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Beyond Restaurants – Best Foodie Experiences in Atlanta

Piedmont Park Farmers Market – I have not been there, but I'm going to keep it in mind for a future trip to Atlanta.

Apr 10, 2012
italyvespa in Atlanta

Beyond Restaurants – Best Foodie Experiences in Atlanta

I have actually been to Dekalb Farmers Market but not Buford Highway Farmers Market, so that's a great suggestion. I have also been to several small "real" farmers market (outside, stands, people/farmers selling their own produce) but I can't remember which ones.

I have been to Star Provisions (fantastic suggestion!). What else comes to mind?

Apr 09, 2012
italyvespa in Atlanta

Beyond Restaurants – Best Foodie Experiences in Atlanta

Outside of eating in restaurants, what are your favorite foodie experiences? I'll be in ATL for an extended weekend soon, and I'm interested in hearing all ideas – visits to quaint markets/grocery stores, restaurant tours, secret suppers, discount warehouses for expensive cookware – whatever. I'm even open to venturing slightly outside the city. Show me your city!

Apr 06, 2012
italyvespa in Atlanta

Best rustic tart in the LA area?

I started off asking what the best rustic dessert tart was in the LA area, and now I've decided that I don't care if it's sweet or savory. I just want something hand-made (looking rustic and not perfect), leaning towards a French style, fresh (not looking like a plastic dessert in a pastry case), and extremely good. Suggestions? I'm not from LA but will be in town soon for a couple days, so please no lame suggestions. I'm only looking for the creme de la creme.

Oct 13, 2010
italyvespa in Los Angeles Area

Where to Get Farm Fresh Eggs in Austin Any Day of the Week

Where can you buy farm fresh eggs in Austin? What times should you go? Are any of these places open every day of the week for egg business (or multiple days)? I'd love to hear what options are available.

Also, a side note - does anyone have a preference on eggs from one farm over another?

I know you can get eggs from several vendors at the downtown farmers market on Saturdays (9am-1pm). Also Boggy Creek Farm sells local Vital Farm's USDA Certified Organic/Pastured Hens' eggs on Wednesdays and Saturdays (9am-1pm).

Jun 28, 2010
italyvespa in Austin

Uchiko

Order the rabbit with the poached egg. It's on the left side of the menu. It is FANTASTIC. I went twice this past weekend and almost ordered it again the second time. But I had to stop myself since I wanted to try some different stuff. Everything else is wonderful, but the rabbit is a showstopper.

Also, I heard so many employees rave about the Tobacco Cream dessert. At that point I couldn't resist trying it, but it didn't wow me like I expected it to based on all the comments. Instead I'd have to recommend the corn dessert. It was really a perfect dessert and ended the meal beautifully. (I also got to try the chevre dessert. This one is a close second to the corn dessert. It's bold with the flavors - chevre and balsamic vinegar in a dessert? But pure genius. Try it if you aren't looking for sweet and want to be wowed.)

Jun 28, 2010
italyvespa in Austin

Food Cart Crawl

I'd highly consider doing Izzoz Tacos (http://www.izzoztacos.com) on South First for your taco hit. Everybody knows about Torchy's, but Izzoz's (similar because they are minutes away from each other and both have tacos) is a more unique Tex-Mex stop. Plus their tacos are insanely good.

Also, I partly agree and partly don't agree with making Odd Duck and Gordough's your last stop. I am very partial to Odd Duck (fantastic food), but the stuff I have gotten there was heavy. Good for your first stop? No because you don't want to fill up there. Good for your last stop? No because it might really push you over your limit and you wouldn't fully appreciate what you're eating then. Regardless, Gordough's is probably perfect for a last stop. But note that their stuff is heavy, heavy, heavy. If you are at all feeling like you might not be able to handle when you get there, then you're right - you won't be able to handle it. They manage to make one donut equal to about six.

May 04, 2010
italyvespa in Austin

Olivia, La Condesa, Parkside , Aquarelle and Wink - have five reservations and can only keep two

I like Olivia. Seems like a great atmosphere for what you're looking for. The food can be a little eccentric, but you might be expecting that. And I don't know about their vegetarian options.

Unless you want high pretension like what you would find in Dallas plus high prices for super tiny portion sizes, skip La Contesa. I can't even believe they've lasted this long.

