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elpaninaro's Profile

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Bruegger's Bagels

Know I am late coming back to this- but we finally ordered Panera in the office today and I got to try this soup. Sorry, but this is disgusting. Watered down- the water is separating from the soup itself- and using shredded frozen vegetables.
Just as bad as Thundercloud IMHO.

Dec 28, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Christmas take out.

Huge thumbs up from me for Lee's.

Dec 08, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Lox and bagel between Charlton and 57th Avenue along 6th? Seeking ideas

Boy you guys nailed it. I went there this morning- mixed bagels with cream cheese for the office, plus lox/CC/capers on plain for me and a couple of others.

Up to now, Tal at 1st and 53rd has been the place that got the most raves when I go. Murray's seemed to surpass that today- everyone went crazy for these bagels.

As for me- loved mine. Very similar to Zucker's I thought- but a slightly chewier and darker crust (slightly enough that it could just be one of those batch to batch day to day variances.) Overall, this place is now tops with me- along with Zucker's and Tal.

Many thanks agains for the rec- I now have a great go-to place on the West Side where I did not have one before. I will see if I can try Corner and the other places mentioned rest of this week.

Nov 14, 2012
elpaninaro in Manhattan

Lox and bagel between Charlton and 57th Avenue along 6th? Seeking ideas

Many thanks to you all! This is one of the best chowhound boards. I have 4 mornings in town- so will give all 3 a try- Murray's first based on the unanimous raves. All 3 look a nice early morning walk from the hotel before cabbing it the rest of the way- so I am good! Will be fun to compare these to the many places I have tried on the East side of town.

Nov 10, 2012
elpaninaro in Manhattan

Lox and bagel between Charlton and 57th Avenue along 6th? Seeking ideas

Evening all,

Back in the City next week- usual company/personal housing options in Midtown and Tribeca are currently home to local employees with post-storm commuting issues, so I took a hotel room in SOHO.

I am a huge fan of both Zucker's and Tal on 1st and 53rd. I have explored most other options in the immediate vicinity of both these locations, and these 2 are my favorites hands down.

Grateful for suggestions for similar quality and bagel style running up 6th Avenue from Charlton (Varick cross street that far south) to 57th (and hoping with all the current craziness I can still get a cab to wait while I run in). Not just for me- when I visit it is my tradition to bring lox and bagels into the office for breakfast (and lunch) every day. So I need to make a lot of very smart and good people happy.

Thanks for any thoughts.

Nov 09, 2012
elpaninaro in Manhattan

Restaurant Jezebel

Had a big wine dinner there once- 3 vintages of Roumier Musigny among other things. Food was good, but not great- certainly nowhere near expectations based on recommendations.

New dress code and wine+cigars spells a further departure from serious food to me- and catering to the new hipster crowd. More power to them if they pull it off- but I am not in. And I say that with regret since I saw some promise there when I went.

Nov 09, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Business lunch sugestions in Westlake area

Good catch on Las Palomas- I forgot that one. They have some strengths on the food side of things, and the atmosphere is definitely a bit quieter and more subdued than Lupe's. On that front I would amend my advice to say Lupe's or Las Palomas depending on the people attending and kind of setting you want (both are perfectly good for a business lunch- but within that realm one is definitely "calmer" than the other.)

Oct 14, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Business lunch sugestions in Westlake area

If you are good with Tex-Mex, Lupe Tortilla just opened here and for a business lunch I think that is the best choice in this lovely part of town where a lack of good restaurants is the only major fault. And not just the best choice in light of so little competition for a business lunch, but a great choice in and of itself.

Grove is next best- and was the best option until Lupe's opened IMHO- but check the menu first and see what you think. It is also a bit crowded and noisy- with terrible parking and not-so impressive details like plastic deck chairs at many of the tables. I personally do not care for the Grove, but for a while it was the only good option in the area for such a function.

Oct 12, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Great casual breakfast/brunch spots in South Austin after a run at the lake?

Thank you both! Appreciate the feedback. This gives us 3 places to try in the near future. I have not been to any of them- but have heard good things about Taco Deli and Habanero.

