Wednesday, August 31st

PhoNatic

Banh Mi Sliders, PhoNatic, Austin Texas

In a city full of entrepreneurs and freelancers, everyone’s always discussing which coffee places are the best places to get some work done. And Austin’s got no shortage of good coffee and wifi spots. But my little secret work spot is PhoNatic, where I’ve had numerous meetings over steaming bowls of pho, strong Vietnamese coffee, and those famous banh mi sliders, pictured above.

Pho at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

As far as pho, there are many options like the traditional beef broth, veggie, and my favorite, the chicken broth, which is bright and clear and allows the aromatic spices to come through. Pho is always a bargain, starting at $7.95 and topping out at $11.95 for a bowl with tender braised oxtail.

Spring Roll at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Refreshing spring rolls are a nice balance with hot soup and PhoNatic’s are crunchy, fresh, and a no-brainer. Again, this is pretty traditional and hits all the right spots. More often than not, if I’m working I opt for a vermicelli bowl. (I try not to tempt the fates with broth near my laptop.)

Vermicelli Bowl at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Chicken Vermicelli Bowl at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Pork Vermicelli Bowl at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

What makes PhoNatic such a good place to work? Lots of things. There’s not a lot of interaction (or interruption) from staff. You order and pay at the counter, get a number, and take a seat. They quickly deliver your food and you fetch everything you need. Drinks, extra limes and garnishes, hot sauce, chopsticks and spoons, to-go boxes, etc. The tables are comfortable and the spaces are open and bright. There’s parking, the food is good, and the wifi always works. What else could you want?

Crispy Tofu at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Where are some of your favorite places with dine with your laptop when you want something a little more substantial than coffee?

And what are your favorite dishes at PhoNatic? Leave me a comment and we’ll talk about it.

Monday, August 8th

Tam Deli

Bun at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

In my ongoing quest for delicious, cheap eats in Austin, Tam Deli has remained a constant favorite. It’s nowhere near where I live, it closes earlier than I’d like, and it’s nothing special inside. Yet it’s clean, friendly, has plenty of parking, and I can’t live without it. When the longtime owners sold it recently, many of us panicked.

Like me, countless Austinites had a special bond with the aging family who ran the place. Once when I was eating lunch alone I witnessed Nick refilling water glasses to a chatty table of college kids next to me. He quietly said, “say when” as he tipped the pitcher and he let the water overflow onto the table when no one stopped talking to say “when.” Everyone laughed as he mopped up the water and I can recount plenty of my own personal stories of Nick’s teasing. Thousands of little moments like that are what made Tam Deli feel like home. But also, the food. The Vietnamese staples done well and priced so reasonably.

When I heard that the same kitchen staff would remain in place under the new ownership, my fears at losing a beloved favorite subsided. A group of us stopped by to order our usual dishes and make sure all was right with the world.

Bánh mì at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

The bánh mì is what usually gets me to Tam Deli as they make my favorite version in Austin. (I’ve previously documented a bánh mì showdown of Austin’s most notorious sandwiches, so check it out if you missed it.) It’s a short little guy who’s stuffed to the gills, and I always opt to add a fried egg.

Pictured up top is the vermicelli with grilled pork and egg roll, with springy noodles and loaded with fresh sprouts and vegetables. Like most the dishes we ordered that day, it tasted like it always did and we all felt relieved and happy.

Banh Xeo at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

The Banh Xeo is another regular favorite. On this day it was a little burnt, but normally the crisp crepe filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts is delicate perfection. Another dish that was a little different on this visit was the Banh Tom, crispy fritters made from yams and shrimp. They were tasty as ever, but the yams were cut differently. They were more like fries than the shapeless lumps I’d had in the past.

Banh Xeo at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

The service under the new owners was fast and friendly, if a little shy. Over time we’ll make new memories with them and have our own little private jokes, or at least exchange nods of recognition as we drink Vietnamese coffees and order the same dishes time and again.

