The Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll

2011 Critics Picks

Best Carrot Side Dish

Carrot Butter at Foreign & Domestic

Ned Elliott's voluptuous, savory carrot-and-butter puree is a carrot lover's dream come true. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Corn Side Dish

Granny Elote at Dos Batos

A Monterrey-style bowl of corn kernels that’s tangy and creamy with a dusting of chile powder – the only thing missing is the cob and the mess on your chin. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Meal in a Taco Behemoth

Sol Taco at Cherrywood Coffeehouse

A fluffy omelet filled with sausage, bacon, black beans, green onions, grated cheese, and crispy potato strips that will stay with you all day. – Virginia B. Wood

Best King Cake

Bakerman's Patisserie and Chocolatier

These excellent cinnamon roll crowns are napped with luxurious frosting and covered with bright Mardi Gras-colored sugar and plenty of beads. Party on. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Gourmet Burger, Fries, and Shake

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Make mine a Llano Poblano burger with a side of chili-cheese fries and a Godiva caramel shake. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Muffaletta With a Side of Homemade Potato Chips

Evangeline Cafe

The bread from Langlanais Bakery, imported from Louisiana, and the tangy, chunky house-made olive salad make this an authentic Crescent City treat. Chips just gild the lily. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Fried Pies and Ice Cream

TIE: Lamberts, Monument Cafe

Both places use local, seasonal fruit in flaky crusts with homemade ice cream. Delish! – Virginia B. Wood

Best Churros with an Iced Mocha


A cinnamon-sugar crusted pastry stick paired with a superior cup of coffee is a fine afternoon treat. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Lemonade/Limeade

Monument Cafe

Fresh-squeezed, frosty, and delightfully refreshing, these huge drinks are worth a drive to Georgetown. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Wood-Fired Outdoor Slice of Pizza

Bola Pizza

You’ll only find these divine, thin-crust slices topped with local produce, meats, and cheeses at the Downtown or Triangle farmers’ markets, unless Bola is catering a private party. Seek out these pizzas. – Virginia B. Wood

Best Locavore on Wheels

Odd Duck Farm to Trailer

Bryce Gilmore’s salute to the freshest of the fields. Wonderful. – Mick Vann

Best Chinese Roasted Meats

Ho Ho Chinese B.B.Q.

The original Din Ho barbecue folks keep doing their thing in new digs. – Mick Vann

Best Transition From Trailer to Brick-and-Mortar (and Barbecue)

Franklin Barbecue

Now at the gateway to 11th Street, and still the best in Austin. – Mick Vann

Most Authentic, Funky Taqueria

El Taco Rico

Yolanda and Araceli produce culinary perfection, one handmade taco at a time. – Mick Vann

Best Undiscovered Cuisine Gem

Asi Es Colombia

The Belez family’s culinary brilliance perfectly showcases Colombia’s food. – Mick Vann

Pizza of the Mount Olympus Gods

Spartan Pizza

Spectacularly delicious pizza, worthy of the Greek warriors for whom it is named. – Mick Vann

Best North Austin Northern Indian

Teji's Indian Restaurant & Grocery

Lakh Bir’s half restaurant serves full-on excellent northern Indian. – Mick Vann

Strip Mall Tamale Heaven

TIE: Antojitos Hondureños, Costa del Sol

One is Honduran, one is Salvadoran, they are side-by-side, and both are exquisite. – Mick Vann

Best South of the Border Seafood

La Catedral del Marisco

Amazing mariscos (pulpo, ceviche, camarones, etc.) without the narco-terroristas! – Mick Vann

Bavarian Bliss and Beer

Nuernberg Brauhaus

The Dyes’ and the Vogts’ pork-centric temple of German food, and the beer is ice cold. – Mick Vann

Best New Hostess Gift Idea

Macarons From La Pâtisserie by Luxe Sweets

A footlong box of elegant, vividly-colored macarons from La Pâtisserie strikes the perfect note of appreciation, and is far more stylish than a bottle of wine. – Kate Thornberry

Best Makeover

Bouldin Creek Cafe

Hats off to the Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse for their loving restoration and repurposing of Big G Tire on South First: a triumph of architecture and design. – Kate Thornberry

Best Gluten-Free Bakery Treats

The Steeping Room

Using European methods and ingredients like almond flour and seasonal fruit, the Steeping Room serves the best-tasting gluten-free scones, tortes, and cupcakes around. – Kate Thornberry

The Student Becomes the Master Award


Paul Qui has successfully snatched the pebble from Tyson Cole’s hand – Uchiko is distinctly different, yet just as wonderful as Uchi. – Kate Thornberry

