Tuesday, June 2nd

Banger’s

Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden, Rainey Street Austin Texas

What can be said about Banger’s that hasn’t been said a million times before? Everyone loves this place. It boasts the largest draft beer selection in the city. The menu built around sausages is so popular that the massive location is always full of hungry dudes. (Indeed, it’s a veritable sausage fest. Take note, ladies.) It’s got a great atmosphere, tons of live music, and is so dog friendly that I think a couple canines actually help run the place.

Sausage at Banger's, Austin Texas

Actually, the place is run by owner Ben Siegel, beer manager Courtney Strange, and a whole slew of other dedicated staff. Craft Taste and I had the opportunity to chat with Ben and Courtney, and while we were already big fans of Banger’s, we walked away with an almost evangelical love for the place.

First, why sausages? Mostly because Ben was a huge fan of Best Wurst in college and thought Austin could benefit from a larger sausage offering. No argument there. The menu is huge and really well thought-out. Obviously it’s a carnivores paradise, but there are plenty of offerings for the more plant-minded as well. Pickles (also the name of one of Ben’s dogs) and krauts, potatoes, and what was a new discovery for me…boiled peanuts.

Boiled Peanuts, Banger's Austin Texas

If you haven’t tried boiled peanuts, put it on your list of must-eats in Austin. The Southern specialty is made from raw peanuts that are boiled in a salty, flavorful brine until soft. Best served with beer and good conversation, one squeezes the peanut shell, popping the soft peanuts and juice into ones mouth. It’s one of those active snacks that’s delicious, fun, a bit exotic (to a Yankee like me, at least) and just perfection in its simplicity. Note that I was enjoying the outside seating area when these were served and my dark photo doesn’t do the peanuts, or any of the food justice. But it was a lovely night to sit outside and I have no regrets!

Banger's, Austin Texas

Cajun Boudin is another menu highlight that’s a novelty to my northern palate. Split open the casing and spread onto a saltine, topping with red beans and rice and a healthy dash of hot sauce. This was another fun dish to share and I’ve thought about it more than a few times since.

Cajun Bouldin Plate, Banger's Austin Texas

As the menu and the tables are so large, Banger’s is the perfect spot for large groups. They are used to accomodating big parties and everyone can order different things to share. As I’ve mentioned, the outside seating area is huge and fabulous, but the inside is not to be overlooked. German-style or beer hall seating means lots of long tables in a big room. It’s loud, it’s festive, it’s efficient.

Beer taps at Banger's Austin Texas

Since I’m married to a craft beer nut, I’ve sat in front of this tap wall, many, many times. His tastes are much more diverse than my own and he’ll be writing his own post about Banger’s eventually. I’m always thrilled with the rotating wheats and anything on nitro, and now that I’ve got a little passenger on board, I’m grateful when I see root beer on tap. On Mondays the beer staff meets for their legendary beer meetings. Bottles are tasted, hops discussed and the second half of the meeting is open to the public. I hope to drop in myself one day and learn a few things.

Have you been to Banger’s? What are your favorite beers and brats you’ve had there? Leave me a comment and tell me what else I need to try.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

79 & 81 Rainey St

Sun 10 am-11 pm, M-W 4 pm-11 pm, Th-Sat 11 am-12 am

Monday, March 2nd

SXSW 2015: Fun Without a Badge

So you can’t shell out for a pricey badge, nor will your job pay for you to attend SXSW 2015. Does that mean you have to miss out on the fun? Hell no! Each year the unofficial events get as much, if not more, press than the official programming. There’s no reason why you can’t join in on the fun!

First, if you haven’t participated in South by Southwest before (or just need a refresher) you can check out my survival guide. Whether you are in it for the swag, the free noms and drinks, parties, networking, etc, you’ll want to be prepared for long days, crazy nights, and sensory overload.

Here are my picks for free events and parties at SXSW this year. This is not a comprehensive list, not even close. Don’t forget that you can tap RSVPster to do the legwork for you. Note that RSVPing does not guarantee you’ll get in to anything, so show up early to the events you really care about.

ATX Startup Crawl

Startup Crawl. Austin’s finest pre-conference (March 12) kickoff is a night of startup hopping downtown. It’s free and you can hit as many offices as you like, most of whom have free booze, casual eats, and kickass DJs. Those of us who live in Austin get to do this twice a year, but the excitement of the spring crawl can’t be beat.

BASHH

The BIG BASHH. Another regular local event, the Big Ass Social Happy Hour is how many of us network, blow off steam, and just enjoy Austin’s fun professional scene. The big BASHH, the one that leads into SXSW is the best of the year. It’s buzzing with energy and those who travel in for the conference know that’s the best place to get a real taste of Austin with the locals. (March 12)

Umbelmania. Local tech company Umbel will pack the Moody Theater with interactive attendees (and the general public) with live performance by Spoon and (my personal favorite DJ) DJ Chicken George. RSVP and do your best to get there early as badge-holders will get priority access. (March 13)

Gigya Grill. Those seeking refuge and some satiation can stop by El Sol y La Luna for complimentary breakfast, lunch, or happy hour, 10-6. More than just some free noms, Gigya offers networking opportunities and panels. (March 13-15)

