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Dallas Chowhound Looking for the Best

I am very familiar with Austin and looking for the best places to go. I am coming down Mid March for four days (17-20).

Looking at El Taco Rico, Franklin BBQ and Odd Duck.

Any other suggestion you might have would be appreciated. I have scoured through scumptiouschef's blog so have a few others in mind.

Prolly also going to Whip In for a beer run. Are there any brewery tours or inside contacts I could make to get into one?

I know we are going to Sunset Valley FM....is there another one we should hit up? I am looking to meet up with Lew from Austin Sea Veggies. Also would like to procure some more sauerkraut from Straight from the Vine. Anyone have any thoughts on Dai Due and Kocurek? I have seen both at a Slow Food event and just would like some regular customer input.

I know I should avoid most of the Asian recs as we have good Asian here in the metroplex.

Thanks in advance

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Odd Duck
1219 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Dai Due Farmers' Market Stand
4th and Guadalupe, Austin, TX

El Taco Rico
810 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741

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  1. Hi LweisvilleHounder, welcome. I've enjoyed your Dallas posts.

    First, you'll be coming during SXSW which can be a bit of a madhouse. In particular I'd say Franklin's and Odd Duck will be mobbed most of the time. El Taco Rico, not at all is my guess. Franklin's restaruant will hopefully be open by then so you might have a chance, but you might consider hitting Lockhart instead (I like Smitty's others like Black's or Kreuz) with a better chance of getting meat around lunchtime.

    As an alternative to Odd Duck you might try 3 Little Pigs. It is less known right now and better chance of being less crowded. I wrote about them and a similar interesting trailer called Not Your Mama's Food Truck this past weekend. All offer exotic trailer food (quail eggs, beef tongue, etc).

    Your 3 carts are Mick Vann's top picks for 2010. you might look at his other options as well (most are known and will be crowded):

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/food/2...

    As for the Asian, I'm sure Dallas has great options. but during SXSW the Asian restaurants won't be as crowded as they are mostly away from downtown. A few Asian places to consider are Tam's Deli and Sunflower for Vietnamese (at Sunflower you might want to look at the dinner menu). Austin has a couple of solid Sichuan places: Asia Cafe and the new A+A Sichuan China. Finally, some claim the best Thai food in the area is in Garfield past the airport at Little Thailand.

    I've been going to the Downtown Farmer's market over Sunset Valley lately but that is more for convenience. Both Dai Due and Kocurek are downtown, I don't know about SV. Dai Due has interesting hot breakfast/lunch options (I had a fantastic wild boar carnitas torta this past weekend). In my limited sample I've preferred Kocurek's charcuterie (only had a couple from both). Might be worth your time to sign up for their email lists so you can preorder and pick up anything special when you are there without them selling out.

    -----
    Odd Duck
    1219 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

    Dai Due Farmers' Market Stand
    4th and Guadalupe, Austin, TX

    El Taco Rico
    810 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carter B.

      here is this week's newletter from dai due, to give you an idea.

      ==============================
      Hot Breakfast and Lunch at the Market!

      Biscuits, Sausage and Gravy

      Bison Chili Cheese Dogs.
      Seriously. Our beef/pork hot dogs with Stryck cheddar, Thunderheart bison chili and diced onions on Barrie's soft rolls. Mystery-free.

      Maple Pork Belly and a Fried Egg on Texas Toast


      Seasonal Specials

      Lacinato Kale Sausage. Lacinato. Tuscan black kale. Cavolo Nero. Dinosaur kale. Whatever you call it, this meaty leafy green is a favorite at the market. It also is one of the only survivors of The Big Freeze of '11... We salute this vegetable with a sausage: coarsely ground Richardson pork, sauteed kale, caramelized onions, green garlic and crushed chili pepper combined and stuffed into a natural casing. Grill this sausage and serve it with potatoes for a complete meal.

      $12/ lb.

      Stuffed Pork Chops. These big, 2-rib double chops from a fresh Richardson hog have been first brined, then stuffed with kielbasa sausage and braised leeks. Roast, smoke or grill. One double rib chop per package (2-3 lbs.). Limited availability.

      $16/lb.

      Persimmon Worcestershire. Soft-ripe persimmons, blended with molasses, black pepper, clove, cider vinegar and spices for the traditional swet/salty/sour flavor of worcestershire. We put it in burgers, rice, dressings, marinades and sauces where a little bit of "something" is needed.

      $5/ 5 oz. jar.

