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2008...The year that was...? Your favorite Austin food source this year.What was it? Who did the best job feeding you? What was your favorite Austin food trend this year? Your least favorite? Talk about Austin's food scene of 2008.

s
scrumptiouschef Dec 31, 2008 04:19 PM

Elaborate please.

  1. a
    achtungpv Dec 31, 2008 07:40 PM

    My favorite food trend is booming number of restaurants based in trailers. Nothing beats eating while standing in a parking lot. Really. Not being sarcastic.

    1. amykragan Jan 2, 2009 07:29 AM

      Jezebel for both food and service. They definitely make a special occassion one to remember.

      For value Ventana is a heck of a deal and very tasty. And the student chefs really appreciate the feedback.

      Chon Som for Escolar, Beluga for the Ahi Tower.

      Biggest disappointment was Olivia.

      1. m
        mwreese Jan 2, 2009 08:02 AM

        The Good:
        Cibo - the pork shank w/ gnocci was awesome (too bad it closed)
        La Traviata - ate there several times. Fresh salads, love the carbonara, good prices
        TacoDeli - the kids got out of their comfort zone and tried new things. LOVE the ceviche (no tomatoes in it - yea!)
        Wink - had an orgiastic feast w/ my best friend. Set me back $150 but was so worth it.
        Navajo Grill (Fredericksburg, TX) -
        NXNW - love the sirloin salad, good prices

        Trends - cupcakes, uber fresh ingredients from local growers

        The bad:
        Rosie's tamale house without a doubt. How can they still be open and Castle Hill Cafe be closed?

        1 Reply
        1. re: mwreese
          s
          shan Jan 2, 2009 08:49 AM

          For me, the best was starting to get a CSA box from Johnson's Backyard Garden. Its really encouraged me to be more adventurous in my cooking. It's kinda fun to get a high quality mystery box every other week. It's a bit like a game trying to find a use for all the stuff.
          For food, I think probably Sugar Mama's was the best find this year. I still like their bar cookies to the cupcakes, but some of them are phenomenally good.
          We had a meal at Aquarelle just about a year ago that was one of the best meals I've had in this city.
          I also discovered the catfish at Green Mesquite which I think is quite tasty.

          The bad:
          Mostly, I've been bummed by just okay food that falled short of expectations. Hey Cupcake for example. I like the concept, but I really can't eat the product. I've tried, honesty to god I've tried, but blech. Din Ho has been off the rotation since a lousy meal, as has Sunflower.

        2. f
          foodiegal71 Jan 2, 2009 06:41 PM

          The good: Bun Bo Hue at HEA Cafe, NS8 with Tofu at Madam Mam's (Tom Yum w/ vermicelli and tofu), green beans at Asia Market, pork and duck at First Chinese BBQ, roasted salsa at Polvo's, the fish dish I discovered at Polvo's this year (can't remember the name of it, but has a brown butter type sauce on it), the scallop salad at the seafood venue at Whole Foods, the Seitan Gyro at the vegan venue in Whole Foods, happy hour at the new Paggi House, Bahn Mi at Than Mi

          Food Trends I Liked: Cupcakes
          Food Trends I didn't like: Food trailers--I've yet to be knocked out by any of these places.

          Most overrated restaurant: Olivia. Blah.

          1. s
            singlemalt Jan 3, 2009 08:55 AM

            Okay, I'll bite, FWIW

            Best sort of newish food place==Trio, the renovated Cafe at the Four Saisons. The interior is cool and spiffy and more relaxed. The colors of the interior are warm and inviting. The food is great (won't go into it here) and up to the standards of the Cafe, as is the service. Professional, attentive, not overbearing waitstaff. What I really liked, and I don't think they had this a the Cafe, is the flight of 3 wines, 2 oz. per, brought to you on sort of a wrought iron hanger device. So cool, along with a card describing each one.

            Most impressive and surprising place--- Flip Happy, a trailer place near Schlotzky's. Thanks again to Amy Sue for finding this place but I have been there only once, got the Morroccan crepe and was wonderfully impressed. I hve tried to go again a couple of times, but each time the wait was about 30-40 minutes long. Hope success doesn't ruin these ladies.

            Best fun place- Uchi's. Need I say more. I enjoy the creative way they design their dishes. Also like the small portions so one can "graze"

            Biggest bamboozle, ripoff of the Austin community and really p.o.'s me, as if you can't tell---The Hyatt ( is that correct?) Hotel company that wanted to destroy "just a Mexican restuarant". After all the "hellabalou", arguing, backbiting, and closing of the place, now they are backing off. The last I heard the building have been knocked down and there is a pile of rubble there. Intel redux. Why doesn't the city of Austin make these people post performance bonds.

            Best little funky place with multiple personality disorder-- Cafe de Bella. Ate there once, had a sandwich and was very impressed, Quite tasty with fresh tasting ingredients. Owner(?), manager is a real cool, cheerful lady from south of here, ie, as in Central America or someplace like that.

            Thass' all for now. Bon Appetite

            3 Replies
            1. re: singlemalt
              i
              ieathereforeiam Jan 4, 2009 09:34 AM

              it was a marriott, not hyatt i believe.

              but really, i kind of think they did us a favor. that place was so overrated. was just another place for fatcat gov types to be seen.

              1. re: ieathereforeiam
                s
                singlemalt Jan 4, 2009 12:59 PM

                If you want to think it "overrated" that is your opinion to which you are entitled , but I really must take exception to the fatcat gov type description. Makes me think that you never visited the place or you would not be saying that.