Awesomest Journalism Party. Ever. Sponsored out the wazoo, this annual session is a merging of journalism and tech. 5-8 at the Palm Door. (March 14)

Awesomest Journalism Party Ever

Spotify House. Five days of music and fun, plan on waiting in line to get in. But waiting in line is part of SXSW, so embrace it and make friends with the people around you. (March 15-20)

Do512 Family Picnic. For family-friendly fun, head out of the crazy zone to Midway Park for music, food trucks, face painting, magic shows, and more. It’ll be crowded, so bring the kiddies closer to 2:00 and hope they can stay awake till 8. (March 17)

Hype Hotel. The tenth year of this event promises big names paid for by big sponsors like Mazda, Taco Bell, Miller Lite, and Tito’s Vodka. Crazy crowded, plan to be packed in like a sardine any day or time that you go. (March 17-21)

Music Tech Mashup. The fifth anniversary of this event brings a really good music lineup to Empire Control Room and Garage. RSVP on the Facebook page for a chance to win VIP entry. (March 17)

Waterloo Records. The line-up is always fantastic at our favorite little local music shop. This is always the first place I recommend for those who want free access to the biggest acts. It’s a classic Austin location that we’re all so proud of and they always bring some of the magic of SX to locals who may otherwise feel left out of the festival. (March 18-21)

Pandora Discovery Den. Four days of eclectic bands means there’s something for everyone: Electronic, Hip Hop, Americana, and Rock. Head to The Gatsby 1-6 when shows are open to the public. (March 18-21)

Ray Ban\Boiler Room Official Showcase. As hip hop becomes increasingly popular at SXSW the showcases get more and more impressive. You might have a shot at getting into this one to see Ghostface Killah and plenty more great acts by applying for a ticket on their site. (March 18)

KUTX Live at the Four Seasons. Early birds flock to the Four Seasons where $10 gets you entry to four hours of live music, breakfast tacos, coffee, and granola bars. First come first served, there’s no RSVP list. (March 18-21)

Austin Party Weekend. There’s not much info about the APW party yet, but you can show up at Empire Control Room and Garage for day parties March 18-21 and you’ll be sure to have a good time. Don’t forget to RSVP.

APW 2015

Culture Collide. Rainey Street is normally a perfect spot for more intimate—if packed—shows and surprise artists pop up there from time to time. More than 100 bands will be on three stages. RSVP and scroll through the website to handpick your music schedule. Bonus, SouthBites Trailer Park is close by so you can sample the yummiest trucks when you get hungry.

Party in My Pants. The Live Vibe day party will take place at Little Woodrow’s March 20-21st with new bands each hour. Should you hang out all day you’ll get to taste a nice chunk of the music offerings this year.

If you want to check out even more parties and events, Austin 360 has a handy, easy-to-search database of every side party. You can also see who applied for city permits this year, both official and non-official SXSW events.

Want to tell share another event? Leave a comment with the details.

Friday, February 27th

2015 Guide to Indian in Austin

As part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s City Guide, I give an annual update on all the Indian restaurants in Austin. While some complain about a lack of Indian options to be found in our fair city, I beg to differ. Each year I get to add more restaurants to this list, proving that our options continue to grow and thousands of Austinites get to satisfy their curry cravings. So let’s get to the list! 

Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2015 City Guide

Asiana

801 E. William Cannon Dr, Ste 205, Austin, TX 78745

T-Th 11-2, 5-9:30, F 11-2, 5-10, Sat 12-3, 5-10, Sun 12-3, 5-9:30

Don’t let the rundown strip mall or sparse decor fool you, Asiana makes some great food. Delicious dosas, fluffy naan and some of the spiciest vindaloo in the city. Ask for it spicy and you shall receive.

Naan

Biryani Pot

12407 N. Mopac Expy, Ste 200B, Austin, TX 78758

T-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-10 F 11-2:30, 5:30-10:30, S 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

This chain has high quality food, friendly service, and is a very popular lunch destination. Formerly Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine.

Bombay Bistro

10710 Research Blvd. #126, Austin, TX 78759

4200 South Lamar #300, Austin, TX 78704

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-10, F 11-2, 5:30-10:30, S 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

The elegant, romantic decor of the south location makes for a great date spot.

Bombay Dhaba

1207 S. First St, Austin, TX 78704

M-Sat 11-2, 5-10

This South Austin food truck puts out consistent food at a great value, making it a popular local stop for diners and lunch and dinner. Like all trucks that have good food, they’ll occasionally run out of things so head there early if you’ve got your heart set on a particular item.

Bombay Express

13000 North I35, Bldg 12, Unit 216, Austin, TX 78753

Tues-Sun 11-9

Vegetarian.

Bombay Grill Indian Restaurant

3201 Bee Caves Rd. #148, Austin, TX 78746

Sun-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5:30-10

Cheery service and wide range of options on the buffet.

Chaat Shop

Mobile at lunch, 1104 E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 in the evenings

M & W 11:30-1:30, 5-11, Th 11:30-1:30, 5-1, F-Sat 5-1, Sun 5-11

Check the website to see when the food truck will be in your area. With a menu that caters to vegetarians and vegans, but also offers meat options, there’s something for everyone. Food is high quality and a favorite among locals.

