Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chi'lantro BBQ

So it's mid-January, and I've got to get back on my "one new food trailer a week" program. Problem is, the food trailer population keeps growing and growing! But I decided to track down one that I think is one of Austin's original "Tweet our location and find us" trailers -- Chi'lantro BBQ, a tasty marriage of Mexican and Korean flavors. 

I had a doctor's appointment off Jollyville Road this afternoon, and as luck would have it, one of Chi'lantro's trucks (YES, they have TWO trucks!) was at the Twin Towers complex on the Mopac southbound frontage road, between 183 and 360 (it's the building where Google has it's offices). Fortunately, I could see the truck in front of the northern building as I went up Mopac to made the u-turn at 360. And for a cold day, I was pleasantly surprised to see about 8 people waiting for their food. Everyone appeared to be from one of the two office buildings; I felt a little bit like a party crasher! ;)
I decided on the kimchi fries, and asked the woman taking the orders what she recommended, the pork or beef bulgogi. She immediately said the pork was really looking good today. So after a few minutes in the colder temps, I had my hot basket of fries, topped with pork bulgogi, cheese, cilantro, onion, sriracha, their magic orange sauce (it's a mayo-based sauce, I think), and sesame seeds. 
Retreating to my car, I took the picture and began devouring it! Mighty, mighty tasty. A really great balance of flavors. The pork was cut extremely thin, and probably chopped with the metal spatula while on the grill; it has a nice bit of sweetness to it when you get a bite of it with out all the other stuff. The sriracha heats you up, without overpowering, and the creaminess from their magic orange sauce is a nice texture addition too. There's not too much of the earthy cilantro, but what's there adds nicely to the depth of the flavor profile.

Looking at their other menu items, it's mostly Korean flavors made into Mexican foods -- tacos, burritos, quesadillas, with a rice bowl thrown in too. Not sure how the tofu would do bulgogi-style, but with that succulent pork, don't think I'll be getting the veggie option there anytime soon.

Uncle Billy's Brew & Cue

Once upon a time, the restaurants along the north side of Barton Springs Road between Romeo's and the stop light at Robert E Lee all seemed to have surface parking lots. Turning in to Uncle Billy's Brew and Cue, there's now an apartment building/condo in the midst, so while there's still parking, it feels weird doing so in the basement level garage for the building. Fortunately, it's well lit, and I didn't feel creeped out walking through it by myself. Stretching a ways back, Billy's used to be a pan-Asian placed called Mimosa; good food but terrible service. And I can't quite recall what it was before that, but hopefully, Billy's has put the end to the revolving door of eateries at that location.

From the garage, across the driveway, and into Billy's front patio area, they've got what appears to be a sweet set up (it was dark when I got there). Lots of picnic seating, a bar, and requisite TV with football on.  Similar inside, wood floors, TV's, bar.... I had a seat, and waited for my friend, who arrived just minutes later, while I was sipping on my house-brewed Agave Wit beer. Nice citrus notes in the beer; I had a taste of my friend's IPA, which was pleasantly not bitter to my palate (most IPAs usually are to me). We also got a starter of fried pickles, which were well coated and fried. Tasty, not greasy, and they come with a side of spicy ranch. 

Meal-wise, I picked the two meat plate with the pork spareribs and pulled pork, after soliciting an opinion from our waiter who said both of those looked particularly good this evening. My side choices were mashed potatoes and baked beans. My friend also got the two meat plate with smoked turkey and pulled pork. 
The meats, or at least I should say the porks, were GOOD. The meat on the spareribs fell off the bone the moment you bit into it. Good smokey flavor and moistness. The pulled pork was also very moist and tender (and was still very good the next night too -- leftovers). Had a piece of the smoked turkey, which had good flavor to it, but particularly around the edges, it was rubbery and tough. Our waiter said that they used oak wood this particular night, and sometimes they use an oak and hickory combination.  The sides were okay. They use red potatoes for the mashed dish, and they keep the skin on, which I like and they leave some chunks, which I also like. However, some of the chunks were still a bit undercooked. The baked beans must have had a lot of cider vinegar in them, because they were very sweet-tart, as was the bbq sauce, which was too twangy for my tastes; not much balance to either of them. For dessert, we split a piece of the buttermilk pie, which to me tasted like artificially flavored French vanilla pudding.

I was a little disappointed the plate only came with 3 ribs; I guess I expected at least 4 or a quarter rack. And at first I didn't know why I was charged an extra $1 for the ribs (yes, I know, it's only a $1), but now, after studying their menu online, I see it listed. However, because of the design of the menu -- they needed filler space on the right hand side (in yellow) -- the meats are listed, and for moist brisket and ribs, it does say add $1. However, in the middle part of the menu where the meat plates are listed, it doesn't say anything about a $1 extra charge for the special meats, and that's where I would expect to see it listed. 

Our waiter was helpful and friendly, and was happy to answer our questions about the menu. We used a Groupon, and he didn't seem put off by that. Looking forward to warmer weather, when we can sit outside, drink some beers and order some family-style meats.