Vietnamese Coffee at Tam Deli

Vietnamese Coffee at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

What are your favorite dishes at Tam Deli? Leave me a comment and tell me what else I need to order.

Tuesday, June 28th

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

I’m still figuring out how people balance babies and housework. And, uh, regular work. Oh, and a blog.

Cooking has been particularly challenging. I’ve finally realized that at least one night a week our dinners need to be really easy. Like, frozen meal easy. I’m not proud and no, it’s not exactly delicious. But by Wednesday or Thursday when I’m just burned out and don’t have the energy to get dinner on the table I’m grateful to open the freezer and pull out a pizza or something.

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

Breakfast, however, is too crucial a meal to phone in. I can’t send Chris to work without some sustenance to get through the day. And I need something easy in the morning, too. I’m dabbling with the DASH Diet off and on, which is why I started making this casserole. It’s packed with protein and filling veggies and because I use lots of egg whites, it’s light and fluffy.

I don’t follow much of a recipe, but I use what’s on hand. Typically I’ll sauté:

  • Half a pound of sausage, turkey, or bacon
  • One red bell pepper, diced
  • One medium onion, diced
  • 15 cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Something green, either asparagus, spinach, or kale

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

While the meat and vegetables are cooking, beat ten eggs and 3/4 cup egg whites. Or just use more eggs and skip the whites if you prefer. When your sauté is complete, pour evenly into lightly oiled baking dish. Top with the cheese of your choice. I grate up a big handful of cheddar, Jarlsberg, or anything else I might have. Make it as cheesy as you want. I don’t go overboard with the cheese, but don’t hold back on my account. I’m not the cheese police.

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

Then pour in egg mixture, evenly covering the filling. Top with lots of hot sauce and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350°, until no longer jiggly. Skip the hot sauce if you want, but make sure to season adequately.

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

Allow to complete cool before cutting into slices and packaging up for the week. What I love about this dish is how versatile it is. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and the flavor combinations are limitless. One of my favorite versions was when I threw in basmati rice at the last minute and it crisped up on the top.

Breakfast Casserole for the Chronically Busy

What are some of your default meals when your schedule is busier than usual?

Tuesday, May 17th

Kerbey Lane Summer Menu

Kerbey Lane Summer Menu

We’re at the precipice of a new season, where it goes from hot to hotter in Austin. It’s my least favorite time of year and I start dreading summer as soon as March rolls around. However, summer does bring about some tasty nostalgia. When I think of summer, my memories are filled with hotdogs and burgers on the grill, thick slices of juicy watermelon, and piles of corn on the cob. Kerbey Lane puts their own spin on summer and they just rolled out their newest seasonal menu. Best of all, you don’t have to wait till it’s 105° since it’s available right now. I attended a blogger preview last week and sampled the menu.

Crab Mac & Cheese Bites, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Austin Texas

You might recognize some of the featured items from last season, like the Crab Mac and Cheese Bites. These are yummy and I’m glad they are keeping them around a while longer. You can also get the crab mac as an entree. My preference is the small bites for the ideal crab-to-pasta ratio.

Crab Mac and Cheese Entree, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Kerbey Lane likes to get playful with their Eggs Benedict and their version over steak enchiladas toes the line between breakfast and lunch. Perfect for those who can never decide what to get at brunch.

Steak Enchilada Benedict, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

If you’re like me, you have to get a pancake at Kerbey. Right now the seasonal flavor is Lemon Poppyseed which is my favorite. But if you want something more adventurous, the twist on chicken and waffles is as bold as it gets. Cinnamon beignet pancakes are topped with crispy fried chicken and a maple buffalo sauce. Total showstopper!

Chicken and Pancakes, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

For the more diet conscious eater the Chicken Caprese Salad doesn’t skimp on the treats. Avocado, chicken, bacon, mozzarella, grilled chicken, and tomatoes hit all the savory, creamy notes. Slivered almonds provide a balancing crunch.

