Austin Restaurants: Vegetarian-friendly

Mother’s Cafe & Garden, a vegetarian restaurant in Austin.
Mother’s Cafe & Garden, a vegetarian restaurant in Austin.

Restaurant listings*

Each week, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Even hardcore carnivores will find something to enjoy at these restaurants specializing in veggie-friendly fare.

(*This is not a comprehensive list. Don’t see one of your favorties below? Send me an email at modam@statesman.com and I will add it to our online listings.)

Blue Dahlia Bistro. 1115 E. 11th St. 512-542-9542, BlueDahliaBistro.com. The shady back patio is something of a secret garden; the menu, an ode to light French cuisine.

Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, BouldinCreek.com. One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare, even the most avid meat-eater will be impressed with dishes like portobello fajitas or the zucchini migas.

Counter Culture. 2337 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-524-1540, CounterCultureAustin.com. The gluten and soy-free version of mac & cheese at this restaurant that started as a trailer will make you a believer in healthy eating, as will a healthy Philly “cheesesteak” made with seitan.

Casa de Luz. 1701 Toomey Road. 512-476-2535, CasaDeLuz.org. Dark leafy greens and beans, but no oil, abound at this place that’s part community center, part restaurant.

Daily Juice. Multiple locations. DailyJuice.org. In addition to organic smoothies and juices, the two locations also serve a selection of grab-and-go items like kale salad, Thai salad and quinoa korma.

Eastside Café. 2113 Manor Road. 512-476-5858, EastsideCafeAustin.com. Comforting dishes that take a light approach, relying on seasonal vegetables at this quaint house in East Austin.

Juiceland. Multiple locations. JuicelandAustin.com. These guys specialize in clever names (Clean and Soba Noodles), big flavor and being able to approximate meaty items with vegetarian ingredients (try the super happy fun bowl that tastes a lot like a spicy salmon sushi dish).

Leaf. 419 W. Second St. 512-474-5323, LeafSalad.com. Choose from one of a variety of Leaf’s salad options, or make your own with a variety of ingredients, some of which are locally sourced.

Mother’s Café. 4215 Duval St. 512-451-3994, MothersCafeAustin.com. Hyde Park’s original hippie cafe weathered a fire and still draws steady crowds with dishes like their spinach-mushroom enchiladas.

Mr. Natural. Multiple locations. 512-916-9223, MrNatural-Austin.com. Healthy meals with a Mexican accent (and a good veggie burger) at three locations around town.

Swad. 9515 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-997-7923. Swad specializes in vegetarian dishes from northern India. Favorites include masala dosa and chole bathura, or try the sampler and find your own favorites.

If you are looking for more upscale options, Qui, Barley Swine and Congress will all create vegetarian tasting menus with advanced notice, and South Austin’s Lenoir offers three courses for $39, with three of the 9 options being vegetarian.

Austin Restaurants: Oysters

Foreign & Domestic sells oysters for $1 each on Tuesdays, along with a raw menu.
Foreign & Domestic sells oysters for $1 each on Tuesdays, along with a raw menu.

Restaurant listings

Each week in Austin360, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: The old saying is that it’s best to eat oysters in months with the letter “r.” Well, you have three more months. So we’ve rounded up 13 options. And if you don’t have Valentine’s plans, oysters are always a good bet when it comes to romance. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Café Josie. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-322-9226, CafeJosie.com. This elegant revamped restaurant serves large crispy Gulf oysters with horseradish aioli, Sriracha honey and sweet potato fries.

Clark’s. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-297-2525, ClarksOysterBar.com. The oyster program at this sister restaurant to Perla’s is spectacular, with briny summersides from Prince Edward Island and creamy Wellfleets from Massachussetts. Also try a diverse sashimi plate, which on one visit featured slabs of hamachi, hirame, walu, halibut and tuna.

Evangeline Café. 8106 Brodie Lane. 512-282-2586, EvangelineCafe.com. Take a trip to the bayou at this Cajun restaurant in South Austin for gumbo, po’ boys and music by the likes of Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces. Their Oysters Contraband are served on top of homemade potato chips and topped with spicy sausage remoulade sauce.

