New to Town
Downtown: West of Congress, North of Sixth
El Chilito Numero Dos (918 Congress, 291-3120, www.elchilito.com) is a little brother to the popular El Chile on Manor Road, which is famous for its tacos (especially San Antonio-style puffy tacos) and burritos. You can get them stuffed with all of the usual fillings, including orange-achiote pork and tortilla-crusted fried fish. Chips and salsa are $2.39, and for drinks, consider beer, sangria, espresso, aguas frescas, and soft drinks; fresh fruit paletas (frozen fruit pops) are also a plus. This location is open for breakfast and lunch only.
The Onion Late-Night Pizza (116 W. Fifth, 476-6466, www.onionbaby.com) is a slice-peddling pizzeria that's taking on the more established slice windows Downtown and garnering a good deal of acclaim with its pizza, calzones, salads, and pizza rolls.
24 Diner (600 N. Lamar, 472-5400, www.24diner.com) offers "chef-inspired comfort food," including breakfast served all day and treats like pork belly sandwiches, chicken and waffles, great burgers, meat loaf, pot pies, and copious sides. Prices are reasonable for the quality of the ingredients, and the portions are ample. There's a complete wine list, and you'll be sitting right next door to the best independent record store in the country.
Star Bar (600 W. Sixth, 477-8550) got a recent redo with lots of glass, leather banquettes, and a third patio. Drinks are the same as they ever were, with a reputation for being strong and a little on the pricey side (but shaker leftovers are passed along to you). It has really amped up the wine selections, including sparkling and half bottles. Food is from Ranch 616 next door: Order with your server, and Ranch will deliver it (think midpriced South Texas cuisine).
Emerald City Press' (915 N. Lamar, 472-6660, www.emeraldcitypress.com) sign advertises "Coffee, Flowers, News," but there's also drive-through and walk-up service and a small wi-fi patio. A hipster hangout conveniently located right across the street from Cheapo Discs, this place has a menu that includes bottled beers and wine, coffee and espresso, teas, Italian sodas, soft drinks, and agave lemonade. Prepared foods are procured from Austin's faves: Upper Crust pastries, tacos from Tacodeli, Ken's Donuts for holes and samosas, Hot Jumbo Bagels, pizza slices from East Side Pies, Austin Nuts, Butter's Brownies, Vosges Chocolates, fresh fruit, etc.
The Screaming Goat (900 W. 10th, 477-GOAT, www.thescreaminggoat.com) is famous for its flautas ahogados: flautas drowned in a thin red chile sauce and topped with cheese (like a taco and a semicrunchy enchilada and saucy soup all in one) and an assortment of fillings. This place follows the recent and blasphemous trend of charging for chips and salsa, but crowds in and out will be wolfing down tacos and burgers with the usual sides and washing everything down with ice-cold beer.
Sentelli's Bakery (814 W. 12th, 236-1720, www.austinsweets.com) is a collaboration of a team of bakers who have created desserts at some of the top hotels in town. Crowds go nuts for the kolaches, pastries, cakes by the slice, and now, excellent pizza by the slice or whole pies. Custom cakes are the main thrust here; the crowd pleasers are lagniappe. There's fresh-brewed coffee to balance the sweets. – Mick Vann