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Lara_Noel's Profile

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Downtown Coffee Houses (near Paramount)?

Definitely second the Hideout -- very affordable drinks and snacks. The most pastry-like indulgence I've had there was a nice moist flavored bread (pumpkin? apple cinnamon? carrot raisin?) which was also very affordable. I want to say I once bought a double Americano, a thick slab of that yummy bread and a banana for around $5? Oh, and they used to have free Wi-Fi, though I can't confirm that currently...

Feb 02, 2009
Lara_Noel in Austin

Favorites near S. Congress and Oltorf?

Here's a fairly recent link with a few recommendations:

Use the "Search" box at the top right of the screen to look up more specific info on dishes to try or to try to avoid, or Google the restaurant menus to see what excites you. Also, to clarify -- Enoteca and Vespaio are sister (or brother?) restaurants and Enoteca is open only for lunch and Vespaio only for dinner.

One more spot to try if you're in the mood for a simple dinner or just a snack while strolling Congress is Homeslice, a pizza joint that I personally prefer over the nearby SouthSide Flying Pizza. Again, more specific opinions can be found on this board through the "Search" function.

Lastly, I strongly caution against Magnolia Cafe unless you are going for breakfast, for which I can still only recommend their pancakes and yogurt/granola/fruit option. Avoid their mexican food at all costs and don't even think about going on a weekend morning unless you like to wait 45 - 5000+ minutes to be fed.

Feb 01, 2009
Lara_Noel in Austin

great tables

Jwynne, you read my mind. Clay Pit's subterranean stone-walled lair is VERY romantic; just be sure to duck your head when descending!

Jan 13, 2009
Lara_Noel in Austin

Chicken and Waffles in Austin

The Waffle House you speak of, taliesin15, is at Riverside and 71 East but I don't believe they serve chicken with their waffles. I mean, they might have chicken strips but based on the hasbrown scramble I once had, I wouldn't expect the quality to be any better than Sonic's.

Jan 10, 2009
Lara_Noel in Austin

Moderately Priced Tex-Mex w/Good Food & Nice Atmosphere

Helind, I understand strip mall dining takes some getting used to, but Azul Tequila is definitely worth a try. Once inside, the atmosphere is warm, inviting, and pleasantly relaxing. If you're feeling unadventurous, try the veggie enchiladas.... mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Nov 14, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

True Mom and Pops

As is Dong Nai. Never seen the pops (kitchen, perhaps?) but you're guaranteed to be served by either mom, son, daughter, or my favorite, a female cousin in her early to mid 20s named Hien. I actually only go on Tuesdays when my friend Hien is scheduled (she's otherwise employed at a nail salon) because, well, she's just so genuinely pleasant.

Oct 22, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Hard Hat Report

Noticed the "Screaming Goat" at 10th and Lamar yesterday. It whizzed by but I recall a sign that said "Now Open" and "Tacos."

Oct 18, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

lulu b's:vietnamese sandwiches/snacks in 78704!

To update on my own perspective, I've grown much less fond of this place over the last 6 months. Though I've never waited more than 10 minutes for my vermicelli bowl, I've usually gone during "off" hours, like 3 or 4 in the afternoon when there's only been at most two other patrons.

Despite the fact that I have always been very pleasant and chipper during my visits, the two girls (sisters?) who work there have grown increasingly rude towards me. Last time I went, when I picked up my vermicelli bowl from the window, I said "Thanks a lot, any chance I can get some chili sauce too?", to which I received a blank stare and a half open mouth that seemed to say, "Are you really so gauche as to ask for chili sauce when I'm this busy? Keep some in your effin' pantry."

I would agree that the food has slipped in quality since I began eating here. On my last visit almost three weeks ago, the chicken in my lemongrass vermicelli bowl was completely missing any marinade at all and was so dry that I ended up picking out the inedible chicken and eating the dish with veggies only. When I first began going, they were generous with the vermicelli bowl fixings--carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, mint, peanuts. In my last bowl, I had cucumbers and mint.

