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I'm Overwhelmed

Okay, okay. So, I admit, I'm not the foodie I once was. I "only" go out to eat on the weekends now and I have my favorites I keep going back to again and again. That means my "to try" list keeps getting longer and longer. Please help my prioritize or I'll never get new favorites. Mostly, I haven't hit these because they are completely on the opposite side of town from me and/or they aren't open for lunch on the weekends. Here's my list in no particular order:

Raman Tatsuya
Clark's Oyster Bar
East Side King
Melvins Deli Comfort
Buzz Mill
Justine's Brasserie
Tapas Bravas
Hillside Pharmacy
Micklethwait BBQ
Winflo Osteria
Josephine's House

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  1. I've not been to many of those either yet.

    I was completely underwhelmed by Micklethwait, both in the BBQ and the service.

    El Naranjo is delicious but pricey. Freedmen's has excellent smoked head cheese and nice cocktails.

    Contigo is approaching excellent in most things I've tried there. Go when the weather's nice, as all tables basically outside.

    1. I like lenoir but the lack of tables is problematic.

      1. I found Hillside Farmacy pretty good but not hype worthy. It's best feature, frankly, was good parking. They had very nice oysters. I am anxious to try El Naranjo. I wish they'd chosen a location other than the epicenter of tipsy hipsters!

        1. From your list I have first hand experience with Lenoir and Contigo. But first, this: I don't see Barleyswine on your list. If you have not been there, put it at the very top. I have been there twice and it is a thrilling eating experience. The SWMBO liked it very much, Be sure and sit at the counter.

          Lenoir- Interesting place, interesting food. Small interior, funky junk store motiif.Overall food was quite good but my first dish, appetizer, was way over salted.On your list I would rank it up there but cannot touch Barleyswine.

          Contigo- As advised best enjoyed in good spring weather. Interesting and delicious small plates with a decent selection of beer. I would rank it pretty high on your list also.

          Josephine's House- Haven't been there but reluctant to pay around 40 buck for lunch. Have you looked at their menui?

          Also see www.fedmanwalking.com if you haven't already. It is Mike Sutter's website and he ranks Lenoir something like his number one place.

          Also consider Swift's Attic.


          1 Reply
          1. re: singlemalt

            Barlyswine added.

            We were going to go to Swift's Attic last weekend and ended up at Gourmands. We really enjoyed the spicy bloody mary and the sandwiches were of very high quality meat and so big we ended up taking half home.

          2. Good list Amysue, and pardon my windy-ness. For perspective and since you know I'm a fan, I hit up Los Pinos at least twice a month on weekends and it would be perhaps the worst culinary loss for me if it ever closed among all others in town. On the expensive side I do adore the chance to eat at Clark's, Uchiko, Barley Swine, and Hudson's when money and patience permits. I have tried, and have not overly impressed with or been back to Kome, Hillside, Micklethwait and Ramen Tatsuya - RT's ramen soup gave my wife some kind of facial swelling allergic reaction that scared us both, any MSG? not sure. Food was tasty though.

            For my money on that list, and not to rub in what sounds like limited weekday lunch options for you, but Melvin's is just a rabidly good crave-inducing monster of a sandwich shop; their rueben might just be the best sandwich I've ever had. Wonderfully tame 'kraut, good swiss, good multigrain bread (I actually like it soft and untoasted better), and that house cured piled up pastrami or corned beef, as you like, is to die for. 10 bucks. I hit up Noble Pig today for lunch, and had the house cured pork rueben. Not bad, but absolutely no comparison. Skimpy meat and kraut, and too much bread. I like those guys and their attitudes and I still need to work through the NP menu, but my favorite sammie shop by far is Melvin's. I hate to hype it up too much, they're already selling out of pastrami and corned beef by 12:30 despite doubling meat production Jan 1.

            6 Replies
            1. re: slowcoooked

              Hehehe. We're actually going to Pinos on Valentines. I've always marveled at the specials on the board, but have never ordered. Looks like they're doing those only for VDay.

