few unpretentious, home-grown Texan spots that serve very good food (like the Backstage Steakhouse).

                  Some local places even do a good job of representing East-Coast favorites. We've got one really good, consistent spot for Philly cheesesteaks and Italian hoagies: Hog Island Deli. There are a few good Chinese and Vietnamese options (not to imply that these cuisines are only enjoyed on the East Coast)—just search the board for ideas. There may be fewer good sushi spots here, but at least there aren't no good sushi spots.

                  NYC has a wealth of options that smaller cities don't. But hey, we chowhounds are all about finding hidden culinary treasures, right? The bottom line is that you're in for a total shock food-wise, but you will find deliciousness. I know I have.

                  1. A. This is Austin, you're moving from NY, so yes, you're giving up great food
                    B. There are no great French bakeries, but I've eaten pastry all over the world, and I think the products produced by the pastry chef at Enoteca are absolutely respectable and often delicious.
                    C. Pizza? You'll find some good pizza, but once again, you're moving from NY, so I guarantee you'll be disappointed.
                    D. Very little delivery, lots of take-out.
                    E. You can find dim sum, and the summer my sister taught a LSAT class with very high numbers of Asian national students, they all talked about Marco Polo, which is widely panned on this board, but was the place they all talked about being the most authentic.

                    If you like beef, Texas will offer you the best. Some of the greyest, most expensive steaks of my life have been eaten in NYC...we save the best for ourselves. It's a little close-minded to say that all you're going to get in Austin are tacos. Think regionally: bbq, beef, tex-mex, sausage (really good sausage). NYC is a world city where the best of everything is represented (except beef and tex-mex/mexican), so I think if you move here you might very well be another disappointed New Yorker.

                    1. Hiya! I'm a former Jerseyite. I moved here 10 years ago from Hoboken and haven't regretted the move at all! We might not have great pizza, long Springs, or detectable Falls, but this is just about the only other place (in the US) I could live besides the NY area.

                      We DO have great BBQ, Tex-Mex, and perfect weather for sipping beer while watching a band play some outdoor gig.

                      I like the cheese shop in Grape Vine Market, but it's smaller than those in WF and Central Market.

                      Pizza situation is deplorable. There are one or two passable ones, but I'm regularly disappointed by what has been deemed as "great" in this town.
                      You didn't ask, but ditto on the above statement for bagels. They're like hamburger buns with a hole in 'em.

                      Takeout? Yes. Delivery? No.

                      Dim Sum? Yes. Chinatown? Not really. There's the above mentioned "Chinatown Center" (a large strip mall), but much of north Austin has a good amount of Asian restaurants, markets, and businesses (from North Lamar "northwest" through 183 and Anderson Mill [maybe farther]). Things are pretty spread out here.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Hsien_Ko

                        We've lived in several places plus husband has lived in Palo Alto, Boston and Manhattan. We routinely travel to Westchester to see his family, and in all honesty, we like Austin alot more. Cost of living is better, traffic is better, and pace of life is nicer. There is alot to do in NY, but if you don't do it everyday, it wasn't worth it to us for the lifestyle tradeoff to move back there.

                        Cheese: Grapevine, Mandolas (sometimes), Central Market, Whole Foods, Oakville Grocery, Phoenica, but my favorite place to get cheese are the farmer's markets(like Sunset Valley). There are some wonderful fresh cow and goat's milk cheeses that are locally made.

                        French Bakery: haven't found one yet, but there are some nice breads around. Central Market offers a large selection that are quite passable for a grocery, and several bakeries make some decent breads.

                        Pizza: Austin is not a pizza town. However, the interesting thing about that is there is frustration about the situation so it seems there's a new pizza place every so many months (often not always good) but at least people try. I had the pizza at North last night and I thought it was excellent. It was a fig, goat cheese and procuitto pizza on a cracker crust. I'll go back to try a more traditional one soon.

                        There's plenty of takeout and delivery around, but in a suburbanized city, all the delivery places have zones they deliver in. So, its really a hit and miss as to if there are quality places near where you live.

                        Chinatown: its more like an area of town... again, suburbanized city, so North Austin, particularly along N. Lamar and its cross streets has tons of Asian options (many pretty authentic) but its not compact.

                        I think its best to emphasize what you get here rather than what you are going to miss. You get warm year round weather, friendly people, more affordable housing than NY, and a city that has a heck of alot of stuff going on for a place its size.

                        Foodwise, the Mexican food is beyond incredible compared to places I've been up North. Tex-Mex and BBQ takes its meat seriously and its quite good.

                        1. re: shan

                          Great post from Shan. It's the driving that might kill you, more than the lack of your favorite foods. A few years in Austin after many in Chicago have taught me that a favorite part of my food foraging trips was walking past storefronts, strolling a great Chinatown, and riding public transportation to enjoy different neighborhoods. The architectural/ethnic atmosphere in Austin is far less stimulating than in older/larger cities, and you'll need to drive a lot more. (And I live 1/2 mile from downtown.)

                          If you cook, you will probably make certain foods (breads, anything Italian) better at home than you can find in Austin shops/restaurants. Try the farmers markets for the best meats and cheeses, along with your veggies. Cold cans of beer and delicious tacos with live music may win you over, and Chowhound will tip you to the best little ethnic spots. Most of them are in strip malls.