Best Vegan Ice Cream

Thai Fresh

Jam Sanichat’s ice cream creations are intensely flavorful, relying on seasonal fruit at the peak of ripeness, and nearly half of her case is filled with coconut-milk based, vegan ice creams. – Kate Thornberry

Best Dinner Destination on a Damp, Cold Night

the backspace

The roaring, radiant heat of Backspace’s 2,700-pound, 1000˚ brick oven quickly evaporates even a heavy chill, and the authentic, piping hot Neapolitan pizza will conjure up sunny Italy. – Kate Thornberry

Walking the Walk Award


Many restaurants do what they can to be ecologically responsible, but no place does more than Olivia. Chef James Holmes not only erected an energy-saving, “green” building, but he also sources from local farms, recycles everything at his own cost, and composts all his kitchen waste for Olivia’s on-site garden, which is watered with collected rainwater. – Kate Thornberry

Best Way To Experience Small-Town Texas Without Leaving the City

Ray's BBQ

Brisket sandwich on white bread, coleslaw, homemade banana pudding, and sweet tea, all served without irony or pretension. – Kate Thornberry

Where Everybody Really Does Know Your Name

Fricano's Deli

Are they competing with each other? Are they savants? Planning to run for political office? Because the only customers who aren’t greeted by name when they walk in the door are folks coming in for the first time. – Kate Thornberry

Best Japanese Dish in a Midcentury Modern Diner

Global Tapas From Snack Bar

Housed in the Austin Motel’s restored restaurant space (vintage from 1938), Snack Bar serves up “global tapas” like Tamago Yoko, a hash cake of eggs, cabbage, leek, bacon, and shrimp splashed with wasabi aioli and Sriracha, sprinkled with crispy nori and bonito flakes. Wowza. – MM Pack

Best Place To Learn To Love Offal

Foreign & Domestic

Chefs Ned and Jodi Elliott always present surprising fare, but they really shine when making culinary silk purses out of sows’ ears and using other under-appreciated parts, such as for smoked beef tongue croquettes. – MM Pack

Best Potential Juxtaposition of Swine and Wine

The Triangle Formed by Rosewood and East 11th

This tract houses both bijou wine shop East End Wines and longtime Austin chef Raymond Tatum’s 3 Little Pigs trailer serving delectable pork cheeks, sliders, and meat loaf. It’s an inspired juxtaposition, and once the little matter of permits gets worked out, patrons can enjoy the fruits of both establishments together on the premises. – MM Pack

Best Parisian Snacks Served From a Shipping Container

La Boîte

Eating anything from an artfully repurposed shipping container is a fun experience, but lolling on the sunny deck with coffee and rainbow-hued macarons, a croissants au amande, or a light sandwich of turkey, brie, and fig spread verges on the divine. – MM Pack

Restaurant We Can't Wait To See Open

Prospective Restaurant by Daniel Olivella

Catalan native and acclaimed Bay Area restaurateur Daniel Olivella lives in Austin now and is looking for a small restaurant location. Spanish tapas and arròs negre like those served at B44 in San Francisco? Bring ’em on! – MM Pack

Best Deconstructed Classic Bar Snack

Paggi House Bruschetta

Bruschetta can be found just about everywhere, but this version is simple, spectacular, and different. Assemble your own from a plate of grilled baguette slices, a large quenelle of soft, herby, goat's-milk ricotta, and a ramekin of juicy roasted tomatoes. – MM Pack

Best Alligator Beignets

Max's Wine Dive

Have your beignets with powdered sugar in New Orleans, but at Max’s, Chef JP Lacoste serves them West Louisiana style – a big plate of smokin’ hot bites of gator meat beignets with spicy jalapeño dipping sauce. – MM Pack

Best All-Day Dim Sum

Get Sum Dim Sum

Austin is so lucky to have tender, fresh dumplings and other dim sum made by Chi Keung Chan, formerly executive chef at San Francisco’s acclaimed Yank Sing. No roving carts here, just order at the counter and wait for made-to-order treats to arrive. It’s all good, but the eggplant stuffed with shrimp is outstanding. – MM Pack