              I've tried to talk hubs into going to Melvin's, but he says we're too old for Hipsterville. I'll make a point of trying it one day for weekday lunch on my own.

              1. re: amysuehere

                The V-day menu looks great and what a value - they had it out last weekend. We may cross paths. I will be the guy drinking the salsa straight from a pint sized styrofoam cup :-)

                And BTW, I haven't noticed an overabundance of hipsters at Melvin's. Actually there seems to be a New Yorker checking it out every time I go. I have no facial hair, so believe me I feel out of place in hipster-tastic locales. Beards are friggin' everywhere!!!!

                1. re: slowcoooked

                  6:00 reservation. Short, blond shoulder length hair, 40-cough-ersomething. blue glasses. Hubbers is bald and French-looking. Come say hi.

                  1. re: amysuehere

                    If it takes you two hours to eat we'll be there a bit before 8 pm and will say hi. I recall the filet and shrimp dishes sounded enticing but I can't remember the details. another couple of 40-cough-ersomethings half bald, half brunette.

              2. re: slowcoooked

                Did Melvin's today out of dumb luck. Were going to go to F&D and they weren't open. Then the same thing with Drink.Well. with the same result. Completely forgot Melvin's is right there till we drove by. They were sold out of corned beef and pastrami as well as the pork. We ordered the hot Italian beef and the roast beef sandwich. Hot Italian was waaaaaay better and huge. Roast beef, while good, was just a roast beef. Will absolutely go back earlier for the Ruben.

                As a side note, don't go there if you are limited to an hour lunch. You won't make it.

                1. re: amysuehere

                  Shucks!! Yeah they run out fast. The hot italian is about half as good as the rueben or straight up corned beef / mustard or pastrami mustard sammies with swiss. In order of my love for their cures, it's pastrami then corned beef then ham. all those are better than the straight beef to me. the ham on the croque monsieur is great and I've not tried a straight ham and cheese.

                  and if you go on a weekday at 11:30, you'll typically be done in 30 minutes or so.

              3. I'd throw Spin, which I loved or Sway, which I haven't tried but know people who love on that list.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rptrane

                  I've been to Sway. While the food was a total flavor bomb, I felt it a bit on the pricey side and the communal tables turn me off...and both of us had unsettled stomach the rest of the day.

                2. Your to try list matches mine closely. I've been to Melvin's, Justine's, and Hillside (brunch). Melvin's had very good pastrami, but the mustard was nuclear (it can be left off). Josephine was a long time ago and a bit better Chez Nous, but not worth it for us. Hillside brunch was good and I'd like to try dinner.

                  Others are turning this thread into evaluation of what's new. Of the 2012 places, Sway blew us out of the water. The best Thai I've had in the city--Spin included (only for lunch). Sway's food had rustic, deep flavors. Parking and seating are crappy, but I loved our one visit.

                  Clark's and Lenior are high on our soon to visit list.

                  1. I understand your problem. I keep a list on my phone of new or interesting places as I learn of them. The list gets longer and longer despite my trying to get to one new place a week. Basically, I don't go to places that do not serve lunch as it is a lot easier for me to drop by a new place then rather than fight a crowd in the evening.

                    Of the places you have listed, I enjoyed Contigo and El Naranjo (as a trailer haven't been to the B&M version) and found Kome to be good but not overwhelming. I'm way behind on my trailers, so not much help there.

                    Nice problem to have, though.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: akachochin

                      It's just gone crazy! I don't know how others keep up.

                    2. I will chime in.

                      Keepers for food:
                      East Side King (LIberty & ShangriLa)
                      Clarks Oyster Bar
                      Tapas Bravas

                      Keepers for ambiance:


                      Others I have not tried.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sarvey

                        I don't think Contigo is that special. The food was just okay. Good fries though.

                        1. re: Rptrane

                          Agreed regarding Contigo. I've never been that impressed with the food. Really like Kome, though.

