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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 way.....like 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.

            2. Since I've been down here, I've passed by the little strip mall spot between Brodie and Mopac several times and wondered about the sign that reads simply VIET SUBS.

              Though not currently functional, obviously this is or was a banh mi place, but that's exactly my question... was it open and has now closed, or has it yet to open at all? There's been some activity in there over the past week... can't tell what the deal is though.

              Needless to say, I would be VERY stoked to have a banh mi place nearby.

              7 Replies
              1. re: popvulture

                Which strip mall? Is it the one on the south side of William Cannon? You may be seeing a sign from the former Lux Bakery & Cafe. It was primarily a bakery, but also had nice bahn mi. I would love to have a good spot for them around here. (my preference would be NOT a trailer. I have personal experience in a food trailer and I know too much about how hard it is to keep food on temperature and keep things clean in them.)

                I thought of this thread the other day when I went to Firebowl, which is kind of hidden in the middle of the long strip center that World Market anchors at one end. You wouldn't really know it's there unless you drive down the whole mall. I know, it's a chain and not unique or utterly fabulous, but I like the spicy coconut soup and the stir fry "your way" with chicken, spring veggie mix, thin rice sticks and Thai Red Curry sauce (I get extra sauce).

                How are you finding the food in these parts?

                1. re: Ashforth

                  It's the south side of WC. Not sure if it was Lux Bakery or not... the sign says only VIET SUBS in big chunky letters, and the inside looks pretty sparse. Maybe it just hasn't opened yet. Fingers crossed!

                  Re: places I've tried down here... checked out Cafe Malta yesterday for lunch and thought it was rather tasty, I must say! Per foodiegal's recommendation above, I checked out China Hill - it's actually pretty great for typical American Chinese takeout. Believe me - ANYTHING is a better than the vile offerings of my old location, so this is quite a treat for me.

                  Grabbed a take out menu for Tuk Tuk, so I'll be picking up something there sometime soon, plus I want to check out the new Pollo Regio sometime this week (it's finally open).

                  Also noticed the Indian supermarket next to Cafe Malta. REALLY psyched to check that place out too!

                  1. re: popvulture

                    I tried the Regio this weekend, and I have to say, I was disappointed when compared directly to Rico. It just wasn't as flavorful. Maybe a little moister though. I ended up using the leftovers to make chicken salad and had to do more doctoring than I expected to get the flavor level up.

                    So glad you enjoyed China Hill. I'm probably leaving the area soon and will miss it for my lazy, order-in nights. They do a mean egg-foo young!

                    Looking forward to your report on Tuk Tuk. I've been curious but haven't made it over there yet.

                2. re: popvulture

                  It's coming. That place used to be a yogurt place if I'm not mistaken. The sign has been up for a while, but no action on it. This weekend when I drove by, I noticed that the windows had been covered in plastic, so maybe something's starting to happen?

                  1. re: foodiegal71

                    Aha! Yep, the plastic just went up last week. Well this is starting to sound good...

                    1. re: popvulture

                      So sad, noticed this weekend that the Viet Subs sign is gone, replaced by some wireless place.

                      1. re: foodiegal71

                        Yep, I noticed that too. Total bummer.

                3. Bumping this thread to put in a plug for Cafe Malta.
                  Went Sat. night with a party of 6. Everybody but one said they really liked their food (she had the chicken Tagine pot pie).
                  Two people had the steak with Grilled hanger steak, grilled romaine, blistered tomato, red onion, avocado, gorgonzola aioli dressing & balsamic redux, which they both liked. Another had the Brisket Ravioli (BRISKET RAVIOLI Fresh house pasta filled with braised brisket, tossed in parsley-pecan pesto & parmesan reggiano)

                  I had the Grilled Strube Ranch wagyu top sirloin with preserved lemon bearnaise, manchego grits & sauteed dandelion greens, which was really nice. the steak was cooked to a perfect Med. Rare, and the dand. greens were a revelation. It was the first time that i have had them. Real nice meal, overall.
                  I hope this place does well. It was fairly busy for a Sat. night. It's good to have a non-chain place to go to.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: TroyTempest

