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40th birthday for visiting hound and friends..

I'll recommend Backstage Steakhouse. It's at the end of a scenic drive southwest of Austin, and the food is delicious.

More info here:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394844
and here:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/93193

Nov 29, 2007
Twill in Austin

Best Fried Chicken?

This thread is still relevant.
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393787

Nov 28, 2007
Twill in Austin

La Hacienda

You should follow the MPH/scrumptiouschef road over to La Pulga on Sat/Sun. If there's one dish in abundance, it's carnitas, and there's plenty of room in Part 13 for vetting the fare. Hope to see you there next weekend.

Nov 26, 2007
Twill in Austin

Tex-Mex on Austin's Southeast and East Sides, Part 13

Not to be deterred by the cold, spitting wet, I pulled out the overcoat and headed round the corner and over the dam this a.m. to investigate this cryptolocus about which MPH and scrumptious were making wild claims. I can verify that it does, indeed, exist, and is nothing short of a trailer utopia.

After circuitously scoping out the few acres of tented market offerings and trailers and grabbing a bag of fried chicharrones, we headed to La Catradita, a half-trailer of Honduran fare in the sparsely populated southwest end, and ordered by pointing to a skewer of char-grilled pork (the menu was out of sight around the corner, and the name of the dish eluded me). About seven healthy hunks of smoky-sweet meat came atop three freshly made corn tortillas, and we seated ourselves amongst the condimentary at a far table. The meat and tortillas could have each stood alone and together with the comfortably mild green tomatilla salsa were delicious. Upon seeing that the SO and I were splitting the odd plate, the kindly woman working the mini cucina called me up and gave me another several chunks of meat on a tortilla which I graciously accepted and consumed.

Next we headed to Pupusas Salvadoreñas and ordered a bean and cheese pupusa. I have to say that I prefer the El Zunzal version, but with the addition of the Latin American slaw and capzasin-busting green salsa, it was very good. After seeing our fellow diners knocking them back, the SO went back and ordered an atole, which tasted like a liquid version of pastry frosting and was populated with raisins...amazing.

I headed over to Carnitas Los Dos Amigos and settled on the carnitas torta. The meat was extremely tender and contained well-cooked strips of pork fat, but was a bit short on flavor. The condiment cart in front of the register had pico, limes and salsa, but it wasn't enough to sell me on the meat. CLDA is obviously providing stock for several of the other vendors as I saw two different kids come up and retrieve loads of freshly made corn tortillas, the labor of two women working feverishly at the stove.

Having consumed a fare amount of the chicharrones by this time, we decided to end our initiatory visit to the fruiteria located in the center of Pulga next to the pupusa truck where we ordered elotes. We had unwittingly saved the best for last. The corn wasn't grilled, but was perfectly cooked, basted with crema, rolled liberally in crumbled queso fresco and dusted with chile lime. I could eat this every day, quite possibly as an accompaniment to every meal. Hence, I don't think I justify a trip to La Pulga without having one.

There are an enormous number of places to explore and I'm looking forward to more posts on the various spots scattered around this most auspicious of parking lots. I'll certainly look forward to contributing at every possible opportunity.

Nov 25, 2007
Twill in Austin

Good eats in Austin

I checked out a couple of your posts from the Ontario boards, and I think you'll find that Austin has a preponderance of really good Mexican food offerings–some with an Americanized slant, but a number that have pretty authentic south of the border fare. Honeybee has already mentioned Angie's which has some of the better homemade corn tortillas in town. If you're open to exploring some places off the beaten path, you do well to check out MPH's comprehensive series on the East and Southeast side of town, which you can easily find by searching "Tex-Mex on Austin's Southeast and East Sides"

You're best bet–as mentioned elsewhere–to focus on a particular type of food (Mexican, BBQ, etc.) and use the search this board function.

Nov 20, 2007
Twill in Austin

Tex-Mex on Austin's Southeast and East Sides, Part 13

We drove past this a few weekends ago, though I obviously missed the armory of trucks. I'm all over it. Thanks for the recon, MPH. I'm betting on starving myself Friday for this little weekend project.