Parkside is nice and surprisingly hip for being located right on 6th Street, but they have a fairly small menu. Check it out first.

Aquarelle is a great place, a very nice restaurant, but it seems more like a date place. The last time I was there, a group of friends/couples were there and one man's laugh monopolized the atmosphere. Seems not right for a group of old college buddies.

Wink is great. It's tiny and they pack people in there, but I'd say that the sound doesn't bounce off the walls like it does at Aquarelle. Good vegetarian options.

Apr 13, 2010
italyvespa in Austin

Olivia, La Condesa, Parkside , Aquarelle and Wink - have five reservations and can only keep two

Interesting because I've had a few great experiences at Olivia. But I can't say I'm a regular so I can't speak to their food on a regular basis.

Apr 13, 2010
italyvespa in Austin

Who makes the best sandwiches in town?

Go to McKiernan's and get the chicken tikka sandwich. No regrets. You will not be disappointed!

gift certificate for a foodie-but-usually-broke friend! Where to send him with $100?

Maybe I'm a snob, but there are several restaurants here that have been mentioned that I don't think are up to the caliber that you're looking for. The worst offenders . . . Perlas? No way. They are trendy but the food doesn't live up to the atmosphere. It's mediocre at best. I've been three times so they've had plenty of chances. Too bad because the location and space are phenomenal. Another: Max's Wine Dive is a chain and not all that upscale either, which it sounds like is what you're looking for. I wouldn't buy a fat gift certificate to a chain restaurant to show off how cool Austin is. Why bother?

As for places I'd recommend . . . Uchi – if this person likes sushi – is probably the hottest most respectable places in town. This isn't even a new restaurant, but the food is so fantastic that the hype has maintained. This is one of the only restaurants in town that can claim this prestige. When Gourmet magazine came into town (when they were still around) this is where they always wanted to go.

Other suggestions:

Olivia
Wink
Jeffrey's (not as trendy as the others, but good for a classy, quiet meal.)
Sienna (Italian)
Lambert's (BBQ)
Paggi House

There are more, but this is a start.

By the way, one place no one ever recommends but is so cool is Ventana. It is run by students nearing the end of their schooling at the Texas Culinary Academy. And it's all students, from the hostesses to the wait staff to the chefs. It's probably not where you want to buy your gift certificate (the atmosphere is not so hip – it's all the way up in officetown in North Austin) but it might be worth recommending for your friend to check out on their own. You get a four star meal for about half the price of the trendy restaurants downtown. You get excellent service and everyone is so attentive. I guess they have to be. From what I hear, working at Ventana is a requirement to graduate.

Dec 07, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Which restaurants in Austin serve homemade pasta?

The only ones I can think of right now are Pasta and Co. and Bellagio. Any others?

Nov 06, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Group of 6-8, Restaurant Recommendations for Sat Night?

Looking for a place where 6-8 friends can get together on a Saturday night. Would prefer a place that serves alcohol, takes reservations, and is not too hard to park at. Not looking for anything Asian or Mexican. Also not looking at anything North of the Domain and anything South of 71. Any suggestions?

Nov 03, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Is there good bread in Austin ?

Thanks, Alan! Never heard of Bona Dea Bread before. Interested to try her out.

Nov 03, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Is there good bread in Austin ?

Unfortunately I agree with everyone who says that you're probably going to have to lower your expectations. Bread here is just mediocre. You will be disappointed. That being said, maybe someone out there will read this post, get an aha moment, and open up an artisan bread shop in Austin. We desperately need one. And (fingers crossed) hopefully the community will support it.

Oct 26, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Please help critique my upcoming Aus itinerary

I can't believe someone recommended Vivo's. Blah. Don't go there. It's mundane at best. Pick any of the other three. Personally I like it in the order of Manuel's, Chuy's, and Polvo's last, but this is totally my preference. Other people will probably have their own different opinion on which of these three is best.

Oct 24, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Wedding Gift for Foodies

Another idea is to put together a gift basket filled with Central Texas foods and wines. Or even better, I also had the idea of gifting a locally made cutting board. Although I don't specifically know of a Texas company that makes their own cutting boards, it seems like one must exist.

Sep 30, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Montreal restos - Please help me with my list

Such great comments from everyone so far – very helpful. This really sheds light on the list. Also, let me thank you for reading my long posts. I originally considered trying to break my questions up into multiple posts, but I just didn’t think it would work.