I understand small businesses like Lulu B's are hurting right now, and I might have been able to look past the veggie's vanishing act, but the fact remains that my wallet's hurting right now as well. So, after having to throw out my meal's most expensive ingredient last time due to either sub-standard quality meat or sub-standard preparation, I will not be returning.

Oct 09, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Feed Me Feed Me Feed Me Feed Me Feed Me Feed Me

I'm not up on hipster ways, Steph, but I can say with confidence that Polvo's is super casual, meaning that t-shirts and flip-flops are totally acceptable attire.

Oct 03, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

I've Driven By There A Thousand Times

This morning I noticed a relatively new taco truck in the Shell gas station's parking lot on Congress--3906 S. Congress to be exact. It's called Tio Rolfi and it looks like they offer your standard taco truck fare: tortas, breakfast tacos and meaty tacos on corn tortillas, etc. A search of the boards doesn't turn up any info on Tio Rolfi, so I thought I might post this link to show some pics of their breakfast tacos:

I couldn't justify the $1.50 expense per taco this A.M. since I was already hurting from grocery shopping and filling up my tank, and judging by the amount of taco innards shown in the pics, I'd likely get a better breakfast value down the street at Habanero. But who's to say? Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up a taco or two over the next week, but please feel free to report on your experience if you get a chance before I do. :)

Oct 01, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Great Seafood

Another vote for Roy's!

Sep 25, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

I've Driven By There A Thousand Times

I agree with Nab about the inadequacy of Richard Jones BBQ, and I'd actually go so far as to rank them below Bill Miller's BBQ for the quality of items I've tried at each, including BBQ chicken, brisket, and turkey.

Three places on S. 1st that I drive by all the time en route to mi amor's are Somnio's Cafe (across from La Reyna), "El Primo" taco trailer/cart (near the La Luz parking lot), and Casa Maria. Do any of you recommend these spots?

Sep 09, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

[AUS] Artz Rib House BBQ - My Thoughts

Hello, just wanted to update this post by sharing my dinner experience earlier tonight... I ordered the Grilled Veg Plate, which was well-reviewed in earlier posts but unfortuately not to my liking. The concept was great: two very generous sized skewers of veggie kebabs with thick hunks of carrots, zucchini, onions and squash, accompanied by cole slaw, potato salad, beans, a piece of wheat bread and a pickle spear (all for $9.99!). As I mentioned, though, the taste was extremely bland. The veggies had ZERO form of seasoning/marinade/butter on them, so I had to salt them heavily to satisy my flavabuds, and I really dislike having to salt things at the table. The sides were very average, in my opinon. Again, no real seasoning on the potato salad, except for a smattering of what appeared but didn't really taste like paprika (didn't really taste like anything at all). The cole slaw was vinegar-based and passable with the addition black pepper. The beans had little meaty chunks (pork? beef? what's typically in bbq beans?) swimming in the sauce, which I like, but they had no heat as in from peppers or spices, and I like my beans to swim in a salty broth rather than a sweet sauce.

My boyfriend got the sausage plate and said he liked it, but I noticed he only ate one of the two links and about half his sides--usually unheard of when we go out for bbq (he really likes Ironworks, Sam's, and the County Line he used to work at in San Antonio). Speaking of, I am dyyyying to try the bbq in Luling on the drive to SA some time, but I always have my darn kitty with me, and he doesn't get to eat 'q.

Artz does have a lovely buzz early at 7ish on a Friday evening. Cheery but not irritatingly so folks knockin' back cold ones with friends and family while the band twangs their strings up front gettin' ready for the night. It's relatively nearby, so I might be back sometime for one of them jalapeno cheeseburgers and some music, but NEVER the veggie plate!

Aug 30, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

1/2 price or discount bottle nights

Eh, (Johnny) Carino's has Wine-Down-Wednesdays where bottles of wine are 1/2 off on, you guessed it, Wednesday night. Not sure what is good to eat there, though...

