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Feb 28, 2010 06:07 AM

best new restaurant or trailer/taco truck?

I have friends coming to town for SXSW soon, and everyone's looking for new places to eat--I'm just curious if I've missed some out of the way place--right now, all the best buzz is about Justine's, though there are a number of other good restaurants that have opened since March 09--I'm wondering if there's some out of the way place, possibly a taco truck or mobile street food vendor I might have missed--last year I took folks to Tacos El Rico off Montopolis and they were blown away (so was I), thanks to recommendations from folks here--that's exactly what I'm looking for, something people who only read the Chronicle and Statesman won't know about...

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  1. Tacos el Rico remains at the pinnacle of Mexican dining in Austin. I've found lots of good places that can compete but ultimately Yolanda is still the top cook in town.

    Candy's is no longer at Shady and E. 7th-not sure where she moved to but she was the solid pick for number 2.

    Mi Ranchito on William Cannon has stepped up their game considerably. They now boast the finest salsa bar I've found in Austin. About 12 or so fresh, cold preparations of salsa including a nut based pure'e that reminded me of Indian cuisine.

    Odd Duck Farm to Trailer put out the best meal I've had in Austin this year on a recent, frigid evening. Their chef is quite impressive in his zeal for serving all Texas product.

    I'd definitely take them to Asia Cafe, the Sichuan stalwart hasn't lost a step in spite of their new, fancy renovation.

    A Tex Mex breakfast at La Reyna is always near the top of my list when I'm entertaining out of towners. Their stovetop salsa, fresh flour tortillas and under 2 dollar surcharge for a pork chop tossed onto any of their morning platters always impresses visitors.

    Old Coupland Dance Hall near Elgin is my new number one for a fried catfish platter. Lots of history in this 100 year old building.

    Annie's on Congress has filled the gaping hole Al John's closure left in Austin's giant, homemade sandwich category.

    A recent visit to Black's Barbecue out in Lockhart confirmed my belief that they're putting out the best smoked meat in Central Texas. Any out of towner needs to be put on the business end of one of their giant, battle ax-sized beef ribs before getting back on the plane.

    Have fun with your guests. Austin's food scene is stronger than it's ever been.

    6 Replies
    1. re: scrumptiouschef

      Nice list scrumptiouschef--is chowpapi your blog?

      Original poster, if you can't get to Lockhart, you should try Franklin's. My one visit and based on friend's and others posts is good and consistently so. And opened Sundays (but not dinners).

      I've given up on Asia Cafe--we had a terrible experience there with the head service (she insisted a vegetarian friend ordered a pork dish). I'd rather go to Chen's in the same shopping center--they don't use the MSG to the affect of Asia Cafe but the noodles are great.

      If you are at SXSW you are going to be on the east side for day shows so I recommend checking out Rio's (small Brazillian place on Pleasant Valley) and Mi Columbia (on E. 7th).

      I've never been to La Reyna for breakfast, but we think they have serve the best Tex-Mex standards in the city--thanks to scrumptiouschef for suggesting them so long ago. Gloopy enchilidas. yum.

      For Mex-Mex Azul Tequila's Mexican side of the menu is very strong. The chicken tinga tostadas and the tuna stuffed pepper (both large appetizers) are superb. Despite having a too hip crowd, Sazon serves some great, unusual-for-Austin dishes. Last weekend, I had the Tikin Xic and the fish was super tasty and well cooked.

      I'm amazed that chef didn't wax poetic about Galloway's. With Dot's and Gene's gone, it is pretty much Austin's only good Southern food left. Search the board for his poetry and it was also well reviewed in the Chronicle two years ago. Despite the superlatives, it is tragically not super crowded.

      Finally, my hand's down, would-cry-the-most-if-it-closed restaurant in Austin is Tam's (Lamar/183). The owners are the chefs and waitstaff. Favorite dishes include the jicama spring rolls, the combination sandwich, the boild shrimp/egg sandwich, the rice sheets with pork roll (add the shrimp/yam cakes), the chicken curry, and of course the legendary 50 cent cream puffs.