                      2. I think shan has it right. I've lived on the east coast, west coast and 3 european countries. You won't be able to replace everything you can get in NYC but if you are willing to expand your horizons food-wise, you'll do quite well in Austin. The food here is very good and the prices are quite affordable.

                        1. as someone who lived in Austin 10 years ago, has lived in NYC since, and is likely moving back to Austin this year, i will say there is a lot of honesty in the responses.

                          your life and lifestyle will be different. for me, it's a chance that i am looking forward to, despite the trade-offs. no place in the world is like NYC and you cannot expect that. i don't think you are, but it should be said again.

                          that said, as much as i love things about NYC and will miss having access to some seriously world class and inventive food, or astonishingly authentic cuisine from around the world -- i have missed things about Austin the whole time i've lived here, including Tex-Mex, breakfast tacos, Central Market, BBQ, easy casual dining, etc.

                          Austin has good, solid restaurants, and even a few exceptional ones. true, you mostly won't find ground-breaking cuisine and nothing like a wd-50 or a Daniel or any number of other experiences. but you will find good food, well prepared, etc. and Uchi is a great place, and while it's not Nobu or Soto, it is delicious and delivers food on a similar level in a different setting. there are other good choices in Euro-influenced New American as well.

                          as much as i need deliciousness to be part of my daily life, i know i can be happy with what i can get in Austin. yes, i might have to mail order some things, do without others, and go all decadent when i visit NYC or SF or Europe or whatever in the future.


                          8 Replies
                          1. re: charlie_b

                            My husband and I moved here from NYC and totally understand your fears. We had many beyond just food... but, alas, it is true- just not the same things here. However, the bbq, interior mexican and grocery stores are amazing. I'm a huge foodie, and we miss the city, but wouldn't trade it to have 90 degree weather in Feb., great parks, super relaxed vibe, and cool people (many from the northeast if you may have noticed). Brooklyn is great, but Austin is pretty great too.

                            Note: Avoid Dallas or Houston

                            1. re: ChristineR

                              I'm totally late to this discussion, but DO NOT avoid Houston if you're looking for "ethnic" food. As a matter of fact, if you find yourself saying, "what I miss about New York is authentic [insert non-European ethnicity here] food," it might be worth a CH Houston search and a day trip.
                              More of my belated 2 cents: avoid restaurant pizza and get a cookbook instead; reassess what you're looking for in a bakery; shop farmers' markets for cheese; get on the local-and-seasonal bandwagon; cultivate a love for beef; buy a decent car so that you're willing to drive in the name of seeking chow.

                              1. re: rusty_s

                                For any further discussion of Houston chow, please start a thread on the Houston board, so that we can keep the discussion here focused on Austin.


                            2. re: charlie_b

                              I hope no Chowhounds ostracize me for this, but.....I found this thread when doing a search for Austin vs. NYC. I happen to be more curious about your experience in both places as a whole (not just the food), as I am considering a move to one or the other (heavily leaning towards Austin). I am 27 and recently married. I know NYC would be a once in a lifetime experience, but worried that we wouldn't be able to enjoy the city for the reasons we'd move there on the salaries we're likely to make. I know there's plenty to do without having a ton of money, but we're both done living paycheck to paycheck. Just curious to learn more from someone who's lived in both places and can offer some real-world insight!

                              1. re: Challiday

                                can't help as i've never lived in NYC, but since this old thread got revived i just wanted to point out some of it's no longer accurate. In particular the OP asked about "great cheese shop" and i would argue that Antonelli's fills that space, it just wasn't around in '08 when this was posted.

                                1. re: Challiday

                                  Hi Challiday,
                                  Austin and NYC are both amazing places, but TOTALLY different! NYC is so much fun, especially if you're in your 20s or early 30s and don't have kids yet. (It's a really hard place to raise kids unless you have a lot of money.) I loved living in NYC, especially Brooklyn, because of the amazing theater, restaurants, museums, everything--it's a great place to live. I miss it a lot, now that we're in Austin. Austin is fun, too, but a totally different vibe--laid back, easygoing, affordable. Good luck with your move!

                                  1. re: mandmbklyn

                                    Haha well that's a lot of cool stuff for NY but not much more than "easier" for Austin! I'm 27 and got married last month, so at this point we're trying to find a place we can settle and start a family in the next 5 years. We both totally regret not moving up there right after college to experience it at a more opportune time:(. But I suppose the silver lining is that we'll never miss it:). How long have you been in Austin, why did you move there and do you have a desire to ever move back to NYC? Can you tell me more about what it's like in Austin and some positives there? I'm coming from Fort Lauderdale, so I'm pretty sure BOTH NYC & Austin can and will trump it lol

                                    1. re: Challiday

                                      NYC is NOT a "hard place to raise kids without a lot of money." Both my husband and I are born and raised here, and are raising our daughter here. We own a home, I am a SAHM, and we do not have a six-figure income. You don't need to live in the "cool" neighborhoods to experience everything that NYC has to offer.

                              2. i was born in bklyn and lived there for 35 yrs and i agree we dont have cheese shops like we did back home or even in fla where i resided but whoile foods has a decent selection.pizza isnt anywhere as good but you can get decent siclilan at reales and good italian at ciolas on 620 or vespaio.take out i dont do much thats more a east coast thing,austin is a great city and i found some very good chinese at din ho and first national in chinatown.austin has a great music scene and is a friendly city with lots to do.the one thing you will miss is hopping on a subway as we dotn have that but if you like the otudoors your moving to the right city.its got a great vibe that reminds me more of sf or boston than ny.best of luck on your decision.