Chapli Kabobs n Curries

1200 W. Howard Lane, Austin, TX 78753

Sun, T-Th 11-2:30, 5-9, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5-10

Indian dishes are served alongside Pakistani and Afghani food in a traditional or banquet setting.

Chicken Lollypop

1005 E. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753

11-9 daily

The Mumbai-style Indian Chinese menu satisfies vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Chola

2601 S. I35, Ste. B-400, Round Rock, TX 78664

M-F 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 12-3, 5-10

Leans on Southern cuisine although has some Northern offerings. Known for their lunch buffet.

Clay Pit

1601 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-11, F 11-2:30, 5-11, Sat 12-3, 5-11, Sun 12-3, 5-10

downtown favorite, Clay Pit offers a modern setting and delicious Bombay-inspired cocktails. The curried mussels alone are worth the trip.

Curried Mussels

Curry in a Hurry

2121 W. Parmer Lane #114, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10-9

This vegetarian spot features a daily curry. Bonus: free wi-fi!

Daawat Indian Cuisine

500 Canyon Ridge Drive, Austin, TX, 78753

M-F 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 11:30-3, 5-10

Formerly Indian Spicy Kitchen, the extensive menu and online ordering system makes takeout a breeze.

G’Raj Mahal

73 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

Once a popular food truck this lovely Rainey Street restaurant has lots of outdoor dining in the front and chic backyard, as well as indoors. It’s a great date night spot or a place to fill up on carbs before or after hitting the bars.

Beautiful outside seating area @grajmahalaustin #afbahh #indian

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on

Gandhi Bazar

3421 W. William Cannon Dr, #133, Austin, TX 78745

https://instagram.com/p/mBeO3DTGL8/?modal=true12809 N FM 620, #3, Austin, TX 78750

2121 W. Parmer Lane, #113, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10-9

Prefer to cook your own Indian food? Stock up on spices and other essentials at one of Gandhi Bazar’s locations.

Hot Breads Bakery and Cafe

7318 McNeil Drive, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78729

Daily 10-10

So much more than a bakery, choices run from traditional Indian dishes to savory spiced puffed pastries. A unique concept in Austin.

Inchins Bamboo Garden

3107 S I35, Ste 760, Round Rock, TX 78664

M-Th 11:30-2, 5-10, F 11:30-2, 5-10:30, Sat 12-3:30, 5:30-10:30, Sun 12-3:30, 5:30-10

This Indo-Chinese chain features street food inspired dishes and a buffet.

Indian Palace

3616 Far West Blvd, Ste 113, Austin, TX 78731

Daily 11-8:45

North Indian cuisine; delivers to surround area.

Kabab Food Corner

9717 N. Lamar Blvd, Ste C2, Austin, TX 78753

M, W, Th 11:15-9:30, F-Su 11:30-9:30

Halal Pakistani and Indian cuisine.

Kababeque

Mobile

Th-Sat 8:30-3:30 am

Check the Facebook page to see where the Indian Mediterranean fusion will be on any given date. Most popular dish is the Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap.

KP Indian Grocery

1212 W. Parmer Lane, Unit F, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10:30-9:30

Small Indian grocery store stocked with the essentials.

Lamba’s Royal Indian

414 Waller Street, Austin, TX 78702

Spicing up farmer’s markets, Lamba’s sells a wide range of frozen Indian dishes. They can be found at HOPE and other farmer’s markets in and around Austin.

Bollywood

Madras Pavillion

9025 Research Blvd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78758

M-F 11-3, 5:30-9:30, S-S 11-10

The vegetarian favorite has cuisine from both North and South India.

Man Pasand Grocery

3601 W. William Cannon #750, Austin, TX 78749

Daily 10-9

A great place to stock up on spices, snacks, frozen meals, grains and more. The freshly made hot samosas for $1.00 at the counter are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Masala Dhaba

75 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

T-Th 5 pm-12 am, F-Sat 5 pm-3 am, Sun 5 pm-10:30 pm

This food truck is a Rainey Street staple and reviews are extremely positive. Perfect for late night eats while bar-hopping.

Masala Wok

1100 Center Ridge Dr, Ste 300, Austin, TX 78753

10515 N. Mopac, Ste. A-155, Austin, TX 78759

Daily 11-10

This chain has classic Indian and Chinese options.

MTM Indian Foods

9225 W. Parmer Lane, Austin, TX 78717

Sun-Th 11-8:30, F-Sat 11-9

Grocery store with a range of Northern and Southern Indian items.

Naanful Indian Grill

11101 Burnet Rd, Ste A130, Austin, TX 78758

Sun-Th 11-3, 5-9:30, F-Sat 11-3, 5-10

2000 S. I35, Round Rock, TX 78681

Sun-Th 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

Quick, build-to-order dishes. Will deliver, but order early, as their site estimates 60-75 delivery time.

Nasha

1614 E. 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

Sun-Th 11 am-12 am, F-Sat 11 am-2 am

The sister restaurant of New India Cuisine has a full bar, moderate prices, and favorites such as Millionaires Curry and lots of seafood dishes. Their tagline Get High on Indian Food is perfect for its East Austin home.