Oct 03, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Great casual breakfast/brunch spots in South Austin after a run at the lake?

Evening all,

A bit of a specialized request, but eager for any thoughts. One of my best friends and I have transitioned from Sunday brunch nicely dressed to a morning run at the lake followed by a meal- still in our running gear.

Week 1 we hit Zocalo- good as it always is. And weeks 2 and 3 we went to Bouldin Creek coffee house and Polvo's- my first time to both places, and I was very impressed overall.

In driving around that part of town I am seeing tons of little casual places- and I look forward to exploring more of them. Grateful for any thoughts on what to try or to avoid. Only caveat is that we will be in running gear- so places like Vespaio and Condesa are out.

Foodwise- it can be anything. We will eat just about anything as long as it's good!

Many thanks for any ideas!

Oct 01, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Best cakes in Austin?

I will second the vote for Sweetish Hill. Amazing cakes, and if you dig around Austin long enough you will find their breads and cakes are used in quite a few local restaurants.

It has been a couple of years since I ordered one, so not sure if it is still being done, but they had a masterful cake decorator there who would replicate just about any image for you- not the junky machine job you can get at some of the grocery stores, but a true artistic expression. I once asked her to do a Chagall painting on a cake and the result was stunningly beautiful. Call well ahead if you want to request this by the way- a week or so to be safe.

I have not had a disappointing cake from them- but the sweet spot for me is chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. I am a die-hard vanilla fan, but I could eat their chocolate cake all day long.

Sep 27, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Steakhouse opinions?

This is exactly why I have a hard time recommending a steak house here- once you know how to do it at home...

To be fair, with this economy and the price of red meat (and Austin's obsession with low prices), a really great steak is hard to deliver since 95% of the outcome is in the quality (and cost) of the raw materials. High quality red meat- be it a filet mignon or fajitas at Chuy's- has been perhaps the greatest casualty of fine dining in recent years.

Right now Fabi and Rosi is the only place I would drop big $$ for a steak- and their ribeye is wonderful. Just ask for the seasoned butter on the side since at times it can be a bit overwhelming and you will want to have more control over it.

For a broader search, I can offer a key question to ask. When considering a steak house, call ahead and ask if they cut their own steaks or if they are sent in pre-cut and pre-seasoned. Also look for the presence of prime rib on the menu- that has to be done in-house (case in point- Outback Steakhouse where the prime rib is still pretty good even though the other steaks are dreadful and have been for years).

These days you will not often get the right answer to the "cut in house or not" question- but if you do get that answer, I think it is your best bet to have a go.

Sep 25, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Duck/liver

+1- anytime I want to cook duck, I get one (or just a few parts) from Central Market. Never been disappointed.

Sep 03, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Lupe Tortilla Westlake soft open is on!

I have lived most of my adult life in Austin, but grew up in Houston and still go back quite frequently. For whatever reason, restaurants in Houston tend- in my opinion- to be far more expensive than restaurants of similar quality here. I have to chalk it up to the fact Houston is a very wealthy town where a lot of people eat out all the time- so restaurants can get awayt with making higher margins, or have the luxury of using fancier ingredients (the beef used in fajitas in Houston at my favorite places are far higher quality meat than the few Tex-Mex places I know here.)

Also FWIW, you may find that the half pound at Lupe's is enough for two people. After a really hard swim I can put away a pound of them at record speed- but when I used to go there all the time for lunch in Houston, 2 of us would split the half pound and leave very full.

Sep 03, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Lupe Tortilla Westlake soft open is on!

Some people said that. Here is my take,

1. Service at Arbor Walk was a bit rough at first because the place was overrun. Lots of foot traffic over there- for my first visit we had a 2 hour wait and when we got in mid-afternoon the place was still full. Things going much smoother at Westlake early on- just not quite the huge numbers of passersby.