                                1. I grew up in the Bronx and moved to Austin some time ago. I think you're going to miss a lot, unfortunately. The sheer variety available in New York is just not possible in too many other places, and Austin is tiny compared to the Greater New York Area. However, as others have pointed out, you will also gain a few things. BBQ is clearly better, and there's a lot of Tex-Mex. But, even as Latin-inspired cuisine's go, New York offers a lot from different South American countries that are rare here.

                                  I still make a semi-annual pilgrimage to New York just for the food. Sam and Carmine's pizza on Broadway, the great Italian American restaurants and the Italian restaurants, the Indian and other ethnic restaurants in Queens, the different Chinatowns; I still miss all that. But as far as food goes, a lot more is becoming available in Austin. The city is getting bigger, with all that implies (ie. traffic-wise), but there is a larger non-college student population now here that is willing and able to support more variety. But it just ain't New York.

                                  1. I live in Brooklyn and my DH is hoping that we can move to Austin ( he went to UT). We were in town a few months ago and did nothing but eat! Drove to Lockhart ( note: Hill Country BBQ "imports" sausages and Blue Bell Ice Cream to Manhattan!). Austin is different than Brooklyn- but it depends where in Bklyn you live and what you eat. Even Manhatten doesn't offer you the ethnic variety that Bklyn does. I leave the borough for lots of food ( Queens for example). Go! And invite your friends to come visit ( you will be able to afford a bigger place in Austin) and bring food with them...

                                    1. Culture shock for anyone moving from where they are used to is a given. BUT Austin has that wonderful friendly atmosphere.

                                      Here are some suggestions:
                                      Cheese Shops are few: Grapevine Market and Central Market have great selections.

                                      French bakery - Sweetish Hill, Upper Crust,

                                      Pizza - Saccone's

                                      Takeout and delivery - Several places!! Plus check this website out: http://www.dineondemandonline.com/ord...

                                      Yes Kim Sum just opened up in Chinatown http://www.chinatownaustin.com/

                                      Satay and Bo Asian Bistro have Malaysian cuisine.

                                      Try the Sushi at Hayashi Sushi and Grill in Georgetown Texas!

                                      Good Luck!

                                      1. Oh dear! You put this in a "food" perspective.... that's a trap. Pulling up stakes and moving is very scary, by itself!
                                        You won't be giving up good food; it will just be different. I am a Texan and have/had many relatives in Austin. My son is there now, finishing school. I make the pilgramage often.
                                        When I moved from Texas to Connecticut six years ago it took me a while to get used to it. Not that the food is bad. That's my point. The people (here in this forum) are saying that if you try, you can have most of what you like if you chose to move. Austin has some great food. Quantity of high-end food places or style may be another issue. I can't stand the Q and Mexican up here in CT, but with some effort I have found some good places, and Spanish has filled in some voids, and then there's the great Italian and seafood, which makes up for a lot. I even (just) found a decent Southwestern food restaurant, Geronimo, in New Haven!

                                        If you look at it from other perspectives, Austin wins, handily. Friendly people, less crime, lower cost of living, good air, space, etc. Try not to put too much weight on the food. As others have alluded to, when it's really important to me to have some authentic food or ingredients, then (like for Mexican), I order my Hatch chiles, spices and herbs online, from New Mexico and do my own thing.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          "Try not to put too much weight on the food" ???? That's what this board is FOR! If I had done this kind of research before I moved, it would have saved my naive soul years of confusion and culture shock. Lots to love, sure, but for the specific things the OP asked about, Austin is sorely lacking.

                                        2. Count me as another yankee, carpetbagging native NY'er that has made the move to Austin. I've been here 3 years and when people ask me what I miss the most, I list the "three Fs," food, family and friends. It must be in that order cause that's how I always say it!!

                                          Anyway, not too many places will compare to NY when it comes to variety. We knew that coming in. Tex mex and BBQ have always been 2 of my favorite foods, though, so I figured I would be able to adjust. I think Honey Bees post pretty much summed it up for you.

                                          Since we've been here, I've found good (sometimes great) pizza at Yaghi's and Reales. I also like Slices and Ices. It's not going to come anywhere near any of the great coal oven places in NY (shout out to Arturo's, miss you guys) but it's passable. I'm about to heat up a meatball slice from Yaghi's right about now as a matter of fact.

                                          I lived pretty close to Murray's cheese and there's nothing like it here (or anywhere else for that matter). I've read good things about Texas French Bread but haven't been. Not aware of any Malaysian restaurants; I found the Malaysian in NY to be lacking as well. The Thai food here is just ok.

                                          In closing, pastrami and corned beef have been replaced by the best BBQ brisket anywhere, arguably. My morning bacon, egg, cheese on a kaiser has been supplanted by breakfast tacos which are awesome. You'll likely have a nice kitchen to cook yourself so there's that. I'm about to head to Central Market and pick up some nice prime steaks and fire up the grill this afternoon (75 here today). I've never had any food delivered to my house but I don't live downtown, I'm kinda out in the boonies, which is exactly what we wanted. I never really needed that 1AM cheeseburger that was delivered to our apt. anyways.