Chicken Caprese Salad, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Other menu highlights are the Greek Lamb Skewers, with tabbouleh, hummus, Kalamata olives, and grilled pita, kicky little Fried Green Tomato Sliders, and Summer Chicken on a bed of seasonal vegetables like tomatoes and red bell peppers, accompanied by bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes.

Greek Lamb Skewers, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Fried Green Tomato BLT Sliders, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

Summer Chicken, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

For dessert, a formidable key lime pie from The Cake Plate is a delicious rendition of the classic.

Key Lime Pie, Kerbey Lane, Austin Texas

What are your favorites when dining at Kerbey Lane Cafe?

Saturday, April 9th

Curry the Day

Next Saturday the Austin Food Blogger Alliance will be holding its first fundraiser, The Colossal Curry-Off. As the current president, I’m excited that we have this fun event that will not only help sustain our organization, but explore a versatile dish not commonly featured in Austin. We chose curry as the subject of our first event because it’s virtually limitless and doesn’t exclude anyone with dietary restrictions. It can be vegan, vegetarian, meaty, glutinous or gluten-free, spicy, mild, expensive, or cheap. It can derive flavor inspiration from India, Thailand, South America, or anywhere!

Curry

People who enter cooking competitions are a unique breed. I am not one of these people, as I do not possess the skill nor the bravery to commit to such an undertaking. But I’m friends with a few cooks who enter contests from time to time and they all get that same gleam in their eyes when it comes to competing. They all seem energized by the planning, the creativity, and the excitement that comes from feeding masses of people from a makeshift outdoor kitchen space that might consist of little more than a picnic table and whatever they can carry.

Curry CookOff

I can’t divulge any secrets, but I can tell you that our 20-some contestants are bringing their A-games. The descriptions of the curries are outrageous. So buy your ticket, come hang out with us at Shangri-La, and help vote for the best curry in Austin! Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, which is a total steal for the gourmet bites you’ll be getting. We’ll have a kickass DJ, too.

The event is 21+ because DRINKING, but you could use a couple hours away from your kids anyway. There’s pretty much no reason for you not to come. If you think you don’t like curry, that’s probably because you haven’t tasted enough yet. (It’s like saying, “I don’t like sandwiches.” Just because you don’t like salami doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with grilled cheese. Or peanut butter and jelly.) This is your chance to find the curry you love. Will you get another opportunity to taste a ton of curries for $15 while listening to some old school hip-hop in East Austin? Probably not.

We have all kinds of great sponsors partnering with us, like Whole Foods, Wheatsville, TRACE, Savory Spice Shop, and more! The first 50 people in the door will get swag bags to take home.

Hurry for Curry

Your support means so much to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. The organization is run by volunteers and your ticket purchase goes towards helping us pay for expenses like: insurance, taxes and accounting fees, domain and web hosting, other technology fees, and supporting our own philanthropic activities for other organizations. We care about feeding the community, helping sustainable food communities thrive, and supporting educational endeavors across multiple food-related fields. It’s an active group and I could not be prouder to be in it. We even published a book!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to enhance the Austin-area through our cooking, writing, photography, and celebration of food. There’s a lot of creativity, passion, and hard work that goes into doing what we do, and most of us do it just for the love of it. Events like this keep it affordable for members so that we can include everyone who wants to be a part of this community.

Once again, here’s the ticket link! We’ll see you at Shangri-La on Saturday, April 16th, 2-4 PM. Come hungry!

Friday, March 4th

Comprehensive Guide to Indian Food in Austin

It’s time for my annual update on all the Indian restaurants in Austin, as part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide. This is a tough task because each year many places close and many open. I promise that as of writing, this list is accurate and complete. Take a look at years past to see how much has changed. (2015, 2014, 2013) Leave me a comment and let me know what your favorite are and what you like to order. 