New India Cuisine

2304 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

M-F 11-10, S-S 12-10

The South Austin Marathi-style restaurant offers lots of fish and yeast-free naan. While not my personal favorite, many love this place.

New India

Paradise Biryani Pointe

1779 Wells Branch Pkwy, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78728

M-Th 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10, F-Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

They specialize in biryani, but if that’s not your thing, there’s a large menu with lots of diverse options.

Royal India

4894 Hwy 290 West, Austin, TX 78735

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-9, F 11-2, 5:30-10, Sat 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10, Sun 11:30-2:30, 5:30-9:30

1150 Research Blvd, Austin, TX  78759

M-F 11-2:30, 5:30-10, S-S 11:30-3, 5:30-10

Favorites include a dosa bar and the Royal Feast, a $44 multi-course dinner for two people. In my opinion, Royal India has the best buffet in town.

Samosa Spot

12809 FM 620, Austin, TX 78750

Th-Sun 12-9

This truck parks in front of Ghandi Bazar and serves up classic fried Indian eats and chaat.

Sarovar

8440 Burnet Rd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78757

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-10, F 11-2:30, 5-11, Sat 11-3:30, 5-11, Sun 11:30, 5-10

This old Austin favorite specializes in thali and surly waitstaff.

Ganesh

Shalimar

9310 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

Sun-Th 11:15-10:50, F-Sat 11:15-11:50

The biryani is a favorite.

Star of India

2900 W. Anderson Lane, Ste 12D, Austin, TX 78757

Sun-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5:30-10

Standard buffet of classic dishes in a comfortable setting.

Suprabhat

9225 W. Parmer Lane, Ste 108, Austin, TX 78717

M-Th 11-3, 5-10, F 11-3, 5-10:30, Sat 11-3:30, 5-10:30, Sun 11-3:30, 5-10

All vegetarian, specializing in thali options.

Suvai Indian Kitchen

12920 W. Parmer Lane #105, Cedar Park, TX 78613

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-9, F 11-2:30, 5-9:30, Sat 12-3, 5-9:30, Sun 12-3, 5-9

Formerly Kadai Indian Kitchen, Cedar Park residents are delighted by large portions, fresh spicy dishes, and fast service. A must do if you are in the area.

Swad

9515 N. Lamar Blvd #156, Austin, TX 78753

Daily 11:30-9

Vegetarian favorites and fun street food. The big-as-your-head dosas are a must try. You won’t even mind the lack of atmosphere. Prices are low and service is fast and efficient, if not personable. Not a place for a date, but still one of my favorite places in Austin.

Mysore Masala Dosa

Taj Palace Indian Restaurant and Bar

6700 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-10 F 11-2, 5:30-10:30 S 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10

For more than 20 years the extensive buffet has been delighting loyal customers. This was one of Austin’s first Indian restaurants.

Tarka Indian Kitchen

201 University Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

5207 Brodie Ln, Austin, TX 78745

Sun-Th 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

The little sister of Clay Pit offers many of the same classic curries and fantastic pakoras. The fast, casual counter service has proven to be so popular that they keep expanding, with three locations in the area and one in San Antonio.

Mirch Masala

Pakora

Taste From India

519 E. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78758

Th-Sat 7 pm-4 am

Indian kabobs for the late-night bar crowd.

Teji’s Foods

2100B Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Sun-W 11 am-10 pm, Th-Sat 11 am-3 am

1205 Round Rock Ave #115, Round Rock, TX 78681

Sun-Th 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10

Part grocery, part restaurant, the widely-respected Teji’s has the fluffiest naan.

Whip In

1950 I35 South, Austin, TX 78704

Daily 10 am-midnight

A funky South Austin staple, Whip In is a convenience store with indoor and outdoor live music, a massive selection of craft on draft, and a large menu of fusion Indian eats. Namaste, y’all.

Monday, February 16th

2015 Guide to Ramen in Austin

Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2015 City Guide

For the past few years I’ve written an annual guide to ramen in the city. What started as a small task has since become a more sizable undertaking, as the city’s demand for slurpable noodles grows at light speed. The more noodles we have, the more we want them! This list focuses on the restaurants that make ramen their main focus, but also includes restaurants that serve ramen alongside other items. As always, if I didn’t include your favorite place, leave me a comment and tell me what I missed!  

There’s no stopping the ramen trend in Austin! The city can’t get enough of the hearty steaming bowls of rich broth and bouncy alkaline noodles. Those initiated into the ramen scene (and it is very much a scene, baby) are addicted to the umami, the toppings and the slurping. The uninitiated just need to give it a try.

If you need more convincing, check out local filmmaker Christian Remde’s Culinary Equation fantastic video all about ramen.

Ramen Tatsu-ya

Ramen Tatsu-ya North 

8557 Research Blvd #126, Austin, TX 78758

Tues-Fri 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 12-3, 5-10

Ramen Tatsu-ya South

1234 South Lamar, Austin, TX 78704

Mon-Sun 11-3, 5-10

Arguably the most famous ramen in Austin,  Ramen Tatsu-ya is a must do. Great for first timers, the menu provides a quirky guide on what to order, how to eat, and definitions for all the unfamiliar terms and ingredients. They offer classic toppings and fun flavors bombs, so you can customize every bowl.