Nov 20, 2007
Twill in Austin

Favorite Soup?

I totally spaced on the soups at the Alumni Center's Texas EXpresso cafe. I can't name any one particular as a favorite as they are surprisingly good across the board. Staying in the UT realm, I'd also give a nod to the Feijoada at O's Cafe, though the chef that created it has moved on to a new position elsewhere, so I assume that one is lost to memory.

Nov 20, 2007
Twill in Austin

TX style steak and egg breakfast?

You can dine amongst roughneck types and get the sort of fare I think you're seeking at Arkie's Grill on E. Cesar Chavez. Check out the blue plates while you're there.

I've had pretty good luck at Hoover's ordering the two eggs with CFS and biscuits and grits, but you'll be sacrificing an integral part of the experience in the company you keep.

Nov 19, 2007
Twill in Austin

Favorite Soup?

I'll throw in the Pozole Rojo from the Soup Peddler and the beef noodle soup from CoCo's.

Nov 19, 2007
Twill in Austin

Torchy's Tacos - Food&Wine

IMO, you've missed the best things on the menu at Taqueria Piedras Negras #2. The guisado de res is outstanding dark and tender with a nice kick. The carnitas are moist, tender and delicious, with or without salsa.

In my experience, Seis Mesas only puts the lettuce, tomato and cheese on their tacos if you ask for them. I've never asked for them, so I've had a different experience. Their carne guisada is straight out of cocina de mama; it's a version which has an authenticity that has been lost in most of the others I've tasted.

I've not yet been to La Hacienda (though I'll have to prioritize that adventure now), but you should try La Michoacana sometime. Their barbacoa de borrego (sheepshead in the serving tray; offered only occasionally) is one of the best tacos I've ever had, and there's not a menu item at Torchy's that I would even breathe in the same sentence.

I agree that there's room for people who like Torchy's and people who prefer more authentic fare when it comes to tacos. I still think Torchy's recognizes and caters to a certain clientele, one that is willing to pay more out of concern for a vibe rather than seek out higher quality, less gentrified fare. But that's just my opinion.

Nov 15, 2007
Twill in Austin

Torchy's Tacos - Food&Wine

Meh. Torchy's doesn't do it for me now that I've come out of the Cave, and not for any nebulous racially insensitive motivation, whatever that means.

Please take this opportunity to expound on some of the dishes at those places I mentioned that you find bland and boring. I'd love to hear.

Nov 15, 2007
Twill in Austin

Torchy's Tacos - Food&Wine

I'll second the notion that Torchy's is "a tad overpriced." After getting around to the places I mentioned earlier, I pretty much feel violated by how much I paid in previous visits to Torchy's. I think the ownership realizes that they are catering to a certain patron that will pay a premium for their particular brand of ambience.

Nov 15, 2007
Twill in Austin

Manly Brunch near downtown

Give Lambert's brunch ($22/person) a go. They have some chi-chi offerings which may be a bit pinky-raising for a group of alpha males, but they also have big slabs of meat that will appeal to the more primal among you. I highly recommend the hanger steak benedict, and they have made to order eggs and sides for those that lean to the breakfast side of brunch. Granted, this may be overkill if you're going to the Salt Lick later in the day.

Nov 15, 2007
Twill in Austin

Torchy's Tacos - Food&Wine

I used to be a fan of Torchy's until I unceremoniously vacated my exurb digs near Zilker, moved east and started exploring the offerings here. Torchy's is fine if you like the anglicized version of tacos, but doesn't hold a candle to places like Tacos Piedras Negras #2, La RegioMontana, La Monita, Seis Mesas or even La Michoacana. The flavor spectrum at any of these places just makes Torchy's seem bland and unsophisticated to me.

Nov 15, 2007
Twill in Austin

weirdest foods in Austin?