2016 AFBA 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.

Indian Spices

Bombay to Kathmandu Kitchen

9616 N. Lamar Blvd, Ste 168, Austin, TX 78753

Th-Tues 11am-11pm, W 5 pm-11pm

Northern Indian street food and Nepali cuisine. People love the momos (dumplings.)

Chennai Cafe

3203 S IH-35, Ste 560, Round Rock, TX 78664

Tues-Thurs 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm, F 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:30pm-10:30pm, Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-10:30pm, Sun noon-3pm, 6pm, 9:30pm

The Dallas franchise plays South Indian classical music and expertly prepares the region’s dishes so well that it quickly became one of Round Rock’s most popular Indian restaurants.

Chicken Lollypop

1005 E. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753

11-9 daily

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

Curried Mussels

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.

Coriander Indian Cuisine

4894 Hwy 290 W, Sunset Valley, TX 78735

Sun-Th 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm

In the former location of Royal India, Coriander is a Dallas outpost. I love that there are lots of interesting dosas on the menu. Lunch buffet fans should hit this one as it’s a cut above the rest.

Coriander Indian Restaurant, Austin Texas

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.

Gandhi Bazar

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

12809 N FM 620, #3, Austin, TX 78750

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

8650 Spicewood Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78759

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.

Hyperabad House

11150 Research Blvd, Ste 210A, Austin, TX 78759

Sun-Th 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11a,-10:30pm

Authentic South Indian done well, there’s a large menu to choose from with meat and veggie dishes. The biryani is a favorite among guests.

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.

Kababeque

3220 Amy Donovan Plz, Austin ,TX 78701

M, W-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun noon-6pm

Indian Mediterranean fusion truck at The Domain. 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

13945 N. Hwy 183, Austin, TX 78717

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

1500 E. Whitestone Blvd, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Daily 11-10

This chain has classic Indian and Chinese options.

Ganesh

MediterrIndian

2512 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX 78705

M, W, Sun 5pm-10pm, Th-Sat 5pm-3am 

Live the name suggests, the friendly, affordable truck serves Mediterranean and Indian staples.

Mirchi Austin

1212 W. Parmer Lane, Unit A, Austin, TX 78753

Sun-Th 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-mid

Per the website, the menu draws upon the rich tapestry of Indian and Pakistani food culture and tradition.

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, Austin, Texas

Mussels Malvani at Nasha, Austin Texas

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.

Saffron

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

Sun-Th 11am-2-pm, 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm

BYOB and has an extensive Nepali menu and a buffet at lunch. There’s also a Curry in a Hurry option, with three curries for ten bucks.

SIZZLE Indian Kitchen

2200 I-35 Frontage Rd, Ste C1, Round Rock, TX 78681

Tues-Sun 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm

One of the many restaurants implementing online order systems, SIZZLE is popular for takeout.

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.

Curry

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 & 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

11501 Rock Rose Ave, Austin, TX 78746

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

1335 E. Whitestone Blvd, Ste T130, Austin, TX 78613

Daily 11am-10pm

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

Tempura Grill Austin

9310 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

Sun-Th 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

Halal Pakistani and Indian in the Northgate Shopping Center.

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.

Zarab’s Kabobs

2001 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Daily 11am-11pm

Modern interpretation of classic Indian dishes. This hole in the wall gets mixed reviews.

Bollywood

Tuesday, February 23rd

Where to Get Ramen in Austin

2016 AFBA City Guide

Once again it’s time for my annual ramen contribution to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s City Guide. Each year the ramen scene gets a little bit bigger. You can see my from my previous guides how things have changed. (2015, 2014, 2013.) If I didn’t include your favorite place, leave me a comment and tell me what I missed! And while you’re hungry, check out the rest of the guides from my talented food blogger friends. 


