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Austin Challenge

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or anywhere for that matter.

Each of us should venture into a place that we've never been before and report. Things are slow around here lately!

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  1. Here's one I haven't seen here before.. I live in South Austin (just moved from FL about 3 months ago) and went to Railroad BBQ in Manchaca recently. They had a sign up saying they had been in business for something like 12 years so I figured it couldn't be that bad.

    Wrong. The decor was fun (mostly license plates) but the food was lousy. It had the taste of something that sat way too long in a steamer. I had the ribs and the meat had the "i've been cooked about 2 hours too long flavor." My husband had the brisket and pretty much though the same thing.

    The beans and potato salad were acceptable, but I could have sworn the potato salad was courtesy of Cisco foods. I won't be going back and was pretty disappointed since its a reasonable drive from my house.

    One place I have been pleasantly surprised at is Wok on Fire located in the shopping center at Brodie and Slaughter (there's a Maudies, Brick Oven, and a Randalls in the same shopping center).

    I went this place for some quick chinese one night. The orange beef was among some of the best I've had in a long time. (granted, Din Ho is better, but its also a long haul north for me for a quick dinner) Extremely fresh, crisp, and tasty. The quality very good and much better than I expected. If you go, I recommend eating there because their food is better immediately out of the kitchen. I went back for take out and let's just say the 15 minutes in the car in styrofoam containers steams the food into just average Chinese fare.

    4 Replies
    1. re: shan

      REVIEW #1: We tried Andiamo's last night. It is an Italian restaurant on Rutland just east of Burnet. The food was terrific, the atmosphere and service were just OK. (Our waiter forgot a side dish, cleared the table completely between courses and had to be told by the owner to re-set it, promised to tell the kitchen to go lightly on the cream sauce and then brought a pasta absolutely drenched and overflowing with sauce, and forgot to box the meal we wanted to take home.)

      The fennel salad with goat cheese and walnuts in truffle oil, a special that night, was a delight. My frito misto of shrimp, calamari, and scallops was heavenly. The pasta primevera was tasty, the pasta in cream sauce would have been better thinner, but we were able to force it down somehow.

      Dinners are mostly $14 to $19, salads $6-ish, specials are considerably pricier so you may wish to ask to avoid sticker shock. They will get their licquor license next week or close, according to the owner. It is BYOB now, $5 corkage. The owner is chatty and personable.

      REVIEW #2: Brick Oven on 35th Street near Kirby Lane. This is part of the franchise, but not part of the chain, we were told. The other Brick Ovens in town are owned by someone else, and use the new franchise recipes; this one is independent and uses the original recipes.

      Nice salad ($3 +/-) (that's "plus or minus", not a smiley face), my ranch dressing was good, my companion did not care for the vinegrette. Pizza ($14) was thin-crusted and very good. Atmosphere: rooms-in-a-little-old-house-ish and cozy. Very nice service. The clientele was mostly attractive young couples looking for a romantic evening out, at a reasonable price, and getting it.

      1. re: TravisLeroy

        I had a similar experience at Andiamo's - that fennel salad is excellent. The food produced there is equal to or superior to anywhere in Austin. The owner is very personable - he moved here to be closer to his children.....at considerable risk.

        What do you mean "get their liquor license or close?" Is he thinking of shutting down?

        1. re: rudeboy

          Yes, at least that is what he told us.

          1. re: TravisLeroy

            My wife and I also ate at Andiamo's and had an incredible dinner. We got the Chef's Menu, and had a great five course dinner. The owner, saw that we were dissapointed that he did not have a licquor license, and we were about to run out and get a bottle of wine, but he was nice enough to give us a bottle of chianti from his own personal stash. We talked to him for awhile and we mentioned that we were going to Italy in a month or so, he said to look up his friend in Rome. We actually did end up going to the restuarant that he told us to go to in Rome. And his food here in Austin was actually better than that meal in Rome. I do have to second everyone else's opinion of the wait staff. The waiter we had was always hovering and clearing plates to soon, and basicially always in our face. Plus, this was right around the election, and he actually had the nerve to ask us who we voted for, which we thought was kind of out of line. I did get the distinct impression that the owner was going to go out of business if things didn't pick up. He is in a really strange location, its kind of a run down strip mall, and the "ambience" of the restaurant's interior leaves a little to be desired.

            Link: http://www.andiamoristorante.com/dinn...

    2. f
      friendlygiant

      I'm trying to get acquainted with every breakfast taco in town. It's a long, slow process. Recently I ordered two picadillo and potato tacos to go at Pancho's on east Cesar Chavez. They used soggy french fries for the potatoes. I wasn't happy with this, but I thought maybe they just took a shortcut and used some leftover fries because they didn't have the usual potatoes ready. Later that week I made the same order down the street at Dos Hermanos. (Dos Hermanos building has fire damage, but a trailer selling tacos is open for business in the parking lot.) Same thing. Fries on the taco. Now I'm wondering if this is a trend. It's not one that I would welcome.

      1. Went with my wife to "Freddie's Place" on South 1st, next door to Jovitas. Picnic tables outside under the trees. Good juicy burgers and real hand cut fries. The waitress said that Freddie also owned Hickory Street Grill.