Yes, I'm indeed a fan of Los Comales. I'd pretty much marginalized my beef intake until I had some of their carnes. I still have dreams about that grill.

I missed the verde-guac, but have been hankering for LM, so I'll pick some up this weekend. The SO and I thought it would be interesting to get one of those sheet chicharrones for our next gathering, place it in the middle of a server and take pictures of people's reactions.

In return for your recs, I'd offer that you get over to Taqueria Piedras Negras at Chavez and Pleasant Valley and try their guisado, carnitas and barbacoa (not as good as LM's borrego version, but tops their res). Grab an agua fresca and camp out on the breezy bench for a great midday respite.

Nov 09, 2007
Twill in Austin

weirdest foods in Austin?

Good call, AB. I wrote about the borrego barbacoa fairly recently. It is one of the best tacos I've had in Austin. I'll definitely give the relleno a try on your rec.

Nov 07, 2007
Twill in Austin

The Sandwich Joint

In my estimation, Thundercloud only exists by virtue of nostalgia and a sheer force of will by its being, ergo I posit that almost any sandwich place could survive near (possibly even hidden behind or under) one of their locations as long as there was not another competitor within a reasonable proximity. I've not been able to test this theory in the real world, but my small-scale lab experiments with a control group of rats would suggest almost conclusively this outcome.

Nov 06, 2007
Twill in Austin

Dragged Kickin and Hollerin Into Chuy's on North Lamar

Nov 05, 2007
Twill in Chains

Dragged Kickin and Hollerin Into Chuy's on North Lamar

I still have a gift certificate from Chuy's given to me five years ago by an apartment owner who wanted to compensate me for the inconvenience of a remodel he was doing. Not even the prospect of free Chuy's is enticing enough to drive me to that degree of self-flagellation.

Nov 04, 2007
Twill in Chains

Outdoor Seating on the East Side

I was going to suggest just grabbing some tacos from La Michoacana and heading down to the Fiesta Gardens park area, but you one-upped me, Alan.

Oct 30, 2007
Twill in Austin

Outdoor Seating on the East Side

Taqueria Piedras Negras #2 (Trailer-Cesar Chavez and Pleasant Valley-benches)
Reggies (Trailer-12th and Chicon-benches)
El Chile (Manor)

Oct 30, 2007
Twill in Austin

Alamo S. Lamar bellyaches

If the puerco guisado wasn't one of the better food items at Alamo, I'd be ashamed to order it on principle for how awful the tortillas are. There's definitely no consistency problem, though; they're always bad.

Oct 25, 2007
Twill in Austin

Best Carne Guisada

During my high school years, I was annually shipped off to the grandparents where I served a three-month sentence working at a water-ski resort for the vacuous Houston elite set who owned summer mansions on the lake. Needless to say, I generally worked 50-60 hours a week for a sub-minimum $4.15/hour covering for a whole host of ne'er-do-well trust fund babies whose parents got them employ under the auspice of showing them the value of hard work. My summers generally sucked and remain unmemorable, but for a few things.

The club/resort was minority restricted (unstated, if obvious), so the only minorities around were the cooks and the waitstaff. I was lucky enough to have found the favor of the cooks, and was therefore invited to share in the non-menu southern dishes that they cooked for themselves (fried chicken, mac and cheese, greens, chicken and dumplings, etc.), any of which were infinitely better than what patrons were being served.

Those of us unrelated by membership to the resort tended to get KP duty-with an emphasis on dishwashing-where we were able to hone our skillz at lifting (and I don't mean picking up) cases of beer from the walk-in, which we would retrieve at night's end as what we regarded as a fringe supplement to our slavish pay.

So after putting a few back with the hairband du jour blaring in the background, taking a few dips in a murky Texas lake and whatever else we could do to disengage ourselves from our indentured servitude, my comrades and I would head into town and roll up about 2 a.m. on a little 24-hour dive called Huela's Taco Hut where we'd wolf down our fill of the best tacos around.