2. The beef fajitas are their best item- in my opinion- but they are very different and a love em or hate em kind of dish. They are thick and more steak-like, tenderized and then soaked in a pretty strong lime and salt marinade. I normally prefer meat with minimal treatment- but for whatever reason I love these fajitas. I also like the fact they serve them with sharp cheddar cheese on the side instead of velveeta or the other crap processed cheeses many chains live by these days. Great tortillas- corn and flour- and I like the refried beans as well. The rest is "pretty good" except I don't like the fact they do go the velveeta route on the queso.

3. Price- beef fajitas for 2 (1 pound) is $36.99. Back in Houston, $35-45 is the going rate for a pound of fajitas at a higher end Tex-Mex restaurant in a good neighborhood- so for the Houston market they are spot on. Plus you get a full pound of meat, and it is a much higher grade of meat than from places like Maudie's or that monstrosity just up the road- Berry Hill. If you really look at the quantity and quality, I don't see much of an upcharge personally. It all comes down to whether you like how they prepare the meat.

In the Austin market, I think they will be fine in Arbor Walk and Westlake. They would have a very difficult time, however, if they were to open a location in South Austin- and there I think more due to style and price than the quality of the ingredients. Again- my opinion only.

For my part, I am thrilled to finally have one just around the corner- but the only thing I ever get here is beef fajitas.

Sep 03, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Lupe Tortilla Westlake soft open is on!

Hey gang,

A couple of us went to the newest Lupe Tortilla's location here in Westlake for lunch today (next to Chick-Fil-A in the same shopping center as the HEB at Bee Cave and 360) and the soft open is on!

The soft open process works like this- you come to the front and request an invitation to enter the restaurant. If there is space available, that invitation is granted along with a time to come back to dine. Happily, there is a lot less general foot traffic here than there was at Arbor Walk, so when we showed up at 11 today we got right in. And when we left at 12:15, the place was half full and there was no line. As word gets out, I expect this will change- but for now this is a much easier soft open to get into than Arbor Walk was.

It has only been going a few days, but already the food and service we enjoyed was at the level of the long-established locations in Houston.

Anyhow- wanted to get word out while it is still easy to get in. Given the dearth of good restaurants in Westlake the past several years, I think in due course this will be one of the busiest restaurants in the area.

Aug 30, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Hard Hat X

Looks like soft opening is underway at Lupe's in Westlake- there were lots of cars and people standing outside today!

Aug 27, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Everybody loves ________, but me

I don't eat salsa, so I have not had this issue- but I have heard it from others.

Taco Shack works for me so well because I like bacon, potato and cheese tacos- with a good sharp cheddar and the bacon very well done. So their specific ingredients work well for what I am after.

Agree with you on cooking it all together- that makes a huge difference in my book when there are eggs involved.

Aug 21, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Where are the great salads in Austin?

Nicoise at Chez Nous- and a pretty amazing basic house salad there too. Looking forward to reading the replies of others- Austin does not have much of a track record on salads, and I would love to hear some good places to try. In the early days, Leaf had the potential to be great- but those hopes are long gone.

One more thought for an amazing salad dressing if you want to do the rest yourself- Mangia bleu cheese dressing, and specifically the Mesa location. The Lake Austin location's version does not quite get there (same name on the door, but different ownership due to a family splitting of the business.)

Aug 20, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Hard Hat X

Lupe Tortilla's in Westlake finally getting close (shopping center at 360 and Bee Cave across from the HEB and Office Depot.) I see parking lot signs and their Christmas lights being strung inside. Here's hoping they open soon- I cannot wait!

Aug 20, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Everybody loves ________, but me

Well said. I am actually a fan of Taco Shack just down the road (speaking of the Spicewood locations for both here.) Taco Shack is not exactly gourmet either- but I think they "get" the concept of basic better than Torchy's, and execute better as a result.

Aug 19, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Everybody loves ________, but me

The whole situation was strange- which is one reason it really stuck in my mind. As I sat there not eating, I had lots of time to observe, and what I saw was a bad case of "I am just here doing my job" on all fronts. There was no shortage of staff in the restaurant- and they were spending their time chatting at the coffee machine in the corner. This is why I suspect the place is on the verge of closing. A shame.

