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Please help renew my faith in Austin Chow!

sweetbasil Aug 28, 2008 10:27 AM

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?

  1. uarent Oct 25, 2008 04:00 PM

    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.

    1 Reply
    1. re: uarent
      shan Oct 26, 2008 11:32 AM

      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

    2. b
      budgethound Oct 25, 2008 12:16 PM

      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!)

      1. s
        scrumptiouschef Aug 28, 2008 02:52 PM


        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.

        2 Replies
        1. re: scrumptiouschef
          sweetbasil Aug 29, 2008 12:16 PM

          Thank you, scrumptiouschef. That's exactly the kind of post I needed. ;)

          Will check out something new this weekend and report back.

          1. re: scrumptiouschef
            Paul Silver Aug 29, 2008 06:41 PM

            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


          2. t
            taliesin15 Aug 28, 2008 02:17 PM

            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.

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