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My Server Is Stoned!

Thanks for a realistic article on a real-life issue in the restaurant business.

I waited tables for several years at a cafe where smoking before, during, and after your shift was almost encouraged. After several attempts, I soon found out I couldn't do it - I was too easily confused, and was even more awkward with my tables. I learned it was best to wait until I was had closed out my tables, and figured out my bank. Sometimes smoking a bit made my closing sidework a little less humiliating. (I was always amazed how the line cooks could get "baked" before a shift, and deal with a busy brunch shift.)

I will assume the earlier comments were written by people who have never worked in the service industry or other demoralizing jobs, and/or "foodies" who have worked office jobs their entire lives. (Sorry, I'm still bitter.)

For better or worse, recreational and hard drugs are all around us, you just don't know it.

Jun 07, 2011
lookout78 in Features

Family oriented restaurants with good food and music?

I haven't been there in several months, but Uncle Billy's on Barton Springs might be a good option - good food, music, laid back atmosphere. An interesting mix of people - families, young and older, kiddos, dogs hanging out... Centrally located, and easy access with the (free) parking garage around back. I used to play in a band that played there a lot (full disclosure), and families with young kids always seemed to have a good time.

Uncle Billy's
1530 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Jun 05, 2011
lookout78 in Austin

Where Can I Find A Moka Pot (Stovetop Espresso Maker)?

I have purchased them at World Market. I don't know if they have ones that big though. Quality has been fine - I have only replaced them when accidentally left on a burner. There is probably a local place that sells them too...

Sep 23, 2009
lookout78 in Austin

Mi Madre's

I ate there with three other people this past Sunday - about 12:30 pm. Visited off and on over the last few years since moving into the area five years ago. The service was great, and the atmosphere was good - families, couples, people lazily reading the paper. Good vibe.

The food was terrible. I ordered a New Mexico pork dish, and my GF ordered some kind of beef dish. Others ordered an assortment of breakfast tacos.

I cannot confirm it, but the meat in my GF's dish and my own, tasted like it had come frozen and pre-seasoned/cooked in a bag. My GF joked that it had "meat" flavoring. Both tasted like beef stew out of a can, with an added healthy portion of MSG.

Though, not expecting much, I was embarrassed taking out of town guests here. Next time, I guess I should order more simply - and order breakfast tacos or something.


Jun 17, 2009
lookout78 in Austin

Thai Kitchen - Guadalupe

My GF and I ate there last night. She was craving some kind of Thai noodles, etc. She is relatively new to the area. We live central and didn't feel like driving too far, or going downtown. We have been to several Thai restaurants in the University area, and she had not been to Thai Kitchen.

We ordered the basic Pad Thai, and a beefy stew of potatoes and meat. For apps we had tofu spring rolls.

We have both worked in the service industry, and are familiar with the way restaurants work. We are easy going and don't expect too much from any place. We have both been servers at various establishments here in Austin, and outside of Texas. We understand being a server anywhere is a thankless occupation... but when a restaurant is not busy, please follow up - even if you are an Asian "family run" establishment.

Ultimately, the food was awful. Disgustingly sweet. Stupid sweet. I never send anything back, but I came close last night. I understand the restaurant is lowest-common denominator when it comes to "Thai" food, but this was unreasonable. This was the equivalent of lemon chicken or sweet and sour pork at an Americanized Chinese place in the suburbs...

May 22, 2009
lookout78 in Austin

Any Vietnamese Bakeries?

It may not be exactly what you are looking for, but either way they might be able to point you in the right direction - Baguette House & Cafe in the Chinatown Center.

Mar 08, 2009
lookout78 in Austin

Po'Boy Genes

hate to be this dude...

ate there on Sat afternoon. buying lunch for buddy that helped me with some electrical work. he had never been there and was looking for a new place to check out. I have been there a few times with good results - a little over priced, but simple good food.

this was different. the three women/girls working were friendly, and in good spirits - I assume relaxing after a mild saturday lunch pop. they were giggly and offered me a sample of the gumbo. it was okay. my buddy ordered an oyster sandwich, and I agreed to gumbo.

i tipped them more than fairly, and sat down in an empty dining room. I like this place - the old building, lack of pretense, etc., but this was kinda more sad. The whole New Orleans thing was tired and sickly. Just dumb.

Food came out. My friend said his oyster poboy was really good. My gumbo was passable. I have no excuse as I had a sample. Yes, they do throw some crab legs in there, but you cannot do much with them. I broke some apart with my teeth and picked out a few bites of meat. The broth was weak. a few shrimp, and what seemed to be hillshire farm sausage.

I don't know. post lunch doldrums are hard for even the best restaurants. I don't want to tattle on the ladies working there, but come on guys... if it is slow like that clean up the place, wash out the one pitcher containing water as the other options were out of service.

I don't know the scoop. but if there is has been a change in management or something recently, those in command need to make some changes. The women working on Sat afternoon were playing restaurant...

Dec 15, 2008
lookout78 in Austin

Affordable lunch north, around Braker & I-35?

I work in a similar area (several places along North Lamar between Kramer and Parmer), and though I try to bring my lunch on most days, I treat myself a couple of times a week to local establishments.

For what it's worth, I consider myself a foodie, chowhound, or whatever. I don't necessarily like the distinction, but I feel that good, authentic food does not have to be expensive, and is almost always cheaper than any chain options. Additionally, supporting local, family restaurants is good for everyone...

(I recent days I have started eating meat again after almost 9 years. Thus, I am kinda freaking out about my additional opportunities...)