With a following this strong, Ramen Tatsu-ya opened a second location this year. Their new South Lamar location serves a couple purposes: 1) It brought some much-needed ramen to South Austin and 2) The line is essentially split in half making it more accessible for all of us. The new location is larger than the first and has a gorgeous chic feel.

Mi-So-Hot

Check out their website for the full menu which includes highlights like katsu sliders and sweet and sour Brussel’s sprouts.

*Pro-tip: Get there before 5:00 or after 8:45 to avoid the long line. Or just show up whenever and stand in line chatting with fellow ramen-heads, letting the anticipation build. Also, don’t miss the art in the bathrooms of the north location.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya Restroom Art

Whole Foods at The Domain

11920 Domain Drive, Austin, TX 78758

8 am-10 pm daily

Of the fabulous amenities this store boasts, the ramen bar is one of the most best. The Texas ramen gives shoppers a taste of Japanese ramen with a twist. Barbecue! Casual and easy, it’s a treat to have this spot for a quick slurp while you do your shopping.

Michi Ramen

6519 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78752

Tues-Sun 11am-midnight

3005 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78704

The ramen groundbreakers of Austin, Michi Ramen was here before anyone else, slinging noodles out of a truck. Eventually they moved to a brick and mortar and very soon, their second location on South Lamar will open. They offer traditional broth thickness options and lots of toppings so you can build your own bowl. Bonus, takeout is encouraged and you can order online.

Michi Ramen

*Pro-tip: Leave room for dessert! The mochi, 2 for $3 is shipped frozen from Hawaii and just heavenly.

Mochi

Drunk Fish

10000 Research Blvd #139, Austin, TX 78759

M-Th 11am-8pm, F 11am-9pm, Sat 12pm-9pm

Offering a variety of broths and toppings, this Arboretum hole in the wall is popular with lunchers in a hurry.

Komé

4917 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

M-Th 11-2, 5-10, F 11-2, 5-11, Sat 11-3, 5-11, Sun 12-3, 5:30-10

Known for their wide array of fresh and delicious sushi, Komé also makes a kickass ramen available at lunch. Their ramen efforts were so popular that they opened a sister restaurant (see below, Daruma Ramen) dedicated to ramen.

Kome tonkatsu ramen

Daruma Ramen

612B E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

M-F 11:30-2, 5:30-10, Sat 11:30-10, Sun 12-9

Daruma is the only ramen available downtown and people happily line up on East 6th to wait for their steaming bowls of noodles. Most notable is the vegan ramen, whose complex broth is steeped with veggies and fruit. Very interesting, and different than what anyone else is doing.

Daruma Ramen vegan bowl

Soto

11066 Pecan Park Blvd, Ste 402, Cedar Park, TX 78613

M-Th 11-3, 5-10, F 11-3, 5-11, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11-9

The reputable sushi spot has an acceptable ramen offering, too, pleasing customers with a decadent seafood ramen as well as traditional tonkatsu and shoyu.

East Side King at Hole in the Wall

2538 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

M-F 11am-midnight, Sat 2pm-midnight

Paul Qui’s ramen offerings are inventive and fun. Especially delicious is the Chicken Tortilla Ramen, a perfect fusing of Japan and Austin.

Chicken Tortilla Ramen

More

Musashino Sushi Dokoro

3407 Greystone Drive, Austin, TX 78731

Tues-Fri 11am-2, 5:30-10

Should you stray from the sushi menu, there are a variety of ramen bowls available at lunch.

Xian Sushi and Noodle

1801 E 51st St, Ste C370, Austin, TX 78723

13201 Ranch Rd 620, Ste U208, Austin, TX 78717

M-Sat 11:30-3, 5-10, Sun 12-p

Known for their exceptional hand-pulled noodles, Xian (pronounced SHE-ann) offers one ramen in their roster, shoyu. The Ranch Road location is fairly new, proving that the demand for noodles in Austin cannot be stopped.

Yanagi

4404 W. William Canon Drive, Ste B, Austin, TX 78749

M-Th 11-2:30, 4-9:30, F 11-2:30, 4-10:30, Sat 12-10

The two ramen options—Ramen and Spicy Ramen—have a miso broth and are topped with pork, onion, green onion, zucchini, and boiled egg.

Ryu of Japan

11101 Burnet Rd, Ste B100, Austin, TX 78758

M-Th 11:30-3, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30

Ramen items on the menu include miso, shoyu, and cold ramen, described as having pork, egg, vegetable and special sauce.

Shabu

2700 Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

11am-9:30pm daily

Most people visit Shabu to get hotpot and plain ramen noodles are one of the many options to enjoy with hotpot along with meats, veggies, and various toppings. Non-hotpot ramen options include BBQ Pork Ramen, Ramen Shrimp and Shitake, and Street Ramen which has Spam, beef, and lots of veggies.

O’Daku

2501 W. Parmer Lane #500, Austin, TX 78727

M-F 11-10, Sat 11:30-10:30

Ramen comes in three sizes in chicken, beef, and seafood, and “regular” as choices.

