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Jul 14, 2004 05:30 PM

Austin: what I've been eating and what I've been wanting to try

  • c

I've been extremely inactive on this board in the past year or two, and sadly, I've been pretty inactive in expanding my dining experiences. Still here's some of what I've been doing in the past months. Please chime with any opinions on the places I've mentioned or other thoughts on Austin restaurants.

This past weekend, my friends and I did the double-cue run to Smitty's and Kreuz's in Lockhart, and once again, I found Kreuz's is better. Smitty's brisket just lacks something and their pork ribs were deplorable (what the heck are they doing putting barbecue sauce on a rib in Central Texas?). Kreuz's wasn't perfect but much tastier. Plus, sometime in the past few months, they've painted their glass entry door to the dining room (the one you pass on the way back to the pits), with the phrase "Vegetarians Enter Here. Normal Folks Down the Hall." Too funny.

Tried Vivo Cocina Texicana on Manor recently (across the side road from John Mueller's) and found it pretty good. I had a beef puffy taco and some enchilda that wasn't nearly as good as my friends more typical cheese enchilida with "red" sauce. The Chronicle thinks it is very San Antonio Tex-Mex, and who am I to disagree? A pleasant dining experience with a nice patio area. We passed right by El Chile Cafe y Cantina on the way in from 35 and I'd like to try that out sometime soon. Both are reviewed in this article:

I'm still going to Tam's Deli and Cafe on N. Lamar just north of 183 way more than I should. I've already been twice this week. Their bahn mis are still superb and these deep fried shrimp and yam cakes may well lead me to a future heart attack, but it'll be a very satisfactory heart attack. The rice wraps are also a non-standard Viet., tasty choice.

I had some good cajun food at the Cyrpress Grill off Mopac & William Cannon. If it weren't so blooming far south from where I live and work, I'd try and go there more. Anyone else have postive (or negative reports?). My oyster po'boy was very good--rivaling those of Gene's which has been the only place I've found in Austin with a good po'boy.

I had a tasty but slightly too expensive brunch at the Starlite on 34th recently. My friend and I both had the thai crabcake with poached eggs and it was really great. Recommended for an interesting brunch experinence in a nice setting.

I ate at the Clay Pit 4 years ago and was so disappointed I hadn't been back until last week, and found I was still disappointed. I don't understand why they are so crowded other than doesn't appears to be any other Indian restaurants in the downtown area.

Places I've been waiting to try for the first time or try again after an abscence:

The very strange Iron Chef on Burnet/183 has been replaced with an Italian place called Rio Nio Tio or something strange like that. I've little hopes for it, but I'll give it a shot.

I've already mentioned I want to try the other Mex-Mex on Manor, but I haven't been to Eastside Cafe in quite some time also on Manor, so I'd like to give it a try.

I haven't been to Gene's in quite some time, and it used to be one of my favorites.

Two new upscale restaurants are tempting me in South Austin, Uchi the sushi place on South Lamar and 7's the new seafood place on S. Congress run by the great chef who used to be at Dona Emilas.

I still haven't been to World Beat Cafe--I'm not expecting greatness, but the African food would be a nice change of pace.

So, that's what's been on my Austin food mind of late. I've feel like I've unburnded myself on you guys. What's been on your mind?

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  1. I've been wanting to try both places on Manor. Just haven't found the time/motivation. Would like to hear more of a vs. on those two from other folks. I'm afraid it'll be Americanized Mexican and too expensive. I've got Chuy's for that.

    Tam Deli about once a month. Only thing I get is the sandwich, which i absolutely love. guess i should broaden my horizons.

    Used to like to go to China Sea till the roach incident. Haven't been there since.

    Friends (boys that also like Pizza Hut, so...) say the new buffet where the Romeo's used to be is very good. May try that sometime.

    Still haven't tried Gene's. dammit.

    Agree with you on the Clay Pit. When i'm craving Indian, it's Taj over on M. Fis. by the movie theater for me. (sometimes the place on Anderson just cuz it's close).

    Tried the Rotis. Grill near Central Market (yes, i know it's a chain) but it really was pretty good.

    Glad Iron Chef went under. was a horrible place. hear the new italian place is pretty good. i love italian.

    Been to World Beat once. If you like Habana, you'll like WB. Kinda the same flavors/textures/price. Ambiance at Habana is nicer though.

    4 Replies
    1. re: amysuehere
      deni ahnstedt

      TinTinNio, which replaced the Iron Chef is surprisingly good. Moderate price. Generous appetizers and sides. Owned by same people that owned the Iron Chef, also owns Umi Sushi.

