FIRST PLATES 2016

North and Northwest

John Anderson

Din Ho Chinese BBQ

You know your restaurant offers something special when Austinites are willing to brave the journey from south to north just for a taste of the roast duck. Din Ho doesn’t have a hip interior or a trendy craft cocktail program, but none of that matters when your eyes are rolling back in your head.

8557 Research #116, 512/832-8788

John Anderson

Fork & Vine

When we think of neighborhood restaurants, we usually think of dives. Chef Camden Stuerzenberger proves they can be sophisticated with hearty dishes that blend country club classicism (fried oysters, shrimp cocktail) with a global palate (shrimp & grits with a vanilla beurre blanc). The wine list is one of the best in the city.

3010 W. Anderson, 512/489-7000

John Anderson

Garbo's Fresh Maine Lobster

With New England seafood flown in daily, and options for Maine- or Connecticut-style lobster rolls, the brick-and-mortar version of the popular food truck fleet is the flagship of a mini Third Coast empire. Try the delectable smoked fish dip served in mason jars with house pickles and the fish & chips made to perfection.

14735 Bratton, 512/350-9814

John Anderson

Greenhouse Craft Food

Who says that the ’burbs can’t have good food? Chef Rob Snow’s eclectic cafe brings the foodie gospel up north with serious sandwiches and burgers, locally sourced salads, and one of the best macaroni & cheeses in all of Central Texas. Don’t forget to check out the specials, ranging from grilled shrimp in strawberry cocktail sauce to goat bolognese.

1400 E. Old Settlers #110, Round Rock

John Anderson

Jack Allen's Kitchen Round Rock

Chef Jack Gilmore’s locally sourced menu is about as Texan as it gets: hearty portions of comfort food jam-packed with big flavor, served in a sophisticated boots-and-starched-denim setting. Tacos, buns, grillin’s, and chicken-fried anything makes up the bulk of the menu, with surf, turf, and daily specials giving something for everyone in the family.

2500 Hoppe Trail, Round Rock

John Anderson

Kin & Comfort

The digs aren’t fancy (it’s a grocery store food court after all), but chef Ek Timrerk’s confident blend of Thai and Southern cuisines defies location. Dishes like the panang mac & cheese and the Thai meat loaf could work in the finest of dining rooms. Get them now while they are still a bargain.

1700 W. Parmer #100, 512/832-7870

John Anderson

Ramen Tatsu-Ya

One can’t go wrong with the Tonkotsu Original, but if you really wanna get your lip-smackin’ slurp on, get the Tsukemen – each dredge of noodles into the side of condensed pork-bone dipping broth is pure pleasure. The now very popular hashtag, #RTYslurp, says it all.

8557 Research #126

John Anderson

Saffron

Austin’s first dedicated Nepalese menu lives in a West Austin strip mall. Himalayan cuisine encompasses various regional Indian dishes, plenty of wonderful vegetarian options, and a Chinese influence. Mouthwatering tandoori dishes are equally matched by their samosa and chow mein counterparts, but we’re simply obsessed with the gobi Manchurian and the rosemary & cheese naan.

3616 Far West Blvd., 512/241-1732

John Anderson

Tâm Deli & Cafe

Folks in the know talk about Tâm’s bánh mì with whispered reverence. It’s easy to see why. The pork has just the right amount of char, the baguette has just the right amount of chew, and the toppings are always garden fresh. Oh, and there’s those cream puffs too. They sell out daily but still seem like Austin’s best-kept secret.

8222 N. Lamar Ste. D-33, 512/834-6458

John Anderson

Thai-Kun

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of this kitchen. Chef Thai Changthong makes no concessions to milder palates in incendiary dishes like papaya salad and Chinese broccoli, but the flavor is never dulled in the rush of endorphins. If it gets too darn hot, no worries, you can always cool down with one of their inventive saké cocktails.

11601 Rock Rose #100

PHOTO BY JOHN ANDERSON

Xian Sushi and Noodle

We have to admit: We rarely order the ultra-fresh sushi because it’s all about the hand-pulled Chinese noodles at this pan-Asian eatery. Served dry (stir-fried and saucy) or soupy, the strands are pulled to order (you choose the shape and thickness). The incomparable texture of the noodles, fragrant broth, and complimentary fermented black vinegar and chile oil have elevated the shoyu ramen to cult status.

1801 E. 51st, 512/469-7878
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