Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Best New South Austin Restaurants

As part of the annual Austin Food Blogger Alliance's City Guide, here are my picks for the best new restaurants in South Austin that have opened in the past year. Also see my post Top Sweet Shops in South Austin

Moreno Barbecue, 5608 Menchaca Road; read my full post here.

Moreno BBQ
Brisket nachos + smoked pork belly

Moreno BBQ
Pork rib, sausage + brisket

Jjim's, 1100 South Lamar Boulevard (Korean)

Bokkeum bap (brisket kimchi fried rice with egg) 
Galbi jjim (braised beef short rib)

1417, 1417 South First Street; read my full post here.  (French-inspired)


Duck confit crepes

Neighborhood Sushi, 1716 South Congress Avenue (Japanese)

Neighborhood Sushi
Lunch bento

Neighborhood Sushi
Sashimi selection

Pho MPH, 3715 South First Street (Vietnamese)

Pork banh mi 
Admittedly not as tender of pork as I like, but thrilled to have this option in this part of town!

Kiin Di, 1901 South Lamar Boulevard (Thai fusion trailer)

Kiin Di
From top left: Thai fried chicken, pork over ginger rice, pad Thai, noodles with pork belly, Malaysian roti

Eat A Pita, 2101 South First Street (Mediterranean trailer)

Eat A Pita
Falafel, veggie combo plate, gyro plate

The Salty Donut,  2000 South Congress Avenue (sweets)

The Salty Donut
Texas sheetcake + brown butter salted donuts

I hear the cocktails are sensational at Tiki Tatsu-ya, but haven't heard about the food. What are your favorite new South Austin dishes? Drop a comment below!

Click here to see the rest of the 2022 AFBA City Guide.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Changing with the Times

The past few weeks have brought some very sad news to the Austin food scene.

The owner of La Mexicana Bakery announced his retirement and the longtime South First institution will close for good before I hit publish on this post.  I made it by two weeks ago for tacos, which I will sorely miss.

La Mexicana breakfast tacos
La Mexicana breakfast tacos...no frills but large and inexpensive!

La Mexicana tres leches cake
Chocolate tres leches, just one of hundreds of items from their panaderia.

Winebelly, my favorite wine bar, and not just because it was 5 minutes from my house, sadly could not withstand the economic times and closed in January. RIP to the best chicken liver mousse in town.

Winebelly chicken liver mousse
Winebelly's chicken liver mousse, this one during a pandemic pivot to carry out.

And an end of an era, though not by choice, as fire ripped through Texas French Bread on Rio Grande Street on January 24th, leaving literally ashes. A Go Fund Me has raised nearly $195,000 for staff; at this time they do not know if they will rebuild. This was one of the first places I ate when I moved to Austin in 1994 and their Hyde Park Fudge Cake was legendary.

Texas French Bread fire

As they say, all good things must come to an end, which includes this blog. Not hanging it up quite yet, but getting close. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Qi: Divine Dim Sum

Five lunching ladies got together for dim sum brunch at Qi this past weekend.  Pretty much impeccable, from the decor to the place settings to the food, and especially the company as our group has bonded over food for many years now. And everything tastes better amidst friendship and laughter, though Qi's food and presentation does not need much assistance. 

From the entrance on 6th Street, the wine walls form two private dining areas.

Main dining area, with kitchen to the back and bar to the right.
 Could see a number of women preparing foods at the counter.
Our table, in the smaller of the two more private areas was called the birdcage table on our bill. Throughout the restaurant, there were beautiful embroidered Chinese robes on the walls. I would love a time to just study the decor in there! 
Beautiful plates, nice heavy crystal water glasses, and even the chopsticks had a nice weight and feel to them. 
In order of how we received the food. First up, sticky rice with Chinese sausage.

Snow pea shoots
Zha Jiang noodles, kind of a Chinese bolognese. I believe they said the meat was a combo of beef and lamb,
and you mix everything together before serving. Loved this!
The utterly divine crab fish maw soup dumplings. You could taste the sweetness of the crab meat. We should have ordered more of these! The accompanying sauces were soy, chili, and a light vinegar (plum?) with julienned ginger that was lovely with the soup dumplings.
Scallion pancake curry dip. This is the one dish that wasn't as great as everything else. The curry sauce was very flavorful,
 but the pancake was thick and almost tough, without any of the real flakiness I expect from scallion pancakes.
They changed our plates out partway though. 
Steamed barbecue pork buns; nice flavor in the pork.
Chicken with cashew dumplings. This isn't a dumpling combo I have had before, and I really liked them.
Shrimp har kaw.
The adorable little creatures are lobster dumplings with a hint of truffle in them, making them extra decadent!
Even the restrooms spared no design expense. From my travels to Japan, I have learned there is an Asian fascination with toilets. These had the motion activated lids, warm seats and automatic flush. (If you haven't used them before, you don't always know what to expect or even how to operate them at times!) Gorgeous carved wooden sink, very much a masculine-feeling space.
Here's our order. And it came out to $37/person with tax and tip. Not bad at all!

