Austin notes: Pars, Sasha, and Tuscany Market
I've been to a couple new (to me mostly) and interesting places in Austin and thought I'd share here.
Finally got to try lunch at Sasha's Russian Market (2222/Mopac across from Chez Zee) and I was really impressed. We had all sorts of items and everything was tasty: the blintzes, the borscht soup, the dumplings and a couple other interesting appetizers (the herring on rye bread was especially good). I've no experience with Russian food so I can't compare it to anything, but I will say the food was really tasty and definitely worth visiting.
Pars Deli (Burnet/183) I'd been to maybe a year ago and was really unimpressed at the high price of the gyro. However, their gyro price has come down ($4) and it is still really good. Austin has a terrible lack of decent Greek-type food, but I think Pars is probably the best around. Like Sasha's it's also a market selling packaged ethnic food food.
Finally, the Chronicle and Statesman have recently mentioned the just-opened Tuscany Market (183/Oak Knoll in the Riata compound) and I picked up two pizzas there the other night. While the choices for the pizzas are super inviting, the pizzas themselves were merely average as I wasn't impressed by the crust (too soft). They did admit they were still learning their oven--which is brick I believe. I'll give them another shot in a couple of months. The rest of the place was pretty interesting. Sorta a minuature Central Market with some sort of fancy wine tasting system that is not really my cup of tea...er, wine. Their prepared food looked interesting and we did sample some of their desserts (key lime torte and apple goat cheese torte). Both were pretty good. Anyway, if you live/work in that area it's worth a visit, but if it is too far away you'll probably be more satisfied at Central Market. URL link below
I just tried Pars today for lunch. I had a plate called Zereshk Polov, which consisted of marinated spiced chicken, sliced pistachios, sourberries, a mountain of saffron rice, and a very tasty oniony/tomatoey sauce on the side. It was quite delicious. I saw a table next to me with a kebab plate that made me envious. I'll be back to try more.
Try Pars again for an early dinner - it doesn't seem so expensive when it's dinner and not lunch. They have some excellent and unusual dishes if you want to venture beyond Gyros. The guy there explained every one of them to me because I had never heard of several.
Also, try Alborz Persian at Steck and Anderson - they have an *excellent* and unusual lunch buffet.