                                          I really miss Jamaican patties, Rubens empanadas, kati rolls, that press toast place on Macdougal that makes pressed Israeli sandwiches. There is a falafel place near my office that rolls the falafel like a burrito, LOL but it's good. Not Mamouns good, but good!

                                          Come and visit and check it out. Good luck.

                                          1. Well if you like Ny style Pizza there is Saconnes. Malaysian Satay is the best in my opinion. Yes there is a China Town down on Lamar.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: angelfoodmaker

                                              I'm sorry, but what we have on Lamar is not a Chinatown. It's just another strip mall with a "Chinatown" theme.

                                              It seems that some to take offense at the notion that New York has a better food scene than we do. Look, there are lots of good reasons to move from New York to Austin. Food just happens to be not one of them. There's also reasons to move from Austin to New York, and food is one of them. We choose where to live based on a lot of different reasons.

                                              On the positive side, there are a lot of really good restaurants opening up in Austin lately. I expect that that trend will continue. Central Market and Whole Foods is making available some pretty decent breads and a pretty good choice of ingredients for home cooking. We probably do pretty well in comparison to other small cities. But, we should not be under any illusions that we compare food-wise with New York (or Chicago, for that matter, which is probably blessed with more of the most highly regarded restaurants in the country right now).

                                            2. I lived in Spain last year and in Manhattan the eight years prior. I have to agree with the people who said the tex-mex is great in Austin. It is. I found no good tex-mex in NYC. I'm from Virginia, so though I like Texas style beef barbeque, it's not what I'm used to. We have pork barbeque where I'm from. But I digress. Two restaurants I've tried so far that I think are very good, though pricey for Austin, are Malaga (Spanish Tapas) and Uchi (Japanese). I’ve had delicious meals at both and would expect to pay much more for the same meals in NYC. I also love Bohanan’s Steak house in San Antonio, just one and a half hours away, which by Texas standards is close by.

                                              After moving from NYC and Spain, what seems the strangest to me is the number of restaurants in strip malls in Austin. The number of strip malls here is just incredible.

                                              1. I recently moved in the opposite direction, so I'd say —

                                                Cheese? Nothing better than Whole Foods, though there are alternatives. (And WF is pretty solid, I'd say, unless this is a political rather than gastronomical preference.)

                                                French Bakery? Not really.

                                                Pizza— This is an interesting point. Unless you're a pizza connoisseur, or you're moving from next door to Nick's, etc., your experience may well be better in Texas. Most of Brooklyn has delivery pizza that's considerably worse than the average Austin pizza (those endlessly multiplied Sal's and Antonio's that might as well be Domino's and Pizza Hut). Naturally it also has the very greatest parlors and specialists — though they are almost all vastly more expensive. But I find it tragic that I live in Brooklyn and am unable to sit on my couch, drink beer, watch a hockey game, and eat a good pizza (unless I wait in line, deliver it to myself via train, etc). In this respect Austin has plenty of OK-to-good options that have wide delivery radii and will happily satisfy that particular urge. And you can stop by Enoteca when you want the fancy version, which, while not DiFara, is no slouch.

                                                Takeout & delivery— Not by comparison but I always found it fine, and since places deliver much farther than the do in New York, you may be trading up on many counts (and will definitely getting away from the limitless, identical, completely hollow General Tso—Fresco Tortillas—Vindaloo takeaways).

                                                Dim sum? No. And no Chinatown, though an interesting concentration in the north. The Vietnamese food in Texas is hugely superior to that in New York, as is basic Thai fare (if we ignore traveling to Queens). Chinese itself is hopeless, though, except for comfortable Americanized stuff, which you will consequently find to be overpriced in Texas.

                                                You will find every variety of European food to be inferior, especially French, so get comfortable spending a lot of time with all gradations of Mexican to Tex-Mex, Vietnamese and SE Asian, and BBQ. And annoying your Austinite friends by forcing them to shell out for Uchi or Vespaio or wherever when you need an haute cuisine fix.

                                                1. i've had saccones, and brooklyn pie company and people i know from the east coast say it's very comparable.
                                                  It is very yummy!!!!

                                                  1. I moved here from Seattle and San Francisco and am very happy with the dim sum at Shanghai restaurant (as good as any place in Seattle) and though not as good as say NY or SF, it definitely holds its own (even against Houston). So dont worry - you can get your dim sum fix! The sushi in Austin is also really good.

                                                    1. If you miss Jersey pizza, head straight for Hoboken Pie at 718 Red River ('in the drinking district'), across from Stubb's. Great, authentic pies. Their website is at www.hobokenpie.com. (Call in your order ahead, as there's usually a 20-30 minute wait.)

                                                      1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Home Slice Pizza. This is pretty darn good stuff and open late for a slice from the window. Saccones is also really good "new york style" deep in the heart of Texas.

                                                        Austin is a cool, hip, growing city. Food is regional, so if you move anywhere expect something different. Luckily Austin can hold it's own against most cities of similar size and many larger ones.

                                                        1. A few times I've seen locally made cheese at the Farmer's Market (though its location keeps moving around).

                                                          Sad thing about no French bakery is that there are some excellent French bakers in town, one of whom had a venue for his wares 25 years ago, but was gone in a couple of years. After a number of years in the business, I'd have to chalk it up to lack of demand and the fact that baked goods have just about the lowest profit margin of any food, even true for bakeries in France.