                1. re: singlemalt
                  i
                  ieathereforeiam Jan 4, 2009 03:35 PM

                  really? As a former fatcat gov type, I take exception to THAT

            2. c
              Carter B. Jan 4, 2009 05:24 AM

              Favorite goto place and favorite new restaurant: Titaya's. Beating out Asia Cafe and Tam's. I am no Thai food expert but Titaya's seems to be consistently good food. My favorite dish is the Chuu Chee-- nothing but crispy catfish and a wonderful red curry sauce.

              Saddest news of the year: Cibo closing

              Other great new restaurants: Mulberry (Cibo sous chef is here), Chen's Noodle House, Sugar Mama's Bakery

              Best Burger of the year: Mulberry's (and the departed Vin Bistro)

              Best Breakfast Tacos: El Taco Rico (again)

              13 Replies
              1. re: Carter B.
                s
                scrumptiouschef Jan 4, 2009 07:38 AM

                carter b
                please give up some words on mulberry's burger,toppings,type of bread,availability of house cut fries etc.
                glad to see you're still eating off taco rico,been to el rinconsito in their new location yet?They're still at the top of their game and the red salsa is straight from el centenario's old kitchen

                1. re: scrumptiouschef
                  c
                  Carter B. Jan 4, 2009 12:24 PM

                  Mulberry's burger is a beauty. The burger is a solid 8 oz. if not more like 10. They don't ask you how you want it cooked but it came out just short of medium but still had lots of good beefy flavor. They top it with two fried eggs (sunny side up), pancetta, lettuce and probably tomato (I always ask to have that left off). The eggs are a ridiculous touch, of course, but a nice flavor. The pancetta adds a great amount of porky saltiness. The bread is a bit of a weak point--it's what Whole Foods called a ciabetta roll. The crust is pretty chewy which makes it hard to eat such a big burger, but I imagine they use a roll of that type to hold up under the juicy onslaught of the beef and eggs. No fries.

                  Also, I forgot to add Parkside to my list of favorite new restaurants (they may have opened at the tail end of 2007 but we didn't get there until 2008). Their half-off oyster Wednesday are a great deal. We've found it the perfect place to have a meal before or after a show at the Drafthouse Ritz or the Parish (about the two times we are ever drawn out to 6th street). Easy to set at the bar and have a nosh. Their burger is pretty good too, but I didn't like the bun. Their fries are great though.

                  Sadly, I've never been to el Rinconsito--the location is a bit far. It is still on the to be tried list. Where is their new location?

                  1. re: Carter B.
                    s
                    scrumptiouschef Jan 5, 2009 07:09 AM

                    Parking lot of Govalle Food Store on Airport Blvd.

                    1. re: scrumptiouschef
                      c
                      chowinginaustin Jan 5, 2009 08:43 AM

                      Most Frequented place of the year:
                      Without a doubt, Sunflower. Keeping it simple, hubbers and I love the sunflower pho. The broth and everything in it is delightful. I use to think Pho Saigon had the market but we don’t even go there anymore because we love sunflower so much. Their Vietnamese Crepe is made from heaven. The spring rolls always so fresh. Every time we try something new it is never a disappointment.

                      Surprise of the year:
                      The Driskill for Christmas brunch. It was one of the most fabulous brunches I have had in a long time. I have never been to the Driskill and would really like to go back to at least have a drink in the bar and soak up the ambiance. The hotel is beautiful.

                      Disappointment:
                      Mars closing. I loved that restaurant. I will miss the Thai bouillabaisse.

                      Other Disappointment:
                      There are so many new spots in austin I would love to try...but now we are on the post holiday diets in my house...BOO!

                      1. re: chowinginaustin
                        s
                        scrumptiouschef Jan 7, 2009 08:02 AM

                        queso:As is my wont I downed a lot of queso in 08.My favorite in Austin is Janitzio.Here's a queso link http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/335546

                        brisket:In the city limits,Willies Barbecue.

                        A previous review:Willies Barbeque "Smoked to Perfection"

                        Whenever I get a pile of smoked meat and forget to say "sauce on the side"it nearly always ruins the barbecue experience.Most places that are good at smoking meats really lack in the saucier department.It's a Yankee affectation after all;this applying some sort of sauce to good meat that has done you no harm.

                        So when the counter guy at Willies Barbeque rounds on me with a big plate of Brisket and Pork Ribs I am apppalled.There is sauce all over my beloved meat.My meat my meat that I am so excited to be eating.There is sauce on my meat.

                        I reason to myself that it isn't Nam,it is a nice sunny day and I need to get a grip on myself.I begin plundering the brisket[I had asked for the fatty parts and the charred crispy bits]and it is good.The meat man has honored my request for the good fat but I sensed a bit of reluctance to come off the prized charred beef husk.He has given me a little but I would've given a king's ransom for more.

                        I find lightbread to make an excellent napkin when I've been sauced.Dabbing up the juice that trickles off your chin as you chow ,then toward the end of the meal eating the now soaked bread.Mmmm,a simple pleasure sure but fulfilling.

                        The ambience at Willies is fine.A beat up tv is on and an excited gentleman is elucidating on the football Longhorns.As you enter the small,looks closed,room a counter is on your left where you place your order.A corner of the room is tumbledown;a baby buggy turned on its side,a dusty old small steam table,some work lights are thrown on top of the pile for good measure.The panelled walls have the occasional photo tacked up and there's a small cross made of twigs with a ghostbuster slash through it.These are good people I inwardly reckon.Although Willies has only been open for 17 years it could just as easily be 70...it's good and beat up and the smells are spot on.