                    Bump also! as was also there Saturday also with a party of 6. We had nice service and a very good meal - this place deserves to be in my regular rotation, but I unfortunately forget it. Among the choices were paella, roasted texas free range chicken [which had been brined] on lentils, pork shoulder roasted over rice, porcini fettucini, and 'badly cut pasta' [forgot the italian name] with fresh pork and beef ragu.
                    Cocktails were also very good with good attention to detail.

                    1. re: cpencis

                      Yeah, I had a cocktail, which was a nice surprise. I thought the choices were going to be beer and wine only.

                    2. re: TroyTempest

                      Editing late.
                      This sentence:
                      Two people had the steak with Grilled hanger steak ...
                      should read
                      Two people had the salad with Grilled hanger steak, ...

                    3. I saw that this thread had popped back up, so I thought I'd report back on the places I've been frequenting since moving down here...

                      First of all, I totally agree that Cafe Malta is great – good food and atmosphere, friendly service and especially nice that it's not a chain in an area that's fairly populated with them. I try to support them as much as I can, and I'm happy to say that the place seems pretty busy whenever I go in there.

                      Probably my number one place in the area is Full English, which has already been getting plenty of love on this board lately, so I'll just add that it's indeed wonderful and I highly recommend it. Big British Breakfast and a pot of PG Tips = heaven for me.

                      Tuk Tuk, it turns out, is very solid as well. I highly recommend the Larb Gai, although I wish they'd offer it with ground pork as an option (I've considered asking, but haven't gotten around to it yet). I always order it spicy (5 out of 5 on their scale), and my one suggestion is that it could definitely be hotter. It's not nuclear like some of Sap's stuff can be, but nonetheless extremely tasty. If you're a fan of Pad Thai, theirs is much better than Sap's gloppy mess – fresher, lighter and more comparable to some of my faves in other cities. The Pad See Ew is also a good option – the only thing I was disappointed by was the "DWI Noodle," which is I guess their name for Drunk Man's Noodles. I hope this place is getting a lot of business, because I want it to stay open.

                      Cilantro's on Stassney has great breakfast tacos – it's a grungy looking little place that can be easily overlooked, so if you're in the area and haven't paid it any notice, give it a shot. I've only been there for breakfast, but I spoke with one of the ladies who works there about their pozole... she said I should come back and try it, which I definitely plan on doing.

                      China Hill is indeed good for Americanized Chinese – I've yet to be disappointed by anything they make, and they deliver lightning fast. I also hear Super Bowl is good, but haven't been yet.

                      Of course I eat El Pollo Rico way too much.

                      As for pizza, I'm beginning to think the area is pretty doomed. I know some people really like it, but I think Conan's hovers maybe only slightly above sub-par on a good day, although I have only had their deep dish. I think it'd be fair to add that I don't really like deep dish in general, so maybe I'm just not the guy to offer up an opinion on that. If there's any other good pizza in the area, please tell me... I'd love to know.

                      So there's a quick schpiel on what immediately comes to mind when I think of what's good in the area. There are probably plenty of places I've forgotten, but I figured a check-in was in order.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: popvulture

                        This is more like Oak Hill than Westgate, but whatever.

                        The best option for pizza is to take a little trip to the hill country galleria to Tony C's. Of course it is probably just as close to drive to SoCo for HomeSlice, but it just feels different.
                        Yaghi's on Wm. Cannon is ok, better than Austin Pizza. Some like the Austin Pizza Garden. I haven't been in ages, so i can't comment.

                        1. re: TroyTempest

                          Speaking of Oak Hill...we really need a Pho place in the SW area.

                          1. re: TroyTempest

                            I used to love Austin Pizza Garden, but last time I was there (maybe a year or so ago), it was terrible.