Foreign & Domestic. 306 E. 53rd St. 512-459-1010. FnDAustin.com. They only have them once a week, but $1 oyster nights on Tuesday at this North Loop restaurant is one of the best deals in town. Get there early.

Hillside Farmacy. 1209 E. 11th St. 512-628-0168, HillsideFarmacy.com. Pâtisserie and café in the morning, solid deli in the daytime and an evening menu full of bistro classics and oysters, this well-designed space has a little bit of something for everybody.

Jeffrey’s. 1204 W. Lynn St. 512-477-5584, JeffreysOfAustin.com. The popular crispy Gulf oysters at this Austin institution have changed a bit, but they’re as solid as ever, with parsnip puree & chips, grapefruit & celery slaw and habanero vinaigrette.

Kome. 4917 Airport Blvd. 512-712-5700, Kome-Austin.com. What started as a trailer called Sushi A-Go-Go has become a popular destination on Airport Boulevard because of a solid sushi list, and dishes like a panko-fried jumbo oyster with housemade tartare sauce.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. 401 W. Second St. 512-494-1500, LambertsAustin.com. They’re known as a “fancy barbecue” establishment thanks to items like pork shoulder and beef brisket, but don’t overlook an appetizer of broiled Gulf oysters with barbecue butter and creamed poblanos and topped with toasted breadcrumbs.

Parkside. 301 E. Sixth St. 512-474-9898, Parkside-Austin.com. This gastropub transports you to Boston or New York City, helped by a raw bar featuring about a dozen quality oysters from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island. Sit at the bar and watch the shuckers do their tricky work right in front of you.

Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291-7300, PerlasAustin.com. Feel like you’ve visited the East Coast when you sit on the expansive deck where the people watching pales in comparison to a star-studded oyster menu featuring about two dozen varieties from all across North America.

Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, Qualityseafood.Wordpress.com. One of Austin’s most beloved homes of seafood, Quality Seafood features a huge oyster bar in the middle of the restaurant serving Gulf oysters and East coast varieties on the half-shell. And really cold beer.

Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-474-0805, shoalcreeksaloon.com. When the season’s right, you can get your Gulf oysters on the half-shell at this Louisiana-lovin’ bar and eat them down by the creek.

Sway. 1417 S. First St. 512-326-1999, SwayAustin.com. This home of Australian-influenced Thai food features oysters topped with the crunch and kick of crispy shallots and a sweet and mildly spicy green nahm jim (a chili-based sauce).

Austin Restaurants: Bakeries

Sugared cinnamon rolls from Upper Crust Bakery.
Sugared cinnamon rolls from Upper Crust Bakery.

Restaurant listings

Each week in Austin360, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: From pastries to fresh bread, sandwiches to cupcakes, Austin has a host of excellent bakeries, many of which cater to the gluten-free and vegan crowd. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Austin Cake Ball. 5310 Burnet Road. 512-826-4824, AustinCakeBall.com. Birthday cake, lemon drop, tiramisu … this place has cake balls in more than a dozen flavors.

Capital City Bakery. 2211 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-666-7437, CapitalCityBakery.com. Individualized cakes, cookie sandwiches, brownies, cheesecake … and somehow it’s all vegan.

Delish Bakery. 209 W. Third St. 512-473-4118, DelishAustin.com. An assortment of cupcakes, including gluten-free and dairy-free options.

Easy Tiger. 709 E. Sixth St. 512-614-4972, EasyTigerAustin.com. More than a dozen breads, massive pretzels and pastries like chocolate croissants and Danish Krans right on Sixth Street.

Hey Cupcake! 5530 Burnet Road. 512-476-2253, HeyCupcake.com. They started in a trailer and grew to this location on the strength of popular cupcakes, such as their Red Velvet.

Joe’s Bakery & Mexican Food. 2305 E. Seventh St. 512-472-0017, JoesBakery.com. An assortment of Mexican baked goods and savory dishes.

La Mexicana Bakery. 1924 S. First St. 512-443-6369, La-Mexicana-Bakery.com. Open all night, serving huge buttery and sugary cookies, sheet cake and pastries such as their popular palmiers.

La Patisserie. 602 W. Annie St. 512-912-0033, LPaustin.com. No matter how you pronounce the word, the dozen or so macarons at this shop are amazing.