Aug 07, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Soups in Austin

I wouldn't necessarily say it's one of the "best soups in town," but I recently had a great potato and leek soup from Central Market's to-go case. The consistency was perfect--not too thin or watery--and with some chives and grated cheese, you've got a darn good lunch.

Aug 04, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Weekend roundup

Wonderful pictures! I'm almost sorry I had the luxury of seeing Asia Cafe's dishes, since I'm currently dwelling south of the river and that's an expensive meal with gas (for driving) included. Although with those pictures, I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to find a few companions eager to carpool.

Jun 29, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

HEA Cafe preliminary foray

Yeah, this place is alriiiiight, but I definitely would not recommend it as a destination spot for chowhounders. I live in the area so it fulfills the Asian cravings that randomly strike my tastebuds, but for carnivores I would recommend both Lulu B's Vietnamese (trailer on S. Lamar) and Dong Nai (S. Lamar/290W near the Target) for vermicelli bowls. The quality of the meat in HEA's vermicelli bowls is just not on par with the other two Viet spots mentioned. At HEA I've tried the lemongrass vermicelli bowl with chicken and shrimp, neither of which were good. The meat was mushy, if that makes sense, and the chicken seemed to be almost entirely fat... I actually picked the chicken OUT of my leftovers when reheating to salvage the rest of the dish. Can anyone comment on HEA's tofu (quality and/or preparation)?

To be fair, the veggies (I remember broccoli, carrots, onions, and sprouts) that come on the vermicelli bowl are plentiful, well cooked, and tasty. I would imagien the veggies on any dish in this place would be good based on their quality in the vermicelli bowl, which is the only menu item I've tried here. No wait, tried the eggrolls too, which, as others have mentioned, have a grossly congealed consistency on the inside. I would love to patronize this Asian spot more often for reasons others have mentioned--sparkling clean (when bussed), friendly staff, affordable prices, very generous portions--but in my opinion the quality of meat is inexcusable. However, I did notice on the menu that you can order "extra veggies" on your bowl for an extra buck fifty, so it might be worth asking if they would hold the meat and double the veggies in the vermicelli bowls without additional cost. I'll let y'all know how it goes...

Jun 22, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Where / What is the name of this mexican breakfast dish?

Chuckles, save your money! Not only is everything bland and flavorless, the last time that I was there for lunch (within 4 mos.) I was served cold salmon enchiladas. As in, the tortillas, the cheese, and the sauce were lukewarm and the salmon inside was ICE COLD.

The place was pretty empty for a lunch service, so I figured it wouldn't be any hassle to let the waitress know and request another (cooked) order. Wrong. The waitress gave me major attitude about returning the plate, even though I asked her to touch the inside of my (former) enchilada. When she brought me out a new one, she said nothing as she dropped it onto the table in front of me. The salmon inside this enchilada was lukewarm, as was the rest of the dish; correction: the rice was cold. In short, I will not be back, which is a shame because it's so close to home.

May 31, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Threadgill's in South Austin

It's not just you. Two days ago I got the bronzed chicken, which I thought was adequately seasoned but I didn't like the meat's consistency/texture(?). For some reason I kept feeling a burst of liquid in my mouth every time I chewed, but it was not flavorful or savory by any means. The mashed potatoes were bland, bland, bland, as was the cream gravy--heavy salt and pepper needed. Although the collard greens had a great spicy kick to them, they were a little too stiff.

The lemonade was pretty good (very sweet) and had lots of pulp (yum!) I'd like to comment on the strawberry rhubarb pie I paid for, but it never made it into the to-go bag with the rest of my meal.

I'll venture to say I prefer Luby's, especially since it's cheaper.

Apr 28, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Recommendations for an Intimate Graduation Dinner?