 

What’s not to love about ramen? It’s hearty, flavorful, bouncy. It’s not just trending in Austin, but all all over the US. But proudly, Austin’s become notable for its ramen. Enough so that visitors make sure to visit a ramen shop while in town, just like they do with barbecue and tacos. If you haven’t given ramen a try yet, pick a rainy day and hop in line at any of the places listed below. Soon enough you’ll be slurping with the best of them.

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

Banzai Sushi and Grill

3914 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78756

M-Sat 11am-9:30 pm, Sun noon-9pm

No-frills ramen with choice of pork, beef, shrimp, tofu, or meatball. Every bowl comes topped with veggies and a hard boiled egg.

Cho Sushi Fusion

4300 N. Quinlan Park Rd, Ste 105, Austin, TX 78732

M-F 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm, Sat noon-10pm

2422 620 S, Ste A100, Austin, TX 78738

M-Th 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm, F 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-11pm, Sat noon-11pm, Sun 4pm-9pm

Simply labeled “Japanese Ramen” the lone offering at Cho features pork, vegetables, and egg in miso broth. $9 at lunch and $12 at dinner.

Daruma Ramen

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

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

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

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, the aforementioned Daruma Ramen.

Kome tonkatsu ramen

Michi Ramen

6519 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78752

Tues-Sun 11am-midnight

3005 S. Lamar, D-114B, Austin, TX 78704

Everyday, 11 am-midnight

The ramen groundbreakers of Austin, Michi Ramen was here before anyone else, slinging noodles out of a truck. The menu expanded when they moved to a brick and mortar. Last year they opened their second location on South Lamar, which strictly does take-out. They offer traditional broth thickness options and lots of toppings so you can build your own bowl.

Michi Ramen

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

Mochi

Midori Sushi

13435 N Hwy 183, Ste 301, Austin, TX 78750

M-Th 11:30am-9:30pm, F 11:30am-10:30pm, Sat noon-10pm

Twelve bucks will get you a bowl of miso ramen, topped with roasted pork, bean sprouts, and onions. Available at dinner only.

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.

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.

Origami Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar

1110 N. 35 Frontage Rd, Ste 200B, Round Rock, TX 78681

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

Miso and shoyu ramen offered at lunch.

Ramen Fukuya

1914 Guadalupe St, Ste A, Austin, TX 78705

M-Th 11 am-10pm, F 11 am-mid, Sat noon-mid, Sun noon-10am

Daily ramen offerings include fukuya (chicken bone broth), tonkotsu, and veggie. Seafood ramen and tsukemen are weekend additions.

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. 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. The masses cheered when their second, larger location opened.

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

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.

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.

Sushi Junai

1612 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701

Mon-Sat 11am-10pm

Known for all-you-can-eat sushi, they also offer a spicy ramen for $6.95.

Tokyo Sushi Japanese Restaurant

3201 Bee Caves Rd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78746

Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 4pm-10pm

Ramen offerings come in two flavors, Sapporo and Tokyo, with choices of chicken, beef, shrimp, crispy pork or seafood.

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 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.

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.

Monday, February 8th

The Best Banh Mi in Austin

Banh Mi in Austin

Everyone is always debating who makes the best bánh mì in Austin. At least, my friends always are. Maybe your friends have loftier things to worry about, but my crew is serious about sandwiches. What started with a few simple comments on Instagram manifested into a full-scale event, with the aim to finally put it to bed. We were going to crown a winner.

When a determined group of food bloggers put their minds to a competition, you’d better believe the judging was not taken lightly. Master of data, Tasting Buds ensured that we didn’t enter into this haphazardly. There was voting ahead of time to determine who would make it into the competition. We settled on two categories: grilled pork and the traditional combo. Scoring sheets were simple. Each sandwich was to be scored from 1-10 and there were places to write notes about the bread, the filling, and anything else we wanted to talk about.