Mi Tradicion. 8716 Research Blvd. Suite 290. 512-374-9910. 801 E. William Cannon Drive, Suite 125. 512-445-9120. MiTradicionATX.com. The name changed (from Chuy’s Panderia), but the more than two dozen baked goods, including tortas and empanadas, are still great and now at two locations.

Mrs. Johnson’s Bakery. 4909 Airport Blvd. 512-452-4750, MJBakery.com. One of the best late-night stops in the city. You can’t go wrong with any of their donuts.

Nothing Bundt Cakes. 2785 Bee Caves Road, Suite 333. 512-329-8333, NothingBundtCakes.com. I’ll give you one guess what this place does oh so well. From lemon to white wine chocolate and red velvet, topped with arching petals of frosting.

Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery. 411 E. 43rd St. 512-453-3399, QuacksBakery-Hub.com. Beautifully decorated seasonal cookies, pumpkin bread and sinful chocolate cake in the heart of Hyde Park.

Royers Pie Haven. 2900-B Guadalupe St. 512-474-2800, RoyersPieHaven.com. The pies that made Round Top, Texas, famous are now right near campus.

Russell’s Bakery. 3339 Hancock Drive. 512- 419-7877, RussellsBakery.com. You can find their goods around town or go straight to the source. Strudels, croissants and Danishes bring the crowds, as do sandwiches like the excellent chicken salad.

Sugar Circus. 2613 E. Fifth St. 512-761-4100, SugarCircusATX.com. Mini-pies, cinnamon rolls and cupcakes, both vegan and traditional, from three ladies in East Austin. And they make some adorable custom cakes, and some rockin’ ones (witness the Guns N’ Roses cake).

Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop. 1905 S. First St. 512-448-3727, SugarMamasBakeshop.com. A host of daily specials and a small batch of regulars make this one of the best cupcake spots in town. The Banana Puddin’ (banana buttermilk cake filled with banana pastry cream and topped with fresh whipped cream and a miniature vanilla wafer) is one of the best birthday treats I ever received.

Sweetish Hill Bakery. 1120 W. Sixth St. 512-472-1347, SweetishHill.com. Cakes, wedding cakes, pastries and bread so good you’ll find it squeezing sandwiches all over town.

Texas French Bread. 2900 Rio Grande St. 512-499-0544, TexasFrenchBread.com. You can’t call yourself an Austinite until you’ve had the Hyde Park fudge cake. Also try the Hobbit bread (orange and poppy seed) or any of their great sandwiches on freshly baked bread.

Tiff’s Treats. Multiple locations. 512-473-2600, CookieDelivery.com. If you work in an office in Austin, you’ve likely had your afternoon spirits lifted by some of the gooey, warm cookies from this local juggernaut.

Upper Crust Bakery. 4508 Burnet Road. 512-467-0102, UpperCrustBakery.com. Stars here include the cinnamon rolls, strawberry cream cheese croissant and ham-and-cheese stuffed brioche.

Walton’s Fancy and Staple. 609 W. Sixth St. 512-542-3380, WaltonsFancyAndStaple.com. Don’t let the delicious Lone Star Whoopie Pie or gluten-free chocolate mousse tower keep you from trying the Golden Egg, nutmeg cake rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

Wild Wood Bake House. 3016 Guadalupe St. Suite 200. 512-327-9660, WildWoodbakehouse.com. This gluten-free bakery has been serving tiramisu, cheesecake, cookies and more for more than a decade.

Austin Restaurants: Burgers

Burger from Crown and Anchor — Matthew Odam suggests the double with bacon and cheese.
Burger from Crown and Anchor — Matthew Odam suggests the double with bacon and cheese.

Restaurant listings

Each week we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Austin has long been known for having good burgers, and it seems like our options expand every day. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Black Sheep Lodge. 2108 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-707-2744, BlackSheepLodge.com. More than a dozen TVs and many more beers on draft, this pot is popular among service industry workers and sports fans who also have a hankering for a very good bleu cheese burger and mini-corndogs.

Black Star Co-op. 7020 Easy Wind Drive. 512-452-2337, Blackstar.CoOp. Quietly buzzing even on a Monday night, the cooperatively owned brewpub offers a robust roster of house and guest beers, as well as a menu of thoughtfully crafted pub food.

Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, BouldinCreek.com. One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare, even the most avid meat-eater will be impressed with dishes like portobello fajitas, zucchini migas and the Veggie Royale burger.

Casino El Camino. 517 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9330, CasinoElCamino.Net. All reds and blacks, this Sixth Street classic has a devilish attitude and serves up fat, peppery burgers off a grill, like a garden party along the River Styx.

Contigo. 2027 Anchor Lane. 512-614-2260, ContigoTexas.com/Austin. It makes sense that a restaurant inspired by a Texas ranch would serve one of the best burgers in town. A copious layer of white cheddar drapes this burger that bristles with a peppery crust that reveals a pink interior that gushes its juices at the press of a palm or squeeze of a jaw. Homemade bread and butter pickles and a rich aioli make for a fine balance of accoutrements on the tall burger served on pumped-up housemade challah bread.

Counter Café. 626 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-708-8800, CounterCafe.com. You can almost reach over and touch the grill at this shoebox café that turns out great burgers, crab cakes with poached eggs and curried peanut sauce, and all of the breakfast classics.

Crown & Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, CrownAndAnchorPub.com. The Crown and Anchor opened in 1987, and the gristle-edged burgers have a flavor that makes it possible the same flat-top has been in service for all 26 of the years. That’s a good thing. Get the double with bacon and cheese.

Culver’s. Multiple locations. Culvers.com. With a location up north and one down south, this Midwest transplant has the city surrounded with their “butter burgers” and exceedingly friendly service.

Dan’s Hamburgers. Multiple locations. Dans-Hamburgers.com. Dan and Fran split (or something, they like to keep us guessing what happened) and now Austin gets multiple burger joints. Sounds like a win. Dan’s has three locations, and one under remodeling, that serve breakfast, burgers and chicken-fried steak.

Dirty Martin’s Place. 2808 Guadalupe St. 512-477-3173, DirtyMartins.com. Greasy burger and a cold beer within a few steps of the UT campus. They’ve only been doing it for 87 years.

Drink.Well. 207 E. 53rd St. 512-614-6683, DrinkWellAustin.com. Refined bar food like smoked mushroom macaroni and cheese, a spicy kimchi Reuben and one of the best burgers at this smart little North Loop bar that makes exceptional cocktails.

Fran’s Hamburgers. 6214 Cameron Rd. 512-458-6007, FransHamburgers.com. They may not be in their original location on South Congress, but you can still get Fran’s ground chuck burgers in Northeast Austin.

Hat Creek Burgers. Multiple locations. HatCreekBurgers.com. This burger operation from former UT hooper Drew Gressett started in a trailer and now has locations spread around the Greater Austin Area.

Hopdoddy. 1400 S. Congress Ave., 512-243-7505; 2438 W. Anderson Lane, 512-467-2337. Hopdoddy.com. The payoff for what can often be a long wait is the choice of a dozen well-crafted burgers (that’s the doddy) and good beer (that’s the hop).

Hopfields. 3110 Guadalupe St. 512-537-0467, HopfieldsAustin.com. Who knows how much money I’d spend at this place if I were a UT college student? The French-inspired gastropub serves one of the city’s best burgers, topped with Camembert cheese, sweet and smoky caramelized onions and grain mustard.

In-In-Out. Multiple locations. In-N-Out.com. The California burger titan has opened a restaurant in Austin, and long lines at the drive-thru and out the front door are a regular occurrence. But the friendly staff moves things along quickly as they introduce Central Texans to the double-double.

Mighty Fine Burgers. Multiple locations. MightyFineBurgers.com. Four Austin-area locations for this family-friendly place with the open-kitchen that calls mustard “yellow” and ketchup “red.”

Nau’s Enfield Drug. 1115 W Lynn St. 512-476-1221, NausDrug.com. Wax paper burgers from a grill that features a classic soda fountain with a full pharmacy up front. It doesn’t get much more classic than this Austin institution that opened more than 60 years ago.

P. Terry’s. Multiple locations. PTerrys.com. Vegetarian-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free beed that doesn’t make you feel so bad for wanting a fast-food burger from a drive-through.

Phil’s Icehouse. Multiple locations. PhilsIcehouse.com. The Amy’s team brings the same family-friendly, always-smiling service and enthusiasm to the burger joint where kids (and adults) can be kids.