Good to know about traffic to the airport. I won’t push it. I did notice that Caffe ArtJava is close to where I’ll be staying in the downtown area (a fifteen minute walk) and they open at 7am on Sunday morning. That might be an option if there’s no food leftover on Sunday – unless someone tells me that they’re a bad choice.

Plateaumaman, although I love Vietnamese food, I’m okay passing on it for this trip. The meals are such precious few in quantity that I’m already agonizing over the many places that I can’t eat at (some named above, but so many others that I didn’t bother listing.)

I’m really glad to get confirmation that I don’t have to make a poutine a dinner. Didn’t want to do that, but didn’t see how to get around it. I guess I just have to make sure that Schwartz’s, La Banquise, and Au Pied de Cochon are spaced out so I don’t explode.

And though I do really like the casual but hip vibe, I agree with choosing between some of the places picked instead of trying to squeeze them all in. It helped to hear that the lunch options were redundant. I wasn’t able to decipher this on my own.

A side note . . . I have tried to narrow the lunch down to just one from the list above to open up a spot for something else. But here’s where my guilty pleasure comes out: the kind of food these types of places serve would probably be the choice for the last meal I ever ate. I revere good, gourmet sandwiches marrying quality ingredients in just the right order and proportions. It’s not a talent that not everyone posses. I also think creativity with the menu items and made-from-scratch baked goods ranks just as high. And I don’t take any of this for granted. I taste it and savor it in every bite. But too many of these types of restaurants waters down the experience and limits the scope of other types of food experiences that I can enjoy. So I’ve been looking at websites for menus (translating when necessary), perusing Flickr and Googling for food photos and trying to make the hard decision of what to cut. I think I’ve finally decided to cut The Sparrow off my list (heartbreaking) and the only reason was that there was no website, no menu, and hardly any photos convincing me of the incredible food that I’m sure they offer. (Take notes, owners. You’ve been open for at least half a year now.) But now I have to choose between the other four and it’s still an agonizing decision. I guess this is a true sign that you’re really a food lover.

I will be traveling with someone else and this other person is interesting in free Wi-Fi locations around the city. I haven’t come across too many places that offer this, yet ironically Cluny ArtBar and Titanic both do. Cluny ArtBar opens at 8:30am and Titanic opens at 7:30am so this will probably mean that I’ll try and squeeze them into a breakfast time so I at least get the experience of being there, even if I don’t eat lunch there. Or it will mean that I’m so persuaded by the breakfast and atmosphere that I make sure I eat lunch there. Repeating a food stop on a vacation hardly ever happens with me, but it has happened once before so I won’t say it’s impossible. Anyway, this leaves Reservoir and Olive et Gourmando. And both look perfect. It will be a hard choice and it might just come down to whichever one has a more convenient location for the other plans of the day.

Sad news (incredibly sad) on the food front: I just realized my plane actually doesn’t get into Montreal until after 5 on Wednesday, so that actually cut one of my lunches out.

Oh, and to moh – oh no, you better believe I’m not forgetting the bakeries! Or the bagels, for that matter. Can’t wait, can’t wait.

Okay, so revised lineup to date of main meals:

BREAKFAST
1. Cluny ArtBar
2. Titanic
3. Saturday – no breakfast; all JTM
4. Sunday – Caffe ArtJava?

LUNCH
1. Reservoir/Olive et Gourmando – please persude me towards one of these two places*
2. Schwartz**
3. Saturday – JTM & picnic (I’ve read a lot of great things about the chicken at Romados)

DINNER
1. Au Pied de Cochon
2. Club Chasse et Peche/Au Cinqiueme Peche/L’Express/Lemeac/McKiernan’s – how to choose?*
3. Club Chasse et Peche/Au Cinqiueme Peche/L’Express/Lemeac/McKiernan’s – how to choose?*
4. Le P’tit Plateau

LATE NIGHT
1. La Banquise

*Thoughts?
**I’ve heard great things about the Au Cinqiueme Peche lunch special. Should I consider switching it to lunch and switching Schwartz’s to dinner? Or will I be robbing myself of an incredible nighttime experience in lieu of the cheaper meal?