Best Pork Belly

The Slider at 3 Little Pigs

– Wes Marshall

Most Interesting Use of Dr Pepper

The Dubliner at Haddingtons

Irish whiskey and reduced Dr Pepper. Wow! – Wes Marshall

The Team To Beat


Chef David Bull, sommelier June Rodil, and mixologist Adam Bryan. – Wes Marshall

Place To Discover Affordable Old World Wines

East End Wines

– Wes Marshall

Best New Bistro

Artisan Bistro

Authentic French food for the Lakeway and Bee Cave set. – Wes Marshall

Best Brisket in the History of the World

Franklin Barbecue

– Wes Marshall

Best Barbecue Sauce

TIE: The Salt Lick B-B-Q, R.O.'s Outpost B-B-Q

– Wes Marshall

Best Apple Tart

Artisan Bistro

– Wes Marshall

Best Apple Pie

Jalapeño Apple Crisp Pie From R.O.'s Outpost B-B-Q

Still matchless combo of cinnamon and jalapeño. – Wes Marshall

Best New Craft Cocktail

The great news is that there are so many we couldn’t list them. Austin is emerging as a cocktail capital. – Wes Marshall

Sexiest Bar

The Secret Bar at the W

A room so sexy you expect to see Grace Kelly curled around Cary Grant in the corner booth. – Wes Marshall

Best Meat Event of the Year

Live Fire! Beef Supremacy Over Flames

This event at the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival is undeniably heaven for carnivores. – Wes Marshall

Best Art Made With Food


Dishes at this duo are not your average plates. Expect to see tiny forest scenes, miniature gardens, and exquisite compositions of color and texture. – Claudia Alarcón

Best Thing To Happen to Far South Austin

Mi Tradicion

Now I don’t have to drive halfway across town for the best bolillos (and tortas) in town, plus real Mexican pastries, flaky empanadas, flan, and Mexican gelato. – Claudia Alarcón

Best Pork-Centric Party

Wine & Swine Pig Roast

Chefs from all over Central Texas came to the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival for the chance to cook a whole hog their way. The winners: us! – Claudia Alarcón

Most Underrated


Excellent food, drinks, and atmosphere, plus good happy hour deals on drinks and food. Thw only drawback is parking, but that’s not a strong enough reason not to try it. – Claudia Alarcón

Best Avocado Dish

Urban – An American Grill

Avocado tres leches cake with sundried tomato crème fraîche. Need I say more? – Claudia Alarcón

Best Dish at the ACL Food Court

Fried Chicken From Olivia

When I heard they were doing it I thought it impossible. After three days of eating it, I declared it the best idea ever. – Claudia Alarcón

Best Frozen Margarita

Guava Margaritas From Zandunga

These delectable tropical treats are a unique, powerful weapon against the summer – and a dangerously tasty one. Bet you can’t drink just one. – Claudia Alarcón

Best Football-Themed Cocktails

Vince Young Steakhouse

Using mostly Texas-based liquors and fresh seasonal ingredients, these thirst-quenching libations are amongst my new favorites. – Claudia Alarcón

Best Michelada


It’s all in the way it is handmade, from the rim-rubbing with real lime and carefully coating it with a shaking of salt to the house-made mix and an ice-cold beer. Bring it on, Austin summer! – Claudia Alarcón

Best Vegetarian Taco

Torta de Coliflor From Papalote Taco House

The recipe is one from owner Sergio Varela’s own mother. Deep-fried spiced cauliflower fritters wrapped inside a tortilla with cabbage, queso fresco, avocado, and zingy red chile salsa is so so good! – Rachel Feit

Best Tamales

Banana Leaf Tamales From the Gardener's Feast

I can’t get enough of the spiced shredded beef (tinga) or the chicken mole paired with dates and plantains and wrapped inside the Gardener’s Feast’s amazingly light masa. – Rachel Feit

Best New York Bagel

Wholy Bagel

OK, so the owner is from New Jersey, but he has still managed to make the best darn bagel anywhere in Austin. – Rachel Feit

Restaurant We Most Wish Were in Central Austin

For Central Austitites, trekking all the way to Cedar Park is a serious transit commitment. Thankfully, Noble Pig – with its homemade duck pastrami, house-cured pork belly, house-baked breads, and homemade condiments – is worth the trip. – Rachel Feit

Best Dining Alfresco

El Arbol

From the giant, shady oak tree and the great glowing globes hanging from its branches to the lively Latin American sounds pouring from the speakers, dining alfresco at El Arbol on a steamy summer night is pure decadence. – Rachel Feit

Best Restaurant To Try Pig’s Ears (or Something Like Them)

Most Creative Dessert Concepts

Second Bar + Kitchen

Imagine a succulent brownie speckled with smoked ganache and orange Pop Rocks, or an oatmeal cookie sandwich stuffed with foie gras buttercream – Second Bar + Kitchen's boldly go where few desserts have gone before. And they're downright delicious. – Rachel Feit

Best New Sweets Shop

La Pâtisserie by Luxe Sweets

La Pâtisserie transports you to the streets of Paris with its amazing buttercream-filled macarons, lemon madeleines, and finger-licking coffee éclairs. – Rachel Feit

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