Regularly in Austin360, I offer a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: With all of this rain, staying in for lunch or dinner sounds nice. These places fit the takeout bill. Don’t see one of your favorites listed? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Annies Café & Bar. 319 Congress Ave. 512-472-1884, anniescafebar.com. Grab a hot meal, fresh salad or sandwich from this Congress Avenue restaurant.
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.
Blue Dahlia Bistro. 1115 E. 11th St. 512-542-9542, bluedahliabistro.com. A refreshing and savory assortment of dishes that nod to French country cuisine.
Blue Star Cafeteria. 4800 Burnet Road. 512-454-7827, bluestarcafeteria.com. Salads, pastas, sandwiches and an eclectic array of appetizers make this a one-stop spot that can please a variety of tastes.
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.
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.
East Side King. Multiple locations. 512-422-5884, eskaustin.com. Paul Qui and his partners created a stable of Asian-fusion trailers. The group now includes brick-and-mortar locations at Hole in the Wall and on South Lamar Boulevard.
Elizabeth Street Café. 1501 S. First St. 512-291-2881, elizabethstreetcafe.com. French colonial Vietnamese cuisine that sources responsibly. Make sure to grab some dessert from the pastry menu.
Enoteca. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, austinvespaio.com. Vespaio’s kid sister serves comforting pasta dishes and bubbly Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Fresa’s. 915 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-428-5077, fresaschicken.com. Walk-up window and drive-thru make it easy to take home an entire rotisserie chicken for the family, or choose from an assortment of excellent tacos. My favorite is the El Presidente.
Galaxy Café. Multiple locations. galaxycafeaustin.com. Refined café food at this family-friendly spot where you’ll find salads, sandwiches and burgers.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen. Multiple locations. jackallenskitchen.com. Farm-to-table comfort food such as bacon-wrapped quail and crispy salmon, as well as a massive weekend brunch, have made this place a hit down south and now up north as well. Bonus points: curb-side service.
Madam Mam’s. Multiple locations. 512-371-9930, madammam.com. Three locations now turn out spring rolls, noodle soup, stir-fries and curries. Some of these Thai dishes pack a pretty spicy punch.
Mandola’s Italian Market. Multiple locations. MandolasMarket.com. Get classic Italian antipasti, daily specials and bubbling pizzas at one of three locations around town.
Matt’s El Rancho. 2613 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-462-9333, mattselrancho.com. An Austin institution serving classic Tex-Mex. They even pack the Bob Armstrong Dip components in separate containers, allowing you to mix at home.
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.
Quality Seafood Market. 5621 Airport Blvd. 512-452-3820, qualityseafood.wordpress.com. Great fried shrimp, grilled catch of the day and Gulf oysters are some of the keys to the staying power of this restaurant-market.
Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine. 4514 Westgate Blvd. 512-899-8525, SapsThai.com. A comprehensive menu of Thai food, from soups to noodles to stir-fried specials and curries.
Taco More. 9414 Parkfield Drive, 2015 E. Riverside Drive. 512-821-1561. The two locations of this taqueria serve great tacos and traditional Mexican dishes such as cabrito consommé.
Tarka Indian Kitchen. Multiple locations. 512-892-2008, tarkaindiankitchen.com. Fast-casual Indian cuisine from the Clay Pit founders, with a nice balance of both non-traditional and traditional dishes.
Threadgill’s. 301 W. Riverside Drive, 512-472-9304; 6416 N. Lamar Blvd., 512-451-5440; threadgills.com. Chicken-fried steak from the comfort of your own couch.
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 nice and crispy.
In the aftermath of the floods that wreaked havoc across central Texas over Memorial Day weekend, a number of businesses are stepping up to help the many families, homes and businesses affected.
In addition to donating $100,000 to the Red Cross, Texas fast food favorite Whataburger announced that it will offer free meals to first responders aiding in relief efforts in certain areas until June 9.
We thank those aiding w/ relief efforts & invite uniformed first responders for a free meal @ New Braunfels-Kyle-San Marcos stores til 6/9.
All day on June 4 Texas-born chain Chili’s will be sending 15 percent of the sales from their 210 Texas locations to the Central Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross. All customers have to do is mention the Red Cross or the Texas floods.
JuiceLand will donate half of all profits from their monthly special, ‘Wild Child’ (a blend of dragon fruit, mango, banana, pineapple, lime, maca and coconut oil), to Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN).
The Leaning Pear in Wimberley is making meals free for pick up for flood victims and volunteers aiding in the clean up. Starting Thursday and running through Thursday, the Leaning Pear will be donating 100 percent of the sale of from their daily specials, which use donated local ingredients from local farms and ranches to Barnabas Connection.
During the month of June, Swift’s Attic will be donating a portion of the profits from its locally-farmed specials to ADRN.