                        The Pork Ribs are big,fleshy bones,nicely caramelized on the outside and needing a bit of a tug to get the meat off.The Brisket as described above is good,slow cooked and smoky.I love the fat,always request it and Willies clearly starts with some well fed beef.This steer did not die in vain.His meat has gone to a greater cause;Texas Barbecue.

                        The menu offers all the standard barbecue options including Elgin Sausage,Mutton,Turkey legs and Chicken by the half.Pricing is very fair ranging from $4.60 for the chicken and topping out at Pork Ribs at $8.95.Standard sides offered:Potato Salad,Beans,Chips,Pickles,Jalapenos and Bread[light].

                        I'm intrigued by the Boudin which is shipped in from a Boudin joint in Alexandria Louisiana.Desserts include Banana Pudding,Cake and Peach Cobbler.I'll be trying all over the course of the next week or so.

                        The counter man is an interesting character.He has the appearance of being Mongolian.Thick set and bald with a long braided pony tail cascading off the middle of the back of his dome.He's friendly and fast with the order.As I set back and begin my feed an assortment of characters from the neighborhood stream in.An African man in a dashiki,a harried mom with toddlers in tow,a couple girls from the neighborhood out on the hoof and enjoying a sunny day.

                        I can't wait to get back to Willies and roll through the rest of the menu.I haven't seen any Chow postings on this humble and delicious joint so I hope a few of the hounds on the board roll in here soon.

                        Willies Barbeque
                        4305 E MLK Blvd
                        Austin,Texas 78721
                        512 926 934

                        spicy seafood dish.Catfish at Asia Cafe.I haven't written about Asia Cafe.At this point it's been so well documented there's no point.Here's what some others had to say http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/489556

                        carnitas.In carnitas like most things consistency is what will always win out.That's why I have to go with La Hacienda.A few words here..http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/463349 and here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/384014

                        yom nua.Is there a better version than the one at Little Thailand? Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/90388

                        goat:A young kid slaughtered and smoked at around 6 months of age is one of the great backyard meals.The goat scene in Austin is scant and I find myself generally heading to Shalimar.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/364879

                        ribeye steak:When Little Thailand went through the roof on their ribeye price[from 12 to 18 dollars]I had to find a new source.Of all places Shoal Creek Saloon has a giant,fatty ribeye cooked perfectly to order.She weighs in right at a pound with a buttery fat "eye"and little gristle.Steak comes with fries which are commercial but fine.Tariff is 13 dollars.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/490748

                        salt and pepper dish:Salt and Pepper soft shell crab at T and S Seafood.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/391546

                        italian hoagie:I have a deep love of Al John's.Words
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/341381

                        mango lassi:Not a very broad category.I get mine at Shalimar see"goat"above.

                        fried catfish.When Reggies shack is open.There is none finer.When he's not open,which is roughly 90 percent of the time I head over to Spring Hill.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/341381

                        chocolate dessert:Don't throw me off the board but I dream of Eddie V's cooked-to-order molten chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream.I know...I know...Not as good as my mom's "chocolate embolism" but rightly chocolate-y

                        fried oyster dish:Oyster Contraband at Evangeline's Cafe.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/400303

                        meat in smothering gravy.The hunt begins and ends at Galloway's Sandwich Shop.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/520066

                        shake.Help,I can't remember a single shake I had in 2008 and I had plenty of them.What's your favorite?

                        french fried potatoes.Who knew when I posted for best french fries in Austin the rising tumult would almost upset the balance of powers in the starchy fried category?Stephanieh proved to be a real comer with her Proustian musings on potatoes.My favorite is Railroad Barbecue in Manchaca.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/520066

                        chips and salsa.When I die and a team of scientists are dissecting me to get the good parts for science I'm afraid they'll discover I largely consist of chips and salsa...maybe some pork shoulder thrown in for good measure.Los Altos is the best in town which says alot about their salsa cause their chips are not good.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/411083

                        desebrada.Lots of good desebrada in Austin these days.Taqueria el Chanclas defines the dish.Words....http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493288

                        chicken fried steak:Blanco Bowl in nearby Blanco.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/93088

                        steak neither chicken fried nor ribeye.Top sirloin with fries for $3.99 at Sugars Uptown Cabaret.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/458068

                        posole.Oaxacan Tamaleo is still the gold standard.I wept like Iron Eyes Cody when they moved to the hinterlands.Words
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/439596

                        homemade sausage patties. Arkies. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/554579

                        fried chicken.See Galloway's above.

                        hamburger.Once all the chains hit town and kicked up a kerfuffle it made me go back to my old haunts.Top Notch is right back on top.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/570090

                        pupusa.Nice to see all the Salvadorans making their way to Austin.How long before a Salvadoran dairy springs up?While I'm waiting on locally made crema Salvadorena I'll content myself with a visit to Ponce's Patio.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/559667

                        slice of pizza.The price of a slice of pie in Austin has skyrocketed what with all the carpetbaggers making their way to the Republic with visions of buried Texas gold in their heads.That's why I always go to Nikki's in the Dobie Mall.The best slice in town and at 2 bucks a pop in one of the highest rent districts in Austin,revealing of the unsavory business model of their competitors.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/448053

                        use of deep frying.Deep Fried Garlic Butter Shrimp Sandwich.In times of woe I often repeat this phrase to myself over and over.It's a kind mantra and a delicious use of deep fat frying at Tam's Deli.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582170

                        chicken wings.Gene's New Orleans has been my go to source since he opened.I really hope the new owner can correct the path he's heading down.A recent visit found this humble plate to be disgusting,the polar opposite of it's former glory.I now go to Queen Lola's.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/420043

                        tamales.I can't give up the best in Austin cause she does it on the sly,like all great tamale cooks.You need to be a cousin or friend of Big Mike the cabbie to buy these beauties.I do love the tamales at El Zunzal and Ponce's Patio.Links on this page.