      Condiments, Sausages and Charcuterie

      Boudin Blanc. Countryside Farm chicken, Richardson pork, sauteed onions, cream and breadcrumbs - all finely ground - make this traditional French sausage. Lightened with organic Meyer lemon zest, thyme and subtle spices, we love this sausage with winter vegetables like kale, turnips and beets. Simply brown Boudin Blanc in a pan with a little butter or lard.

      $12/ lb.

      Knackwurst. (links) Our smoked German sausage, made from Bastrop Cattle Company beef, Richardson pork, garlic and spices like mustard seed, nutmeg and marjoram. We love knackwurst on a roll with sauerkraut and mustard, or with some mashed rutabagas. Recipe below.

      $12/ lb.

      Chaurice Sausage. (links) Our savory Creole onion sausage, made from coarsely ground Richardson pork, Neagelin onions, allspice, bay leaves, cayenne and black pepper. This is a natural with beans and lentils, but also great grilled and served on a roll.

      $12/ lb.

      Chicken Liver Mousse. A smooth, rich pate made from Richardson Farm chicken livers, organic butter, onions, Laird's applejack and spices. Spread on crackers or good bread.

      $6/ 4 oz. jar.

      Liverwurst. We apologize for not having liverwurst for the past three weeks. It is back, so please stop with the threats.

      $8/ 8 oz. package.

      Salt Pork. A very versatile item, salt pork can be used to add an unctuous layer of seasoned, herbacious porkiness to many dishes. We cure ours for a few days in a blend of salt, pepper, bay leaves and dried herbs. Crisped in a pan, it makes a start to a great vinaigrette for a salad with crunchy greens and a poached egg. It can also be the base for a great chowder or soup, or fried in slices and served on sourdough with mayonnaise and thinly sliced onion. Can be used in recipes calling for pancetta, too.

      $8/ 8 oz. package.

      Venison Breakfast Sausage. (bulk) Our Country Style recipe, made with field-harvested Broken Arrow Ranch venison and Richardson pork, grade B maple syrup, along with ginger, sage and black pepper.

      $10/lb., comes in 1 pound bulk packages.

      Wild Boar Chorizo. (bulk) Traditional chorizo made with high-quality Broken Arrow Ranch wild boar, seasoned with Mexican oregano, cumin, a blend of three chilies, a pinch of cinnamon and vinegar. Great with scrambled eggs, or in soups.

      $10/lb., comes in 1 pound bulk packages.

      Country Style Breakfast Sausage. (bulk) Richardson Farm pork, grade B maple syrup, ginger, sage and black pepper.

      $9/lb., comes in 1 pound bulk packages.

      Molasses Bacon. Richardson Farm pork bellies cured with salt, brown sugar, molasses and black peppercorns, then hot-smoked over pecan branches. We never use nitrates.

      $6/ half-pound package, pre-sliced.

      Fireman's 4 Mustard. "The mustard named after a beer named after a bike". Real Ale blonde ale, brown mustard seeds, organic vinegar and spices. Hot, rustic mustard that goes well with sausages, in vinaigrette or with beef.

      $8/ 8 oz. jar.

      Bavarian Sweet Mustard. We take organic sugar and make a golden caramel, then add yellow and brown mustard seeds, organic apple cider vinegar and spices to make this sweet and hot mustard. Great with ham, pretzels, sausages and charcuterie.

      $8/ 8 oz. jar.

      Yellow Mustard. Traditional, American style yellow mustard - spicy, sour and perfect on hamburgers, sandwiches and hot dogs. We make ours with yellow mustard seed, non-GMO vinegar, corainder, paprika and a little local honey.

      $6/ 8 oz. jar.

      Lard. Pure leaf lard, freshly rendered from Jim Richardson's healthy hogs on Wednesday. No additives, non-hydrogenated. Keeps for a year in the fridge. Best for pastry, confit, tortillas, tamales and deep-frying.

      $10/ pint jar (2 cups).

      WE DO NOT USE MSG OR NITRATES

      ALL of our meats, eggs, fresh herbs, fruit, cheeses and vegetables come from local, sustainable or organic Texas sources.

      Our game meats - venison and wild boar - are not farmed, but truly wild and free-ranging and harvested under Government inspection by Broken Arrow Ranch.

      1. re: Carter B.

