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Oct 26, 2012 09:47 AM

Everyone Loves Lists

Matt Odam (the Statesman) is out with his top 50 restaurants. It's a pretty great list, and with Mike Sutter currently working on his top 55, we're seeing some great food criticism right now (it looks like Fearless Critic has gone quiet, and the Chronicle's year end list is a ways off).

The Good: I especially liked the high rankings of Foreign & Domestic, Vino Vino and Fabi + Rosi. I've had wildly creative and wonderful food at F&D, and consistently great food at Vino Vino and Fabi + Rosi; I think the latter 2 get overlooked quite a bit. I'm also officially dying to try Lenoir (5!) and El Naranjo (24).

The Bad: No Olivia or Lambert's? Odam points out that it's his top 50 right now, and while I think you can certainly make a case for having Perla's above Lambert's, I wouldn't exclude Lambert's entirely. Further, Lucy's makes the list. Lucy's! I think that place is....well I think it's awful actually. Hipster fried chicken.

The Weird: Not a single trailer? Not even East Side King? And while I appreciate Tarka's, and certainly hope there's an Indian Chipotle in the future, I don't think it would crack my top 50. Similarly, Hopdoddy's is nice, but it's not exactly a revelation.

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  1. we're lucky to live in a town with so many great food options.

    Although I've had some good meals at Olivia they didn't live up to my expectations at that price point.

    And what besides the atmosphere is there to like about Lambert's? certainly not the bbq! I did enjoy the brunches, but my last few times were mediocore.

    Agree with Lucy's, its decent fried chicken but its pretty expensive and not that special.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chrisdds98

      Just got back from Southern Hospitality and I'm pleased to report that their fried chicken was wonderful - juicy and flavorful. It beats out Lucy's by a long shot. I also enjoyed the fried catfish and the mac and cheese.

    2. he did a top trailer list separately

      1. I thought the list was great. Definitely disagree with some, but solid choices. Love the placement of Tam's--my favorite restaurant in Austin all things considered.

        Some Chowhound worthy spots like Asia Cafe, Asiana, Taco More (though I don't love Taco More that much).

        NWLarry, are you saying Tarka is Indian Chipotle? It is a bit better than that order prep wise and I've had decent dishes. Top 50, no. Indian Chipotle is the new Naanful by the domain. I haven't been but my coworkers said pretty mediocre.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Carter B.

          I have eaten at 2 of the Tarka's and thought both were delicious. The best Indian restaurant in Austin though? (Swad in my book)

          From the looks of it, they are both trying to capture a bit of that rapidly growing fast-casual dollar. Which I have no problem with-I welcome the higher quality ingredients and affordable options the segment offers. I'd love to have a high quality foodie lunch every day, but since I'm not particularly near any Austin hotspots, I appreciate what the Chipotle's, Panera's and Tarka's of the world offer.

        2. I totally agree that Olivia deserves a spot on the list and that Lucy's emphatically does not.

          1. First off, I want to say that this list is actually pretty good. Above average work for a local newspaper.

            Since everyone loves lists, I'll articulate my criticisms in list form.

            1. Inexplicable sequence. Congress is not the third-best restaurant in Austin; Lenoir is not the fifth, F&D is not the sixth, Trio is not the seventh, the Carillon is not the eighth, etc. Assuming the ordinality of the list is significant, this is a broken list. Good items with a flawed order.

            2. Cuisine panic. Highest-rated Indian is Tarka, highest-rated Thai is SPIN, highest-rated pizza is Eastside Pies, etc. Asserting Tarka is the best Indian food in Greater Austin creates a deep concern in the reader.

            3. Notable omissions, especially given the list's breadth. How can Franklin be the only BBQ listed? Where is Din Ho? Ramen Tatsu-Ya? Eastside Kings? Too many Mexican/taco omissions to list? Many places somehow didn't make the list, considering issue number 4, which is...

            4. DMW (Dead Man Walking) joints. Several places listed have been mediocre for a while and carry on through sheer inertia. I don't want to be crass, so I won't call them out, but putting THAT place, and THAT OTHER place, and THAT ONE OLD place where they are on the list is jarring, especially since the writer otherwise seems to be receptive to new establishments. Surely, if you're this open to up-and-comers, you'd deprioritize some of these sad, declining elders.

            5. After four general issues, here is a specific one: The El Meson on the list is the inferior Lamar variant. Adding to the confusion, Burleson Meson gets mentioned but not listed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tom in austin

              FWIW, and not much I am sure, and I have yet to communicate this to MO but the concept of a top 10 or top what ever, is in need of revision. And by that I mean it is not fair to put places like Barleyswine, Foreign and Domestic and Contigo on a general list of restuarants along side Congress, Trio, Fabi and Rossi or whomever is your favorite sit down and have a good dinner place. By that I mean, we have two ( or more) different food, cooking and serving concepts going on. IMO, places like Brandyswine and Contigo fall in a category something like a tapas place, ie, small plates where you order a variety and don't go to eat there with the intent of having a traditional dinner. I.e. you don't, or at least I don't go there with the intent of eating a meal, getting full, burping and falling asleep on the couch during "The Big Bang". What we have here are different food concepts and I believe they should be discussed separately for sense and coherence.