A Few of My Favorite Things
At the suggestion of Scrumptiouschef, I'll list a few things I like to eat in Austin. Hopefully these haven't been covered too heavily in previous posts.
Brisket/Pulled Pork from Mann's BBQ :
Mann's is unequivocally my favorite BBQ place within Austin. Literally a mom and pop place with some of the friendliest service you will get anywhere. One of the only places to get pulled pork in austin and it is tender and fall apart but the real star is the brisket. When you walk up to order, Mr. Mann will ask you if you want it lean or with Flava' in his Georgian drawl. He will act shocked if you order it lean and maybe say something like "nobody's ordered it lean since 1995".
The Brisket is in the style of venerable Central Texas BBQ joints in Lockhart or Taylor. Its sliced 1/2 inch thick with a slightly barky exterior, underneath which is a 1 to 2 cm layer of soft fat, followed by juicy tender meat that still has a little bit of give so you know its BBQ brisket and not potroast. The smoke ring might not be as deep as brisket from other BBQ meccas but the flavor is all there. Get it with a side of fried to order onion rings or fried green tomatoes. I actually like the lima beans here as well.
More to come....
So many things to add to my life list. Here are some of my current faves:
Pho with round steak, fatty brisket, and tripe at Pho Van. Never disappoints.
Mexican plate at Amayas: Wife and I are still back and forth about Amaya's, but this is probably my favorite Tex-Mex in town.
Shrimp in red sauce at El Borrego de Oro: The most perfectly cooked shrimp I've ever eaten, in a chile sauce that I could have drunk a bowl of.
Chicharon taco from La Fogata (taco truck in a car wash on Burnet south of 183): Ever eaten something so spicy that it's burning your lips yet you refuse to stop digging in? These wonderful pork bellies are just like that.
Brisket at Snow's barbecue in Lexington: Seriously, just go. My first bite of this brisket left me dumbstruck, and the second literally brought a tear to my eye.
Din Ho BBQ's chicken and eggplant with salty fish hot pot.
Din Ho BBQ's hot sauce.
Austin Land and Cattle's happy hour specials.
Wild Blue pie from East Side pies.
Mac and cheese at Quality Seafood.
The back garden seating at Blue Dahlia.
The toro tuna, marcona almond, and dried cranberry dish at Uchi.
Cappuccino at Dolce Vita.
Sugar cinnamon roll from Upper Crust.
Second the Ahi Tower at Beluga.
I like the proscuitto pizza at Pizzeria Corvina: Fontina cheese with fresh arugula, proscuitto, and truffle oil.
Salmon sashimi at a number of places: Origami, and Midori is where I usually go. This might be more because I love salmon beyond reason.
Pollo Perfecto at Serranos - the best thing ever to happen to chicken thighs
Guac Burger at Gabbi's - I love the way the melted cheese keeps the pocket of guacamole in place
Honey Chicken at Snow Pea - wonderfully crisp and not too sweet, I learned to use chopsticks eating this dish
Marranitos at Panaderia Chuy - only vaguely pig-shaped, but the best specimen of this cookie I've ever had
Chimichanga at Casa Garcia's - it practically FLOATS in a LAKE OF QUESO, people!
Cowboy Beans at Hoovers - I don't usually go in for sweet beans, but this side is practically an entree
Cheese enchiladas in chile sauce from Jorge's. I know Jorge's can be hit or miss most nights, but those enchiladas are downright tasty to me. They garnish with a good amount of salad and I like to drag it over the enchiladas for an old school plate of Tex-Mex.
Spicy green beans from Asia Cafe. Garlicky, spicy goodness. Highly praised on this board already. I would serve these with Thanksgiving dinner if I could get away with it.
Mojo fish taco from Tacodeli. I'm not crazy about a lot of Tacodeli's offerings, but I love love love that mojo sauce.
Huevos Mexicanos at the East Side Cafe. It's served only during Brunch. I describe it as sort of a Mexican egg lasagna.
Chicken Tortilla Soup at Central Market. I know it sounds silly to like the soup from a grocery store; but I just love it.
These are the two things I will miss when I leave Austin.
#73 - Pho Saigon
Unfortunately I don't remember the Vietnamese name for this soup but last time I checked it was #73 on the menu. It is the shrimp and shrimp balls with pork noodle soup and should be about 7.35 or so.
The soup comes in a different broth than Pho and is spiced with chilies marinated in oil. It is topped with chives, assorted herbs (ones aside from basil/cilantro), and topped with peanuts. Ask for more chilies in oil to add if you want to up the spice level. Don't put sriracha or hoisin inside the already complex broth.
