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pub with best beer selection?

off-the-beaten-path department -

try the Dig Pub in Cedar Park - - at least 20 beers on draught - from Dogfish to Franziskaner - and many more bottled.

for "beer-scootin'" - head down the road to New Braunfels - the Frisenhaus Biergarten - features a variety of German draft beers, as well as the $18.99 "One boot beer"

Jan 05, 2010
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Is there a good philly cheese steak in Austin??

Pat's and Geno's have been duking it out in Philly for years--both hallowed cheese steak purveyors (although I've always had a soft spot for Jim's Steaks as well)--but there are many factors that go into a true Philly cheese steak. The quality of the thinly sliced rib-eye is primo. Pat's chops up its meat; Geno's does not. As for cheese, Geno's made Wiz popular, but provolone is the classic addition. (Make mine provolone.) Slatherings of sauteed white onions (chopped or thinly sliced) are a must, and only a fool would say no to mushrooms and peppers. However, Austin chefs are not gonna be able to duplicate the flavor of the region's Kennett Square mushrooms, or fire-roasted cherry peppers. Hog Island Deli's version is probably the closest you'll find in Austex, but it's really no substitute. Looking for hoagies or cheese steaks in Austin is like looking for enchiladas in Hellertown, PA (where they serve 'em up with Ragu sauce and Old El Paso out of the can tortillas). To me, the deal crusher for any aspiring cheese steak maker in Austin is the quality of the locally available steak/hoagie rolls. They are to South Philly's steak rolls what Tiny Tim's falsetto is to Mario Lanza's tenor. I'm sure there are those who are partial to the bakeries at Central Market, Whole Foods, Upper Crust, blah, blah, blah, but it seems mighty difficult to find anything but cotton tufts around here since the demise of Bread Alone's ovens.

Jan 04, 2010
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Christmas dinner in an Austin restaurant

Well for having never been to Austin before you can't go too wrong by stopping by Threadgill's on Christmas Day. The menu offers regional cooking (they have Chicken Fried Steak and Southern Fried Oysters on their Xmas list), and while it isn't "adventurous," it isn't a buffet either. Check out their special Christmas Holiday Menu at There is a North location at 6416 N. Lamar Blvd. which is about a 15 minute drive from the Arboretum area. They should be open 11 am.-10 p.m.

Dec 15, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Latkes in Austin?

Kenny and Ziggy's, a Houston institution and Guy Fieri favorite, will ship latkes, rugglach, bobka, kreplach, kishka, etc., etc., to you pronto if you don't want to take the scenic tour to Houston. They are currently offering a special Hanukkah menu featuring, among other items, latkes (two varieties: traditional potato and zucchini carrot). You can get a dozen mini classic latkes for $10.

Dec 13, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Need a romantic recommendation quick!

If tradition is your game, you might try Green Pastures - 811 W Live Oak St
Austin, TX 78704 - (512) 444-4747 -

As for roses, long-lasting beauties are currently available cash and carry - $10.99 for 1 dozen at the North Austin location of Freytag's Florist, 2211 W. Anderson Lane, Austin - (512) 371-5638 - -

Nov 24, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin


It is pretty odd that Austin hosted the American Cheese Society's conference here in town last August and yet apparently has not a single free-standing retail fromagerie. I'm looking forward to the opening of Antonelli's Cheese, as I'm not always happy with the pickings at Central Market and Whole Foods. Some random cheese musings follow:

The folks at renowned Three Shepherds Cheese are offering a special "Learn to Make Artisanal Cheese" this coming April 2010 at Twin Oaks Ranch in South Texas.

