Monday, October 29, 2012

Austin Food Highlights: Part 2

Hope everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy is safe and secure! I'm typing as fast as I can before the power goes out...

This is where I go a little out of chronological order in my trip, since I am saving the best for last.

Breakfast taco from Wholly Cow:

I have been told that the breakfast taco is to Texas as the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia.  Which I have to agree because it really is ubiquitous in Austin.  Though a more apt analogy is is the breakfast taco is to Texas as the egg and cheese on a roll is to NYC, in keeping with the breakfast theme.  The breakfast taco really is everywhere you go in mornings, coffee shops, food trucks, fast food joints.  In fact, we got ours from Wholly Cow, which is actually a burger joint that serves local grass-fed beef burgers near our hotel.  (We went there because it was the first place we stumbled upon that had them). What was a little disappointing was it took a while to get our tacos after we ordered them, apparently the place was quite busy filling takeout orders that it took about 20 minutes to get ours.  But once our tacos were brought to us, they were great.  This is a chorizo taco with eggs, potatoes and cheese.  The stuff you see dripping on the end was red salsa.

Chalupas from Juan in a Million

I will admit my ignorance; before coming to Juan in a Million, the only chalupas I have ever encountered were the Taco Bell version, which are effectively tacos with a crunchy shell.  I didn't realize that chalupas are actually tostadas, which is something I am familiar with, Although you can tell from under the mountain of lettuce and cheese, these were bean and beef chalupas, which were very good.  My favorite item, although not pictured here, was the salsa that came with the chips before our food came out.  Most of the time, when you go to Mexican restaurants, the chips and salsa are just as ordinary as the bread and butter that comes out before the meal in American restaurants.  But this salsa was special, spicy and fiery, making it unlike any other restaurant salsa that I've ever had. 

Ribeye Steak from Hoffbrau Steakhouse

Don't let the picture fool you - as plain as this steak may appear, it was out of this world.  Just like this steak, when you first walk into Hoffbrau, you will notice its humble atmosphere, the room was un-airconditioned, the tables are covered in vinyl checkered tablecloths.  It basically looks as if it hasn't changed since it first opened in 1934.  The waitresses were friendly, but with a no-nonsense attitude - they take pride in the fact that they have no menus, simply a piece of paper on each table slid into one of those plastic holders normally reserved for the daily specials or a drink menu.  But the food is great.  Their "Take it or Leave it" Salad is dressed with a garlic dressing so sharp it has a bite to it.  The steak was bathed in a lemon butter sauce as you can see here, and served with a side of potato wedges.

Frito Pie from Doc's Motorworks Bar and Grill

Before I came to Austin, I knew that Texans took pride in their chili, which has a strict no-beans prohibition.  So of course, I wanted to try it.  And if I got to try "Frito Pie,"  which is Texas chili on top of Fritos, another Texan product, even better.  During my last full day in Austin, I realized it was the last item on my list to try, but oddly I had trouble finding any places near where I was serving them. Google searches on my phone for "Texas chili" kept bringing me to locations for Chili's, the chain restaurant.  Finally, I came across it while having drinks at Doc's Motorworks.  While it made for a good snack, this version of it was mostly cheese and toppings, that I felt I was only getting accents of chili.  So one day, I will have to try again to get the full Texas chili experience.

You may be wondering, where's the barbecue? Don't you know that Texas has great barbecue?  What about the Salt Lick?  Well, I've saved the best for last, but that will have to wait for another post.


mollyjade said...

Next time you come, I'll take you on a salsa and chips tour. Really good salsa and chips was one of the things I missed when I lived outside Texas. It's total comfort food for me. Also, I realized you didn't have a Mexican Martini, which is a very import Austin tradition.

Cheryl said...

I think I might have... is it a martini with tequila?

mollyjade said...

Yes it is.