Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Guantanamera


Guantanamera South Austin Cuban food
In honor of the US and Cuba re-establishing diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies, it's time I finished this post on Guantanamera! This new Cuban spot in a strip center at the northwest corner of Westgate and William Cannon, is a welcome change from your standard Tex Mex or sub sandwich shops, and a friend and I recently met for lunch. The Cuban owner previously worked at Habana, the long-time staple on South Congress.

We both started with mojitos, which were tasty, but a bit on the weak side. As an appetizer, we picked the cheese and beef empanadas. While fried, they weren't greasy, and the beef one in particular had great flavor.
Guantanamera mojito
Guantanamera empanada
After some deliberation, we just picked two items and agreed to share everything. Starting with the ropa vieja, which was a very generous serving of stewed beef. And it was all the things it should be: tender, moist, and tasty, though a bit heavy on the salt. The rice, known as congris, however was a different story. Super dry, and nothing going on with it. Pretty certain this was last night's rice, which is a shame. This could have been a superb dish with the proper rice, although perhaps our pick of sweet potato fries as a side wasn't the best, as they were on the dry side too. (I have since spoken to one other person who has eaten there and encountered the same issue with the rice, but another person has said their rice was fine.)
Guantanamera ropa vieja rice + beans congris
And the Cuban sandwich, which I am no expert on, but both of us ate every bite of our respective halves. It was pressed nicely, and the roasted pork wasn't dry. We got a side of maduros with the sandwich, and they were good, but at five small pieces, it seemed... small.
Guantanamera Cuban sandwich
Now when we arrived for lunch, there was one big group of about 10 - 12 people, and a few other filled tables. There were two servers there, if memory serves, so busy, but not slammed. But we had ordered the tostones as an appetizer, and they never came, so we had to ask for them. They needed salt for sure, and a little bit of salt right when they came out of the fryer would have been a bit more beneficial. But they were decent.
Guantanamera tostones
So while the rice was a major issue, and a few other issues like a weak drink and having to ask for the tostones, I would definitely go back. I'd love to try some of the other dishes like the lechon asado and see if the rice and salting issues have improved. But certainly a welcome addition to the South Austin food scene, just as a thaw in diplomatic relations is a blessing for the Cuban people.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Bits and Bites: Austin Food News

Austin food news
Events
-- Patika is hosting a Pan-Asian supper club dinner, Friday, June 26th, $50/person
-- Seventh Flag Coffee celebrates their one-year anniversary on Saturday, June 27th from 12-4 pm with live music, beer + kombucha tastings, and food from neighboring trailer Regal Ravioli.
-- Six course dinner at Gardner with guest Chef Steven Satterfield from Miller Union in Atlanta; $75/person + $35 with optional wine pairings, June 28th
-- The Hightower and Hops + Grain get together on June 30th for a five course dinner with beer pairings, $55/person
-- Jacoby's is hosting a five course local farm dinner on July 10th, $100/person.
-- Counter 3.FIVE.VII is hosting a 15 course dinner, Monday, July 13th, $180/person or $300 with wine pairings.
-- Trailer Food Tuesday will be July 7th  at the Long Center. Food trucks galore!
-- The annual Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis, benefiting the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, returns to the AT+T Conference Center on August 6th, $75-125/person.
-- Mark your calendar (and save up your pennies) for the first Austin Alfresco Culinary Retreat at Carson Creek Ranch, October 16-18. Spend the weekend with some of the areas top chefs, with culinary demos, food and wine tastings, outdoor activities, and much more. See the website for further details as they become available. $975+/person


Openings
-- Tim Love's Lonesome Dove opens this week at 419 Colorado (old Kenichi).
-- Michi Ramen has opened a take out operation at 3005 South Lamar (by Kerbey Lane and Torchy's)
-- Juliet will serve Italian fare at 1500 Barton Springs Road beginning July 1st (the old Romeo's and Umami Mia).
-- Stella San Jac will open at the corner of 5th and San Jacinto in the new Westin Austin Hotel on July 16th, and will serve Austin-inspired Southern foods.
-- Geraldine's at 605 Davis in the Rainey Street district, will open later this summer with Uchi alum Chef Frank Mnuk at the helm, serving contemporary Austin food.
-- Rocco's Grill has moved from Lakeway to Bee Cave, 12432 Bee Cave Road (FM 2244); the new space featured a covered outdoor dining area and an oyster bar.
-- Lady Luck Food Truck, a new Southern foods-inspired food trailer is parked outside of Hard Luck Lounge at 3526 E. 7th Street
-- Gino's East will be serving up authentic Chicago deep dish pizza at 214 E. 6th Street.
-- This fall, 51 Rainey Street will become home to Emmer + Rye, serving rustic cuisine along with dim sum carts as a regular part of their service.
-- Crepe Crazy is coming to 3103 South Lamar (the old Boardwalk Burger + Fries)
-- Snarf's Sandwiches opening at 1400 S. First Street later this fall.