                                                          My former boss, a Long Island man, loves to rave about how lame pizza is here. And if you think the pizza is mediocre, don't get me started on bagels. Now if you like Chicago style pizza, Windy City natives are much more positive.

                                                          Dim Sum: the place to check out is Pao's in Lakeway.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: taliesin15

                                                            I'm curious... where is the good Chicago style pizza? I haven't run across any, good or bad. We go out for pizza weekly, and I'd love to have some good Chicago style, just to mix it up a little.

                                                            1. re: stephanieh

                                                              What I've liked in the past, and others agree (though particular tastes vary) are Conan's (some branches are way better than others; the one on 29th St usually is the best) and Mangia. One variation Conan's offers is a whole wheat crust--definitely worth a try. Mangia gets frequent raves. However, let me qualify my recommendations--I found out a number of years ago I have allergies to cow's milk, so its been a while since I myself have eaten these pizzas. But I understand they are still the two best deep crust (Chicago style) places in town.

                                                              1. re: taliesin15

                                                                Taliesin, you have my deepest sympathies for your loss of cow's milk cheeses. If that ever happens to me, there'll be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (to quote an old professor of mine).

                                                                We did get on a Mangia kick for awhile. Went almost every week (we have a "pizza night") for several months. I don't know if it was burn out, but the last few we had seemed disappointing, and came with an added side of 'tude. The thing about Mangia's "stuffed crust" pizzas is that, while it does satisfy that "sink your teeth into" craving for pizza, it's not really a deep dish pizza in the traditional sense where the crust is thick. It's just a layer of regular crust, then the "toppings" ie meat and cheese, then another layer of crust over the top of that, then the sauce on top. So, it comes out looking like a Chicago Style with the sauce on top, but the crust isn't dense and bready.

                                                                As for Conan's, we went to the Anderson location once. I'd like to give them another try, but I don't think I'll ever get DH in there again. It was last summer, and it felt like their a/c wasn't working. I mentioned it to the girl at the counter and she claimed she didn't notice it, but said she'd ask the manager if she could turn the a/c down. (That never happened because I never saw her talk to anyone but customers after that). Pizza was good enough. I liked the thick crust, that didn't quite seem done all the way through, a little dough-y and had a good yeasty flavor. However, it was a little hard to enjoy hot pizza while we were already sweating from just sitting and waiting for it. Hubby was getting cranky, so I thought I'd be nice and get him a soda refill. Next problem... everything's behind the counter (including their "buffet"). So, the couple at the counter was trying to order their buffet items from the counter chick, who was having to relay every item available, then get quantities of each from the people ordering. (Not their fault they can't see their options, but they took a looooooong time to make up their minds.) Finally, I got to the counter to get the refill. Soon after, I needed a water refill and went through the same drill. This time, when I finally got up to the counter, the nice girl informs me I don't have to wait in line for refills, I can just bump ahead. Thaaaanks. That's helpful *now*. So, hubby left hot and cranky and wasn't crazy about their pizza. And he doesn't give second chances easily.

                                                                Geez, I feel like I just rained all over the parade. I didn't mean to be so negative. It was just a bad experience. I was hoping there was some other deep dish pizza here that I hadn't found yet.

                                                                1. re: stephanieh

                                                                  I'd say go back at night, during the winter, definitely never get thick crust, and don't eat pizza buffet style. Their thin crust is excellent, expecially cooked crispy.

                                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                                    Never buffet pizza. That was the other customers, not us. Ewwww.

                                                                    Good call on going on a winter night. : ) Maybe one night I'll sneak out without the hubby and "cheat" on him with Conan's extra crispy crust.

                                                                    What I really need is one, just one, good place to go for thick crust. Sometimes that craving hits. It's like a pizza "al dente" craving. It's the texture I crave, not the flavor. Where can I go for that fix?

                                                                  2. re: stephanieh

                                                                    The Conan's on Anderson was pretty good when I moved here in the early 80s, but honestly, the one on 29th and Guadalupe has consistently been the best. I always used to get the thick whole wheat delivered, so the bad service in the store was not an issue.

                                                                    As to no more cow's milk, believe me, its a small price to pay for not having Cedar fever and other allergies in Austin manifest.

                                                                    On some of the early posts, people were saying things like Austin's pretty much only good for tacos and BBQ--I think this is way too dismissive. I doubt very seriously there's a place in NYC as good as Fonda San Miguel for interior Mexican cuisine. Which, btw, is not just tacos. More like fish with achiote. The best carne guisada you've ever had. Or duck with mole verde. That's just one example.

                                                            2. I just moved here from Corsica, which is a pretty tight-laced island, so to me there are tons of options and variety. I want to add that there is more pizza by the slice here than anywhere else besides New York and Bologna. It's not all good, but it's not all bad. We also have a great Ethiopian restaurant here, and accessibility to authentic Cajun is nice. And if you want to open a cheese shop with me, just call.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: toripowell

                                                                A point to make about Austin: people cook with their friends far more than they do in NYC (for one thing, it's so easy to eat out in NYC and nobody has a very big kitchen!)

                                                                So rather than expect to find everything when you dine out, here's a chance to hone your home cooking skills. The saying in Texas is that you invite two friends and four show up, where in NY maybe one out of two will actually stop by. I have had wonderful meals with great wines at the homes of my Texas friends, and the laughter and conversation is much warmer than when I lived in Park Slope.