For a little cheesemaking follow-your-bliss inspiration, you might wish to lay hands on a DVD of "The Cheese Nun" She didn't "Dominique," like the Singing Nun, just dived into fromages like the Pont-l'Évêque:

In the meantime, the folks at Slow Food Dallas have put together links to Texas cheesemakers that may be of interest:

In fact, big D seems to revel in big cheese; they have at least 3 interesting cheese shops that I know of:

Nevertheless, Houston wins out with me when it comes to a tête-à-tête over a cheese plate. I like the one offered at Cafe Rabelais in Rice Village in Houston. I've tried cheese plates in Austin - most recently Mulberry's - and I've as of yet to find one as authentic, generous and value priced as the one at Cafe Rabelais.

However, if armchair travel is more your speed, an interesting mail order source outside of Texas is DiBruno's in Philadelphia. (Folks have opinions stronger than Stichelton as to their favorite fromage order source, so I'm sure you'll hear from others.)

Finally, if you can get friendly with French (or at least with Google Translate), Montreal's La fromagerie Hamel offers a fantastic online cheese catalogue, featuring over 1000 products, that is an education unto itself. I visited Montreal earlier this month and La fromagerie Hamel was one of my favorite cheese destinations.

Nov 20, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

High tea in and around Austin?

I suspect Austinities are not only resisting dressing up for high tea (which, BTW, is NOT a necessity), but they are resisting the ridiculously high prices being charged by places like the Tea Embassy viz viz "high tea" value aka bang for your buck aka awe in your Assam. I love a good high tea and have sampled 'em in Texas from Beau's at the Crescent in Dallas to Cafe M. Bloomers in Navasota, and, to my mind, no one puts on a great high tea here, but that's fine. I wouldn't expect London to have great Tex-Mex either. But what crumbles my crumpet, are the skimpy stale portions, poor atmosphere and service, tea bag teas, etc. that are offered regionally for high prices with little value. Why can't a tea be priced at least about $25 pp? I like to sample high teas when travelling (see links below); recent (August 2009 - October 2009) terrific high teas at or under $25 US or less that I've had were in Harrogate, UK - Betty's Tea Room - and Vancouver, BC - Secret Garden Tea Room. Earlier this year I enjoyed a great high tea, for $41 (the highest level out of many to choose from), at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, but it included champagne. I've also been willing to spend the dinero when talking high tea as theatre - say, the Empress High Tea in Victoria, BC or Claridge's in London - but even they offer views, music, scrumptiousness, service and luxury for about $50 US. (Such experiences put the ding-a-ling in my Darjeeling.) But $35 for the Tea Embassy??? I personally would prefer to take my lumps elsewhere - like the Demerara in my cup' o Nilgiri.

Menu & Links

Bettys Traditional Afternoon Tea
A pot of Tea Room Blend Tea;
sandwiches with a choice of two of the following fillings:
Smoked Scottish Salmon, Roast Yorkshire Ham,
Roast Free-Range Chicken Breast or Egg Mayonnaise;
a Sultana Scone, strawberry preserve and Yorkshire clotted cream;
a selection of miniature cakes.

Oct 16, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Need a sat afternoon drink

May 28, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Swimming Hole

with an hour or so drive from S. Austin as the goal, the Blue Hole swimming hole in Wimberely followed by a stop at Juan Henry's might be the ticket if you want okey-doke Tex-Mex, but better food is to be had at the Leaning Pear. Local music was found at a nearby local cafe but has been put on hold while Cypress Creek Cafe is up for new ownership, last I heard.

dirt floor, patio tables, and excellent free Tex music can be had at Gruene Hall in Gruene on a Sunday afternoon, but, as far as swimming goes, you'd be more tubing than swimming, and the throngs of tourists would probably not be yer style. However, if you're music-lovin' gets the best of you, the nearby Gristmill serves passable burgers, etc., but better food, again, is to be found elsewhere, say the River House Tea Room, a block over.

May 19, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Max's Wine Dive

direct from Houston, with lots o'accolades -

set to open May 12th.

May 06, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Please tell me about some good meat markets in town!

Lee's Meat Market behind Anderson's Coffee Roasters off Kirby Lane. (aka Cooper's Meat Market). Longtime Austin butcher. Has takeout meals too.