                        coffee.I had one memorably great cup at Cafe Medici a couple months ago http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/336933

                        topo chico.My daily starter.Fiesta has the best prices.If your watering hole doesn't carry it you're at the wrong spot.Goes great with Bulleit too.

                        breakfast taco.Tacos el Rico is the best cart in town.Yolanda's breakfast tacos set the standard that no one save el Rinconsito,measures up to.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560802

                        pinto beans.Abarrotes Mexicano. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/407315

                        black beans.Sao Paolo's on San Jacinto,their chef is on site daily.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/335056

                        homemade bread for sandwiches.See al john's above.Daily baked from scratch Italian loaves.

                        soup.Seafood soup at T&S with a heavy dose of all the condiments.See T&S above.

                        carne asada.Not traditional but within reason,El Azteca of all places puts out a plate of good charred-bloody steer.Words
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566334

                        enchiladas.I don't eat a lot of enchiladas but when I'm in the mood I head straight to El Zunzal.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/385546

                        vegetarian menu[where i would take a vegetarian to fatten up and eat].The few times a year I have a vegetarian out with me at eating time it's off to Ruby's Barbecue.Their gorgonzola salad dressing is fine.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/532900

                        These are a few of my main food groups.I know I left a lot of good ones out.What dishes did you want to see covered that were absent?Write about them?

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef
                          g
                          glorpisgod Jan 7, 2009 09:53 AM

                          yo have you tried lewis bbq just off of mlk and airport? its a little shack with a cocacola sign under the faded name. that stuff is just as good as willies imhoand pretty much right next to em! willies has boudin tho. that stuff is off the hook.

                          for sandwiches little deli, belladonna and hog island are definitely the best in town. i mean, id rather eat thunderclouds than subway or quiznos, but those three are way more underground and thus, cooler.

                          also for chicken wings i like doras off of berkman and briarcliff. maybe its because theyre only a few blocks away from me though.

                          for mediterranean id have to say arpeggio grill and sarahs. though i never got the pleasure of being able to eat in arpeggio when it looked like a dump or whatever.

                          also the esteemed el zunzal is my favorite place for salvadorean, but costa del sol on 183 and cameron offers almost the same experience for anybody up north. the only thing is that there will probably be less mariachis asking for change there.

                          i have to admit i went to top notch once but didnt really care for it. i mean it was good but id probably put it with dans or frans. which isnt an insult cause i like those burgers. but my personal favorites are burger tex (i hear the guadalupe one is better than the original but the original right next to barflys is the only one i will acknowledge), and casino el camino. also i recently tried the burger at fuegos and it was really good.

                          for korean i always go to the korean market on airport near highland mall. i mean, you could go to fancy korean restaurants but why bother when you can get served by old korean ladies in the type of foreign market youd find in houston. im sure there are a lot more korean restaurants around the airport/lamar/north lamar area but their signs are all totally illegible anyways.

                          for bahn mi (which i prefer to pho, since theyre way less work to eat) tams is definitely up there, along with pho van and cafe de bella. ive tried thanh nhi and while the people were nice and the food was cheap, i much prefer those other three places. im sure there must be something good in the chinatown center on north lamar but thats way too far for me to drive to. but if you ever do, go into the huge asian market and pick some kasugai grape gummies. those are so delicious. plus, you can feel the cool spring breeze from the idyllic vineyards whenever you pop em in your mouth! it says so right on the bag!

                          also this may make me seem like a heathen but the stallion grill on 51st street has pretty good chicken fried steak. i preferred it to tonys, hoovers, et al, but maybe thats because it only takes ten minutes till i can gorge myself from when i phone in my order! i dont really know of the best in the austin area. is anybody on this forum a raving cfs maniac?

                          also cant go without mentioning my favorite fast food franchise, el regio (or as they are now known outside of berkman/290, el pollo rico). keep on giving me what i crave you lovable and business savvy mexicans!

                          which reminds me, for breakfast tacos i havent had your favorite stand tacos el rico yet (far too south for my taste), but as you mentioned, el risconsito is the bomb. i was so sad when they closed down because they lost their permit from dumping in a local creek. which btw was hilariously third world. this lady near where i live on old manor and manor used to make fine tacos with homemade tortillas, but she closed down for the winter, leaving us high and dry if we want local tacos that arent from the michoacana. also! my tenants little brother found out this trick - the best thing to get at the michoacana is a quesadilla! for the price of two tacos you get a giant quesadilla split in half, and if you add rice and beans to whatever meat you put on it, its a great value.

                          as far as mexican food goes, my current favorite is el rincon michoacan south of 51st on airport. yeah yeah, its next to the 'famous' tamale house (which really sucks all kind of nasty private parts that probably have embarrassing diseases, but white people seem to go gaga over it) and el dorado which isnt too bad, so nobody notices it. but pretty much everything ive had there is excellent and the service is great. if you want a jalisco diner, i havent had los altos, but taqueria las jalisciences is great and open til late on the weekends.

