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[Austin] Chronicle Restaurant Poll 2006


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http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Aw...tPoll?Year=2006

The single most influential publication in the Austin food scene is here! Though more accurate than any other "Best Of" guides for the city it's still important to take the Readers Poll with a grain of salt as the ability of a restaurant to get out the vote is sometimes just as important as the quality of the food. I tend to agree with the Critics Picks more but ever since last year the categories no longer match the Readers Poll and are more just arbitrary selections of restaurants they want to mention.

My commentary:

Readers French Fries - Hyde Park Bar & Grill. Agreed. Thick slices dipped in buttermilk -- as if fries weren't unhealthy enough!

Readers Dim Sum - Tie: Tien Hong, T&S Seafood. Runner-up - Marco Polo Restaurant. T&S is best for classic Cantonese dim sum. Tien Hong is not quite as good and nearly all their dishes are ground shrimp-based, a little repetitive. Looks like the readers have forgetten about Pao's which serves a very distinct Northern-style dim sum, my second favorite after T&S.

Readers Chips & Hot Sauce - Chuy's. Runner-up - Trudy's. Honorable Mention - El Chile Cafe y Cantina, Maudie's, Hula Hut. Whenever Chuy's or Trudy's win anything you can bet it's because they have a huge customer base and not because they serve good food. El Chile and Vivo deserve to win this.

Readers Wild-Game Dish - Hudson's on the Bend. Runner-up - Ranch 616. No question about Hudson's but Ranch 616? The only "wild game" -- I suppose "exotic protein" is more accurate -- they have are frog legs and they do a poor job with them. Go to a Chinese restaurant for proper frog legs.

Readers Chinese - Chinatown. Runner-up - P.F. Chang's China Bistro. Honorable Mention - Din Ho Chinese BBQ, Suzi's Chinese Kitchen. Maybe this can be considered a good guide to American Chinese, otherwise Din Ho is the only one in this list that does authentic Chinese.

Critics Best Cannoli This Side of Little Italy - Home Slice Pizza. I haven't been to Home Slice but Asti's chocolate cannoli deserves a category of its own.

Critics Best New Laid-Back Oyster Bar - Quality Seafood. Excellent value for Gulf oysters: $6.95 a dozen.

Critics Best Pies and Cobblers - R.O.'s Outpost BBQ. Best chicken fried steak, too.

Critics Best Late-Night Barbecue - Sam's BBQ. With John Mueller's moved to Bastrop it's the best barbecue in city limits, no matter what time of day.

There are a number of names that I don't recognize that have picqued my interest. Has anyone been?

Readers Other Ethnic - Boomerang's (Australian), Elsi's Restaurant (Salvadoran), Tino's Greek Cafe.

Critics Best Pairing of Small Plates and Spirits - 219 West.

Critics Best Unheralded Ethnic Food - Macedonian Cuisine at Kebab Palace.

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Actually, I've had better enchiladas outside of Austin for a while. We've become complacent and, as a city, choose to patronise Chuy's and Trudy's at the expense of edible food. Also, the wide-spread vegetarian culture when applied to Tex-Mex food just doesn't cut it. I want lard in them beans, and chicken stock in my rice...

What's different now in Austin from, say, five/ten years-ago, is that we've settled for mid-level quality in restaurants (steak, seafood, fine dining) - it's all mediocre to good (not counting cheap fare, ethnic or BBQ), but nothing really great. The expensive restaurants are still bad (Wink, Zoot, Aquarelle, etc.), or gone.

But, our grocery's are as good as anywhere in the country, that counts for alot.

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Actually, I've had better enchiladas outside of Austin for a while. We've become complacent and, as a city, choose to patronise Chuy's and Trudy's at the expense of edible food. Also, the wide-spread vegetarian culture when applied to Tex-Mex food just doesn't cut it. I want lard in them beans, and chicken stock in my rice...

You might be on to something with the vegetarian thing. I too am pretty disappointed by the tex mex options, in North Austin at least. I live north, so do not get to all of the places in South Austin, of which there are many.

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Actually, I've had better enchiladas outside of Austin for a while. We've become complacent and, as a city, choose to patronise Chuy's and Trudy's at the expense of edible food. Also, the wide-spread vegetarian culture when applied to Tex-Mex food just doesn't cut it. I want lard in them beans, and chicken stock in my rice...

You might be on to something with the vegetarian thing. I too am pretty disappointed by the tex mex options, in North Austin at least. I live north, so do not get to all of the places in South Austin, of which there are many.

Just noticed this on a site reviewing Maudie's, an Austin tex mex chain. Confirms your theory!

"The only item that's a little out of the ordinary is the beans, which are 100% fat free and vegetarian."

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  • 2 weeks later...

elsi's is only ok. i don't understand the hype behind it.

chuy's salsa sucks so bad. i love taqueria arandas #3 for mexican food. they have the best fresh salsa, hands down. i actually really like pappasito's chips and salsa too.

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chuy's salsa sucks so bad.

Yup, I call it "catchup with chunks". That's why I usually order the anti-salsa, a side of jalapeno ranch.

I've been having trouble finding good salsa at any Mexican restaurant in this town, not just the chains. Either it is flavorless, too chunky, or just down-right store-bought. How can it be that a place like East Side Cafe has better salsa than most Mexican food places? So weird.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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  • 4 weeks later...
chuy's salsa sucks so bad.

Yup, I call it "catchup with chunks". That's why I usually order the anti-salsa, a side of jalapeno ranch.

I've been having trouble finding good salsa at any Mexican restaurant in this town, not just the chains. Either it is flavorless, too chunky, or just down-right store-bought. How can it be that a place like East Side Cafe has better salsa than most Mexican food places? So weird.

I prefer fresh salsas, where it's not obvious anything's been cooked or previously canned. I agree that Chuy's is like tomato sauce. Have you ever noticed there are chunks of carrot in their red salsa sometimes? I think it really is just a can of tomato soup (with carrots) MissAmy,these are the salsas I like in Austin, maybe you can try some time:

Taqueria Arandas #3 (my absolute favorite. i'd imagine the other locations are similar if not exactly the same)

Taqueria Los Jalisciences

Las Cazuelas

Pappasito's

I actually really like Texas French Bread's salsa but it comes in those teensy little cups, it's ridiculous.

Jorge's (but sometimes too salty)

Edited by yimay (log)
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