Banh Mi in Austin

The contenders were selected in advance and we dutifully fetched our assigned sandwiches before convening at the home of Foodie is the New Forty. The restaurants were not told about the competition, so the sandwiches were as authentic and regular as any other Saturday. The players:

Baguette House

Lily’s Sandwich Restaurant

Lulu B’s

Ng BMT

Saigon Le Vendeur

Tam Deli & Cafe

Thanh Nhi

Austin Banh Mi

In a state of raging hunger, we painstakingly set up the sandwiches. The Smoking Ho, pictured above, brought butcher paper and a massive cutting board. He’s our resident AFBA bánh mì expert so be sure to check out his City Guide post on the topic. After a lengthy photo shoot of the sandwich table, it was time to dig in. The room was quiet as everyone worked their way through the sandwiches, thoughtfully taking notes and sipping the Vietnamese coffees made by Girl Eats World.

Afterwards we discussed our findings over cream puffs and love letters. And the verdict is…

Banh Mi Austin

…that taste is subjective. Sorry, were you expecting a definitive winner? I’m getting to that. But before you skip to the bottom of this post, let me note that if one bánh mì was significantly better than all the rest, everyone would already know about it. But let me break down some of our findings.

When it came down to bread, everyone agreed that the most desired factor was crunchiness. And across the board, the bread was softer than we’d hoped. Lulu B’s bread held up the best, in my opinion. Lily’s was the best looking but possibly the worst quality bread. Lily’s was actually the worst overall.

Baguette House fared well on the combo (and also make the longest sandwiches) but the pork was abysmal. Still, Baguette House ranked among the top two. Which place had the best ranking among the group? Saigon Le Vendeur! More than half the judges picked Saigon as their favorite overall when polled at the end of the day. But Saigon’s combo was the most polarizing of sandwiches, yielding the highest and lowest of scores. (I ranked it as the worst sandwich of the day, but rated the pork very highly.)

What role did preconceived notions play?

Most of us came into this with personal preferences, but only a few kept those opinions after tasting the sandwiches side by side. My favorite, Tam Deli, remained my favorite. The same for Brisket and Bagels, who remained loyal to Ng BMT.

The judging was very individual, as each of us valued different things. While all agreed that filling carried more weight than bread, we had differing opinions on texture, flavor, and sauce. I gave higher points for those loaded with jalapeños, while South Austin Foodie felt they could be overpowering. Some appreciated a good sauce but Craft Taste was repulsed by mayonnaise. Gaminess was prized by some, but a negative for other’s palettes.

I placed a higher value on the veggies over the meats and might have been alone in that. Lulu B’s does not make a combo, so their lemongrass chicken was the lone variation. As someone who doesn’t love lemongrass, I appreciated how subtle it was. Others disliked that they could barely detect the lemongrass.

Value and service didn’t place a huge part in the rankings but we did discuss them. Tam Deli ranked as a high value option for low price point and sandwiches loaded with filling. (They were also the shortest in length.) Lulu B’s was the most expensive and also has the worst service of the group.

We did not include Elizabeth Street’s bánh mì purely for cost reasons, so I’ll have to head over and try one while the others are fresh in my mind. Because there were only so many of us and we could only reasonably eat so many bánh mì, we had to leave some out. Sadly our tasting and this post do not account for Dang Banh Mi, Bun Belly, Pho Van, I Heart Pho, Ya Ya’s, and more. If you have strong opinions about any of those places, please leave a comment so that others can see it.

Austin #BanhMania

So there you have it, the results of #BanhMania. On this day, the victor was Saigon Le Vendeur!

To read more about our Banh Mania, check out this post from Foodie is the New Forty.

Monday, January 25th

Korea House

Korea House, Austin Texas

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about food over here. Or, ahem, ANYTHING. So if you’re reading this and haven’t written me off for dead, thanks. I recently bought a new laptop which prompted me to clean up my old laptop. Buried in a series of forgotten folders, I discovered these photos I had taken at Korea House.

I can’t remember when I last ate there, but Chris and I used to visit from time to time for some grilling. I had heard that their sushi was pretty good, too, so on this particular visit I ordered a spicy roll of some sort. Probably tuna. Based on this one roll, can’t say much about the sushi. But for some simple grilling and light Asian beers, this place is A-OK.