Thanks bookgrrl, la_paleta, and moosy! I have looked up the menus online, as well as previous posts on each of the restaurants through the site's search engine. Wink looks unlike any other restaurant in Austin in terms of cuisine, but I'm not sure if it's what I'm looking for on this specific evening--though I'm eager to try it with a group of girlfriends! Personally, I think my family might enjoy Eddie V's menu more, but I'm sure they would likewise be game for the more adventurous Zoot if that is what I choose. From what I gather, Zoot and Eddie V's seem to fare equally well in terms of service (though I read a few reviews from 2007 about spotty service at Zoot). Can anyone comment on the service at either Zoot or Eddie V's from a recent dining experience? Also, any opinion on which is the quieter of the two restaurants?

The dinner will take place in exactly a month, so I will be sure to write up a detailed review of my experience at either Eddie V's or Zoot--unless of course I receive an even more irresistible recommendation before then. Thanks again for taking the time to help me plan this special evening. I'm not yet well-versed in fine dining, but with your recommendations, I'm a step closer!

Apr 04, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

Recommendations for an Intimate Graduation Dinner?

Greetings 'hounds!

I will be graduating from college in about a month (!!!!!) and I have been delegated the responsibility of making reservations for what I hope to be an intimate and memorable family dinner on the evening before the ceremony. My grandparents are flying in from Alabama to join me, my mother, and my boyfriend for the Friday night dinner. I am looking for a restaurant in south Austin or the downtown area that has exceptional service. The five of us are all fairly adventurous with our tastes (my boyfriend being the least), and my mother has graciously informed me that price is not an issue. We enjoy upscale restaurants, not necessarily because of the food, but mostly for the atmosphere and attentive service. None of us are serious drinkers, so wine selection is of little importance. I would like to make 6 o'clock reservations and would prefer the meal not carry on much longer than 2- 2.5 hours, as my mother and grandparents are of the "early to bed and early to rise" sort.

Above all, I am looking for a cozy restaurant that will not only provide us with a great meal, but with a relaxing experience to make my grandparents feel very comfortable. That reminds me! I know it's probably ridiculous to specify clientele preferences, but I would like to mention that we are not particularly looking for a trendy restaurant with trendy patrons (though quite possibly unavoidable in southern and downtown Austin). Also, we must be able to speak to each other without raised voices or having to strain to understand one another, so live music is undesirable.

I know this is a somewhat unexciting request, but I would greatly appreciate any recommendations from you seasoned 'hounds--no pun intended--who might have favorite "special occasion" spots in the areas I specified. Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance!

Mar 30, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin

lulu b's:vietnamese sandwiches/snacks in 78704!

Greetings, hounds! First-time poster and long-time lurker here.

After spending all morning writing papers, I sped over to this little trailer around 2pm for my first meal of the day. Needless to say, I was hungry! The service was nothing special beyond cordial, but the food was great. I got mine to go since I live very close by, but I thoroughly enjoyed the tree-shaded atmosphere while waiting. Also a nice touch: music magazines and newspapers (both the Chronicle and New York Times) to pass the time.

I ordered the Barbecue Chicken Vermicelli Bowl and as I sat down at my dining table to eat, it smelled so good that I told myself, "Okay, one bite," before I planned to get up and get a glass of water. HA! I inhaled 3/4 of the vermicelli bowl without interruption. The chicken was unbelievably good--"flash grilled" I believe the menu says(?), no trace of grease, and with the perfectly subtle smoky "barbecue" flavor on the outside, but the pure taste of great-quality white meat on the inside. I definitely recommend spending the extra dollar for extra meat! All other ingredients (vermicelli, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, etc.) were fresh and on point as well. The only downside to my meal is that I think I put a little too much of the fish sauce on my vermicelli bowl, but now I know to only use one of the containers on my next visit.

Also, I got an iced Vietnamese, which is much better than the one I had at Austin Java (Barton Spgs.) the other day. I'm not sure, but I think Lulu B's coffee is stronger and has a more robust flavor. Lulu B's Vietnamese coffee drink is closer in flavor to the first I ever had years ago at Central Market where I fell in love with the drink. If you're a coffee drinker, do try this for a sweet treat.

I look forward to trying the sandwiches you've all mentioned!

Mar 25, 2008
Lara_Noel in Austin