Huela's wound up shuttering when gang violence in the surrounding neighborhood got bad enough to drive away her patronage, and ever since that distant time, I've been trying to find a guisado that approximates those killer tacos we used as teens to soak up beer before heading home after a full day and long night. I went by Seis Mesas today and not only found the guisado I've been searching for, but the place itself could've been transported across the time and space of my memory.

Thanks, MPH, for knowing and sharing the good stuff. I'll be checking out the other recs since we seem to have similar tastes in that particular dish.

Oct 24, 2007
Twill in Austin

Buffetts?

I'm a big fan of the Sunday lunch buffet at Java Noodles. Fonda San Miguel's Sunday brunch is delicious, if expensive, but the weekend combination menu/brunch buffet at Lambert's is a slightly better value, imo.

Oct 22, 2007
Twill in Austin

Reggie's Trailer

I drove by today about noon and the trailer was there.

Oct 21, 2007
Twill in Austin

weirdest foods in Austin?

Java Garden in the Albertson's center on Pleasant Valley at Riverside had a durian soup one weekend on the buffet. No rank smell whatsoever, it was sweet and delicious. That's the only thing, though, that I would return for.

Oct 19, 2007
Twill in Austin

weirdest foods in Austin?

Approaching the original post from the standpoint unusual preparations is probably a more useful tack. Along those lines, I would offer the monkfish liver at Musashino (Ankimo Kobachi–steeped in a soy and rice wine vinagrette and served in a large martinini) and the crispy fish at Asia Market (a large whole fish battered and fried and placed in a pool of tangy sauce–certainly strange to behold as proven by the attention I've gotten from fellow diners when returning it to my table).

Part of the reason my posts have become less ubiquitous at CH is because I'm frankly getting a little tired of my energies being expended for naught when posts I feel are germane to the discussion are removed. But I expect the same for this one, which I guess will simply prove my point.

Oct 18, 2007
Twill in Austin

Bakery Referral, Please

This post reminds me of a time that a coworker went to HEB to have a seminude photo of the glitter era David Bowie put on a birthday cake only to be rebuffed for reasons of moral outrage by an older lady behind the bakery counter.

BTW, what does the photo frosting taste like? I just imagine it's like having a pen explode in your mouth while sucking on a sugar cube.

Oct 11, 2007
Twill in Austin

Recommendation for gift certificate

How about La Traviata? Two could easily get by for that amount.

Oct 11, 2007
Twill in Austin

Tex-Mex on Austin’s Southeast and East Sides, Part 2

Well, having vacated my urb-ex-urb basement in the '04 in favor of a pastoral little homestead near Fiesta Gardens, I figured it was time to get my barrio legs about me by revisiting MPH's earlier discourse on the area. Being a stone's throw from so many (self) unexplored places is a little overwhelming, but I think I'm at least getting a feel for the good stuff.

I headed up to La Michoacana on Sunday to grab some bananas and beer and tacos. Based on the dated nature of the post, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I also thought I'd stick to a few familiar things before leaping off the proverbial high dive. A quick rundown:

Puerco guisado:Yep. Thick tomatillo tangyness. Tender pork was a bit dry. Nice mild kick.

Beef fajita: Not really. The beef looked more boiled than anything and had little, if any, flavor. I could just be pissed because I ordered guisado and found this in the bag when I got home.

Pastor: Good. As in better than most I've tried in my limited experience. Tender meat, hint of sweet. Probably could be more flavorful, but I'd have it again.

Barbacoa: Very Good. I haven't had it much in Austin, but it certainly beats the spleen out of Torchy's (which, I'm discovering, is hardly a fair comparison). Not much fatty in evidence at all, but had more flavor than the pastor.

Barbacoa de Borrego: There was a sheepshead in the server. This was by far the best of all. Fatty, thick with flavor, tender. Sort of tasted like self-gratification would if it worked that way.

I'll do what I can to revisit some of the spots over here that may have gone dormant for a while, either for falling from grace or just from the passage of time, so I'm open to any ideas.

Oct 10, 2007
Twill in Austin