                      2. Here's how I'd order the ones I've been to:
                        1. Ramen Tatsu-ya - I am madly in love with this place; so much so that I will willingly wait in line for an hour or more to eat there. That's saying a lot for me. Don't go when you want to linger and visit, though, for obvious reasons.
                        2. East Side King - trailer food from Paul Qui - what's not to love?
                        3. Lenoir - so much heart. I'd say food is some hit and some miss, but mostly hit and just a very sweet experience. Get a reservation way in advance.
                        4. Contigo - take advantage of the lovely patio weather while we have it. Get the fried green beans. Feel happy you live in Austin.
                        5. Kome - points off for it being so crowded and loud and the long waits, but the food is good and I think reasonably priced for what you get.
                        6. Hillside Farmacy - only have been once and really liked my food. Went when it was warmer and there was a serious, serious fly problem, though. Inside.
                        7. Clark's Oyster Bar - only have been once, but loved what I ordered, though it seemed pricey for what I got.
                        8. Justine's Brasserie - The food is inconsistent - sometimes great, sometimes just okay. The service is WILDLY inconsistent. Sometimes great, sometimes abysmal. The worst service experience I've ever had in my life was here. I don't ever recommend it and only go if someone else suggests it and even then, with trepidation.

                        Haven't been to the rest except for El Naranjo when it was in its previous trailer form. Liked it, but don't feel I can order it without having been to the brick & mortar.

                        If you haven't been, I'd also add Epicerie to your list. I love that place.

                        1. I suppose one could look at the glass as half-full, and say that we're lucky to live in a town that has a thriving restaurant scene. How long has Lenoir been open? 6 months? And they are already the best in Austin according to Sutter and #3 I believe on Odam's list?

                          I'm not sure if you are looking for thoughts on your 'next' list, or for us to post our own. On your list I have been to Kome, Lenoir, ESK, Contigo, Justine's, and Hillside. I would unequivocally go back to ESK.

                          My list seems to be clustered towards the higher end. The budget doesn't allow for a blowout meal every weekend.

                          Wink (central)
                          Clark's (central)
                          Haddington's (central)
                          El Naranjo (rainey)
                          Elizabeth Street Cafe (south)
                          La Traviata (congress)
                          Congress/Second (congress)
                          Salty Sow (east)
                          Takoba (east)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: NWLarry

                            I went to Haddingtons for the Austin Eats Tour (highly recommend!!!) and again for brunch. Like the little outside patio on a nice day. Can't remember what I ended up getting, but remember I liked it. It's kind of out of the way for us, is the only reason I think we haven't been back.

                            Went to Congress for a nice dinner. Thought is was more of the same trend on high end. It just didn't blow me out of the water for the price-point.

                            1. re: NWLarry

                              the last few times I've been to wink have been disappointing..

                            2. was disapointed in Justines
                              East side King( please - we hit this place like most people hit Mcdonalds drive through window)
                              Josphines house was pretty good
                              Raman should be your next hit
                              Buzz Mill( i dont know it seems theme parky and like it is trying too hard or something)
                              I would put barlyswine and the cuban sandwich cafe above most your others

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                I have only been to Justine's once. It has some charm and an interesting menu, but I am left with the memory of an overly salty steak and not much of a desire to return.

                              2. Just my 2 cents, but Lenoir and Tatsu-ya are the two absolutely must try asap. Tatsu-ya on a Sunday preferably, so you can have the option of the amazing Vegan/Vegetarian Ramen. (High Praise from a Carnivore.)

                                The rest (at least of the ones I have been to) are definitely worth trying out, but if your opportunities are limited, Lenoir and Tatsu-ya should be at the top of the list.

                                EDIT: Haha, just noticed how old this thread is.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Homero

                                  Tatsu-Ya was crazy good when I finally went last month. Haven't heard about Lenoir, might need to try that when I'm back in town next week. Thanks for the info!

                                  1. re: Chicago Wine Geek

                                    ESK's ramen is very good and I think their broth is chicken based, just in case you aren't a heavy seafood fan.