                          and as far as pizza goes. never actually had nikkis. everything else hasnt been that great. east side, texas pasta pizza and more, and my local pizzeria la boca are decent, but they certainly dont compare to al johns which was my dietary staple when i lived on burton and oltorf. i hear that the owner of little deli is planning to expand into making pizza though, so well see if his is any good.

                          on the flip side, is anything at quality seafoods restaurant really good? i always hear everybody raving about them, but have never had anything mindboggling there in my 3-4 visits.

                          as far as thai food, my friend went out to little thailand once and said he thought it was overrated. i wouldnt know since ive never been there, but titayas thai is definitely really good. i mean, madam mams is good too, but everyone goes there. plus its more central and south area then north.

                          i am so hungry now. :(

                          1. re: glorpisgod
                            s
                            scrumptiouschef Jan 7, 2009 04:25 PM

                            glorpisgod:So much good writing I need to reply point by point

                            yo have you tried lewis bbq just off of mlk and airport? its a little shack with a cocacola sign under the faded name. that stuff is just as good as willies imhoand pretty much right next to em! willies has boudin tho. that stuff is off the hook.

                            I love Lewis Barbecue.I think their brisket is a really good value and more consistent than Sams. Words. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/428621

                            for sandwiches little deli, belladonna and hog island are definitely the best in town. i mean, id rather eat thunderclouds than subway or quiznos, but those three are way more underground and thus, cooler.

                            I haven't quaffed the Hog Island Kool-Ade but lots of folks have. Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/93191

                            also for chicken wings i like doras off of berkman and briarcliff. maybe its because theyre only a few blocks away from me though.

                            I like Dora's,visited several times before I found her open.Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/357620

                            for mediterranean id have to say arpeggio grill and sarahs. though i never got the pleasure of being able to eat in arpeggio when it looked like a dump or whatever.

                            I used to love Arpeggio but it plummeted when they modernized their interior and lost their cook. Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/494775

                            also the esteemed el zunzal is my favorite place for salvadorean, but costa del sol on 183 and cameron offers almost the same experience for anybody up north. the only thing is that there will probably be less mariachis asking for change there.

                            Haven't been to Costa del Sol but have heard good things.Link elsewhere on this page.

                            i have to admit i went to top notch once but didnt really care for it. i mean it was good but id probably put it with dans or frans. which isnt an insult cause i like those burgers. but my personal favorites are burger tex (i hear the guadalupe one is better than the original but the original right next to barflys is the only one i will acknowledge), and casino el camino. also i recently tried the burger at fuegos and it was really good.

                            Next time I'm at Fuegos I'm going to give their burger it's respects. Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/579316

                            for korean i always go to the korean market on airport near highland mall. i mean, you could go to fancy korean restaurants but why bother when you can get served by old korean ladies in the type of foreign market youd find in houston. im sure there are a lot more korean restaurants around the airport/lamar/north lamar area but their signs are all totally illegible anyways.

                            I love Korea House on Anderson. Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/92301

                            for bahn mi (which i prefer to pho, since theyre way less work to eat) tams is definitely up there, along with pho van and cafe de bella. ive tried thanh nhi and while the people were nice and the food was cheap, i much prefer those other three places. im sure there must be something good in the chinatown center on north lamar but thats way too far for me to drive to. but if you ever do, go into the huge asian market and pick some kasugai grape gummies. those are so delicious. plus, you can feel the cool spring breeze from the idyllic vineyards whenever you pop em in your mouth! it says so right on the bag!

                            also this may make me seem like a heathen but the stallion grill on 51st street has pretty good chicken fried steak. i preferred it to tonys, hoovers, et al, but maybe thats because it only takes ten minutes till i can gorge myself from when i phone in my order! i dont really know of the best in the austin area. is anybody on this forum a raving cfs maniac?

                            I love Stallion Grill as well.Their cooks know how to season the food. Words http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/435690

                            also cant go without mentioning my favorite fast food franchise, el regio (or as they are now known outside of berkman/290, el pollo rico). keep on giving me what i crave you lovable and business savvy mexicans!

                            Endless words about the power of el regio: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543309

                            which reminds me, for breakfast tacos i havent had your favorite stand tacos el rico yet (far too south for my taste), but as you mentioned, el risconsito is the bomb. i was so sad when they closed down because they lost their permit from dumping in a local creek. which btw was hilariously third world. this lady near where i live on old manor and manor used to make fine tacos with homemade tortillas, but she closed down for the winter, leaving us high and dry if we want local tacos that arent from the michoacana. also! my tenants little brother found out this trick - the best thing to get at the michoacana is a quesadilla! for the price of two tacos you get a giant quesadilla split in half, and if you add rice and beans to whatever meat you put on it, its a great value.

                            TOO FAR TO DRIVE FOR TACOS??????What? 809 Vargas is mere moments from downtown Austin and for an estimable hound such as yourself a holy grail of Mexican cooking.I expect a lavish post from you within the fortnight.

                            as far as mexican food goes, my current favorite is el rincon michoacan south of 51st on airport. yeah yeah, its next to the 'famous' tamale house (which really sucks all kind of nasty private parts that probably have embarrassing diseases, but white people seem to go gaga over it) and el dorado which isnt too bad, so nobody notices it. but pretty much everything ive had there is excellent and the service is great. if you want a jalisco diner, i havent had los altos, but taqueria las jalisciences is great and open til late on the weekends.

