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Jun 17, 2013 07:33 PM

Moving to the Westgate area... tips on what's down there?

So I'm moving to SW Austin and am psyched to see what kind of options there are down there for ethnic stuff. I've lived in 78704 for years, and while there is a bunch of great food there, all of the great ethnic stuff seems to be farther away from the center of town. I know this certainly applies to north Austin, but what about south?

I know I'll have Sap's, which is great. There's another Thai place called Tuk Tuk on Manchaca where Subsin's used to be... has anyone tried it? I hear good things about Cafe Malta but don't really know anything about it. I will probably be frequenting El Pollo Rico on S1st quite a bit. What about Chinese? 78704 has ABYSMAL options, so it's nowhere to go but up in my new area, I'd imagine.

What else is there? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there are some exciting gems stashed down there.

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  1. Welcome to my nabe, popvulture! Off the top of my head, here we go:

    Mexican is great down here - south and east Austin rule this category. There are more then a dozen options for this down here. If not for my explorations and adventures into this field, I would have completely despaired for our hood's cuisine. Sadly, this is the only category that we win, and I'm throwing a wiiiiide net with who I'm claiming as ours, mostly because I'll drive much further for a taco then other foods.

    Indian is good, mostly carried by the strong shoulders of Asiana and Whip In. The Clay Pit fast food place (Tarka) is decent, too.

    Chinese is bad - the best I've found is the non-gringo menu at Tien Jin, which still isn't good. Nothing in the same orbit as the northern options. Hao Hao's Chinese menu is alright I guess. Their Vietnamese menu is good. They have a soup I love.

    Sap's is great, and if you're near Westgate that means you'll probably eat there twice a month. Subsin's, like Sawadee before it, was poorly seasoned. Haven't been to its most recent incarnation (Tuk Tuk).

    For Cajun, Cypress Grill is decent, but Evangeline is a treasure. I don't think the food is masterful, but something about the place is charming beyond the chow alone. I'm supposed to be immune to those sorts of effects. Likewise to Mandola's for Italian near Costco: the food isn't great, but if you have kids, it is a great option w/ affordable kid plates that they're likely to enjoy. It has a bocce court, a rather nice hidden playground behind it, and a toystore a few doors down.

    Our pizza down here is terrible. Yaghi's, Double Dave's, Austin's are our best options; all poor replacements for Homeslice, Enoteca, East Side Pies, Cipollina, Salvation, Via 313, Spartan, etc. I'd say Mandola is your best bet for pizza. Yeesh.

    Mighty Fine gives you a strong "simple burger" option. I think they're quite yummy. P Terry's, Five Guys, Dan's, Red's, Whataburger, Short Stop, and Culver's round out your other burger options down here, I think. No Hopdoddy/Barlett's/Bar Congress/Parkside/Counter Cafe-class fancyburgers, at least as far as I can recollect.

    Barbecue is pretty crap. Best option is probably Vic's or Railroad Bar-B-Que. We also have Bill Miller, Dickey's, etc.

    Tony (of Tony's Southern Comfort fame [how I miss thee!]) cooks fried chicken once a week at Hyde Park Bar & Grill; that's a treat. Somehow not the same as his old joint.

    No worthy upscale to speak of. Best fancy choice in our territory... It doesn't really count, sort of out of bounds to the west, but Jack Allen's is really good.

    Welcome to the land of "COMFY FATTIES"! (See attached map graphic.) Let us know what cool things you find!

    2 Replies
    1. re: tom in austin

      Excellent info! I will certainly report back on my digging.

      When I first moved here, I remember eating at Dong Nai (Vietnamese in the Target parking lot) several times. I haven't been in years, but I remember it being good but not great (certainly has nothing on the Viet spots up north). Will have to give it another shot.

      Also stoked to be close to Wholly Bagel. They seem to be one of the VERY few places in town that make decent bagels.

      And yep, I could stand to gain a few pounds... comfy fatty status: here I come.