Chinatown Center -

TC Noodle House - okay. reasonably priced. The veg soups I have ordered there have been good and cheap. I assume they start with a veggie broth, and when you order it they add the vegetables. The veggies have been a little undercooked, but at least they were fresh. A good, filling meal. Good for your head too, if congested. This place is super clean, and has a nice, modern ambiance. The staff is great too. (As a working-class white dude, often wearing paint/grease covered clothes, they are cool and accommodating.)

Lily's Sandwich - as many have said, the appeal of this place is the prices. Unbelievable. Makes one wonder how they make a profit. Seriously, all things considered - labor, food costs, rent, etc. I don't know how they do it. I have had both the veggie and fish sandwiches. I have not eaten here lately because the tofu has been frozen the last few visits and the fish option was not fit for consumption - imagine sardines out of a can covered in MARGARINE, with cilantro, carrots, cucumbers, and soy sauce. I have been making an effort to eat the 'real deal' but I don't get this. I respect the Vietnamese palate, but borderline gross. sorry guys.

Baguette House - Really cool. Clean, modern, and happy vibe. This place is the PERFECT example of a proprietor that wants his joint to succeed. I have been there twice, and he remembered me after only one visit. The first time I had the cajun shrimp sandwich - perfect really - bread was chewy and tender, and still smelled of it's beginnings a few hours before. On my second visit, I got a little more adventurous - I took the owner's advice and ordered the sandwich of vietnamese ham, and pork pate. I just couldn't do it. Can't fully embrace the meat thing. Though I admire the fact they use a home made mayonnaise, it proved too much with the pate.

However, and most importantly, (as described above) this place embodies what EVERY restaurant should be - an owner genuinely interested in the customer, enthusiastic about the menu, and happy to offer advice. Sitting there, I watched him. He was this way with every customer.

Check this place out if you have not done so already. Special.

Korean Grill - I have only been there once. Kinda odd. My lunch hour is late, and I go to these places late. I felt like I was intruding on a family meal among the staff and relatives. Over priced. I sat down, yet they prepared my food to go. Miscommunication I figure. A bunch of little containers of kimchi, etc. Bad vibe. Disclosure - I don't think I like Korean food...

Mal Wort Shopping Center at Parmer and I35.

Byblos - As described above, I have recently gone back to eating meat, but regardless... the falafel at Byblos is the best I have ever had. I have eaten it all over the US and Canada, and their version is amazing. Always fresh, crisp, and delicate. They add pickles to it, and it takes it over the top. I go there mid-afternoon, and I often feel I am bothering their post-lunch break, but the Lebanese woman that makes it is always happy to serve, and makes it with care. Under 5.00. I could eat it every day and not tire of it. Local, family-run, authentic, and made by the same people that have invented and perfected it over hundreds of years. Just a thought.

For the record - the Schlotzky's Mediterranean pizza (I have only had it at the Parmer/35 location a couple times) has been transcendent. I know it probably is the result of a frozen crust, etc. but it is genuinely good. Perfect.

Nov 02, 2008
lookout78 in Austin

Byblos vs. Zorba's

This is really late to the thread, but I wanted to add my two cents before I forget. I work close to Byblos and dine there a lot. I have recently gone back to eating meat, but regardless... the falafel at Byblos is the best I have ever had. I have eaten it all over the US and Canada, and their version is amazing. Always fresh, crisp, and delicate. They add pickles to it, and it takes it over the top. I go there mid-afternoon, and I often feel I am bothering their post-lunch break, but the Lebanese woman that makes it is always happy to serve, and makes it with care. Under 5.00. I could eat it every day and not tire of it. Local, family-run, authentic, and made by the same people that have invented and perfected it over hundreds of years. Just a thought.

Nov 01, 2008
lookout78 in Austin

Korea House

I ate there this afternoon. The place was reasonably clean and the service was fine. The staff works as a team, and there was a family vibe - different generations, etc.

The soft tofu with beef and vegetable chigae was not very good - however this is probably a taste preference and not a quality issue. We could not eat it. Maybe too authentic???

We also ordered one of the combo boxes - around 14.00. It was acceptable and enjoyable. Might go back. Realizing that maybe I just don't really like Korean food.

Oct 26, 2008
lookout78 in Austin

Which wich?

The two I have been to in Austin, TX have been great. I don't eat meat, so I have only tried the avocado, and three cheese options. While the '3 cheese' was a little too heavy, the avocado is consistently good. I mean really, really good. I always load it with all the choices - various olives, peppers, veggies, etc. Amazingly cheap too. Here in Austin every sandwich on the menu is just over 5 dollars.

Like many folks here I try to avoid chains and make an effort to eat locally. However, when this an option this place is amazing. (They play great music too, on what I assume is a satellite service.) Check it out.

Sep 22, 2008
lookout78 in Chains

Is Canolli Joe's worth the drive from Leander?

I visited several weeks ago on a Friday afternoon, around 1:00. Yes, the restaurant gives you plenty of choices, but the place is ultimately still a "buffet." I don't eat meat, so my choices are a bit limited. I stuffed my face with their version of a greek salad, and bunches of cheese pizza. Both were okay. I believe it was 8.99 or something for the lunch menu. The dinner is around 12. I give them credit for trying to make it interesting, and moving beyond the standards. plenty of vegetarian choices. the desserts were okay considering the price. An alright place if you are looking to get uncomfortably full, at a good value. Either way, all the dishes have the taste of a buffet you would find at a casino... Let us know what you think.

Apr 09, 2008
lookout78 in Austin