                            I love el Dorado Meat market. Words:http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/474787

                            and as far as pizza goes. never actually had nikkis. everything else hasnt been that great. east side, texas pasta pizza and more, and my local pizzeria la boca are decent, but they certainly dont compare to al johns which was my dietary staple when i lived on burton and oltorf. i hear that the owner of little deli is planning to expand into making pizza though, so well see if his is any good.

                            on the flip side, is anything at quality seafoods restaurant really good? i always hear everybody raving about them, but have never had anything mindboggling there in my 3-4 visits.

                            I'm not a huge fan of Quality seafood.I like their boudin but Fiesta is my seafood market of choice.Fresh,cheap and friendly,just like I like my....nevermind.

                            as far as thai food, my friend went out to little thailand once and said he thought it was overrated. i wouldnt know since ive never been there, but titayas thai is definitely really good. i mean, madam mams is good too, but everyone goes there. plus its more central and south area then north.

                            I had a friend who thought the same thing about Little Thailand.
                            Had.
                            I don't care to associate with people whose tastebuds aren't functioning sufficiently to enjoy the magic of Surin's cooking.Branch out.There are other friends out there.

                            Thanks for the great posting.Happy eating in 09.

                            1. re: scrumptiouschef
                              i
                              ieathereforeiam Jan 7, 2009 08:27 PM

                              quality has some decent raw oysters these days. Their calamari and popcorn shrimp are also staples for me.

                              If you go on a tuesday they have 2 dollar tacos at night. the verde sauce is pretty good with the fish and cabbage.

                              A big part of what keeps me coming back there is the staff. some very cool folks work there.

                              1. re: ieathereforeiam
                                m
                                Madcap Jan 8, 2009 12:24 PM

                                I'll second the raw oysters. I also really enjoy their steamed clams and fried shrimp po-boy.

                                1. re: Madcap
                                  amykragan Jan 8, 2009 12:35 PM

                                  They're the only place I get my oysters now. You can get a box of 100 count to shuck at home for $30 and they're always salty and flavorful.

                                  1. re: Madcap
                                    s
                                    scrumptiouschef Jan 8, 2009 03:46 PM

                                    madcap
                                    You're not off the hook.Please read the original post and then elaborate.Be generous with your words.Talk about how Austin fed you in 2008.

                                2. re: scrumptiouschef
                                  g
                                  glorpisgod Jan 10, 2009 11:35 AM

                                  after having tried el taco rico - they certainly were good tacos. i took your suggestion and got a breakfast taco, barbacoa, and pastor. there was really nothing to complain about, plus it wasnt really that long a drive. also, i forgot to mention, abarrotes mexicanos on 901 tillery has mindblowing carne guisada. and their breakfast tacos are pretty good too (not as good as el risconsitos, which probably should be made illegal).

                                  also, i forgot the most important category of all: late night food. in the south theres rositas al pastor on riverside and parker(?), open til 1-3 on depending on the traffic. i used to eat here two-four times a week when i lived on burton and oltorf. obviously, the al pastor is highly recommended. i dont really know anything about the west side so ill leave that to everybody else. tho i hear hog island is open now on 4th and lavaca late nights, and there is of course casino el camino. on the east side, sams is open til 1 or sometimes 2-3 on the weekends. reggies used to be open occasionally but i aint seen that dude in ages. maybe he couldnt take all the crack whores and aspiring tony montanas/frank lucases that populate chicon. (which btw, shout out to galloways. i was so hoping their review in the chronicle would lead to droves of white people flocking there and reviewing it much like queen lolas place, but i guess it was not to be.) of course theres always los jalisciences, open til 12 or so on the weekends, along with the other jalisco diners which im sure keep their doors open for all the drunken day laborers. on the north side i know t&s is open til 1 or so most nights, but i dont live near all those asian restaurants on lamar so i havent been able to try them all.

                                  speaking of asian restaurants, my nomination for best 'chinese place in the hood' goes to china kitchen, on springdale and 183. i hope im not just biased because its near me, but ive been there two or three times and its good and cheap - the two attributes of my favorite foods! i was never really satisfied by any of the asian cuisine on oltorf, to be honest - tho i never tried india kitchen.

                          2. re: scrumptiouschef
                            c
                            Carter B. Jan 10, 2009 10:11 AM

                            We tried to go today to Rinconsito for lunch (Saturday at 11:45am) but while the cart was there it was closed. That can't be a good sign...

                            Instead we ended up at El Taco Rico. We typically go there for breakfast so it was fun to sample the lunch items. I had a barbacoa torta and man was it amazing. The barbacoa was so tender and flavorful, the torta bun was griddled in butter and the chopped lettuce only added to the flavor. It was also quite a meal and only $4. Has anyone ever tried her $8 enchilidas? For $8 I expect to be able to server 4 people...

                            The OP was about trends and one trend that we've noticed in 2008 that I alluded to earlier is a focus on raw oysters. In addition to Parkside, they've been at Mulberry and Olivias. Some have griped about the price ($3/each) but I'm just happy to have the option.

                    2. Kaya_n_Austin Jan 9, 2009 07:30 AM

                      This was the first year that I didn't spend a lot of time in pricier restaurants. I slummed it a lot and that was okay. Here's my list:

                      Pizza: Still loving Southside Flying Pizza almost as much as I adore Frank & Angie's. F&A's reminds me of the best pizza on the planet, Johnny's Pizza, in Monroe, La, except they cut their pies into rectangles. I can't speak to any Chicago style, as I don't care that much for deep (or thick crust) pizzas.