Aug 19, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Everybody loves ________, but me

La Condesa for Sunday brunch. I finally made it over there last weekend- and to be fair to them, I came in fresh off a very long swim workout and so was in a heightened mood of needing to eat a lot of good food very quickly.

The brunch menu was ridiculously short and overly complicated in terms of the offerings. Too many elements, and an attempt to sound sophisticated but it would only make sense to someone who knew nothing and wanted eagerly to seem like they "got it".

I asked if I could do a custom order- from the lunch menu which has more simple fare, and I had picked a couple of dishes using the same basic slow cooked meats on the brunch menu (ie already done and ready for brunch).

The waiter gave a very flat "no". So I ordered nothing. And at that point- in the eyes of the waiter I was a nobody. Not even water refills from that point.

My friend did order, and as I anticipated given the read of the menu and the fact the place was half empty, what arrived looked like a train wreck of many elements assembled with no sensical intent other than to try and appear pretty (which the dish did not- a "brownie" of quinoa with undercooked poached eggs and a very unattractive heavy sauce with greens on the side.)

To top it all off, my friend's coffee order- placed and reminded to the waiter 3 times- finally came at the end of the meal, and from someone else who we asked in desperation.

Such a bad experience, I have no intentions of giving them another chance. And that is rare for me- more than once I have given second chances based on this board's recommendations and was glad I did.

Aug 19, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Everybody loves ________, but me

I was a tentative fan early on, but they are slipping badly. About two months ago was my final visit. Expecting to see them on a RIP thread in the not too distant future.

Aug 19, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Seeking restaurant in Westlake general area to suit a family with diverse needs

ssouth- thanks for the recommendation! This is where we ended up going when I emailed everyone the menus of possible contenders and I was VERY impressed. A few of us did the chicken fried steak, ribs and pork chop "family style" and all three were excellent- with the pork being particularly well cooked and not the least bit overdone.

Aug 12, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Seeking restaurant in Westlake general area to suit a family with diverse needs

I was there the last day for one last batch of onion rings. Sorry to see it go. When I was not in the mood to make salad, I would get theirs and add my own chicken.

Aug 12, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Seeking restaurant in Westlake general area to suit a family with diverse needs

I am fond of Las Palomas. My only nit is I wish they would make their own tortillas- it sticks out given the generally high quality of everything else. But it doesn't stop me going back!

Aug 12, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Seeking restaurant in Westlake general area to suit a family with diverse needs

Private room? Gee Amy you must think we are picky or something :)

Thanks for the added suggestion- will pass it along for the vote. Between all the choices I think all will go well.

Jul 19, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Seeking restaurant in Westlake general area to suit a family with diverse needs

Wow- thanks all for the great replies! These all look like good choices. I have downloaded the menus and distributed to get a final vote. Many thanks!

Jul 19, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin

Seeking restaurant in Westlake general area to suit a family with diverse needs

Good evening all,

As opinionated as I have been on this forum these past few years, and much as I try all the restaurants I can- I am in a bit of a quandry and grateful for any thoughts.

In two weeks there is to be a major family dinner here in town on a Thursday night. Here are the particulars I am dealing with,

1. Not a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.
2. Not Italian.
3. Above average to good food
4. Not terribly expensive (ie dinner for 8 not including alcohol and tip for $250ish is ideal)
5. Fairly close (10 miles) to Barton Creek Resort and no issues parking at all (ie no trips to SoCo.)
6. Preferably offering full bar in addition to beer and wine
7. At least a few healthy selections- as in salads, simple cooked veggies, plain chicken breasts etc.
8. Not a very crowded or noisy environment- reservations or walk-in with ease (7PM Thursday meal.)

This is an important event where I need to make sure the above particulars are honored as best as possible to keep everyone happy. Food quality needs to be above average to good, but is secondary to the above concerns.

Right now best option I can think of is Hangtown Grill at 360 and Bee Cave- and it really is the ideal choice except for option 6 above.

Many thanks for any thoughts you can offer!

Jul 18, 2012
elpaninaro in Austin