Salt & Time. 1912 E. Seventh St. 512-524-1383, SaltAndTime.com. This butcher shop sells sandwiches with fresh, quality meat and turns out magnificent charcuterie plates, a thick juicy burger and other specialties on their dinner menu. Try their burger with a nduja, a spreadable spicy pork sausage, on top of the patty.

Shady Grove. 1624 Barton Springs Road. 512-474-9991, TheShadyGrove.com. The family-friendly restaurant located amid the grove of pecan trees keeps the crowds coming in with green chile hamburgers, chicken fried steak and queso catfish.

Top Notch Hamburgers. 7525 Burnet Road. 512-452-2181, TopNotchAustin.com. New ownership was wise not to change the aesthetics at this classic car-hop spot that was featured in “Dazed and Confused.” The charcoal-grilled burgers have a unique flavor, and the fried chicken is always crispy.

Wholly Cow Burgers 3010 S. Lamar Blvd.619 Congress Ave. Grass-fed local beef makes for a tasty burger that won’t put a strain on your conscience.

Your Mom’s Burger Bar. 5001 Airport Blvd. 512-454-6667; 6705 W. U.S. 290. 512-891-6667, YourMoms.net. Big, fat stuffed burgers with attitude.

Austin Restaurants: Austin Classics

Color is bright and bold at the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road, a longtime Austin favorite that is growing nationally.
Color is bright and bold at the Chuy’s on Barton Springs Road, a longtime Austin favorite that is growing nationally.

Restaurant listings

Each week in Austin360, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Whether they’ve been around 10 years or 50, these restaurants have helped establish Austin’s culinary identity. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Austin Land & Cattle. 1205 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-472-1813, ALCSteaks.com. No pretense, just good steaks, a fun mood and a bar that serves strong drinks and excellent happy hour specials, such as a filling steak sandwich.

Bouldin Creek Cafe. 1900 S. First St. 512-416-1601, BouldinCreek.com. One of Austin’s true temples to vegetarian and vegan fare, even the most avid meat-eater will be impressed with dishes like portobello fajitas or the zucchini migas.

Casino El Camino. 517 E. Sixth St. 512-469-9330, CasinoElCamino.Net. All reds and blacks, this Sixth Street classic has a devilish attitude and serves up fat, peppery burgers off a grill, like a garden party along the River Styx.

Chuy’s. Multiple locations (the original is at 1728 Barton Springs Road). 512-474-4452, Chuys.com. Fajitas served on fluffy tortillas and specials such as the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo (beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese ranchero enchilada, chicken tomatillo enchilada, a seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco and homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso) have made this place a local and now nationwide sensation.

County Line. 6500 W. Bee Cave Road, 5204 FM 2222. 512-327-1742, countyline.com. This local barbecue behemoth has been cranking the ‘cue for 38 years at its original location, and has since expanded to another Austin location by the lake and several more around Texas.

Crown & Anchor Pub. 2911 San Jacinto Blvd. 512-322-9168, CrownAndAnchorPub.com. The Crown and Anchor opened in 1987, and the gristle-edged burgers have a flavor that makes it possible the same flat-top has been in service for all 26 of the years. That’s a good thing. Get the double with bacon and cheese.

Eastside Café. 2113 Manor Road. 512-476-5858, EastsideCafeAustin.com. Comforting dishes that take a light approach, relying on seasonal vegetables at this quaint house in East Austin.

Hill’s Café. 4700 S. Congress Ave. 512-851-9300, HillsCafe.com. Time has not left much of a mark on this classic place where you can always rely on the chicken fried steak.

Hoover’s Cooking. 2002 Manor Road. 512-479-5006, HooversCooking.com. Get the chicken fried steak, mustard greens and Caribbean rice at this place that serves up comforting, rib-sticking classics with soul.

Hudson’s on the Bend. 3509 RM 620 N. 512-266-1369, HudsonsOnTheBend.com. Enjoy exotic game, excellent steaks and attentive service in this unique and lovely setting.

Hyde Park Bar & Grill. 4206 Duval St. 512-458-3168, HPBNG.com. There’s something of a “Cheers” vibe at this old neighborhood haunt known for their fries. (Also 4521 West Gate Blvd.)

