My vote for best non chain moderate to inexpensive restaurant in Austin
I just finished reading a string responding to someone from Jersey coming down to visit. It was the usual question--no tex-mex, no BBQ, but wanted to know where to eat. It generated a verbal fist fight about half way through the 31 responses. Austin is like that, it has lots and lots of local joints and dives and strip center finds that other places don't have. Almost each and every one of them generate loyal followings by local foodies ready to drop the gloves at the slightest provocation! That's what's great about this city. So I thought I'd give you my vote for best of the median priced on down restaurants and hope to read your vote for your favorite. There isn't any right or wrong, although I'm right about mine...I vote for Sunflower at Ohlen and 183 right there in the strip center next to Target. Talk about yummy! Start with a crepe (not your idea of a crepe that's for sure) and move on to the special fried shrimp or the well I generally get stuck on those fantastic shrimp and the noodles they sit on. Everything is good, mouth watering good. The ladies who run the place work at their own pace, and they bring your order in no particular order and at no particular pace except when its ready they bring it. The kicker, in my opinion is that you can bring your own wine. What a fantastic deal, unbelievably good food at great prices and you can bring your own wine! I just love this joint. And you? What is your favorite...and why?
I frequent Sunflower also- just because they have the best spring rolls (and good quality peanut sauce- not a brown, tasteless sauce like most Vietnamese places) and I particularly crave their Pho Chay (#20)- chicken broth/ vermicelli noodle soup with al dente chinese cabbage, broccoli, bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, straw mushrooms, lightly fried tofu, and green onions. Its a hole in the wall though, and most of the waitstaff do not speak English. But that doesn't stop me from going on a regular basis.
I highly recommend the Goi Tom Thit (Salad with Pork and Shrimp) which has lots of mint, cilantro, peanuts, and fried garlic. Very light, but big on flavor. Also the catfish claypot which has a delicious sweet chili sauce. Sunflower also has my favorite springrolls in town. You can taste the mint! Yum!