      1. re: amysuehere

        What is the new buffet where Romeo's used to be? I haven't heard anything about this yet.

        1. re: Nacho

          It is called Austin Buffet, and, IMO, it is the best Buffet in Austin. It has a Vietnamese section, a Mongolian BBQ section, along with a full Chinese Buffet, with the usual dishes, but also some more creative, and fresher dishes, like Pineapple Chicken, Sticky Rice with Vietnamese Sausage and scrambled egg, Tamarind Chicken, Pho, etc. I've been three times, and it has been very good. I wish they would lose stuff like French fries, onion rings, and other plain American fare.
          They told me of another location down south on I-35 to open in three weeks.

        2. re: amysuehere

          Hi Amy,

          Vivo is definitely Tex-Mex and a touchy pricey. I'm more intrigued by the other place and I hope to go sometime in the next few weeks.

          The only Indian food I've found I've liked in Austin has been Madras Pavillian and I haven't been there in some time--it has a lunch buffet which is something I avoid.

          I'm curious to see you compare World Beat with Habana as I thought the former was African (or close) and Habana is definitely Cuban. I'll have to sample and report back.

        3. Wow, I can't wait to try Tam's Deli -- though I don't really need another excuse for a heart attack.

          I tried Uchi recently and it was wonderful. Much more than you will expect to pay anywhere else, but truly worth it. The best sushi I've had in Austin. Really inventive combinations, good service, and eyes rolling back in your head delicious.

          We go for dim sum at T&S sometimes, and although the salt & pepper shrimp is yummy, the other selections have become tired. Went to Marco Polo a couple of weeks ago and remembered how much I like it. My kids go crazy over sesame balls with sweet bean paste inside. We went for dim sum and actually picked up dinner later that night! (ask for the chinese menu)

          Tried Italian Garden in far north austin with high expecations for a regular red-sauce Italian-American restaurant as described by the statesman. My husband had veal parm which was salty and mushy, I had chicken marsala which tasted like it had been marinated in rubbing alcohol. What a disappointment, because they had all these little starter plates that were very good. Perhaps their pasta is better, but I don't really care to try anytime soon.

          1. Perhaps revitalized by my previous day's post, we headed for Snow Pea (3700 block of Jefferson) for the first time last night. We got there before 6:30 which is the ending time for the Sushi Happy Hour. Their sushi pieces are $1 each then with small discounts on their rolls. The eel and spicy scallops were especially tasty. For entrees my friend had the moo shoo pork (this is a sushi and American Chinese kind of place) and pronounced the filling good but the crepe to be a bit tough. I sampled the filling and it tasted pretty good. I got the Crab Explosion or some other silly name and it was surprisingly good--basically a California roll with a crab, onion and spicy tuna-esque sauce on top. Our meal was eclectic enough that we are going to try and go back sometime--just making sure we are early enough for the sushi specials.

            Also, I forgot to rave about Miles of Chocolate in my last post. I've read about the Austin-based company some in the Chronicle and in the past few weeks have become rather infatuated with it. Basically a very dense brownie (but not fudge) with a super chocolately taste going on. We won't talk about it's ingredients list (or it's price). A small portion is all one person needs. They sell it Whole Foods, Central Market and Grapevine (where it is cheapest, I think)--plus I believe other restaurants in the area have it on their menus. Amazing stuff.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Carter B.

              Carter B., I'll bet you never imagined this: a single posting you wrote on Chowhound praising an unusual product has now led to that product being sold in 4 new states, plus the District of Columbia (at 11 separate retail outlets).

              Please go read this whole thread so you'll get the full story, in a chronological order that will hopefully make some sense:


              Did you have any idea how powerful you were?

              Thanks so much for posting! Thousands of chocoholics are forever in your debt -- without you, we never would have found this amazing dessert!


            2. hi there,
              this is my first time posting on this site... but i have been reading it obsessively since i discovered it! i enjoyed vivo's when i went a few weeks ago. great mexican martini's (i think, rivaling trudy's). incredible queso and chips as well.
              also just discovered shalimar(n lamar and runburg)- a indian/pakastani resturant- to die for! one of the best indian resturants i've been to. (madras pavillion is a close second) amazing goat, chicken and veggies and mango lassis.

              thanks for all the great insight!

              1 Reply
              1. re: ophelia

                Welcome, ophelia! We're looking forward to hearing more from you.