                                                                re Fredericksburg, there are some terrific bakeries including
                                                                Rather Sweet http://www.rathersweet.com/
                                                                Dietz http://www.greattowns.com/texas/frede...

                                                                One more reason to explore there.

                                                                1. re: brendastarlet

                                                                  Being a native South Austinite, I think you should consider moving to central or south Austin. South Austin has become a mecca for all things crazy, including the food. You will love it here and adapt somewhat to the style of food here. Pizza, out in Oak Hill there is a Pizza shop in an old historic building that makes good pizza. Can't remember the name. Bella Donna Subs on Burleson was started by a Native New York City guy. We had a language barrier, I didn't understand his New York accent and he didn't understand my Texas accent. Wide variety of subs that he brought the reciepes from New York City. The have New York City Push Cart Hot Dogs. I like everything in the place. BBQ... I just ate at House Park BBQ today and it is great. Been in the same place since '43. Chicken Fried Steak at the Broken Spoke is original. South 1st Street is full of good restaurants with all types of menus. Austin and the surrounding area has a heavy German influence on their food. Many day trips to the hill country will great you great food experiences. I know you will probably miss New York, but in the last 40 years I find that once people get here, they tend to stay. Good luck.

                                                                  Broken Spoke
                                                                  3201 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                                                              2. Well, this probably won't answer your questions, but . . . . I have lived in Brooklyn for 12 years. Before that, I lived for 4 fine years in Austin. There is no comparing the food options between the cities. That said, we return to Austin once or twice a year and food is always a big deal on our visits. We are flying there tomorrow and I'm already planning out our BBQ and tacos and steaks. Stuff you just can't get in Brooklyn (or if you can, you pay way too much and you have to suffer to find it).

                                                                Whole Foods and Central Market provide some pretty good and thorough shopping, though obviously don't compare to the sophistication and breadth you are accustomed to. Still, my guess is you will find one or two places in each category that will satisfy your hankering. And you will find that the pleasant weather and awesome vibe in Austin go a long way to making even mediocre (or bad) food taste much, much better. Especially after you've had a margarita or two.

                                                                Plus, if you're really a chowhound, think of the challenge of finding a really funky unpasteurized cheese or beautiful baguette in Austin. Much harder than in Bk.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Treece

                                                                  Thanks for your advice--I'm glad I'm still getting replies on this post!

                                                                  We've been here for a year, and I have to say I still haven't found amazing cheese, a great bakery, Malaysian food, or amazing pizza, but we did find good dim sum at Chinatown--including soup dumplings! I didn't know we could even get them here! I was so excited. And the Vietnamese food is great--I love Tam's Deli, Thanh Ni, and Baguette House. And I like Thai Fresh a lot too.

                                                                  I'd do anything for a great Malaysian place, though! I miss Nyonya in Brooklyn so much.

                                                                  1. re: mandmbklyn

                                                                    Glad things are working out for you, and your sense of food in Austin is spot on. There is minimal artisanal cheese. Avoid Italian at every price point - including pizza which rises to mediocre at best, and the bread here sucks - i think it is because there is too much lime in the water, but who knows?? I crank up the pasta machine or drive to San Antonio, which has a a few very good Italian restaurants, when the craving gets too bad. Vietnamese is great, as is BBQ and Tex-Mex, though with the exception of La Condesa, I have been disappointed in Mexican food. Shanghai also has good dim sum. Austin is not Brooklyn, but I never had good salsa in NYC either!

                                                                    1. re: mandmbklyn

                                                                      I have a Malay friend that cooks a lot, and we always talk food. I asked her, and she knows of nothing. Sometimes indonesian places may have a malaysian type dish. I told her to open a place up - she's a great cook and gives me tips and ingredients to cook with.

                                                                  2. mandmbklyn:
                                                                    Please bring me some Mysliwska Kielbasa (it's the double-smoked hunter's sausage) from Steve's Meat Market on Nassau in Greenpoint when you come down. As much as you can carry! Steve's doesn't ship!

                                                                    1. I'm from Boston, and I know NY well. I've lived in Austin now for over 4 years, so I do have some perspective to offer. To summarize the food scene here in Austin: there's a lack of diversity. In particular, the big weaknesses are in seafood, Italian, French, Indian, Greek and the foods that are typically on the fringes like Afghan, Ethiopian and Korean. That's not to suggest Austin is a wasteland. Austin's strengths are Mexican, beef and a large selection of the big chains like Carrabba's, Macaroni Grille, McCormick & Schmick's and California Pizza Kitchen. The bottom line: if you like a lot of diversity, Austin will disappoint.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: bostonguy5

                                                                        I have to respectfully disagree with a few of your points. I think considering that Austin metro is a substantially smaller (population-wise) market than Boston or NYC, I would say the diversity is pretty good. Italian, French and Greek -- I'll give you those. Ethiopian and Korean, though, I feel are pretty well represented here. As are Vietnamese, Chinese (e.g. Asia Market, 1st Chinese BBQ, Ho Ho...), and Indian.

                                                                        I agree that there are an unsettling amount of chains here, but I disagree with "the bottom line: if you like a lot of diversity, Austin will disappoint". You could make the argument that compared to NYC, every place in America will disappoint.

                                                                        1. re: jwynne2000

                                                                          Also depends on which part of Brooklyn you are comparing to. I've been to apartments in Brooklyn where there is absolutely nothing easy to get to/open/ or even totally safe at certain times. Of course, other locations have tons of options.