Inside you find 3 large shrimp and about 2 or 3 shrimp balls (ping pong ball sized orbs composed of pure shrimp meat) and some thinly sliced pieces of pigs trotter. The noodle is also more vermicelli like than pho.
A delicious concoction at $7.35 or so.
Other favorites that are not as often ordered by most diners include the Pork Chop over rice with egg (#50 or $51). 2 soy and green onion marinated pork chops are pounded thin and grilled and served over rice with raw cucumbers and tomatoes and served with nuoc mam. The vegetables leave something to be desired but I doubt you'll have room for them. Order it with a runny yoke fried egg for extra decadence. slice up your pork chop, pour a bit of nuoc mam over the meat which then runs down in to the rice, break the yoke and enjoy. An excellent example of an Asian workmen's lunch.
Bistek ala Mexicana -La Tapatia ( I go to the one on north 183 slightly south of Anderson Mill)
This is more of a value pick. You can find Bistek ala Mexicana at several other Jalisco style Mexican restaurants around town but like everything else on their menu, La Tapatia has it for the cheapest. Its basically $6.99 for a huge portion of what is pretty close to beef fajitas. The beef is sliced thin to make it more tender since you won't find a high quality cut here. Its also cooked longer on the grill with onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos. Unlike a lot of fajitas out there, the vegetables here are cooked longer with the meat and well seasoned so they have a lot more flavor.
La Tapatia is great value eating. Some of their other gems are the $5.99 lunch combo plate where you get to pick 2 meats from a selection of (al pastor, pierna (pork leg), picadillo (spiced ground beef), lengua (tongue), beef fajita), rice and beans and tortillas. This is a heaping plate that I can't finish and would be more than adequate for 2 small sized diners.
went there for the first time today, and man have i been missing out on some delicious cheap eats.
i had the combo plate w/ two meats, chicken and al pastor.
the pierna interested me but i was really hungry and didn't want to take a chance on something i've never tried before.
the meat was well-spiced and shredded and cut into bite sized pieces.
i'm not a huge fan of refried beans but they weren't the worst i've ever had.
with a dos equis michelada (very tasty), tax and tip it was $12.50.
definitely worth it!
Enchilada Mole- Tacqueria Arandas (had it at the one on I35 near 183)
Pulled off the bone shredded chicken wrapped in corn tortillas, covered with rich dark mole sauce then topped with queso fresco. How did I know the chicken was pulled off the bone? there was a piece of cartilage in my enchilada. But that minor issue aside, the mole is rich, slightly sweet, with chocolate and cinnamon overtones. The tanginess of the cheese plays well against it and the chicken is tenderly shredded.
Get yourself a melon aqua fresca and instead of dessert get a piece of mexican praline.
roasted Yellowtail (hamachi) collar - Kenichi
I don't eat often at Kenichi as it feels a bit too hip for me and feels more like a club than a restaurant. Thus, I was surprised to find this chef favorite dish here. Its basically just the head and collar of hamachi roasted and served with light soy based sauce. The meat from this region has a different texture than meat from elsewhere in the fish and also has a bit more sweetness. The best part is the small piece of meat from the cheek. Also, during Kenichi happy hour, this little gem is half price and becomes a steal at $5.
Go at happy hour, start with a few pieces of nigiri maybe a roll, finish with the collar, and end up eating very well for about $20.
lixlix, enjoying your posts from afar over here. hamachi kama is one of my favourite things as well, and i also occasionally enjoyed it on sleepy weeknights at Kenichi. Another good one can be had at Mikado Ryotei -- big honkin meaty collar, char-broiled with plenty of those hot fatty sweet bits. Their other "izakaya" like fare is pretty good too, and I seem to recall a relatively deep sake list.
9033 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78758-7013
Has anybody ever seen lixlix and nab in the same room at the same time? Even though I have no Boston plans I still read NAB who's sorely missed[along with Twill,Knoblauch,Tom in Austin and the list goes on of WRITERS who left the board].
Hey lixlix,where do you get your soul food? Or alternately,where do you get your meat and 3?
I love the way this post grew legs and other hounds jumped in a with a snapshot of a few of their favorite bites around town.I'm composing one but it's going to be awhile before it's ready.
Thanks for the vote of confidence everyone.
I live a bit far away from most of the Austin Soul food haunts to get too much soul food. A few years ago, I used to try to find a long lunch hour to drive to Soul Food Wednesdays at Ben's Longbranch.
These days, I mostly just go to Hoover's up north if I have that craving or occasionally Dot's in Pflugerville.