Texas Monthly's top 50 burgers

Thank goodness. Someone else who doesn't think the Casino El Camino burgers are all that. You're alright, MrCrowesGarden.

Aug 27, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Dinner for 30 out o'towners

I'd like to second The East Side Cafe. They have a separate building that can accommodate 30 people. It's right next to their regular restaurant.

Also, Thistle Cafe downtown has a separate room that will accommodate larger parties. I don't really think it's a unique representation of Austin but I thought I'd mention it since it's still a nice place to go for a meal.

Aug 27, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

The most romantic restaurant in Austin?

I don't think the food at Carmelo's is awful, but I don't think the experience is worth the money you'll be paying. In fact, the take-away vision that I had the last time I ate there (for my anniversary) was that it was a pretty stuffy atmosphere and wasn't much fun. I wanted quiet, but eating there was just, well, boring.

I really love the suggestion of East Side Cafe (perfect! a quiet and interesting place with excellent food), and I would agree with you on Vespaio, but I've been there for my anniversary many times and have been disappointed by the noise level. The food at Vespaio is inspiring and wonderful and the decor is hip, but it's too trendy for an anniversary. My two cents.

Aug 27, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Hot Sauce Festival

I was a regular for about 4 years in a row, and yes, it is worth it. I want to point out, however, that it is more of a salsa festival than a hot sauce festival, from what I have experienced, anyway.

My recommendation is that you come EARLY. Be there when they open. Peruse the sample tables (there are many.) About an hour into it, the festival will start getting crowded. That's okay because by then you've already schmoozed with all the people at the sample tables and gotten all your samples. At that point, you can go around for seconds and decide what to buy. Then buy yourself a margarita, kick back and listen to the bands, and when you're ready, get something to eat. By this time, it should be midday, the sun will be blasting, and unless you have a spot in the shade, you probably won't want to stay too much longer.

Aug 27, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Montreal restos - Please help me with my list

I need help. I'm spending a Wednesday night - Sunday noon vacation in Montreal and am having a really hard time choosing between restaurants. As usual, there are not enough meals to fit everything in. Here are my notes so far:

LUNCH
1. The Sparrow/Reservoir/Cluny ArtBar/Olive et Gourmando/Titanic
2. The Sparrow/Reservoir/Cluny ArtBar/Olive et Gourmando/Titanic
3. The Sparrow/Reservoir/Cluny ArtBar/Olive et Gourmando/Titanic
4. Saturday – JTM & picnic (I’ve read a lot of great things about the chicken at Romados)
5. Sunday – I need to be at the airport at 10:45. Le Cartet opens at 9. Can I eat there in an hour? I know their service is notoriously slow. Otherwise, I will probably choose between Byblos or Toi Moi et Café, but as of now I’ve heard more people comment on the Byblos breakfast.

DINNER
1. Au Pied de Cochon
2. Schwartz
3. La Banquise (I hate to spend a dinner on La Banquise just to eat a poutine there, but the meal will be so heavy it doesn’t seem possible to make it a stop on the way to dinner.)
4. Le P’tit Plateau

I am having a lot of trouble choosing where to go for lunch. My favorite types of lunch places are more homey and casual and I also like areas that have a great aesthetic appeal. Anyway, I need help with what kind of vibe these restos have, what kind of food they serve, and if any of them are light enough to squeeze in a breakfast beforehand. I have been through the message boards and there are a lot of great comments that I’ve read, but I just can’t decide.

Also feel free to comment on the rest of the list. I had to cut out a lot of other great places (Le Club Chasse et Peche, Au Cinquieme Peche, L’Express, Lemeac, McKiernan’s) so tell me if I did the right thing with this list. FYI, if so many people hadn’t said that Schwartz’s and ________ (fill in your favorite place to get poutine here) weren’t essentials, I probably would have cut them out as well. My taste leans towards places that are not so hole-in-the-wallish and -referring to Schwartz's- not so meat centric. (I am not a vegetarian, I just normally don’t care about a meal that’s so completely centered around meat.)

To note, I have never been to Canada and don’t live in an area that has a lot of French food so I tried to fit in a lot of local cuisine and local specialties that will be unique to the area, especially for dinnertime. Mind you, the list above does not cover bagels, bakeries, and bars, many of which I hope to also be able to squeeze in.

Thank you in advance!

