Please help renew my faith in Austin Chow!
After 5 years here in Austin, I am starting to feel resigned. Sure, the Mex, Tex-Mex and BBQ is some of the best in the country, but besides the outstanding Asia Cafe, everything else has fallen flat.
I've lived in or spent a lot of time in several major cities here and abroad, and I know it's not fair to compare, but I've always been able to find a few gems in *every* city. Austin, however, has proven to be a challenge. I've found the food here to be, with the exception of the aforementioned, far overpriced for disappointing quality.
I don't care much about atmosphere (although condescension is a huge turn off), I'm just looking for a few gems to renew my faith in the Austin dining scene. Or do I just have to accept my fate and hope for new restaurants?
Try Quality Seafood, especially on Monday nights for $13/lb king crab. Etouffee's good, fish tacos are tasty, mac and cheese is awesome, oysters on the 1/2 shell for a very reasonable rpice, gumbo's respectable, atmosphere's unbeatable. Other favorites are Sunflower off of 183, India Kitchen on E Riverside, House Park BBQ (11-2 Mon-Fri), mutton at Sam's BBQ, and Din Ho BBQ.
Here's a few of the ones I like:
Tofu sandwich at Lux on William Cannon (oh, how I love thee... It takes like ham and is healthy...) their Tom Yum is excellent too... she makes it from scratch
Fish Sandwich at Jim's
Fish Wrap and Hamburger at Galaxy Cafe
Spinach Dumplings at Thai Noodle, etc over by campus
Tomato Pie when in season at Kirby Lane
Catfish plate at Green Mesquite on Barton Springs... ask for the fries extra well done.
Appetizer plate at Swad
Cucumber Salad with Seaweed at Bento Box(?) located at Sunset Valley Farmer's Market
Flapjack squares at Full English Food located at Sunset Valley Farmer's Market
Here are some of my favorites, roughly from north to south:
Teji's (Round Rock)--chicken methi (fenugreek), stuffed baingan (eggplant), egg curry
Asia Cafe--cold dishes, incl. spicy flat noodles w/shredded chicken & cucumber (#334)
Chen's Noodle House--leek pie
Oriental Grocery and Bakery--kare kare (beef/oxtail stew)
First Chinese BBQ--shrimp wonton noodle soup, eggplant w/Szechuan sauce,
fish fillet steamed with tofu, oyster w/ginger & green onion, fresh greens (ask!)
Le Soleil--squid salad
Mandarin House (not Pao's)--whole fried pomfret, bean curd w/crab meat, crispy shrimp
Fuego's--grilled barbeque chicken salad (wonderful!), grilled ahi sandwich
Costa del Sol--Salvadoran (big, moist) chicken tamales, loroco pupusas
Arpeggio Grill--filled baklava
Sarah's Mediterranean Market--roasted chicken w/garlic paste
Jerusalem Gourmet Market--lentil soup, knāfeh (by special order only, but OMG!)
in which you queried as to what my Parisian friend thought of Galloways.
He loved it.Said if you could pluck it up,not change a thing and drop it in his neighborhood in Paris the family could make some good money and maybe show the French a thing or two about pastries[sweet potato pie is THAT good].
I hope you paid a visit and neglected to review.Or perhaps this note will meet your plea and form a suggestion.
I get utterly bored by Austin's food at least once a week.That's when I saddle up and go nosing around town til I find something that looks good,stop,eat.Sometimes it works out,sometimes not but a good part of the glory is in the hunt anyway.
Have you made your way to Tacos El Rico in Montopolis?
Ever been to Little Thailand in Garfield for Yom Nua?
How about Arkies on Cesar Chavez for Fried Chicken?
Backstage Steakhouse in Spicewood for the nightly special?Poodies right down the road for Hatch Pepper Burgers?
T&S on North Lamar for Salt and Pepper Soft Shell Crab?
When I'm bluesing about how bad we got it these are some spots that can turn a Karen Carpenter day into an Ike Turner one.
When I need an inspiration I head out for one of these:
Neworldeli for a Reubens
Upper Crust for a Marble Cupcake
Magnolia cafe for eggs florentine, replace potatoes with cooked spinach
Kitchen Door Meatloaf sandwich
Mother Egans Fish Chips and deep fried snickers
Austin Land & Cattle for a red eye burger
Din Ho for Peking Duck
Melting Pot for happy hour fondues
Chez Nous Croque Madam
Driskill awesome Happy Hour options
Fonda San Miguel for Mole
Foodheads Gypsy Grove sandwich with egg
Counter Café egg sandwich
This is one of the reasons people are so excited about places like Uchi. For those of us who have eaten in culinary hotspots like SF, NYC, Paris, London and Tokyo, to find something here that approaches world-class cuisine, is kind of amazing. Especially for those of us who remember the days only 25 years ago when Austin was extremely provincial. I wonder if sweetbasil has tried Pao's Mandarin house on a late Sunday morning for dim sum? Where I was living in Northern California 3 years ago required a long trip to SF to get anything close to that. There are plenty of gems here, and I would recommend looking around the Chowhound archives for more hints in this regard.