Juan in a Million. 2300 E. Cesar Chavez St. 512-472-3872, JuanInAMillion.com. This East Austin restaurant has been putting out Tex-Mex classics such as huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos for more than 30 years.

Kerbey Lane. Multiple locations. 512-447-3767, kerbeylanecafe.com. An Austin original that has been interested in conscientious sourcing since before it was popular.

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Congress Ave., 2304 Lake Austin Blvd. 512-445-0000, themagnoliacafe.com. Funky and fun, this place is a testament to the fact that pancakes and omelets tastes good any time of the day or night. So do quesadillas.

Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, MattsElRancho.com. A 61-year-old Austin institution offering Mexican food in a sprawling but welcoming space.

Maudie’s. Multiple locations. maudies.com. If you haven’t had Maudie’s Diablo Sol Food queso, you can’t really call yourself an Austinite. These Tex-Mex purveyors have recently moved to serving all-natural beef and pork and organic eggs.

Shady Grove. 1624 Barton Springs Road. 512-474-9991, TheShadyGrove.com. The family-friendly restaurant located amid the grove of pecan trees keeps the crowds coming in with green chile hamburgers, chicken fried steak and queso catfish.

Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-474-0805, shoalcreeksaloon.com. Who dat gonna serve you some Gulf oysters and a roast beef po’ boy? You know who.

South Congress Cafe. 1600 S. Congress Ave. 512-447-3905, southcongresscafe.com. This bright and airy spot on South Congress consistently executes solid Southwestern flavors with dishes like fettuccine salsa fresca and coriander-rubbed grilled lamb.

Threadgill’s. 6416 N. Lamar Blvd., 301 W. Riverside Drive. 512-451-5440, Threadgills.com. It doesn’t get much more Austin than this house of home-cooking. Meat eaters run for the chicken fried steak, while vegetarians get more than lip-service with the heaping helping of side dishes.

Top Notch Hamburgers. 7525 Burnet Road. 512-452-2181, TopNotchAustin.com. New ownership was wise not to change the aesthetics at this classic car-hop spot that was featured in “Dazed and Confused.” The charcoal-grilled burgers have a unique flavor, and the fried chicken is always crispy.

Vespaio. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-6100, AustinVespaio.com. A classy spin on red-sauce Italian, Vespaio has been a long-standing staple on South Congress thanks to dishes like their lasagna and veal scaloppine.

Z’Tejas. Multiple locations. 512-478-5355, ztejas.com/locations.The original treehouse on West Sixth Street opened almost 25 years ago and has expanded across the city and states west with Southwestern favorites like green chile pork nachos, red chile and mango steak salad and pepita-crusted chicken.

Austin Restaurants: Hidden Gems

The Bonneville is worth finding downtown.
The Bonneville is worth finding downtown.

Restaurant listings

Each week in Austin360, we’re offering a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: Sometimes we overlook these places that seemingly hide in plain sight. More restaurants broken down by category here.

Asia Café. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road. 512-331-5788, AsiaMarketAustin.com. This restaurant was too good to be contained to the back of the Asia Market, so it took over the neighboring space, serving dishes such as whole spicy fish and jade chicken.

The Bonneville. 202 W. Cesar Chavez St. 512-428-4643, TheBonnevilleAustin.com. Despite being located downtown, this spot can be hard to find. Attentive service and dishes like chicken under a brick make the discovery worth the search.

Café Josie. 1200 W. Sixth St. 512-322-9226, CafeJosie.com. You can still find plenty of fish at this West Austin staple that once boasted more of a Caribbean menu, but you can also enjoy items such as balsamic-glazed goat ribs.

Café Malta. 3421 W. William Cannon Drive. 512-853-9584, CafeMaltaAustin.com. A nice surprise in South Austin, this neighborhood restaurant does brisk happy hour business with wine specials at its bar and serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and lamb kabobs.

Chen’s Noodle House. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road. 512-336-8889. Hand-cut noodles from Mr. Chen at this tiny spot that serves a delicious noodle soup overflowing with pork, tofu, egg and a host of vegetables.