Tuesday, January 27th

First Look: Wu Chow Dim Sum

The highly anticipated Wu Chow is slated to open sometime this spring, but they’ve been hard at work for months perfecting the modern yet traditional Chinese menu. They’ve leaked a few previews in the form of a soup dumpling giveaway downtown and more recently, a dim sum pop-up in Swift’s Attic. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the sold out event and now I’m sharing my findings with you.

Sesame Fritters at Dim Sum, Wu Chow, Austin, Texas

First, a quick and dirty explanation of dim sum for those who may not be familiar: Cantonese small portions that are served in steam baskets at brunch with lots of dumplings and other delectable, hard-to-make dishes. A better explanation, along with dim sum etiquette, can be found on Serious Eats.

In addition to a full menu with things like Salt & Pepper Squid, Mapo Tofu, and Yu Xiang Eggplant, Wu Chow will serve dim sum on the weekends. Having tasted the preview, I can say with confidence that this will be Austin’s next huge restaurant sensation. (In case you didn’t know, my secret talent is predicting sensations and restaurant closings.) Dim sum will be packed every weekend and you’ll be lucky to get a seat. Heed my advice and go as soon as they open.

Pictured above are the Sesame Fritters, glutinous rice balls filled with sweet red bean paste. These are chewy, slightly sweet, and technically a dessert, but I won’t tell if you want to eat them first. The quality of these puffy treats is unlike any other I’ve ever had. While the glutinous texture can be off-putting to some, I think Wu Chow’s version will be a universal crowd pleaser.

Radish Cakes at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

What Wu Chow calls Radish Cakes are usually called Turnip Cakes…but they are always made with radish. Daikon, to be exact. +1 for calling a spade a spade. The savory pressed dish was crispy on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside. If I have to eat a radish, this is how I want to do it.

Xiao Long Bao, soup dumplings, at dim sum, Wu Chow, Austin Texas

The oft-lusted after—and hard to find in Austin—soup dumplings are an exquisite version of a beloved classic. Gossamer thin wrappers are filled with searing hot broth and seasoned pork. While it’s tempting to dig right in to the Xiao Long Bao, it’s beneficial to wait a moment and let them cool slightly. The quicker you bite in the more likely you are to get burned. My inner circle is unlikely to ever get burned as we all take 5 million photos before ever taking a bite…of anything. Anyway, these are so worthy of praise and I can’t wait to have them again.

Scallion Cake at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin, Texas

Scallion Cakes (or scallion pancakes) are not specific to early dining; you can usually get them day or night. The flaky pastry is layered with lots of scallions and are the perfect snack to dip in a dumpling or vinegar-based sauce.

Chicken and Taro Eggrolls at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Okay, have you ever seen egg rolls this long and thin? I haven’t and let me say, it’s a crying shame that this doesn’t happen more often. Filled with chicken and taro root, the extra length meant for more crunch in every bite and the ability to wag it like a cigar while chatting. This egg roll was a contender for best dish of the day and best egg roll of my life.

Gailan for dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Another contender for best dish was the Gailan, or steamed Chinese broccoli. Always a nice foil for heavier dumplings and fried bites, don’t assume that it’s a bland plate of wilted greens. Sauteed to perfection and lying on a drizzle of oyster sauce, this broccoli was one of the most flavorful parts of the meal and my favorite greens I’ve ever eaten. No exaggeration. My only regret is that I didn’t fill my purse and ration the leaves until Wu Chow opens in a few months.

Shrimp Fritters at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Because I’m crazy about anything from the ocean, I have a real love for these shrimp fritters. My photo doesn’t offer anything for scale, so you can’t see just how large these are. And they are loaded with shrimp. Big succulent pieces of shrimp and crispy julienned potatoes. Simply excellent.

Char Siu Bao at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Char Siu Bao are soft steamed buns filled with Chinese barbecue pork, which is savory and sweet. They are like yeasty, fluffy pillows, filling and satisfying.

Shao Mai at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

I must confess that Shao Mai (or shumai) is never my favorite dish as I’ve had many with less-than-quality fillings. Nothing is worse than biting into a cute little open-faced dumpling and hitting something hard and weird. That’s not going to be a concern at Wu Chow, as the ingredients are of the highest caliber, often local and farm fresh. Notice the dollop of smelt roe on top, which adds an extra burst of flavor and texture, and perfectly compliments the fragrant filling of pork, mushrooms, and garlic. These are real winners.

Ha Gow at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Ha Gow (or har gow, ha gao, and a million other spelling variations) are shrimp dumplings. Again, Wu Chow is not skimping on the shrimp here. Dumpling lovers will rejoice in the plumply stuffed delicate wrappers. At this point I should mention the dipping sauces, which I didn’t photograph, but were divine. Savory and brown, there were a couple to mix and match as well as a fiery hot sauce that came with a warning. I could eat these dumplings for days.

Egg Tart at dim sum, at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Egg tarts are another dessert item, that are, again, not overly sweet. The custard tarts are usually pretty eggy and Wu Chow’s were just a bit mellower, which is a plus in my book. The crust was flaky and airy, with many little layers of pastry. These were shockingly good.

