The gently rolling ranch land that once graced the edges of South Austin has given way to serious development in the past few years. The rural South Park Meadows music venue is now a gigantic shopping center, chock full of big box stores plus local and regional chain restaurants. Strip malls have proliferated along busy William Cannon Drive, Slaughter, and Brodie lanes, and there are no real fine dining options yet in this neck of the woods. However, it's possible to find some delicious hidden gems in the malls and parking lots, if you just know where to look. – Virginia B. Wood

Evangeline Cafe

The standard to beat for Cajun/Creole cuisine, served with gusto and a smile in a truly funky, neighborhood environment. Traditional dishes mingle with Curtis Clarke's tasty creations in a menu that has something for everyone. Add cold beer and live music, and you can bet the good times will roll. – Claudia Alarcón

8106 Brodie, 512/282-2586

Hill's Cafe

After a few changes of ownership and fires, the South Austin icon lives thanks to restaurant rescuers the Winstanley brothers. The menu includes a pretty good burger and other traditional Southern specialties, in an atmosphere that screams Texas honky-tonk. Enjoy a cold one on the patio while listening to local music. – Claudia Alarcón

4700 S. Congress, 512/851-9300

Mi Tradicion

Although the name has changed, Chuy Guevara still makes the finest pan dulce and authentic antojitos in Austin. The bakery side boasts a huge selection of Mexican pastries, including seasonal offerings like pan de muerto and gelato in tropical flavors. On the savory side, try one of their huge tortas with the works. – Claudia Alarcón

801 E. William Cannon #125, 512/445-9128

Rosita's Al Pastor

One of the pioneers of the food truck craze, this East Riverside hole-in-the-wall specializes in tacos al pastor, made the proper way on a traditional trompo rotisserie. The brick-and-mortar location has an ample menu, but the star attraction is the late-night tacos sold from the trailer in the parking lot. – Claudia Alarcón

1911 E. Riverside Dr.

Sap's Fine Thai Cuisine

After Mam and Sap Apisaksiri divorced in 2012, their Westgate restaurant came into Sap's hands. Although there were changes, they were definitely all good. Expect many of the old favorites, like the addictively spicy num tok, plus signature dishes of Sap's creation and other obscure Thai dishes found nowhere else in town. – Claudia Alarcón

4514 West Gate Blvd., 512/899-8525

Satellite...Eat. Drink. Orbit.

This Southwest neighborhood oasis serves lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. The varied, hard to define menu spans from tuna tartare to lettuce wraps, sandwiches and salads, and above-average stir fry, pastas, fish, and meat entrées with international influences. The cocktail lounge is a popular spot, showcasing live jazz. – Claudia Alarcón

5900 Slaughter #400, 512/288-9994

Tortilleria Rio Grande #2

Customers – including chefs from other restaurants – line up to buy the freshly made corn and flour tortillas, but also crowd the tiny space for items such as tacos and gorditas filled with homestyle guisados like pork with nopalitos in an earthy guajillo sauce. Speaking of sauce – make sure to take home one of their excellent salsas. – Claudia Alarcón

500 W. William Cannon Drive, 512/326-1341
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