Austin doesn’t just “do” food trucks; Austin does food trucks. A couple of chefs with Nobu, Ramen Tatsu-ya (I still haven’t been there!), and Uchi on their resumes have opened an upscale sushi food truck called Kyoten.
During the drunken stupor that out-of-towners refer to as SXSW, I passed by this place and convinced my harem of equally inebriated friends to try it with me. Having lived on free Kind bars, Tito’s vodka, and somehow cheese, I was ready for some real food. I wanted something nice, fresh, unpackaged, and containing vegetables (if you’ve been to SXSW you know what I mean). My hopes for Kyoten were so high that I was afraid they might not meet expectations. Spoiler alert: They did.
The food isn’t cheap, and I’d avoid the painfully salty miso soup, but everything else is diviiiiiine. It was clear to me upon asking a few questions about the menu that the staff was truly passionate about the product, and I love that they chimed in with which fish dish was going to be the best. I completely ignored their advice because I had salmon on the brain, but I still appreciated the knowledge.
I’m a known sushi enthusiast, but not everyone in the group was. The beef tongue braised in red wine (not shown) did the trick for them.
If you’re jonesing for an Uchi excursion, but don’t want the hassle, or maybe even want to dine in the soon-to-be-boiling-hot outdoors, then this is for you. They have a ton of Japanese lanterns, a fenced in zen garden, and more than enough picnic tables. Grab a bottle of wine, or sake, and prepare to be amazed.
I’d be hard pressed to find someone that has never heard of Franklin Barbecue, the place that Anthony Bourdain claims has the best barbecue in America. If you live in Austin, chances are that you’ve been before, or at least seen the lines of hungry would-be patrons wrapped around the block in hopes of getting in before Franklin runs out.
I don’t eat red meat, but my partner and his friends are pretty much anti-vegetarians. I think cookies are the only non-meat thing they’ll consume. We woke up early, stocked up on booze, and set up camp in line hours before Franklin opened. I recommend getting there as early as 9 a.m. and bringing a chair. Bringing your own alcohol helps make the time pass rather quickly.
Once inside, the seating gets competitive. Expect to have to sit outside for the most part, and to see Aaron Franklin himself serving you from behind the counter. He complimented my partner’s glasses and I’ve never heard the end of it. “Aaron Franklin likes my glasses!”
Out of the ribs, sausage, and brisket that was had, it appears that brisket was the star (and most photogenic). I admit to taking a tiny piece of the meat just to say I did, and despite what everyone on Twitter said, which was mostly, “You’re going to be a carnivore after trying Franklin!” I must confess that I am still not into meat, but could see how people who enjoyed meat would especially enjoy Franklin’s creations.
Was it the best barbecue my partner and his friends ever had? Yes.
Will they wait in line for it again any time soon? Probably not. The hassle of getting in makes it more of a special occasion sort of thing, and not a weekly excursion.
I know it’s not French, but my partner’s queso fundido seemed to stretch in the shape of The Eiffel Tower. Did I mention we recently had brunch at Takoba?
Mimosas were $1.50 per glass, and $7 for a pitcher. I saw extra large micheladas for $6, bloody marys for $5, and a string of people stuck with a 20 minute wait to get tables.
It didn’t bother us, we just killed time at the bar.
This wasn’t my first time at Takoba. I previously had the ceviche, and was promptly reminded by my partner that I hated it. I figured I’d give it a second chance, perhaps I was just in a bad mood last time around?
Nope. Still hated it. I can’t quite place why, but it’s not my favorite. The salad was small, but decent for the price.
A lot of the brunch menu focused on eggs, but clearly we preferred exploring the other items. My partner chose the menudo, which he always gets, and loved it.
The takeaway? Brunch has cheap mimosas (win!), menudo (carnivorous people’s win!), and less than stellar healthy options (not so much win?). I’d gladly go back, sit on the patio, and enjoy the fall weather with a pitcher or two, while my partner, in his love for their soup, had a bowl or three.
By the way, we could’ve stopped at the queso fundido. That dish was filling!
I admit to being less than dazzled by Hillside Farmacy the first time I ate there, but a follow-up visit about a month later really won me over. Fresh seafood? Yes, please.
The cost of a cocktail is a bit on the pricey side, and the same goes for mimosas. If you have to have a drink with your breakfast (I know I do!) I think the carafe is the most affordable way to go. The orange juice is super pulpy, which I view as a mega-plus.
The croque monsieur (shown above) was a big hit with my partner. He had a pretty bad experience with a grilled cheese-like sandwich, the “dough well done,” on our first visit so I’d steer clear of that one.
The smoked salmon was a hit with both of us, except for the cole slaw, which is a matter of personal preference. I HATE COLE SLAW!
As pretty as those boiled shrimp look, they weren’t really worth it. Don’t get me wrong, they taste fine. I just can’t justify what you get for the cost on that one. It’s extremely plain, but maybe you’ll be into it; who knows?
As adorable as the food and space are at this hip, little gem… I must confess that the seating is extremely uncomfortable and tables are painfully small.
Pro-tip: They have half-off all oysters every Monday!
All in all, do I like Hillside? I love it! Grab that citrusy delicious crab salad and a carafe, and go have brunch!
Blue Dahlia Bistro is an east side gem with delicious offerings perfect for a weekend brunch.
Their famously delicious tartines (open-faced sandwiches) are truly divine. I had the salmon which was accented with lemon and dill, a very Swedish-like dish.
My partner had the meat and cheese plate, which alone would have been almost enough food for the both of us.
My favorite part of Blue Dahlia is the ambiance. I feel like I’m in a European cafe! The cheap mimosas on weekends, and weekday happy hours with $4 tartines, inexpensive beer, and wine as low as $3 a glass are close runner-ups.
Papi Tino’s has got to be the cutest place I’ve ever been. I see no reason to eat inside, so I recommend making sure the weather is good (it’s Austin, what are the odds that it won’t be?) and enjoying the patio.
It’s a little ka-ching, but not ka-ching-ka-ching. I guess that’s how I describe something that’s on the upper end of affordable Mexican food.
The guacamole is great, ceviche is good, but the chilaquiles were disappointing. Mellie described them as, “Nachos?”
I tried the $7 bloody mary, and though it wasn’t bad I think the mimosas are the real way to go here. I really love this place, and can’t wait to go back. I’ve been one other time, and the margaritas are truly to die for.
There’s a certain charm to the Austin east side, and I think Rio’s Brazilian Cafe truly captures it. The place is small, colorful, “a little run down” on the surface, but loaded with said charm.
Prices are insanely cheap. Our hearty pastries were around $4 a piece, and it was about the same to add soup, salad, or their world famous cheese breads to the order.
I don’t think that the food is out of this world, but if you fancy South American fare, it’s great for the price. On Sundays they have tropical mimosa specials, but any other day of the week it’s about $6-8 for a glass of wine. The big secret to pay attention to is the ridiculously cheap caipirinha set-ups ($2.50) for those who bring their own bottle of Cachaca.