Shockingly good is an accurate description for the whole meal, actually. It’s no surprise that C. K. Chin, owner of Swift’s Attic, has another fantastic venture in the works. No, the surprise, or thrill, is that dim sum could be this good. The quality and care put into each morsel was astounding. My fellow diners and I joked that Wu Chow is going to ruin us for all other dim sum, but the sentiment rings true. This is what dim sum was meant to be. Wu Chow is my early pick for hottest restaurant of 2015.

Wu Chow, 500 West 5th Street, Austin, TX (IBC Bank Building)

Tuesday, January 6th

Easy Greek

Easy Greek meal

Greek food is all about good ingredients and flavors that work well together. One of my favorite dinners involves more shopping than cooking, as I grab fresh produce, good olives, and the very best feta I can find. (I prefer French sheep’s milk feta for its smooth creaminess and mild flavor.)

I pile those onto a platter with hummus, FAGE yogurt, a simple salad with red wine vinaigrette, and toasted blanched almonds.

Thomas Keller's Roasted Chicken

This arrangement works well with any protein. A lean steak, grilled halibut, shrimp, spiced meatballs…they’d all be delicious. But the easiest (and most wallet friendly) might be a roasted chicken. I like Thomas Keller’s famous recipe that just calls for salt, pepper, drying, and trussing. If you haven’t tried roasting a chicken this way, you simply must.

Easy Greek cooking

I like to serve with fresh pita from the bakery and butter lettuce to make yummy roll ups. Skip the pita if you’re off carbs. Mr. Betty and I like to cozy up and share a plate, so this type of dinner where we graze is perfect for us. But you can serve on separate dishes if you’re fancy like the pope.

Easy Greek cooking

The benefits of a Mediterranean diet have long been celebrated, so in addition to the simple preparation, eating this way may lower your risk of cardiovascular conditions and certain cancers. Plus, it’s just damn delicious.

What’s an easy, throw-together meal that you like to make?

Wednesday, December 10th

Sichuan River

Dan Dan Noodles at Sichuan River, Austin Texas

You might have heard some buzz about Sichuan River, which took over the old Tien Jin spot at Westgate several months ago. If you haven’t been yet, go now. Previously, the best Szechuan I’ve had in Austin was at Szechuan House, and I’m happy to say they finally have a rival. And in South Austin to boot! No more hopping on the highway for decent Chinese.

Dumplings at Sichuan House, Austin Texas

I’ve been several times now, including an evening of a very successful Asian Supper Club. When they’re on the menu, we always begin our club nights with dumplings. Here, they come fried or steamed and are your basic dumplings. Yummy, but not particularly standout in any way, other than the dipping sauce which is above average.

Ma-Po Tofu at Sichuan House, Austin Texas

Ma-Po Tofu is one of my favorite dishes, and Sichuan River’s is fragrant, rich, and fluffy. It’s not as atomic-spicy as Szechuan House’s version, but it still packs a good punch.

Sizzling Lamb at Sichuan House, Austin Texas

But if atomic-hot is what you’re craving, let me direct you to the Sizzling Lamb. Covered with chili paste, whole chiles, jalapeño slices, and lots of cumin, this dish is for serious spice-lovers. I have a little bit of an aversion to cumin, but I like this dish anyway and highly recommend it.

Dry Fried Green Beans at Sichuan River, Austin Texas

My friend Foodie is the New Forty is a connoisseur of Dry Fried Green Beans and declared these exceptional. The shallow-fry just blisters the outside of the beans, so they retain a healthy snap. They are salty, seasoned, and downright addictive.

Eggplant with Curry Sauce at Sichuan House, Austin Texas

For those who like something on the sweeter side, a good option is the Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. I’d say this is an acquired taste. While not my cup of tea, my friend South Austin Foodie really likes this dish. So give it a whirl if you like a sweet curry.

Egg Foo Young at Sichuan House, Austin Texas

Egg Foo Young is a Chinese omelette, loaded with veggies and whatever meat you choose. It’s fried and served with a savory brown gravy and…it’s just incredible. I had to be talked into this dish but now I’m a convert. I highly encourage you to try it if you haven’t before.

Dan Dan Noodles at Sichuan House, Austin Texas

The last dish I’ll share with you is the Dan Dan Noodles. The springy noodles are covered with pork and pickled and fresh vegetables, and are immersed in a spicy, soupy chili-oil sauce. I think this is best shared with friends because, like many Szechuan dishes, it can be a little heavy on the oil.

Sichuan River is a good place to pop in for lunch, a casual dinner, or to grab takeout. The service is fast and friendly; prices are reasonable. Have you been? What are your favorite dishes?

Sichuan River, 4534 Westgate Blvd, Ste 105, Austin TX

Wednesday, December 3rd

This Bar Saves Lives

Disclosure: I received a box of This Bar Saves Lives in exchange for a blog post to help spread the awareness of this important work they are doing to help end malnutrition in children around the world. 

This Bar Saves Lives

Do you eat granola bars? They are a staple in my house. We rely on bars for days when we’re on the go and need to eat in the car, or when we wake up too late to make breakfast, or when the fridge is a little bare and we need something more than an apple for lunch. So, pretty much all the time.