Evangeline Café. 8106 Brodie Lane. 512-282-2586, EvangelineCafe.com. Take a trip to the bayou at this Cajun restaurant in South Austin for gumbo, po’ boys and music by the likes of Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces.

Fino. 2905 San Gabriel St. 512-474-2905, FinoAustin.com. Mediterranean flavors dominate the menu at this handsome restaurant that features a relaxing wrap-around patio, perfect for enjoying one of the restaurant’s solid cocktails.

Fricano’s Deli. 2405 Nueces St. 512-482-3322, FricanosDeli.com. Huge sandwiches loaded with flavor led this deli to move from its small north campus location to a much more comfortable space just west of campus. Don’t worry about what Rocket Sauce is, just order a Paul’s Spicy Reuben and find out.

Hudson’s on the Bend. 3509 RM 620 N. 512-266-1369, HudsonsOnTheBend.com. Enjoy exotic game, excellent steaks and attentive service in this unique and lovely setting. We all know about it, but sometimes we tend to forget.

Josephine House. 1601 Waterston Ave. 512-477-5584, JosephineOfAustin.com. An adorable little Clarksville spot adjacent to Jeffrey’s where lunch may include a grilled manchego cheese sandwich or a curried snapper. Feels like tea at the country club.

Mulberry. 360 Nueces St. 512-320-0297, MulberryAustin.com. Beef, fish and bar snacks make up most of the menu at this small wine bar at the bottom of a downtown condo tower.

Pieous. 12005 U.S. 290 W. 512-394-7041, Facebook.com/Pieous. Family-owned and family-friendly pie place at the edge of Dripping Springs serves chewy Neapolitan pies and massive slices of pie, along with quality homemade pastrami.

Russian House. 307 E. Fifth St. 512-428-5442, RussianHouseOfAustin.com. Part cultural anthropological study, part vodka-party, this friendly and festive restaurant will introduce you to the flavors and customs of Russia. Try the borscht.

Salvation Pizza. 624 W. 34th St. 512-535-0076, salvationpizza.com. Thin, crunchy Connecticut-style pizzas at this restaurant that features a large deck.

Taco More. 9414 Parkfield Drive, 2015 E Riverside Drive. 512-821-1561. Not much in terms of ambiance, but this place serves great tacos and traditional Mexican dishes such as cabrito consommé.

From the archives: Profile of Jeffrey’s server Johnny Guffey

Johnny Guffey at Jeffrey's in 2005. (Credit: Amber Novak FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN.)
Johnny Guffey at Jeffrey’s in 2005. (Credit: Amber Novak FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN.)

This profile from Kitty Crider ran in the Statesman on November 2, 2005.

‘Hi, my name is Johnny and I will be your waiter — for the next 25 years.”

Like that would really happen in Austin.  This is a university town, where waitstaff changes with the semester. No sooner do the Ashleys, Brads and Sams learn the difference between coulis and couscous than they exit for another gig.

Except for Johnny.  He didn’t leave.

Johnny Guffey,  57, has been at Jeffrey’s Restaurant for two and a half decades. “We’re now oldies sweating to the oldies,” Guffey quips of his tenure. “I came with the dirt, not with the building.”

It was 30 years ago this month that Peggy and Ron Weiss and Jeffrey Weinberger founded Jeffrey’s, one of Austin’s first fine-dining restaurants. Located in Clarksville, the intimate eatery has long been a gathering place for power brokers and guests celebrating special occasions.

Next to the owners, Guffey has seniority at the restaurant, where the staff calls him Mother because of his age. But he is not the only one there with more than a decade at Jeffrey’s. This funny fella, who spouts more lines than Tuna’s Aunt Pearl, has become such an icon that his character is in the “Keepin’ It Weird” production playing at Zachary Scott Theater.

Guffey works five tables in the center section of Jeffrey’s — polishing the glasses, folding the napkins, adding the fresh flowers, mastering the daily menu,  waiting on the guests. He’s served governors, stars, CEOs, politicos including President Bush, John Kennedy Jr. and more.

“Lady Bird still comes in. What kind of honor is that to wait on her?” he says.

But it’s not just the stars he loves to serve. It’s the young people on their first dates and the people having their anniversaries, even those entering with walkers. He’s gone so far as to drive an elderly regular couple home one night.