                                                                      2. Since this post just got revived, thought I'd update with a report from 4 years later! We did move to Austin and I love it here, and the food scene has totally changed in the last 4 years. So, to answer these questions that I posted, from 4 years in the future:

                                                                        Thank the lord for Antonelli's Cheese Shop! They're amazing. (It would be so great if they carried smoked fish, too. Especially good smoked sable...)

                                                                        I love La Boite for croissants (though I read on here that they're using a new baker now, and the old baker is opening her own place shortly. Can't wait...)

                                                                        House Pizza is great.

                                                                        Lots of takeout but almost no delivery. Oh well.

                                                                        The dim sum isn't bad, and I actually had soup dumplings at one place. Vietnamese food is great here.

                                                                        Still no Malaysian restaurant--can someone please please open a real Malaysian restaurant here? Please?

                                                                        Overall, the food scene in Austin is great now: I've had incredible meals at Uchiko, Uchi, Barley Swine, and of course BBQ, and I love all the trailers....I think that overall, it's an amazing city foodwise, and has changed so much in 4 years. Can't wait to see how it will keep growing.

                                                                        --from the former Brooklynite

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: mandmbklyn

                                                                          We were there for several days (just after the festival) and had some pretty good food. Austin reminds me a lot of Brooklyn, in a good way. At any rate, East Austin seems to be coming up strong and we had a great stay at the Heywood (on Chavez). A friend will be opening a pizza/wine place one block away pretty soon and that might even get us back. There's also a rumored opening of a branch of a solid Williamsburg cocktail bar (Weather Up) within a couple of blocks from there as well.

                                                                          At any rate, the highlight of our eating was definitely Franklin BBQ, well worth the 90 minute wait. The brisket was even better than expected and the ribs were as good. Another interesting dinner was had at Foreign and Domestic, where we sat at the kitchen counter and ate some pretty good stuff. There was a heart tartare app. that stood out, as did several other dishes, but there were also dishes that I thought missed due to the "one too many ingredient" syndrome that plagues a lot of upcoming chefs. I'm sure it'll work out. We also really liked Parkside, right on 6th St (we didn't have high expectations due to the location, but we were wrong). A good time, including sitting outdoors at Guerro's on the south side, just taking advantage of their $2 beers w/free chips and watching the parade.

                                                                          By the way, if you ever return to Bklyn, you'll find that the restaurant explosion has continued and that many more places dot the landscape. Have fun in Austin.

                                                                          Steve R. (outer borough board - NY)

                                                                          1. re: Steve R

                                                                            There is also a new cheese shop opening on Lamar called Henri's.

                                                                            If Austin doesn't have it, just a short wait and it will come.

                                                                          2. Ok. Half my family is from NYC (Manhattan) and the other half is from South Carolina. So I have REALLY high standards when it comes to pizza, chinese food, and seafood. And I have yet to find a single place that "WOWs" me.

                                                                            The pizza is dreadful. You will literally go insane trying to find a good NY slice in Texas. Honestly, don't bother. If you want a good slice of pizza, I recommend you make REAL nice with the manager at the nearest Ray's (not even the best pizza in NYC but would beat everything in TX hands down. lol) and set up some sort of way that they'll freeze raw pizzas and mail them to you with cooking instructions. lol! That or get a job there before you leave, steal the recipe and make your own when you move.

                                                                            I know texans RAVE about their BBQ but every place I've tried has gone from bad to worse. From the big chains like Rudy's to local mom and pop I have been let down time and time again. So if you have a favorite BBQ sauce or local joint I would recommend grabbing some of their sauce before you come this way.

                                                                            And whatever you do.. DO NOT buy gulf shrimp when you move down here! It tastes like someone left it sitting in the sun for 3 days then soaked it in bleach to hide that fact. It's just plain gross if you've ever had normal shrimp. lol

                                                                            Other than that, best of luck to ya. I'll be digging through the other posts to see if there are any leads on good chinese. God knows I miss my Chinatown Haunt (Excellent Dumpling House, anyone??!! awwwwwww now I just wanna cry!)

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Snoochies

                                                                              There is an ex-NYC CH poster who now lives in Austin &, when we visited him at work while there, he told us that there's a Szechuan place in the Austin area which is good and who's owner is close friends with the owner of Little Pepper here in Flushing's C'town. Just saying'.

                                                                              1. re: Snoochies

                                                                                I can let you slide on the pizza and the Chinese (to a certain extent. Afterall, this isn't NYC or SC) but Texas BBQ.... not so much. I'm sure that you know that there are regional differences in BBQ style and preference. To compare central Texas BBQ to Carolina BBQ is not a fair comparison. Beef brisket reigns in Texas and I believe it's pork butt for Carolina's cut of preference. There are different variations on the sauce, as well. I love them all but the main thing they have in common is that they are smoked... using different types of wood, mind you.

                                                                                1. re: Rene

                                                                                  well maybe you can recommend a place that makes a good BBQ... cause so far I've hated every place I've tried. And I LOVE BBQ. From KY to SC to Kansas City to Memphis. They were all GREAT in their own ways. But I just cannot get into TX BBQ at all :(

                                                                                  1. re: Snoochies

                                                                                    where have you tried? tons of bbq threads on here... my favorites are blacks and smittys in lockhart, and franklin (if you have the patience). i like my brisket without sauce.