May 04, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Back from Austin & in search of "pink cake" recipe - moved from Austin board

Could you be thinking of "pan dulce"? If so, check out this recipe at Joy the Baker:

¡bueno suerte!

Feb 23, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Home Cooking

Spiraling Toward Valentines Night

After more than 30 years of dining out in Austin/Central Texas on Valentine's Day—everywhere from the Four Seasons to the humble Lazy Daisy (for all you oldtimers out there)— I've come to the conclusion that Valentine's Day (in fact just about any holiday) is definitely a dud night to dine out. In Europe you reserve a table, it's yours for the evening. Not so in the U.S. of A. It's my belief that Valentine's Day, and similar holidaze, bring out the worst in restaurants. It's profit-making time and food and service suffer in the rush to turn tables. St. Valentine smiles down on lovers 365 days a year, so the stars of romance, restaurants and lovers are more apt to align on most any other night, no? As for the actual Feb. 14th, I can think of nothing more romantic than cooking a wonderful meal together whilst sharing a bottle or two o' vino.

Feb 09, 2009
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Late, post-theater eats in Vancouver

Looking for late night eats in Vancouver. FInd Calhoun's too grungy; not into veggies at Naam or 24 hour McDonald's. Would also like recs for other areas (like Ambleside, West and North Van, Richmond) 'cause sometimes end up scrounging outside of Van proper for late night dinners. TIA.

Dinner for 70 (give or take)

If you don't mind your steak chicken-fried, you can get it, 'cue, booze and just about anything you want ('ceptin Alice) at downtown's Scholz Garten. They can do 70, are reasonably priced, and have a variety of banquet rooms and stages available (and they do provide sound equipment for a low fee too). Free music is often on the agenda. Someone named Kim Duran is scheduled for Dec 3rd.

Nov 21, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Best Smoked Turkey?

just down Highway 71 is the LaGrange Smokehouse which does a dandy job with its smoked turkeys as well as a whole range of smoked meats. They charge $3.35 lb. for 8-10 lb. smoked turkeys, and if you don't feel like making a trip to LaGrange, they will ship the turkeys right to your door. (Although you could talk yourself into the trip if you consider that you could also visit Weikel's Store and Bakery for kolaches.)

Nov 21, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Parsi Food in Austin?!

Don't let the name of the local Pars Mediterranean Supermarket & Deli fool you. It's not really a Greek joint but a Persian one. Located at 8820 Burnet Road. Frequented by the Persian community. For more info check out:

Nov 19, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Office Christmas Party Suggestions

NXNW Restaurant and Brewery, 10010 Capital of TX Hwy N, has two areas that should suit - the private Cascade Room which holds up to 40 persons, and the Pavilion which accommodates up to 80 (but the latter is a bit weather dependent). The food is good and reasonable, and they usually brew something special for the holidays, but, if not, what's not to like Bavarian Hefeweizen?

Nov 18, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

best chocolate candies

I'm partial to local chocolatier Cocoa Puro's Kakawa Cocoa Beans - "five flavors of chocolate in one bite." You can buy retail at various spots around town, but you can also order direct at

One considered review here:

Nov 18, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Apple Cider Doughnuts?

It's not local, but the Orchards of Concklin will deliver award-winning apple cider doughnuts to your door -

Nov 18, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Russell's Bakery's New Bistro on Kerbey Lane

Russell's Bakery and Coffee Bar has taken over the old Vin Bistro spot on Kerbey Lane (breakfast and lunch menus are already posted on-site for all to view.) Renovations are in process. The new site is named "Russell's Bistro on Jefferson Square." Can its schnecken and cappuccino peacefully coexist among the purveyors of gingerbread pancakes and roasted coffee?

Nov 06, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Milk Delivery in Austin?

greenling delivers organic and local dairy products, including milk.

