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Apr 4, 2009 10:29 AM


Austin's restaurant graveyard is growing by the week. While sitting at Candy's Tacos
[from a previous post:I've been holding off any pronouncements on this,my new favorite cart 'cause I wanted to march through the chef's menu first.After having numerous and memorable tacos here during the fest,all featuring some of the hottest red salsa I've encountered in Austin, I can't hold out any more.This is one fine taco cart.Candy is the chef,counter girl and cashier so be patient.You'll wait while she presses out the tortilla and crafts the taco into being.Her chorizo is handmade and exists in the same rarefied air as Mi Ranchito on William Cannon.Her bacon is smoky tasting and comes from a well tended pig.I love the way she lightly scrambles her eggs instead of whipping them to hell and back.Candy's tortillas are stellar;plump,corny flats rich with manteca.Nothing can sway my love for Tacos el Rico but if I was going to do any slipping around on Yolanda it would be with Candy],a few days ago eating a predictably great taco I noticed V's Mini Burger's food truck sitting across the way in a weed choked lot filled with broken vehicles.

I never ate there and heard it was really bad but it did set me to thinking.

In the last few weeks I've driven by Al John's only to find it has closed and been replaced by a Mexican chicken joint.Al John's at its' height under the original owner Gino,had a few locations scattered around Austin.Its' claim to fame was a careful take on scratch baked Italian Hoagie loaves.Gino sold out and moved to Florida to live the good life[and died shortly thereafter],the new owners,a nice Asian couple introduced barbecue to the menu[!].Fortunately the loaf recipe didn't change and the food quality remained high for the last few years.I love Mexican chicken but you can't swing a cat like a lariat in this town without hitting at least one Pollo Rico or some such place.Al John's will be sorely missed.

Abarrotes Mexicanos on Tillery was my favorite source in Austin for a Mexican Blue Plate lunch.They would take a southern classic[Pork Chops,Meat Loaf,Chicken Fried Steak]and wave a Mexican Magic Wand over the plate[usually involving a good use of chiles]and voila;Mexican Plate lunch!They also had my favorite bowl of Pinto Beans in Austin.They have been replaced by Don Marcelino's Pan y Vino.Who's eaten there and how is it?

Finally,the legend of El Rinconsito has been ably documented on this site emeritus MPH broke this one down thoroughly and I still wake up with the shakes over Cira hand rolling her tortillas in a slinky brown velvet dress with stilletos.The new owner is a very nice fellow named Aldo who has little interest in the craft side of the food[tortillas from a bag from HEB].I tried his carnitas and they were good but too lean.They almost tasted like a pork loin which is destined to live in the shadow of it's superior cousin the shoulder.His knife work was way above average and I commented on this"I worked at Catering by Rosemary til I could get my own thing going"

What are some places you've noticed that've recently shuttered?

What's replacing them?

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  1. a friend who works the taco truck near Ruta Maya says that place is shutting down...terrible news for him...SXSW was a real boon to many local restaurants (including the one where I work, which was setting records), but still, the economy is definitely down

    3 Replies
    1. re: taliesin15

      the link I posted above concerning el Rinconsito is broken.Here's the good one:

      1. re: scrumptiouschef

        oh god... is this why the 'el risconsito' part was taped over and replaced by 'tacos rico?' i thought it was just a really barrio-ed out rebranding due to lack of money for a paintjob. this is really disheartening. i loved those tacos with a passion that could split mountains in twain. i would like go into the discoteca that the original used to be next to (which is probably owned by the same people) and ask them if they have a new trailer, but my knowledge of conversational spanish doesnt go much farther than meat types and how to ask for change. honestly, i kind of respected them more after i found out that they got their original mobile food service license revoked for dumping in the local creek. thats some third world ish for real. i remember eating there at govalle and springdale and my friend was like 'you know... they dont have a license up' and i was like 'lemme see....yup, youre right, theyre straight pirate taco-in it up.' and abarrotes mexicanos is closed too? i loved their guisada; some of the best ive ever had. never head their specials , though. i guess i have to go to tacos el rico for my breakfast tacos from now on huh. tho i will definitely hit up ese dulce chica - where is it?

        and al jons being gone really did a number on me last time i went down that block. how many pollos ricos does this town need - isnt there one right up on riverside? i used to live right across the street from this place on burton and oltorf. how many times did i come in there drunk with my friends and put up with the inane babblings of that asian couples daughter? you know, they were expecting another child last year, that might be one of the reasons why its no more. wish i could have met gino during the original run.