                      Wings: My spousal partner loves Plucker's. I'm really not a fan of hot wings. I do very much like the grilled wings at Shady Grove. Spicy and grilled is an amazing combo.

                      Burgers: I'm still on my search for the perfect burger. I dig Casino El Camino's, of course. Wasn't impressed by the Big Ass Burger at Roaring Fork. Mighty Fine was decent as were many others. So far I haven't found one that wows me enough to rave about it. If I'm looking for a burger at lunch then it's Hut's for convenience (walking distance) and because I like their Chubby Chuck's with onion rings.

                      Tex Mex breakfast taco: hands down, my ultimate favorite is still the Don Juan at Juan in a Million.

                      Non Tex Mex breakfast taco: had many that I liked. No scorching email replies but I really like the barbacoa at Taco Cabana. I like their version of carne guisada, too. Yeah, for breakfast. Or lunch. Or anytime.

                      Menudo: Again, I'm still on the search for perfection but so far this year I've really enjoyed the menudo at Nuevo Leon and the Taqueria Arandas on Stassney near Manchaca. Tender, flavorful, salted just right.

                      Crepes: Flip Happy rocks! I just wish they were cheaper....yeah, call me frugal but I'd love for them to have a "two for the price of one" special one day a week.

                      Steak: Still the black & blue ribeye from Austin Land & Cattle. I've had some very good steaks at Fleming's this year, too, but ALC has held their title of best steak for me. Even with the same old veggie sides (yawn).

                      Happy Hour Eats: Because I'm currently knocked up, finding happy hour food that won't induce alien-crawling-out-of-my-chest indigestion is a must. Otherwise, sitting and drinking a water or Sprite for two hours with my friends is just as painful. The cheese plate at Paggi is damn tasty, even though at first glace the offerings seemed miniscule. It's just about right for two people who aren't terribly hungry but want to nibble and talk.

                      Happy Hour Eats to Be Avoided: the hummus at J. Black's. They put some serious amounts of raw garlic in their hummus. As in "you could kill vampires in Arkansas by breathing in the state's general direction" amounts of garlic.

                      Worst Trend: the overabundance of cupcake places. Folks, it's a cute idea. But we don't need to have a 1:1 ratio of Starbucks to cupcakeries. Hell, we don't need as many Starbucks as we have now, either. This trend ties with the anti-foi gras folks for worst of the year. Please. I'm an adult. If I want to eat foi gras I will. If I want to eat a pile of poop I will and you still can't say anything that will make me change my mind. Although that last idea is disgusting and now I can't get the John Waters movie scene with Divine out of my head. So much for needing lunch today. Blech.

                      Popular Spot I Just Don't Get: Tacodeli. Yeah, everything I've tried on the numerous visits have been okay but nothing to wax estatic over.

                      Still favorite Italian: Vespaio. Love it, love it. Mostly I'll eat at the bar, with one friend. That way we don't have to wait to be seated. The desserts are always fab and I should've added them to my happy hour eats.

                      Biggest disappointment: Maria Maria. I'm hoping it was because the kitchen is still finding it's legs but my experience there was great ambience-wise and horrid food-wise. I dig the decor & music...fantastic job on renovating from Ringer's to upscale. My dinner, however, was the pits. I had the tomatillo tortilla soup. Fantastic presentation, with the large soup bowl set in front of me containing the solids parts of the soup (cilantro, tortilla chips, Mexican cheese) and a sizeable portion of sauteed mushrooms ladled into the middle by my waiter. He then poured the broth over all. Very nicely done. Unfortunately, the mushrooms were oversalted to the point that it permeated the entire bowl. Someone in the kitchen didn't taste before sending it out. I was starving, as usual during this pregnancy, and decided that I just couldn't send it back. I ate it anyway and regretfully became the Stay Puff Marshmallow woman for the rest of my evening. My first experience with swollen appendages. The cankles went away in two hours with the aid of a gallon of water. Yes, I should've sent it back. At least it was only about $8. My friend ordered the shrimp tacos. Three tacos, no sides and it was around $15 give or take a buck. They just weren't tasty enough to justify the cost.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Kaya_n_Austin
                        g
                        gulch Jan 10, 2009 06:28 AM

                        I am going to have to disagree with Kaya on two points. The hummus is one of the reason J Black's keeps me coming back. It is delicious and drizzled with fantastic olive oil! Also Taco Deli's avocado salad is fantastic!

                        1. re: gulch
                          s
                          scrumptiouschef Jan 10, 2009 07:04 AM

                          gulch,
                          Please read the original post.Document your year in eating in Austin.Don't be scrimpy with your words.And I can't believe nab hasn't turned in his yearly report...

                          1. re: scrumptiouschef
                            Nab Jan 10, 2009 04:36 PM

                            Chef putting us to work again.

                            Though there were no real breakthroughs, I ate great in '08.

                            Bun bo hue at HEA Cafe, as mentioned upthread, was a welcome and satisfying addition (despite the rest of its pedestrian menu) to the Vietnamese soup scene. The broth is never the same on any given visit, but almost always rich with beef bone power. Serve the broth cold in a glass the next day for a malted marrow milkshake. The banh mi situation is in a state of municipal crisis (one cannot depend solely on Tam & Baguette House), but I'm starting to get the sense that the Vietnamese grub in general about town is worth talking about. Tam, Sunflower, Saigon and the other usual suspects are all well-documented, but there's more to it I'm certain.