                                                                                    1. re: chrisdds98

                                                                                      I've tried Rudy's and a few local places up here in the Ft Hood area. I did see Black's and Smitty's on Food Network and we are planning a trip out there. We're just waiting to recover from our last terrible experience. I think we're both just waiting till we forget how bad the last place was before we're up to trying some again. I'm pretty sure it'll be our last attempt at tx BBQ so I hope it goes well. I figure if the "Best BBQ in TX" doesn't do it for us, we'll just call it a wash and stick to making it at home. lol

                                                                                      1. re: Snoochies

                                                                                        So, no chowhound recommended places yet? I wouldn't give up quite so quickly. Something else to consider is that in my experience, even the BBQ temples can fluctuate in their brisket...one month Snow's was better (moister, more flavorful) than Smitty's, the next it flipped. For a very brief half year, Salt Lick actually made edible brisket, none since then. Don't forget the very regionally specific sausage tradition. If you are truly interested in Texas BBQ, go to the CH recommended places....you may find that sauce is an unnecessary distraction.

                                                                                        1. re: Snoochies

                                                                                          1. Don't confuse advertising with truth. I know you probably aren't, but Rudy's is doing adequate barbecue, and high volume... I don't think you'll find many folks on CH who'll defend Rudy's as 'the best in Texas'
                                                                                          2. Regarding 'not getting central Texas beef bbq' - Your mileage may vary - Some folks just don't go for beef barbecue (it took a little bit for myself to get back into the groove of it when I returned from college in North Carolina, where I had some sublime pulled pork.
                                                                                          3. There are a lot of adequate barbecue joints around, and unfortunately a number of just bad ones. And unfortunately, many will accept adequate.
                                                                                          4. It seems you've set some very high standards for 'good/great' so be prepared to travel for them. (see #3 above - many folks won't have that standard).
                                                                                          5. I have had the great pleasure of working the Texas BBQ festival (Texas Monthly's best of Texas BBQ fest) and will tell you that even among those top 30 present, there are a number of 'very good' barbecue joints, but then, there are those which are sublime.

                                                                                          And to your point on the regional shrimp... I've got family in Savannah and I can concur, the catch straight off the shrimp boat, in the extremely salty water off Savannah is the best shrimp I've ever had (Best blue crab was caught by myself when we got a bushel and boiled em up on the dock!).

                                                                                          1. re: Snoochies

                                                                                            consider moving back to NYC. or at the very least try some of the recs before you post again.

                                                                                            1. re: Snoochies

                                                                                              Folks, we've removed a number of replies here. Just a quick reminder to please keep things focused on the chow, rather than attack the taste of your fellow hounds. Rate chow -- not chowhounds.

                                                                                    2. I don't have the time nor inclination to read all 70 or so responses to your questions but I , respectfully, disagree with some of the advice you are being given re: cheese. I am stunned that, as far as I read, that no one reccommended Antonell's cheese shop. Now it may not be as comprehensive as a cheese market in France or in a major city like yours, but I think it could come very close to scratching your cheese itch. It is small but they carry what I conisder a very good selection of artisanal cheese.

                                                                                      Now for French bread, I have found that the French bread made by Phoenicia compres very favorably with any that I have found anywhere in Paris or other parts of France. Of course, there are some world famous bakeries in Paris that I have not been to, but I'll betcha' that Phoenicia stacks up pretty favorably with what you have where you live. Welcome to Austin. J.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: singlemalt

                                                                                        I used to live in NYC and Austin is quickly becoming a little Brooklyn (think more Park Slope, however), but I think this is a great thing. Many many NY'ers have moved here and are continuing to move here as well so you won't be alone.

                                                                                        1. re: ChristineR

                                                                                          When we were at Franklin BBQ, the woman in front of us on line told the counterman that she is from Austin but goes to school at Pratt & lives in Bed-Stuy. The waiter who came over to our table to see how we were enjoying the brisket, ribs and pulled pork (all were unbelievably good, by the way) started talking about just moving to Austin from "East Williamsburg", etc etc etc. This went on the entire time we were there. I think Brooklyn is Austin's "sister city".

                                                                                          1. re: Steve R

                                                                                            Gee- why do I travel to Austin to eat ? Cause it really is about the meat and the smoke in Texas. We don't seem to understand that here in Brooklyn.

                                                                                      2. there is a wonderful cheese shop, antonelli's (4220 Duval Street Austin, TX 78751
                                                                                        (512) 531-9610. it's a mom & pop place that has garnered a fair number of honors. there are several wonderful bakeries: i shop mandola's for bread( 4700 West Guadalupe St # 12 Austin, TX 78751...(512) 419-9700) and sweetish hill (1120 West 6th Street, (512) 472-1347) for sweet stuff. they have been around for a while and do not rest on their laurels.they're hard to beat for cakes and pastries (and they also do artisan breads...try their ciabatta). don't know much about pizza, but frank & angie's comes closest to thin-crust pizza i used to get in the village (508 West Avenue, (512) 472-3534). their stuff is fresh and flavorful. i do dim sum almost every sunday at shanghai in north austin. it's off the beaten track, but worth every mile driven. for the record, i'm a retired food writer and take food pretty seriously -- and my daughter is a chef, and she's pretty picky. hope this helps.