Qi was fantastic, and I can't wait to go back! Have you been and if so, what were your favorites?

Monday, November 29, 2021

New Favorite Austin BBQ: Moreno

Like I needed MORE food over Thanksgiving weekend, but when your Pacific Northwest friend is in town and wants barbecue, you happily oblige. And you happily discover what is now your favorite barbecue spot in Austin. Shhhh, don't tell! 

Ladies and gents, introducing Moreno Barbecue, which graduated from a trailer to a brick and mortar three weeks ago! Occupying a former restaurant (Subway?) at the southwest corner of  Stassney and Manchaca, technically 5608 Manchaca, they have both indoor and outdoor seating, friendly service and most importantly, excellent food. Don't just take my word, they got an honorable mention in the Texas Monthly Barbecue edition.

Moreno BBQ Trinity
Moreno BBQ spare rib, jalapeno cheddar sausage, brisket

Of course I opted for moist (read, fatty.... fat equals flavor) brisket and did not regret my decision for a minute. This brisket was easily cut by a plastic fork and just melted away in your mouth. I loved the texture of the finely ground Heartland Akaushi beef sausage with enough jalapeno and cheddar to know they are there, but not too much to distract from the beef. The spare rib has a sweeter glaze on them than I like, but the ribs were good and meaty and quite tender too. Loved the cole slaw with it's mild vinegar dressing. 

Moreno BBQ nachos
Brisket nachos

Now my friend got the brisket nachos and some of the smoked pork belly, which I think was life altering. Now the nachos alone are a huge portion, cheesy and hard to go wrong with. 

Moreno BBQ pork belly
Smoked pork belly

But I can't get the pork belly out of my mind. It's RICH. I only ate a couple bites and don't think I could eat more than a slice at a time, but the fat just dissolved with a mild smokiness in your mouth.
And you could also get this in a taco! Along with the nachos, they do tacos, sandwiches, and mac + cheese. 

Moreno BBQ cookies
Shortbread chocolate chip cookies  -- the perfect little bite of something sweet to finish the meal.

Moreno BBQ
Keep your eye on their social media (Instagram) too, as I have seen weekend specials and discounts mentioned on there! They smoke their meats with post oak, which is appropriate as there's a huge oak tree out front. 

Welcome, Moreno! Can't wait to come back!

Friday, October 22, 2021

First Look: 1417, Bouldin's Neighborhood Bistro

By all appearances, 1417 has successfully managed to open their new restaurant during a pandemic. The upscale (but still casual) French bistro, 1417 took over the space vacated by Thai sweetheart Sway (the Westlake location is still open) at 1417 South First Street, in the heart of the Bouldin Creek neighborhood.  When they first opened over the summer, they were only serving on their outdoor patio, and just in the past month have added indoor seating. We had an early dinner reservation, and while the inside was empty when we arrived, when we left, the patio was filled and the inside was bustling.

Service was great from the moment we walked in. Staff was friendly and welcoming, water glasses were continually attended to, and dishes came out in an appropriately timed manner. 

1417 Austin interior
Gorgeous interior!

1417 Austin cocktails
The Jane Doe + Cucumber Gimlet cocktails.
 They put some attention into details like the glassware and serving pieces.
1417 Austin duck crepes
Duck confit crepe, which had a nice range of textures from the tender meat to the crisp crepe to crunchy hazelnuts to the mostarda.

1417 Austin cheeseboard
Cheese board with firm goat's milk, blue, and soft ripened, which are a good mix of styles, accompanied by pears, berries, apricot compote, candied walnuts and sourdough crackers.

1417 Austin eggplant
Eggplant with "chorizo" from farro, roasted squash and fava beans. 

1417 Austin mussels
Mussels in chile oil broth with a nice hearty focaccia, perfect for dipping. Hard to pick, but I think this was my favorite.

1417 Austin chocolate peppermint dessert
Chocolate mint candy bar with peppermint butter cream inside, and mint sorbet. 

All in all, a great new addition to my Bouldin neighborhood! 1417 is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

1417 Austin logo