Nov 04, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Silver and Stone

The G'Town restaurant resurgence continues apace. Not too long ago a local beauty shop owner and entrepreneur shepherded Dia Thai Cuisine, 114 East 7th Street, Suite 105 Georgetown, TX into existence, right off the square down from his shop. He intends to import from Brazil next, opening a churrascaria. So along with Italian (see my earlier chow review of Tony and Luigi's), that's 3 new international flags awaving close to the Williamson County courthouse. Hayashi's, in nearby Wolf Ranch, however, brings shame to the Land of the Rising Sun City. Pretentious and overpriced frequently go hand-in-hand roll with sushi spots, but this one adds sad squirts of sorry sauces to its tepid, discolored sashimi. mushi-mushi.

Oct 20, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

New - Best Little Italian in G'Town

They liked the name "Tony & Luigi's," so that's what they named the place, located at 1201 South Church Street in G'town. Had a soft opening a few weeks ago. They've been packin' 'em in with overflow parking in an adjacent church parking lot. Ate there twice and enjoyed their take on "Silver Spoon" cuisine. Some high end plates, some casual, ranging from excellent caprese salad with true buffalo mozarella (beats Full Quiver's) to zuppas, prime meats and very reasonably priced thin crust pizzas and pasta. Portions are ample without approaching buffet trough size.

A homespun Macaroni Grill without the cutesy. They have the linens and wine goblets, and fairly well trained, but young (thank you Southwestern University) servers, but not a bit of pretension (unlike Mandola's execrable Dripping Springs outpost). The wine list is short, but offers some very serviceable house wines at about $4 a glass. The team backing the place consists of local boys, and even in this economy they seem to have hit upon the right formula of class, comfort, value, and, most important, good cooking. They blow the local I-talian Nonna's and Romeo's away. They are currently cooking at the level Vin Bistro should have been in order to survive.

Monument Cafe had better look back over its shoulder. Its been resting on its Roadfood reputation while it waits for its new digs. It's had a constant turnover in staff, mucho kitchen errors and just plain bad cooking, as well as a general decrepitude that has seeped into everything from its banquettes to its bathroom floors. The Sun City crowd isn't too discriminating, but the silverhairs have definitely made the move to "Tony & Luigi's," along with what seems to be a horde of local college romantics and happy families. chow, baby, ciao.

Oct 16, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Texas Pie Company

For pecan pie, I prefer Houston's Goode Company's pecan pie:
For others - let's not forget our piemakers in Wimberley and Medina - especially the award winnin', made the Food Network, apple pie in Medina

Jun 27, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

Hungry in Harrison - Leads?

I will be travelling from Vancouver to Harrison for the Arts Festival. Any recommendations for lunch/dinner in Harrison and/or along the way? I would like to avoid hotel and golf club dining. I would love to know of true 'hound recs. TIA.

Boston Cream Pie

Marie Callendar's will do in a pinch. Try the one off 183N in the same center as Whole Foods (for the time being; they're moving to the Domain). They often carry it.

May 21, 2008
xalapenocharlie in Austin

KC to TX - Chowhounds Please Help

Flying to Kansas City, MO to pick up a car and drive it (with no time to spare) back to Texas. Need Chowhound help for great chow along the primarily non-blue highways. Planning to return via Witchita-OK City-Dallas and beyond. Very chow-familiar with Texas, but otherwise am at a loss once out of the Lone Star State.

Looking for advice on great rest stops to stretch out and get some great home cookin', coffee, etc.

Leaving this Tuesday. TIA!!

Greensboro, NC in May '08 - food "drought"?

willing to travel any direction. will be basing near GSO and spoking out on day trips from there. have been to outer banks, asheville, biltmore, etc. in the past, so more interested in exploring new territory. thanks for yer help.

Greensboro, NC in May '08 - food "drought"?

Newbie to Greensboro, NC area. Visiting late May '08. Has the drought put a damper on chow choices? Will be hitting back roads in the area. Willing to drive for great hound food. cue, red eye, farm food, etc. Into VA if necessary. Outdoor dining/secluded spots/recommendations welcome.