      1. re: tom in austin

        Like your comment about Evangeline's - I feel exactly the same you are just going to someone's house to eat, and the food is good and satisfying, but doesn't change your life.

        Comfy Fatties - funny, I'm in "Lesbian Furniture" and "Gimp HEB."

      2. Tom's list is awesome and comprehensive, and sums up Evangaline perfectly.

        For Tex-Mex, I'm going to add LaPosada. It's pure comfort food, that's all. The shredded chicken is what I call crack chicken, and the beans...good lord they must be made with 6 tons of lard for they are divine.

        For Pizza, we've been trekking out to Pieous on 290 near the Nutty Brown Cafe. It's really good, great with kids, and the pastrami is fantastic too. Via 313 has a new place on way south Congress in the Red Shed parking lot. I like that place a lot, and I'm not a fan of thick pan pizza.

        Personally, I find Dong Nai serviceable for pho/bun. Not the best, but not the worst. The worst would be Pho Thaison on Wm. Cannon.

        Crema Bakery on Brodie and Davis is good for morning treats and coffee, or dessert if you need a fix. And the sushi place in the same shopping center is not bad at all.

        Chinese in the area is laughable at best. For the Americanized stuff, I stick with China Hill. They deliver! I've tried Rice and do not like. Also used to think that Bejing Wok (next to Evangaline) wasn't half bad, but then I had it a few years later and it was more than half bad.

        KC Donuts in the same strip as Evangaline has the best donuts in town, period.

        Welcome to the land of Comfy Fatties. I'll soon be departing for the land of Overly Practical Gays and Lazy Computer. Wholy Bagel will be sorely missed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodiegal71

          since you brought up trekking to 290, I'll add this place, Senor Buddies. More out of bounds to the West.
          It's owned by the Curra's people. Originally they were serving tacos out of a convenience store, Buddy's corner store. It's on 290 and circle drive, on the way to the Austin Zoo. Now, there is a real nice biergarten with some good local brews on tap behind the store. I have never had more than tacos there, but they were good.

          I moved out of the neighborhood, so i don't get down that way much anymore. But, there's not much that i can add to the other reviews, except for a decent chain burger, Culver's on Wm Cannon and Brodie isn't bad.

        2. IM Thai is owned by employees of the former Thai Tara and it is quite good. The green papaya salad I had there recently was a standout. It is in the same strip center complex as Tarka, but at the other end.

          I am a fan of Tarka. It has bold flavors, much much better than Clay Pit. The samosas, vegetable pakoras, and tikka masala are favorites, along with the "naaninis." They have excellent fries ((skinny and crispy with a shake of Indian seasoning).

          I second the comfort food aspect of La Posada. The green chicken enchiladas are very good. It's a great spot if you are hankering for an old fashioned gooey cheese enchiladas with chile gravy.

          1. The Ah La Carte food trailer always is a great option, personally I recommend pairing any sandwich with the Cart Greens, the dressing is addictive. If you happen to like tongue, the Lengua at La Posada is really tender and flavorful... also I can seriously put back their peppery house salsa. Evangeline Cafe is pretty close too and while I haven't been disappointed by anything there, the Oysters Contraband, Boudin Links, and all the Po Boys are all standouts. Sap's has a well deserved good reputation and is frequented by pretty much everyone I know who lives close. Their special Garee Curry and Amazing Green beans are great if you can take a fair amount of heat. Cafe Malta's menu is simple and attractive, but inconsistent execution has been rather frustrating. I really want to eat pasta made in house, but I really want them to make it better (fingers crossed, its relatively new and I feel they can easily fix all their weaknesses).

            1 Reply
            1. re: SkullCow

              +1 on Ah La Carte. I haven't seen them mentioned much on here, but it kinda reminds me of Odd Duck before Bryce went brick and mortar. Lotsa local, seasonal and innovative dishes, and most of all, tasty. I feel like it might get overlooked since it's not in a food trailer park with a half dozen other options, but it's definitely worth a detour to try.

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