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Dec 12, 2008 07:06 AM

NYC Hounds Heading Your Way. Help?

Sometime after Christmas perhaps even over new years my bf and I plan to escape his family in Houston and head to glorious Austin for 3-4 days. If the memory of my last time there serves me well it was a non-stop noshfest. I would like to see that happen again.

The places I remember loving have all blended in a mess but perhaps you'd be kind enough to give some guidance. I'm looking to keep the food good, the bill low, and the tastebuds entertained. Here are some specifics on what we're searching for:

-Chorizo Tacos. ( I think I remember Maria's Taco Express having something delish in this department) Egg and chorizo too!
-Great breakfast ( I know people love Kirby Lane, feedback on that, other recs?)
-Really good bakery for croissants/scones on the go.
-Place for a detox drink/snack aka good "health food" joint (I'll need to have a smoothie and a salad at some point if I plan on eating as much as I suspect we will. Central Market maybe?)
-Restaurant that features local ingredients and sources from nearby purveyors (This one can be on the not as cheap side, cuisine I'd like to try would be american with character, really anything as long as its seasonal and yummy)
-Best Coffee
-Mexican must-try

Any other must-eat, or drink, in Austin that I'm missing please advise! I know there's probably a specialty, or a burger or a dive bar that I should check out and would love your thoughts.

Thanks friends!

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  1. Mexican must try, and they usually have chorizo tacos, btw, is the taco counter inside La Michoacana (Grocery/Butcher) on E. 7th Street, about half a mile east of I-35. If you go there you have to try their Barbacoa, the best I've ever had.
    Great breakfast--definitely don't bother with Kerbey Lane again--for Sunday brunch many people love (including two native NYorkers I know) East Side Cafe--some favor the Driskill Bakery, some Sweetish Hill, others Upper Crust. The latter two are good bakeries.
    Health food joint--probably Whole Foods has it all--some like Mr. Natural--frankly, I usually am not all that particular in this dept. so will usually just get a wheat grass shot and/or carrot juice at a Jamba juice
    Best place for local ingredients/nearby purveyors? Here's two: Uchi and Olivia, both on South Lamar.
    Best Coffee in town BY FAR is at Anderson's Coffee on Kerbey Lane. If there's coffee that good anywhere in the SF Bay Area, I sure didn't find it when I lived there (one of the reasons I had to move back here).

    La Michoacana is a must-do. The other one is BBQ--either you can go for the African American style BBQ of Sam's at 12th and Chicon (the BBQ Mutton is to die for), or the big three in Lockhart (south of Austin, about 30 minute drive on 183) for German-Czech style BBQ at Black's, Kreuz's or Smitty's. World class BBQ. If you go to any of these places, don't even think about ordering sides--its all about the meat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: taliesin15

      For local products on a restaurant menu, you've got to try Eastside Cafe on Manor. One of the owners (Dorsey) is an organic gardening freak who's always in the 1+ acre garden, producing incredible organic veggies. She also sources beef from a nearby grass fed, grass finished ranch. They're really into organice, composting and recycling and I'm sure they're the "greenist" restaurant in town.

    2. Plum there may be some naysayers here, but hudsons on the bend has a fantastic kitchen and such a lovely spot for dinner. it's pricey - yeah, plan on 100 per person with some wine and apps with dinner. But it's along Uchi in my opinion one of the very creme de la creme spots to get a unique austin dining experience. Go for the espresso rubbed smoked elk backstrap topped with gulf crab - a to die for dish.

      1. I'll chime in on the Breakfast taco's:
        Maria's chorizo/egg taco is hard to beat/
        Torchy's Dirty Sanchez is amazing (monk tacos also great)
        Maudie's - tatiana's tamale & egg taco

        best bet:
        upscale (interior) mexican food in town: Fonda San Miguel, Manuel's
        cheap/dirty (interior) mexican food: La Mexicana bakery (24hrs), Arandas
        Austin-mex: Polvo's, Chuy's
        gringo-mexican tacos: Cabo Bob's, Torchy's, TacoDeli

        1. For a great smoothie or just about anything else in the way of healthy, you should stop by one of the three Daily Juice's in town. There is one at 45th and Duval that also serves raw food as well.

          1. Here are some words about my favorite chorizo source in Austin:

            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 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"

            3 Replies
            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              I drive past Mi Ranchito at least once a week, and always thought I needed to stop in, but somehow never did. After reading this review on Friday, I drove over for a late Sunday morning recovery taco (Three holiday parties in three nights had left me beat down). Once I found my way to the cash-only counter, my belly decided I might need 2 recovery tacos. I was definitely the only one of the crowd speaking english-only, but the order was easy to make, and came out perfectly. I had 2 breakfast tacos with chorizo, egg, cheese and potato, and the total was $3.50. (I laughed when I pictured my friends paying $3.50 for a single soggy taco at Torchy's.)
              Everything stated above is right on, and I kept repeating to myself 'this is really, really good!' I used the two green salsas on one of the tacos, and on the other put the amazing pico de gallo- which I wondered if they sold by the pint, it was so good... roasty fresh tomatoes, and spicy but not hot.
              I'm really looking forward to going back for some afternoon tacos soon.

              Also noted there was a brand new donut and kolache place in the strip center. Weekend breakfast close to home is looking up!

              1. re: jacy

                You laugh at $3.50 for a single taco, while I laugh at $3.50 for two. It's because I love the Tamale House on Airport at 51st, where tacos are excellent, generous and an eye-popping 85 cents! Also delicious is the regular dinner with one crispy taco, two enchiladas, beans and rice for an astounding $3.50. Oddly, they call themselves the Tamale House but they don't serve tamales.

                1. re: austinfood

                  nothing against tamale house and it definitely has it's fans, but i'm sure with the added ingredients (jacy mentioned 4), the tacos would come closer to $3.50 for two. i just wish they used strips of bacon there instead of pieces that look like bacon bits.