French Tarts in Montreal - Worth Looking For?

I heard about the natas and may have to check them out. They sound fantastic.

French Tarts in Montreal - Worth Looking For?

Thanks for all the responses and sorry I wasn't more clear. When I asked about French tarts, I was referring to moh's description: "When I hear the words french tart, I immediately think of those flat tarts filled with custard and then covered in beautiful glazed fresh fruit." Balthazar is supposed to be based on French bistros. Their tarts are beautiful in a rustic way that may seem not so French, but since bistros are known for a more home cooking approach maybe this is the way a bistro would make them. Anyway, I have never seen the classic French tart as described above at Balthazar, but that's okay. The tarts are just good, period. And if a tart is good, I don't think it matters much if it's the classic (clean) kind or a more homely rustic kind. Good is good.

FYI, the main difference between a tart and a pie is the crust. The crust on a tart is more cookie-like. It's sweeter and crumbly, like shortbread. A pie crust is less sweet and flaky. And I'm not a stickler about the looks but if you want to get really technical, a tart is supposed to be shorter with straight edges and a pie is deeper with edges that taper in.

I live in Austin, but will be in Montreal for a few days in September. I want to know if Montreal has kick ass tarts of their own to sing about, since the city has such a strong French connection. And the big picture is: are you known for tarts? If not, I won't go out of my way to hunt down a tart place. Bagels, poutine, smoked meats, cheese, French food galour – I have a GIGANTIC list of "must-eat" food to get down the few days I'm in Montreal and I can get fantastic tarts in other cities. But I can hardly wait to visit. Sounds like a glorious food city to me.

French Tarts in Montreal - Worth Looking For?

I am headed to Montreal at the beginning of September and wondered, are French tarts big there? I know that croissants are popular, but how about tarts? They are my favorite dessert, so don't bother recommending tarts that are just so-so.

FYI, Balthazar Bakery in NYC has raised the bar for how good a tart can be IMO. Their tarts - the filling, the crust, the presentation - just blow my mind.

Wine Store / Merchant

Vino Vino is also great for wine recommendations. The staff and the owner are very knowledgeable.

Jul 23, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Athenian Grill?

This place is AWESOME!!! The best Greek/Mediterranean in town. For a cafeteria-style service, it does seem pricey to pay $9-$13 a plate, but the plates are overflowing. Unless you stuff yourself, you should have leftovers.

Jul 23, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Good Middle Eastern?

I know this is a post about Middle Eastern, but The Athenian Grill (Greek, downtown, across from Ruth's Chris') serves most of the same food and is the best in town for what they serve. (The only thing I'm pretty sure they don't have that's been mentioned here is falafel.) They are consistently the best quality, the portions are plenty for what you get, and the food is always fresh.

On another note, I'm surprised that Sarah's Grill has gotten such high reviews. I think the reviewers here are giving them an obscene amount of credit. It's alright, but it doesn't hold any weight to The Athenian.

I have been to most of the other Mediterranean restaurants in town and the one I'd consider as my #2 choice would be The Arpeggio Grill. True, it doesn't have the atmosphere of some of the others, but I don't mind going to a hole-in-the-wall.

Dimassi's, by the way, is HORRIBLE. Do yourself a favor and don't go there. I can't believe it was even mentioned. Food is bland and cold. It's all on a buffet which sits out forever. Families and college students camp out and feast for hours in this depressing restaurant. Oh, and the restaurant really goes the extra mile to make sure they don't lose money off the buffet. You know this because you won't be getting much high-quality foods from it – Dimassi's is a glorified Middle Eastern Golden Coral. And if all this doesn't convince you, let me also throw in that they are a Houston chain. I don't know about you, but I'd rather support the small, local Mediterranean restaurants that are filled with so much more quality and charm.

Jul 23, 2009
italyvespa in Austin

Chuy Bakery/Panaderia off Ohlen and 183

They were mentioned in this week's Austin Chronicle. Looks like the owner was hand-picked to help set up Mandola's. FYI, he learned about breadmaking while growing up in Mexico, but he later attended the CIA in Hyde Park. The mention in The Chronicle said that he makes Mexican-style breads but he also bakes in a European-style as well at his new place, Panaderia Chuy. They are open from 6am-9pm.

More details here: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyroba...

Jul 23, 2009
italyvespa in Austin