Spicy Tuna Roll at Korea House, Austin Texas

The banchan is solid and my favorites are fermented black beans, kimchi, and pickled cucumbers. If you want bean paste, you’ll have to ask for it. Most people come for the bulgogi, and I am no different. It’s flavorful and satisfying. Perfect for a novice griller because it doesn’t matter too much if you overcook it.

Korean BBQ at Korean House, Austin Texas

Octopus at Korea House, Austin Texas

Now octopus takes a little skill. It’s easy to overcook. But you also don’t want to undercook it. When you hit that sweet spot it’s nice and tender, slightly chewy.

Banchan at Korea House, Austin Texas

While the atmosphere falls far short of charming, Korea House is the type of place you feel immediately comfortable, such as you would in a dive bar. It feels worn in, tried and true. The service is efficient and sometimes terse, but you’ll be glad of that when you’re waiting outside for a table. Despite the crowds, the wait is never too long. Everything moves quickly and your water glasses will be refilled and you won’t want for anything. Looking at these photos, I think it’s time I go back.

Kirin at Korea House, Austin Texas

What are your favorites at Korea House?

Korea House

2700 W. Anderson Lane, Austin TX 78757

M-F 11 am-10pm, Sat-Sun 12 pm-10 pm

Monday, December 21st

The Big Fake Wedding

The Big Fake Wedding

Photo by Grey to Blue

Recently I was tipped off to a unique experience for brides. The Big Fake Wedding is a bridal show alternative, with vendors showcasing their stuff in a wedding format. Kind of like Tony and Tina’s Wedding, but attendees are scoping out the dresses, catering, and other details for their own big day. My friends Rachel and Brian are getting married next year and I wanted to hear their take on The Big Fake Wedding when they were in Austin. To my delight, Brian wrote down his thoughts and I wanted to share it will all of you. My message to all the brides out there is to get your grooms involved! 

A Whole New World

This fall The Big Fake Wedding was kind enough to host an event at The Palm Door on 6th Street. My fiancée—let’s call her Brachel—and I had tickets; Brachel thought it would be a great way to introduce me to the upcoming steps we would need to take for planning our wedding. She was absolutely right. I did not title this A Whole New World because Aladdin was my favorite Disney movie as a child (who doesn’t love Gilbert Gottfried?) but because I learned more in one night than I had in attending a lifetime’s worth of weddings.

We arrived right before the wedding vow renewal was about to begin. This is the part of weddings with which I am most familiar. A couple stood in front of an officiant to exchange vows, rings, and a prayer that no one stood up to shout any objections. After the ceremony we were invited to stay for dinner, enjoy the music, and meet with area wedding professionals.

There was not a wasted space, nor a wasted opportunity for me to learn. Brachel herself has worked in facets of the wedding industry for years and had always told me I had no idea what we were signing up for. While waiting in line for food and drink I learned that tables and chairs are not always provided by the venue. China, flatware, tablecloths and napkins are also available to rent for the big day. Each table was decorated to show different décor options. The menu was also diverse and featured items that I would not have previously thought would be served at a wedding. Like quinoa. (Did you know that quinoa and couscous are two different things? #deepthoughts)

The second half of the venue was the vendors’ space. This is where Brachel really shined, as she introduced me to some professionals in industries I was familiar with, like photographers, and others I was not aware of, such as invitation and save-the-date designers. It was like a baby visiting Santa Claus for the first time: overwhelming with a lot of shiny objects to catch my eye.

My visit to The Big Fake Wedding was a blast, and I learned so much more about what we can consider as options for our big day. Long country tables, vibrant linens, German chocolate cake. The possibilities are endless! This event is a must attend for any engaged couple, and has helped me get more involved in the planning process.

-by Brian Helmick, with fiancée Brachel Rachel Gill