        reggies has also been vacant for a long time. i wonder what that guy is up to. man could he fry like a maniac. a maniac with flavor. oh well, as long as galloways and the east side bbq triumverate of lewis's, willies, and sams stays open im sure ill be fine.

        another thing that choked me up is that my mexican breakfast standby while risconsito was gone, el rincon michoacan off of 51st and airport was painted over and replaced by the 'potro salvaje bar and grill,' which i have not been to yet. every plate i had there was good, and the tortillas seemed homemade (which, ill be honest, is the only way ill pay for tacos)! but it was always empty, even though they had english-speaking waitresses (which is kind of a big deal compared to most mexican hole in the wall type places), so i guess thats what happens... sigh. life goes on i suppose. gems can only be seen for so long before the earth has to swallow em back up!

    2. RIP The Kitchen Door on Lake Austin Blvd.

      Drove past it today and the store was dark and parking lot empty. Far West remains OPEN. Also, their website says they have a new location downtown. Chase Tower, 221 West 6th Street.

      5 Replies
      1. re: ridgeback

        I think that was just that location moving (to the downtown one), not so much closing.

        1. re: hlk

          Yeah, they are on 6th street close to Congress (maybe across from Athenian Grill--a restaurant that may end up on this thread judging by their nighttime crowds)

          1. re: hlk

            They closed one location and opened another. Comprende'? Think of it how you want. But the fact is a large portion of their former West Austin clientele will migrate to the Far West location. Judging by the crowds at the Far West location, it's already happened. It's pretty rare for someone who's not already downtown to venture downtown for lunch. Downtown it's a whole other scene and a whole other restaurant. RIP west Austin's Kitchen Door.

            1. re: ridgeback

              So, will they start offering their famous hot meatloaf sandwich at the Far West location? Have heard raves about the sandwich but I understood it was only available at the West Austin location.

              1. re: ridgeback

                Okay, I'll keep thinking of it how I want.

          2. i don't have anything to report-- just wanted to say i like this thread, and how it compliments the hard hat thread.

            1. Koreana Grill.............. burnt down.

              1. When checking out Pad Thai at Parmer/I-35 today, I noticed that Byblos, the Lebanese fast food place, is now permanently closed. It was decent food, and it seemed to have survive in that location for quite a while, so this is a sad loss.

                There was a sign up in the window saying a Mexican restaurant will be opening in that spot soon. Just what we needed.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Mike B

                  Wow, a big loss. They always seemed to have a crowd when I went there--though it had been a while since I've been...

                    1. re: amykragan

                      Not the original poster, but Pad Thai is excellent. I've been about 7 times since the first week they opened with the latest being last night.

                      Comparable to the quality for Titaya's and for some things I think better--papaya salad, but I haven't really explored the menu yet. There are some items I haven't seen anywhere else on their newish menu.

                      It looks like their beer and wine license application fell through so I suppose they are still BYOB.

                      1. re: nk.

                        Sad news about Byblos, I actually never had the chance to eat there. My suggestion in case you need some good Lebanese: Obees Deli on Anderson. Yes, I know, it's a deli, but, they do offer delicious Shawarma, Shish-tauk, falafel, and hummus. While the menu is small on the Lebanese side the stuff is authentic and delicious. If you want a regular deli sandwich get the Spicy Bird.

                        Pad Thai is pretty good, I've only eaten there twice but both times I was pleasantly surprised at the flavors and quality of food. Especially for a Wal-Mart strip mall restaurant.

                        1. re: ecpatrick3284

                          Good call on that Obee's location. The Lebanese offerings there are good, and the sandwiches ain't bad either... especially if the owner (who I believe is Lebanese) is there making them. Let him give you recommendations on how the sandwich should be made and he'll hook it up. And I hope you like garlic!

                    2. re: Mike B

                      Aw man, that makes me sad. It was far enough away that I only went once, but I liked it a lot.

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                          Wow! I got an email just last week (I think) about the haggis they were going to be serving. Maybe that's what done them in?

                          1. re: scrumptiouschef

                            That was (or seemed) fast. I only made it there once.

                            1. re: hlk

                              We only went there once, too, and based on our experience, I'm not shocked that they're dunzo. We got terrible service, including never receiving the drinks we ordered.

                            2. re: scrumptiouschef

                              Drove by last night and there people going in. Maybe they were moving out furniture? Sure looked open though

                              1. re: amykragan

                                The service was appalling at that place. I gave it six months, and that seems to have been about right. There's a good posting about it on the 'website which cannot be named'.

                                1. re: TAF

                                  I know the post you're speaking of, but why can't that site be named? Am I missing something?