He has another couple who have come to see him every year on their anniversary. Now they are divorcing after 25 years and they are coming to have their last dinner with him as well. He considers it an honor.

“Over the years I’ve built a following,” he acknowledges. “It’s like having people over to your house, but you don’t have to cook.”

Some of his regular customers know his schedule and won’t come in if he is not there, owner Peggy Weiss says. Some nights all of his tables are requested.

Former Gov. Ann Richards says, “Everybody knows Johnny. He has the best sense of humor and knows the menu backward and forward. He has the biggest collection of Fiesta pottery anywhere, but you don’t have to talk to him about it. ”

His boss Ron Weiss adds: “It’s very comforting for me to know that Johnny is there taking care of our customers and giving them our best. When people dine out, they’re buying more than food and drinks; they’re buying a dining experience. Johnny has been a significant part of that dining experience for most of our existence.”

Not that there hasn’t been a hiccup on occasion.

“Every time I drop a knife or piece of silver, which isn’t often, I always think of the time I was waiting on Sissy Spacek and missed her little Adidas tennis shoe with a steak knife by 3 inches. She looked up and said, ‘You missed me.’ “But she came back the next night and asked for his table again.

Guffey considers his four-nights-a-week waiter job a great job. “My hours are good. The food is good. If I want to take three weeks off, there is always someone who wants to pick up the tables. It’s the ultimate slacker job in the ultimate slacker town,” he says.

He never set out to become a professional waiter. That’s a New York thing, not Austin, he adds.

Instead, he studied English and history for three years at what was then Southwest Texas State College. He says he worked with disabled students at the Brown schools in the area and with Marcia Ball in the library system in Austin before her musical career took her on the road. He became one of the first shuttle bus drivers at the University of Texas. Then he decided to go to Europe in 1976 during the U.S. bicentennial (“roots in reverse”) and hang out a while.

Upon his return, he got a job at the Texas Chili Parlor as a busboy and then became the first male waiter. When a friend told him about a busboy job at Jeffrey’s, he applied and got it.

“But he was such a terrible busser we almost fired him,” Peggy Weiss says. “We were in a bind, though, so we gave him a shot at waiting. Once he could interact with customers, we saw that he was all personality.

“He loves people. He really cares about them and wants to take care of them. And they love him back.

“Johnny is not only family to us, but to so many of our customers, ” she says.

He is single. His kids are his two dogs — Max, a 95-pound standard poodle,  and his sister,  Sophie,  a 55-pounder. Guffey is a self-described Old Austinite who bikes to his job from his Clarksville home,  enjoys a good burger at the Frisco or Dirty’s,  exercises at Castle Hill Specialized Fitness,  frequents local theater productions,  collects Fiestaware and loves his job.

But he knows he is not a one-man show at Jeffrey’s.

“I breeze in here at 5 o’clock (in the afternoon); the chefs have been here all day. A lot of time we get the glory, but it is such a team effort, down to the dishwashers.” He knows. He remembers scraping that dried-up, melted cheese off those plates at the Chili Parlor decades ago. So when he got that $850 tip from a customer recently, he shared it with the busboys, the kitchen staff and the bartenders. Smart “Mother.”

kcrider@statesman.com;  445-3656

Johnny Guffey on the perfect waiter

* Can read a table within a minute or two of walking up and know whether his patrons want to be entertained or want him to be invisible, whether they want him to be their friend or just their waiter.

* Must be clean, be neat.

* Must be familiar with the restaurant’s drinks.

* Must know the menu and what’s in the dishes. Better yet, have tasted the food. It is very important in fine dining to be able to speak knowledgably.

* Must be able to communicate the guests’ needs to the kitchen. If people are allergic to nuts, you certainly don’t want to kill them.

* Must be observant: Keep water glasses filled, replace butter,  anticipate needs.

* Must know how to upsell without overselling. Don’t try to rip off the customer.

The waiter in a nutshell

Wants to go: with a creme brulee in his hand.

Will pig out on: the duck, any fish and the crispy oyster nachos. ‘I don’t like oysters, yet I can eat these all night long like Tater Tots.’

Salutes: the regular customer who has chocolate intemperance (Jeffrey’s signature dessert) first, then the oysters,  then the entree,  then another chocolate intemperance.