Austin - Is there not Chow beyond BBQ and Tex Mex?
I've just spent a good hour killing time and avoiding work while reading all the Austin posts in this section. And as far as I can. Everyone from Austin eats 90% BBQ and Tex Mex and everyone visiting Austin gets BBQ or Tex Mex crammed down their throats! I understand that this area of Texas is reknowned for both of these cuisines, but this town is also filled with all sorts of other nooks and crannies of the food world.
In no order and without any thought put into it, here are a few of the "special" places in Austin I like to haunt.
1) Korea House - their sushi might not be the best and their Korean might not be the best, but they have both and they are friendly and service is usually very good. Plus, its located in a very strange shopping plaza. I love their spicy tuna rolls.
2) Ichiban - first class sushi! Plus they have a tako salad which is boiled octopus in a sesame oil dressing which is incredible
3) Delaware Subs - I know there is always a debate about who makes the best subs, but I grew up in New England and this place comes the closest to making an Italian "Grinder" as I've seen yet in town. They may cost a little more, but I'd rather have capicola on my sub than pre-pressed ham pieces.
4) Alborz Persian - Located near Satay by Mopac and West Anderson, this has a great lunch buffet. A Persian lunch buffet looks (to the casual observer) like an indian buffet, but it has lots of great differences. First all, when I went, they had over 7 different kinds of rice dishes. Curry Rice, Cranberry Rice, etc. Awesome. Great price for buffet as well.
5) Fortune Pho 75 - I know they always fail their health inspection but I am in love with their Number 56 (Bün with Charcoal pork and eggrolls.
Oh well, just my two cents. Any comments?
OK, I'll bite. I'll leave the sushi commentary to Phil, and I'll tackle sandwiches. For my money, The Little Deli, in the Crestview Shopping Center on Woodrow Ave, has the finest sandwiches in Austin, without question. In fact, it may be my favorite Austin eatery of any genre. The Italian Wedge is my favorite, but I've never had a bad sandwich there. Unfortunately, it's only open during the week and for lunch, so I seldom get to go. My favorite Delaware sub is the sausage sub, only available on Fridays. When I used to work downtown, I think the bread delivery coinsided with sausage day, since the sausage bread just seemed better.
I too like the Fortune Pho 75. I used to always get the lemongrass chicken (#60, I believe [a good number in these parts]), but my experiments with the rest of the menu were positive, for the most part.
Thanks for your picks. I will mention though that I don't think anyone's getting anything crammed down their throats that they didn't specifically ask for. I'd personally like to mention Musashino in every post but people hitting Austin for the first time, uderstandably, ask to be directed to the best tex-mex and 'cue and local posters are happy to oblige. Hey, chowing down on Texas brisket is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some folks.
I do notice a share of posts concerning Vietnamese (particularly pho), Chinese, and Japanese restaurants, as well as sandwiches and pizza. That being said, here are my suggestions re food not ordinarily associated with Austin but found here in quality worthy of any American city.
Sushi - I am a sushi addict due to a cheap initiation as a waiter in sushi bars for 6 years in Boulder, Colorado. Hence, I've sampled most of the bars in town, including Ichiban, and imho Musashino towers above the rest. Pretty much every type of fish they serve is the best I've had in Austin. No kidding, "pretty much" is probably an understatement.
What to get? I could and will go on and on - tuna sashimi; monkfish liver; various types of mackerel, particularly aji when they have it; the fatty versions of salmon and yellowtail(from the cheek); the whitefish special which includes several species with perhaps a duplicate prepared in two different ways (flounder body and flounder fin have similar flavor but remarkably different texture); an excellent version of the tako sunomono you enjoyed at Ichiban or rarely, if you're lucky, jellyfish sunomono; toro that's worth the price and graded appropriately according to fattiness; squid; and whatever's on special which in the past have included tiny crabs fried whole (tastier to me than fried sweet shrimp head), seared Kobe beef sashimi and, best of all, file fish sashimi topped with it's own liver.
I've gone on long enough already, so I'll post later on my Chinese, Vietnamese and Italian favorites.
While Texas does have the perception of all BBQ and Tex-Mex, I think a lot of folks will agree that if you live here, it seems like half the population is vegetarian! Don't get me wrong-I have nothing against veg's, but there's a lot here-and a lot of veg. restaurants to choose from.
Well, I just had lunch at Swad yesterday and had excellent south Indian food -- chilli pakoras and ball of coconut, potato, and chiles coated in batter and deep fried whose name escapes me. Ordering was slightly a challenge since the older lady at the counter kept insisting I had to order more and that maybe I wanted this or that. She meant well though.
Swad's on N. Lamar at Rundberg, right next to the Desperados nightclub.
David "Zeb" Cook