      1. re: Carter B.

        Thanks for the kind words.

        Another spot that's sadly underrated on this board is Ray's Barbecue in Montopolis. It would give some serious old timey [Montopolis was a town long before Austin swallowed it whole] flavor to an out of towner.

        You could grab a pound of brisket to go, take it to Tacos el Rico and sit under the awning of the laundry mat and have it as an app while Yolanda got busy making your tacos and tostadas.

        Maybe earlier that same day y'all could hit Tam Deli for her Vietnamese breakfast with fried eggs, house cured ham, tiny Viet salad and a french loaf. Make sure to ask for a bowl of her homemade mayo to drag the bread through. Fried eggs and mayonnaise. Mmmmm.

        Galloway is still at the top of his game. Most of my out of towners come in from the Deep South so we normally don't go there. Stephen could make good money in Tuscaloosa but when you're from there it's Mexican and Tex Mex that holds sway over the vacation chow.

        and Carter;stop drop and roll and get over to Odd Duck, run the table on his menu, it'll cost under 30 bucks and y'all will be stunned at the level of deliciousness. This kids a real comer.

        1. re: scrumptiouschef

          please dont mention al johns, youll make me break down in tears...

          its not new by any means, but if you ever are starving on riverside from 2-7, mariscos seafood off of royal crest (right behind the old regiomontana) has happy hour from 2-7 including half off appetizers! they have a plate with fried fish nugs, hushpuppies, shrimp and fries that goes for less than four dollars during happy hour! that makes this cheapskate very happy!

          also scrumptious, you know what hours yolanda keeps? now that i go to acc grove campus, i go by the cart every day but never see it open. hopefully shes just waiting for the weather to get better... havent found much else on montopolis, tho im gonna try out the 'dun dawg' next; tried alonzos tacos and was rather underwhelmed...

          also, has anybody done a cataloging of all the carts on riverside? i should try to pick up mphs old banner but that fool was straight pro, im only an amateur lol

          ima have to check out the odd duck tho, but you know me; afraid to venture west of 35 lol

          1. re: glorpisgod

            I think Yolanda opens for breakfast and on til about 10 pm on Thu, Fri, Sat and Sunday. Closed on Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday 4 pm til 10 pm. Not completely sure if this schedule is correct but will give you something to work with.

            I'd welcome your cataloging of Riverside Drive. Have you been to La Hacienda? Amazing carnitas-other meats are fine too but the carnitas are the best out of the "wet" style I've found in town.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              indeed, la hacienda is the bomb. it seems that if you are a mexican meat market, the amount of mexican women you can draw upon is unlimited.

              while i was going down riverside i saw a sign that said 'bahn mi express.' given that i used to live up north where bahn mi on lamar are plentiful, i figured id try it out. however i went in the shopping complex and it was completely deserted, with the stores all boarded up and everything. i felt like i was gonna be attacked by rabid junkies any second. so unfortunately that was a no go. but i did go to the 'im dun dawgs' off of montopolis. great place to catch a burger (or hot dog, if thats your thing. i dont eat em tho. wtf is in em) in the hood. cash only tho. good spot, grabbed fries, a bacon cheeseburger and a coke for five bucks. coulda been cheaper but cant everything! the search continues!

        2. re: Carter B.

          I'm totally with you on Tam's--believe me--that's one bad thing about living south of the river--also I rather like Sazon--thanks for the recommendations!

      2. Trucks? Check out: (for your Korean-Mexican BBQ needs) (for your cuban sandwiches


        (Oops; reread the post to note that it asks for "taco" trucks. But, think of "tacos: very broadly defined with regard to Texas Cuban . . .)

        1. Alonzos on Montopolis Dr. has good food for a small restaraunt.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alfredo3586

            whats good there? i went by once before they closed and grabbed barbacoa and carne guisada and was rather underwhelmed