Need A rec. for South Austin
I have a friend turning 40 whose parents are coming to celebrate her b'day this weekend and they want a place south.
No sushi & no vegetarian. They want moderate prices.
Where should I send her?
It's not sexy, but Central Market's Cafe always puts out good quality food plus you can buy any of their wines or beers retail in the store and drink them with dinner. I think they also have live music on a regular basis. From a value for your money standpoint, I think CM is one of your best bets in town.
How far south? How moderate of prices? What meal (bfast/brunch, lunch, dinner) and day (sat, sun)? We Southies are a struggling underclass of chow-starved plebes, so options are few!
The best food I've had down south isn't that good, barring some Mexican treats that your friend's parents may not find as awesome as I do. But almost none of these joints are rolling on Sunday.
If you want some local south flavor, try El Meson (probably not open), or something like Cafe Evangeline for some ahhhhhhgoodenough Cajunesque cuisine.
Alternately, gas up the jalopy and head downtown. Parkside is underpopulated, yet is probably the most exciting joint in all of Austin right now. Fresh oysters flown in daily (albeit absurdly overpriced), marrow, sweetbreads, a savory raw bar offering to stagger even the mighty Tyson Cole, this is no slouch. Barely any traffic on the weekend, and for some strange reason Parkside is always half-empty. Texas Monthly says their burger is the Nth Best (bah!), and that is one-of-many affordable main course options. Their bar steak is eight extra dollars but also eight times more tasty.
This is your chance to steer 'em right. Whats a coupla extra miles here in Tejas anyhoo? Friends don't let friends' parents dine south, at least, not w/o arming them well in advance. They could end up at Applebee's.
re: The Tres Leches
Do you mean Verona as in the one at the Y?
If so I was pleasantly surprised to find the flavours were pretty decent relative to what I consider European standards and the pasta was fresh and suitably portioned. All too often other local Italian establishments over herb and over sweeten their sauces and the pasta is out of box. However, the mussels were a rip off!
3 out of the 4 in the party all had the mussels and at $9.50 a go what arrived at the table looked promising in terms of number of shells and amount of broth / sauce. Reality was more than 75% of the shells were empty and the others had the smallest mussels I have every encountered. They were smaller than baby clams!
The service was somewhat amatuerish. Friendly but lacked common sense. For example, for the mussels did not come with a plate for the empty shells (no joke intended as most of the shells were already empty) and when asked for one, only one plate arrived leaving the 3 of us to pass it around to collect our empties.
It was evident that the chef was making clever use of his ingredients to extract maximum return on their cost but without sacrificing taste. The mussel experience aside, this is not necessarily a negative comment in terms of runing a business. Examples of this skill were found in the past dishes where the cheaper ingedients such as the pasta itself and the vegetable part of the sauce made up most of the plate. As a customer I was not too bothered by this as the flavour and texture of the pasta was very good as was the sauce. However, when thinking about value for money in terms of ordering a meat sauce, I did feel a bit short changed as far as actual meat content was concerned.
I am glad there is a decent Italian at the Y but do worry about its longevity. We were there on a Saturday night and there were only 3 other, small, parties. If the chef is already getting creative on his costs, things may not be looking too good for them. The location is not the best to catch passing traffic. Maybe with the new Alamo opening up on Slaughter a unit up there would serve them better.
don't know if it's moderate enough, though it is 'moderate' ime, but my visitors have always enjoyed the South Congress Cafe
the desserts at Woodland look good too, though i've never been. it would also fit the bill
For further south Cypress Grill is a cajun place in the Golds Gym shopping center at William Cannon and Mopac. It's a bit expensive for what you get, but the food is really good. I give a big recommendation to Azul Tequila in the Target shopping center at Ben White and Lamar. Low on atmosphere, very high on quality interior mexican food.