Instead of a particular day or special, Buzz Mill‘s fundraising campaign is based around a rain catcher, which they recently installed at their East Riverside location. Every time it rains, Buzz Mill will share the progress as well as a link to where fans and customers can donate online to ADRN. When the rain catcher is completely full, Buzz Mill will host a party with donated kegs so customers can instead donate the money they would spend towards disaster relief efforts.
Check here for the most up-to-date coverage of the missing victims in Hays county and damage throughout central Texas.
This article has been updated to reflect current restaurants offering deals and services. Restaurants that have previously donated time, food or money include Taco Cabana, San Marcos BBQ, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Doc’s Bar and Grill, Blue Dahlia Bistro and the Saxon Pub.
In an attempt to reward regulars and raise money, campus-area bistro Blackbird & Henry has started a Community-Supported Restaurant (CSR) program. Participating diners pay $1000 for a $1250 credit to chef Mark Schmidt’s restaurant (ostensibly a 25-percent discount). The credit can be used for food, drink, and gratuity. In addition to the credit, CSR participants also received priority access to reservations and Blackbird & Henry events. Blackbird & Henry is not the first Austin restaurant to integrate the system to their business model; chefs Todd Duplechan and his wife, Jessica Maher, run a similar program at their South First Street restaurant Lenoir. For more information on Blackbird & Henry’s new program, email email@example.com.
Regularly in Austin360, I offer a rotating list of places to eat right now. This week: With parents and friends descending on the town for graduation, in the May 22 print edition of Austin360, I spotlight 40 of the best places to eat brunch in Austin. The list below includes dozens more, as well as critic’s picks. Don’t see one of your favorites listed? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: this list does not include traditional breakfast places, trailers or bakeries.)
El Naranjo. 85 Rainey St. 512-474-2776, elnaranjo-restaurant.com+
Scene: Fresh and elegant restaurant from Mexican chef Iliana de la Vega.*
Brunch hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Highlights: Ceviche de la semana ($14), three-egg omelet with queso oaxaca served with refried black beans, avocado, salsa verde and house baked fresh bread ($12), braised beef tenderloin tips ($15), chilaquiles con crema and queso ($10)
Elizabeth Street Café. 1501 S. First St. 512-291-2881, elizabethstreetcafe.com+
Scene: Adorable French colonial-style café and bakery with wrap-around patio seating.*
Brunch hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Croissant with Niman Ranch ham and gruyere ($5); Nutella and banana stuffed crepe ($11); brioche French toast ($11); breakfast banh mi ($8); sticky rice with ginger sauce and poached eggs ($14)
Enoteca. 1610 S. Congress Ave. 512-441-7672, austinvespaio.com+
Scene: Vespaio’s laid-back kid sister on Austin’s showcase boulevard.*
Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Semolina-buttermilk pancakes ($9), porchetta panini ($13), croquet madame ($16), poached eggs on focaccia with Niman Ranch ham or spinach and roasted tomato ($11), crab cake with poached egg and hollandaise ($16)
Epicerie. 2307 Hancock Dr. 512-371-6840, epicerieaustin.com+
Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. 401 W. Second St. 512-494-1500, lambertsaustin.com+
Scene: Classic old building colored in handsome wood fixtures gives the feel of an upscale saloon.
Brunch hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Buffet includes fruit and berries, classic new potato salad, jicama and cilantro slaw, house-smoked salmon, roasted garlic and rosemary crusted prime rib, brown sugar and coffee rubbed natural brisket, coriander and maple crusted Berkshire pork ribs ($40).
Launderette. 2115 Holly St. 512-382-1599, launderetteaustin.com+
Scene: Eclectic and energized café with clean lines and bold flavors.*
Brunch hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Highlights: Buttermilk pancakes ($8), Bacon sticky bun ($6), asparagus Benedict with truffle Hollandaise ($18), pork and grits ($16), fried oyster Florentine ($14)
Little Barrel and Brown. 1716 S. Congress Ave. 512-582-1229, littlebarrelandbrown.com+
Scene: Fun and relaxed environment with a neighborhood American pub feel.
Brunch hours: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Highlights: Fried chicken and waffles ($13), duck pastrami hash ($16), tofu scramble ($12), kale Caesar ($8), hamburger ($11)
Manuel’s. 310 Congress Ave. 512-472-7555; 10201 Jollyville Rd. 512-345-1042; manuels.com
Scene: Serving quality Mexican food for more than 30 years.
Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, oddduckaustin.com+
Scene: Farm-to-table restaurant centered around a wood-burning stove offers taste of the country in middle of the city.*
Brunch hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Spring salad with strawberries, avocado, feta, and snow peas ($9), corn dog with chorizo verde ($8), pork flank taco ($9), kohlrabi tots with goat confit ($12), French toast with pig face ($10)
Olivia. 2043 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-804-2700, olivia-austin.com+
Scene: Fine dining restaurant takes on a sophisticated country vibe at brunch.*
Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Highlights: “Picnic-style” fried chicken ($18), Willie Nelson chicken-fried steak and eggs ($19), buttermilk pancakes ($11), shrimp and grits ($17)
Opal Divine’s. 3601 S. Congress Ave. 512-707-0237; 12709 N. Loop 1. 512-733-5353, opaldivines.com
Scene: Large beer bar with a taste for scotch.
Brunch hours: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. (MoPac location starts at 9 a.m.)
Highlights: Chicken fry and eggs ($12), French toast combo ($9), Austin omelet – with tomatoes, sprouts and avocado on a bed of white queso ($11)
Perla’s. 1400 S. Congress Ave. 512-291-7300, perlasaustin.com+
Scene: Expansive patio offers great people watching while eating seafood on landlocked South Congress Avenue.*
Brunch hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
What is Asana? I don’t really know. But chances are you will find out if you head down to Congress Avenue and Seventh Street between noon and 2 p.m., as the website has teamed with Chi’lantro to give away free kimchi fries. Chi’lantro opened its second brick-and-mortar this week. The restaurant is located at 5222 Burnet Rd.
Travel site TripAdvisor has culled and calculated reviews from its thousands of users to determine that Texas is the number two state for barbecue in the country. The state takes a back seat to Tennessee, maybe fitting as the state sent many here to fight for our independence. That or it’s blasphemy! Losing to a state that slathers sweet sauce on its ribs!
Rounding out the top 10 are Missouri (with Kansas nowhere to be found), North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, California, Virginia, and New York. Scoff at New York all you want, but they are stepping up their barbecue game. California, however? Pure insanity.
As for the fine print, the ranking of states is “based on the quality of ratings and volume of reviews for barbecue restaurants, giving more weight to reviews written in the past year, as well as the total number and percentage of restaurants in each state that are classified as barbecue, giving more weight to those with a minimum of 100 reviews.” And the restaurant rankings are based on “establishments that have a minimum of 100 reviews and were ranked by quantity and quality, giving more weight to reviews written in the past year. Chain restaurants with more than 10 locations were excluded.”
Wells begins his review with a wink and nod to (and smirk at) Texas exceptionalism :
“I like Texans. I love their food and their music and their boots. I admire their ability to tame landscapes that are hostile to human life. I respect how quick they are to stick up for their state and its culture. In fact, I may be slightly afraid of Texans. I have no desire to mess with them. I can read the bumper stickers.”
He goes on to say that the state pride had him a little worried about having to possibly say something critical about our national food. He closes his entry with a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic curtsy: “Lucky for me, I have only good things to say about Javelina.”
After that misdirect, he spends the next several hundred words mocking what sounds like a pretty miserable restaurant experience. A few outtakes:
On the obnoxious noise (to which some Austin diners may be able to relate): “It always sounds as if somebody were telling a woman at the far end of the table that he had just found $1,000 under the menu, and the woman were shouting back that Ryan Gosling had just texted and he’s coming to the restaurant in, like, five minutes!”
On the odd beauty (and apparent disaster at Javelina) that is queso: “One of Javelina’s calling cards, queso, is usually suggested by the servers when taking orders. Occasionally this Tex-Mex cheese fondue is served hot, but more often it arrives lukewarm, which prevents trips to the emergency room. The cooler temperature offers the added benefit of allowing a latex-like film to congeal on top, which provides an interesting contrast in texture with the liquefied cheese below.”
Wells notes that Javelina, opened earlier this year by Dallas native Matt Post, serves both a Bob Armstrong and a Mag Mud, obvious rips of the dishes from Matt’s El Rancho and Magnolia Café. It is not clear whether Javelina asked either restaurant
On the gruff protocol and lack of hospitality: “The best news of all, for anybody who hates waiting around to settle the tab: There is no need to ask for the check. It is dropped without warning as soon as the last dirty plate has been cleared, and sometimes even earlier.”
For Wells’ complete critique of the restaurant, check out the full review here. And, while we’re talking negative reviews from Wells, if you haven’t read his 2012 review of Guy Fieri’s Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Manhattan, check that out here.
Don’t panic. Torchy’s Tacos at 2809 S. First St. (at El Paso Street) has not closed permanently. The popular taco joint in the old South Austin building closed about 10 days ago for cleaning, but a spokesperson says they hope to re-open for business on Saturday (22), if not Monday (25).
Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant Chi’lantro opened at 5222 Burnet Rd. today. It is the second brick-and-mortar location of the popular food truck that claims to have invented kimchi fries. The restaurant is open Sunday-Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to midnight.