        Add Salt & Time - http://www.saltandtime.com/ - to your charcuterie list. You can hit all three at the HOPE Farmers Market on Sunday - http://www.hopefarmersmarket.org/

        The only brewery tour I know for sure going on while you're here is Live Oak - they do them every Saturday, you can register online. http://www.liveoakbrewing.com/tour/

        I don't know what (512) or Jester King do for tours, Independence is the 1st Saturday of the month. All local brewers are on Facebook or Twitter if you use either.

        -----
        Salt & Time
        414 Waller St., Austin, TX

        1. re: brentwood

          I would add that Thirsty Planet do tours 10-2 pm on Saturdays. Go to their website to rsvp. While I like other breweries more, thirsty planet's tasting room setup is pretty nice and 7 bucks gets you a pint glass with 4 fills.

          I would definitely follow the breweries on twitter or facebook, as some may have shindigs going on during sxsw. I seem to remember 512 having an unofficial day show last year.

      2. Eater also has some interesting restaurant lists that stray occasionally from the trendy:

        http://austin.eater.com/archives/2011...

        1. Just a warning, the produce is a bit slim at the markets these days because of that big freeze a few weeks back. Though it sounds like you're mostly interested in value added products, which aren't affected as much.

          1. I have read scumptiouschef's many posts and oogles about the garlic butter fried shrimp banh mi at Tam's Deli. We might have to change up our plans a bit to account for the crowds.

            Thanks brentwood for the tip on Salt and Time looks like the vendor I was looking for.

            Has anyone tried the sausages at Dai Due? Boudin Blanc, Chaurice, Chorizo and Liverwurst in paticular. What are your thoughts?

            Little Thailand looks interesting but I am not so sure about it. What are some dish recommendations? Any off menu items I should know about? I have had some good Thai meals recently, see below;

            http://www.madewithair.com/?p=431

            http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2011/...

            I will look into the Sichuan places.

            Diner 24 worth looking into? Frank Hot Dogs good?

            -----
            Dai Due Farmers' Market Stand
            4th and Guadalupe, Austin, TX

            8 Replies
            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

              Yeah, Little Thailand has always been good not great to me. Others on the board have compared it to Lotus of Siam. Search the board. One of the owners died a year or so again, and there have not been many reports since then.

              24 gets decidedly mixed reviews on the board. I have not had a bad meal there--enjoyed the chili and the lamb burger. The chow.com also was there recently and had positive things to see (if you haven't watched their Austin stuff--check out their Chow Tour videos that are wrapping up).

              I love Frank. It is in the heart of it all so you'll want to go there for breakfast/lunch/brunch. I don't like their hot dogs, but they do very interesting sausage specials (all made locally). At brunch, I've had some amazing fried chicken (with mediocre waffles).

              Another up and coming restaurant is Foreign and Domestic and it shouldn't have the crowds as it is away from downtown. Nose-to-tail eating sort of place. Still worth getting a resy if they take it.

              1. re: Carter B.

                If you crave a rowdy, loud, fun brunch with the best coffee in town, Frank is awesome. I'm a fan.

              2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                The Boudin Blanc from Dai Due is really good, with just the right amount of seasoning. Definitely worth trying.

                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                  You'd be missing out if you didn't try Bola Pizza at the downtown farmer's market. It is fantastic.

                  Between Dai Due, Kocurek, and Salt & Time, I've had the best luck with S&T, but all three are excellent.

                  I personally would skip 24 Diner. There are many, many restaurants in town that could kick 24 Diner's butt with one fork tied behind their backs.

                  Love Frank. Two thumbs up on them.

                  As far as Asian food goes, Carter's recs are solid. Sunflower has been closed recently due to a fire in the Asian grocery store in the same strip - not sure whether they're back open again. If not, their "sister" restaurant, Le Soleil, is also excellent. For Thai, I recently had what I think was the best Thai meal I've had in Austin at Muongthai, which is wayyyyyyy up north near Lakeline Mall. They had a fried catfish with red curry dish that was phenomenal, and I loved their basil fried rice with pork. That meal was better than meals I've had at Little Thailand, and the drive probably isn't as long - depending on where you're staying.

                  If you haven't visited Uchiko yet, it's a splurge, but worth every penny. I favor it over Uchi - it's more playful, more accessible, and less scene-y.

                  -----
                  Uchi Restaurant
                  801 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

                  Le Soleil Restaurant
                  9616 N Lamar Blvd Ste 156, Austin, TX 78753

                  Salt & Time
                  414 Waller St., Austin, TX

                  Uchiko
                  4200 North Lamar, Austin, TX 78756

                  1. re: Optimista

                    I am staying in Cedar Park. I got the menu for Muang Thai across 183 from Lakeline Mall. I suppose I will have to try it out on the next trip.