                            On quiet weeknights, I found myself whiling away hours at the bars at Mulberry, Parkside, Fino, walking away with a happy head and stomach.

                            The regular players kept consistently knocking down free throws when I needed them to -- Asia Cafe, El Pollo Regio/Rico, Top Notch, Tacos el Rico, Rinconcito, T&S, etc.

                            The taco cart culture is flourishing in Austin. Paralleling the development of luxury condos. S'all corporate, I don't know what to think of it. ;)

                            Perhaps Chen's Noodle House is the breakthrough of the year. The only hand-shaved noodles in town, and they're doing a respectable job of it. I hope my belly grows with the menu (which is currently quite limited).

                            Pupusas at Ponce's Patio keep reminding me to check out our other Salvadoran offerings like El Zunzal, El Salvador, and Costa del Sol (thanks budgethound).

                            I've also been getting my goat on at Shalimar (try the daal goat as well - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2304/2... ), and like Carter B., am fully supportive of the raw oyster movement in town too.

                            I hope I can get a good sandwich in 2009. Preferably down south. There's lots of stuff to further investigate this year.

                          2. re: gulch
                            Kaya_n_Austin Jan 20, 2009 01:55 PM

                            Hmmmm....perhaps I got a really bad batch of hummus at J Blacks. One that wasn't well mixed when they added the garlic? Yeah, tried Tacodeli's avocado salad. Meh. It's the same for me with Torchy's...everyone raves while I find maybe one or two menu items that I like enough to justify eating there when my friends gang up on me.

                            1. re: Kaya_n_Austin
                              dinaofdoom Jan 22, 2009 09:09 PM

                              i don't care for their avocado salad, but the hot green salsa rocks my world (and clears my sinuses!).
                              the scallop taco is damn good, too (weekly special).

                        2. m
                          Madcap Jan 9, 2009 01:52 PM

                          Fish tacos- Fuegos by far has the best fish tacos I've experienced in Austin. I'm tempted to try one of the burgers but I just can't help but ordering the fish tacos or ahi tuna sandwich.

                          Burger: Casino el Camino was the biggest disappointment of the year for me. On three seperate occasions I received my burger well done. By my estimation it isn't the burger heaven it once was. I consumed the most burgers at The Hideout Pub on the southbound Mopac access road just north of Duval (across from the hospital). They have a quality burger that was always cooked to my liking at medium rare. I prefer the bacon cheeseburger but the black and blue burger is also quite good. My only complaint is that the buns are slightly too sweet. I don't care too much for their waffle fries but they do have decent onion rings. They have a good selection of beer at very reasonable prices to boot (3.50 a pint).

                          Tex-Mex: Maudies on N. Lamar is the standby for tex-mex. It's cheap, quick, and close to home. I'm a sucker for their cheese enchiladas and salsa. I've also found their shredded chicken burrito to be quite tasty. For lunch I've been a regular at El Rinconsito on Airport. Their tacos are absolutely delicious.

                          BBQ: Lunch has led me to Willie's bbq on many occasions. I find their brisket to be the best I've had in the city limits. I'll have to give Lewis bbq a try sometime soon. Louis Mueller's in Taylor is still the best brisket I've ever had. Last week I hit Luling City Market, Louis Mueller's, and Kreuz Market. Mueller's was tops for brisket, Luling was the best sausage, and I must have hit Kreuz's on a bad day.

                          1. g
                            greathillsgolfer Jan 14, 2009 05:14 PM

                            Papas Pot on Jolyville Road.

                            1. i
                              ieathereforeiam Jan 14, 2009 06:22 PM

                              i am still bummed stortini closed. their braised duck was a great dish for a great price. I will also miss their lunch offerings.

                              1. s
                                SLadd Jan 14, 2009 07:44 PM

                                Vespaio

                                1. e
                                  El General Jan 30, 2009 02:59 PM

                                  I don't know anything about Asian food, and I live South, so I have spent the last several months trying to self educate by driving my happy ass up to the North side and eating somewhere for dinner once a week. That is the tone of my 2008. And to that I owe:

                                  Most happy that you exist in 2008: Asia Cafe. Unbelievable. I just wish I knew what I was ordering.

                                  Saddest 2008 moment: the horible dismemberment of La Regiomontana. I have guilt because I live mere blocks away and did not fully utilize this unbelievable asset. I weep for Tacos Banados.

                                  Happiest Rebirth: Regio or Rico or whatever your Pollo is called, I am glad you survived the chow McCarthyism that took down your siamese twin. 7 bones for half a yardbird, that green salsa, and all the trimmings is still one of the best around.

                                  Most logical and enlightened change of policy: El Borrego de Oro for serving breakfast all day. I will gladly pay the extra bone to be able to eat breakfast at 2:30 in the afternoon if the previous nights antics make it necessary. Why all breakfast serving restaurants do not have such enlightened policy, I will never understand.

                                  Trend in chow that I love: Heirloom fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. I love that I must use my own wilds to chose a quality piece of produce instead of choosing the least boring out of many genetically engineered to always be ripe robofruits. I think the possibility of epic failure is fun for all ages.

                                  My single favorite dish in Austin for the third year running: Roberto's Special-Habanero's- What can I say? My love is total and complete. If Habanero's ever starts serving homemade corn tortillas or good refried beans it would be an unstoppable monster tilted on world domination.

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