I like the trend of granola bars getting healthier and being made with high quality ingredients. This Bar Saves Lives is a relatively new company that makes seriously delicious bars. Made with organic, non-GMO ingredients, they are gluten-free, all natural, and kosher. The three flavors are Wild Blueberry Pistachio, Dark Chocolate Cherry & Sea Salt, and Madagascar Vanilla Almond & Honey. Yum!

This Bar Saves Lives

So what’s the name all about? Well, this is the best part. Each time you buy a bar, a nutritious packet of life-saving food is given to a child in need. It’s a buy-one give-one model (like TOMS) where you get to help end malnourishment. Check out the website for more information about the cause. Be warned that it’s pretty powerful. I hope that it moves you to buy some bars.

I, for one, am committed to including these bars as part of my regular Whole Foods shopping. You can also get them online along with some cool wearable stuff. I like the idea that my buying power can help nourish those who really need it, along with sustaining my grab-and-go lifestyle.

If you’d like to try This Bar Saves Lives, use code THISBAR for 20% off. Code is good for one week.

Monday, December 1st

Texas Rio Star Grapefruit

Disclosure: I was gifted a box of Rio Star grapefruits and some tools and recipe cards from TexaSweet. Opinions, photos, and grapefruit love are my own!

Grapefruit Guacamole

I did a grapefruit post last year and jumped at the chance to do another one this year. I’ve always liked juicy red grapefruit, but since moving to Austin and having access to the Rio Stars—which are ten times redder than Ruby Reds—I just can’t get enough. Mr. Betty and I buy giant bags while they are in season and enjoy them for breakfast for weeks on end.

But last year’s grapefruit extravaganza had me expanding my repertoire and I started including the fruit in dinner salads, with shrimp, quinoa, and more. It’s in that spirit that I made a refreshing grapefruit guacamole to snack on before Thanksgiving dinner. Grapefruit is a natural fit for the creamy treat, with the bursts of acidity playing nicely just like lime does. Plus, you can’t beat that color combination.

Mash together:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 3 TB finely minced red onion
  • 3 TB chopped cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Top with fresh Ruby Red segments

Grapefruit Breakfast

For those who prefer to keep grapefruit to their mornings, try pairing it with a toasted bagel. Mix the zest of one grapefruit into plain, light cream cheese before slathering onto your favorite bagel. Top with additional segments. Enjoy with a cappuccino on a sunny porch while catching up on Serial.

Grapefruit Breakfast

Need some grapefruit tools?

Set of 2 Grapefruit Spoons and 1 Grapefruit Knife, Stainless Steel, Serrated Edges

Friday, November 21st

Kerbey Lane Cafe

Kerbey Queso at Kerby Lane, Austin Texas

Long before Austin became the hot foodie destination it is today, Kerbey Lane was there, serving up a high quality menu that catered to vegans, dessert-lovers, and everyone in between. Now there are hundreds of newer restaurants to compete with Kerbey Lane, but they are as busy as ever, partly due to their famous Kerbey Queso, pictured above.

I was recently invited to taste some new special dishes at the South Lamar location and can report that each are worth returning for, just like that queso.

I’ve always liked that Kerbey Lane has really special dishes for those who don’t eat meat. Not just the typical salad fare, but interesting, flavorful choices that aren’t an afterthought. The Eggplant Tartine is an appetizer, but is enough for a very satisfying meal. Layers of hummus, roasted eggplant, tomato, onion, garlic, and pesto cover a crisp pita.

Eggplant Tartine at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

The Cuban Pork Benedict is a twist on the classic Benedict with the inclusion of Cuban-style pulled pork and a hoagie roll. This was a crowd favorite. I found the hollandaise to be better than most, with the bright lemony flavor cutting through the richness.

Cuban Port Benedict at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

If color = flavor, then the Huevos Motuleños has both in spades. Eggs, ranchero sauce, queso fresco, ham, are dotted with peas and other fresh vegetables. I love to see plantain at breakfast!

Huevos Motulenos at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Since we’re fully in pumpkin season, it was only right to try both the fluffy Pumpkin Pancakes and the Pumpkin Bread French Toast. Both were excellent and had us swooning. The French Toast was so decadent that it could double as a dessert.

Pumpkin Pancakes at Kerbey Lane Cafe

Pumpkin Bread French Toast at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Another favorite of the table was the Moroccan Beef with apricot, ginger, garbanzo beans and spices served with curried mashed potatoes and warm pita. Add this to your comfort food rotation on chilly days.

Moroccan Beef at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

The Pear & Bacon Grilled Cheese is a fall item that customers go crazy for every year. Crisp bacon and grilled pear are smothered in melty Antonelli’s aged white cheddar and a garlic basil aioli. Grilled cheese perfection!

Pear & Bacon Grilled Cheese at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

One last pumpkin item, the pumpkin mousse pie (from The Cake Plate) was lighter than traditional pumpkin pie both in texture and pumpkin flavor. This would be a good pie for people who like pumpkin but aren’t in love with pumpkin. The chocolate graham cracker crust was a nice touch. All in all, a splendid meal!

Pumpkin Mousse Pie at Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

What are your favorites at Kerbey Lane Cafe? Have you sampled the fall menu and pumpkin dishes?