                    So far we have had extremely good luck in our food choices. Franklin BBQ at their new brick and mortar location was sublime. All the meats sampled (brisket - fatty and burnt ends, sausage and pork ribs) were tender and juicy. Sides could use some help but I do understand the focus is on the meats, which is where it should be. The two sauces; the espresso based and the vinegar based were both well suited for the barbecue. Neither of the sauces were overpoweringly sweet, salty or vinegary.

                    We stopped in at the Savory Spice Shop just past 6th @ Lamar. The place was amazing and the customer service was extremely nice. We got out of there with 4 or 5 unique spice blends and several otehr items that we could not find in Dallas. The owner was very welcoming and also stopped her work that she had left to finish while we were browsing, to ask us to visit again. Very high points for that. We will definitely be going back!

                    My wife tried out Fair Bean Coffee for some great whole bean coffee. She tried the Guatemala roast for that day and also got a coffee drink, nutty something, with nutella. She enjoyed it immensely.

                    Next door to the Fair Bean Coffee was the Arancini trailer. We tried the arancini and were blown away as these were the best we have had since our honeymoon trip to Rome. There were three palm sized balls for $4. Would highly recommend this trailer.

                    After the arancini we travelled across town and out of all the bustle of SXSW to El Taco Rico. If many of you here have not had the chance to dine here I would highly recommend it. We ordered all the tacos except the chicken and then an order of enchiladas with a fried quail (enchiladas con guilota). The enchiladas are the real deal Mexican version with only Cotija topping them. Freshly made corn tortillas dipped in a mild chile sauce topped with shredded cbbage, tomato, avocado and jalapeno en escabeche. All of the tortillas are handmade and were nice and supple. The al pastor and suadero are killer. The sauces were the typical red straight chile de arbol and garlic and then there was the tomatillo balanced with lettuce and made a bit zippy with fresh jalapeno. The quali was prefectly fried and I really enjoyed it.

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                    El Taco Rico
                    810 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741

                     
                     
                     
                     
                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                      I will reply back at a later time about our trip to Jester King and Black Star Co-Op

                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                        Fantastic! I think Franklin has the best 'cue in town, hands-down.

                        I've been meaning to try the Arancini trailer and am moving it up the list. Somehow, I've missed El Taco Rico; it's now on the list, too. Not enough places make their own tortillas anymore.

                        I like Black Star, as much for the atmosphere and their practices as anything else. I think the best thing I've had there so far is the shrimp & grits; they also have a pretty solid burger, although Hopdoddy's is my favorite in that category. I asked for mayo on my burger last time I was there (at Black Star), and they gave me a huge cup of aioli that was wonderful for dipping the fries.

                        -----
                        El Taco Rico
                        810 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741

                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                          Lewisville Hounder

                          Yolanda over at El Taco Rico should hold a seminar where all the "Mexican" chefs learn at her knee for a few hours.

                          She's on such a high level that there are local eaters who can't even comprehend what she's doing.

                          I really hope you ordered the barbacoa as it's one of two places in town that are capable of approaching the typical San Antonio level of excellence.

                          Savory over on 6th st is in the process of replacing all the spices in my cabinet. Austin now has world class spices...as good as what you can get in the Egyptian Market in Istanbul and no, I don't say that lightly.

                          Hated to hear about you being so close to Once Over Coffee Bar and not hitting it up as they serve pluperfect espresso. Never been to Fair Bean.

                          Thanks for the headsup on Arancini. I'm down that way a couple times a week and will definitely try it out.

                          I can't afford $15 per pound brisket so I won't be able to eat at Aaron's new joint [Franklin] but am happy that he's taking barbecue to the next level in Austin.

                          Black's is my gold standard and at $11 a pound they still get the lion's share of my brisket money.

                          Looking forward to you tying up the loose ends in your next report.

                          -----
                          El Taco Rico
                          810 Vargas Rd, Austin, TX 78741

                      1. re: scrumptiouschef

                        Is this the same report that is on your blog scumptiouschef??

                      2. Did you manage to meet up with me?!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: austinseaveg

                          not yet. I will be down and meet up with you on Saturday 19th hopefully early before the throngs of people get there. I appreciate you checking the boards though.

                          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                            Great! I make sure to google us now and then so I don't miss things like your post. See you this weekend! Make sure to tell me you are you!