Closings
-- Freddie's on South First closes this weekend; a new location of Fresa's Chicken will take over this fall. 
-- Crepes Up trailer at South First and Live Oak
-- Hill-bert's Burgers on 35th Street


Misc
-- Help local farm El Cruz Ranch with a Kickstarter project so they can buy a food trailer to sell prepared Mexican foods on the go! 
-- From the press release: "The GRACE Communications Foundation today launched its new Eat Well Guide, the largest online directory of sustainable food vendors in the country with 25,000 listings of restaurants, farms, farmers’ markets, food co-ops and more across the United States." Great resource!
-- Farmbox Direct is now shipping boxes of locally-sourced produce to its subscribers in a customizable CSA box. (I received a vague response when I asked what Texas farms they were working with.)
-- A new chocolate bug collection from Delaysia Chocolatier; crickets, meal worms and grasshoppers, oh my!
-- Olamaie will start lunch service on July 1st. 
-- Shake Shack will have corn dogs and Blueberry Pie oh My Concretes from Thursday, July 2 – Sunday, July 5And starting Thursday, July 2, their summer seasonal Peach Lemonade will be available. 
-- Salvation Pizza has new menu items including wings, arancini, new subs and desserts.
-- Maple bacon waffle cones now available at Hopdoddy through July 4th.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Trailer Food Tuesdays: Guest Post from Everfest



Guest post from Everfest -- a new site to help you locate festivals all over the country -- on one of my favorite topics: food trailers! The first Trailer Food Tuesday of the summer is tonight (June 9th) at the Long Center.


Trailer Food Tuesdays…om nom nom 

While Austin has long been established as an iconic culinary destination for foodies and chefs alike, it is the local food truck scene that has come to dominate the food-sphere in recent years. Characterized by drool-worthy culinary crossovers and gourmet street eats, the fleet of Austin food trucks is ever expanding, with new trailers constantly popping up around the city each month. In addition to satisfying the appetites of hungry Austinites on a daily basis, many of these trucks have become staples at the numerous festivals held in The Live Music Capitol of the World. 

 

One such food-centric event is the upcoming Trailer Food Tuesdays, which will play host to some of Austin's finest eateries on wheels over the course of three days this summer. Featuring outstandingly innovative dishes and some of the city's finest food truck chefs, this fest is truly a celebration of culinary creativity. Check out some of the participating trailers below, and be sure to add this festival to your calendar of fun!
Everfest food trailer

1. The Peached Tortilla

Combining elements of Asian cuisine with the down-home flavors of Southern comfort food, this Austin staple specializes in dishes such as Chinese BBQ sliders and bacon jam fries.

Spotted At: Austin Food + Wine FestivalAustin City Limits Music Festival

 

2. Dock and Roll

Serving up a menu solely focused on creative interpretations of the classic New England lobster roll, this truck will have any seafood lover coming back for more.
Dock and Roll lobster roll food trailer

Spotted At: Trucklandia

3. DFG Noodles

This Malaysian and Singaporean-inspired truck has truly become a favorite of Austin foodies, because who doesn't want to dive into a steaming bowl of Damn Freaking Good (DGF) Noodles.
DFG -- Darn Freaking Good Noodles food trailer


4. Burro Cheese Kitchen

An entire menu of gooey, oozing artisanal grilled cheese... 'Nuff said.
Burro Cheese Kitchen food trailer


As an Austin startup, we at Everfest are lucky enough to have some of these delectable delights right in our neighborhood and just couldn't resist giving a shout out to one of our favorite lunch spots!

Everfest Staff Pick: Chi'Lantro

Whether you stop by for lunch or after a night on Dirty Sixth, this Korean Mexican fusion truck is dishing out some of the very best eats around. We, as a staff, have agreed that we would simply have kimchi fries every single day if it was socially acceptable.
Chi'lantro kim chi fries

South Austin Foodie Note: All the food trailers featured here will be at the Long Center tonight, as well as about 10 more! Thank you to Everfest!