2010 Critics Picks
Best Fried Pie & Ice Cream Combo
TIE: Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue, Monument CaféToothsome apple slices encased in impossibly flaky pastry paired with burnt sugar caramel ice cream at the former and a hot, juicy blackberry turnover topped with a luxurious scoop of vanilla custard at the later are both sheer perfection.
Most Amazing Meat and Potatoes
Fried Chicken Worth Pulling Out of Traffic to Eat
Flying Falafel & Po-boysThe inviting aroma of Mama Haddad’s take-out fried chicken – tender and spicy under a crisp mahogany crust - makes you want to pull over and eat it right now!
Most Comforting Locavore Winter Bistro Meal
Texas French BreadWe started with a Salad Lyonnaise of fresh, local greens, house croutons, and lardoons topped with a glorious farm egg and finished with braised Thunderheart bison and winter root vegetables in a buttery crust, completely comforted.
Best Chicken-Fried Rib-eye
Best Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade/Limeade
Best Use of Sugar and Spice
Best Sweet Spicy Dessert
Mama RouxThe signature Tabasco Cheesecake here is subtle and delicate with a tantalizing chile tingle that tickles the tongue.
Most Amazing Flavors of Summer
Best Farmers’ Market Breakfast
Restaurant I’ll Miss the Most
Best Jazz & Juice
Best Lobster Grits
Most Critical Thinking About Drinking
Best Happy Hour Deal
Most Beautiful New View at the Lake
MizuThe food’s a bit pricey but the view is breathtaking. Take someone you love.
Favorite Indian Street Food
TIE: Teji, Bombay ExpressStart at Teji’s for the mixed vegetable pakoda, samosa chaat, and pani puri, then take a short drive south to Bombay Express for the excellent khasta kachori, fried idli, and the spicy paneer roll.
Most Succulent Chinese BBQ Roasted Meats
Best Spanish (meaning Spain) Sandwich
Longhorn Po-Boys & FalafelThe magnificent “Puerco Manchego”, made with roasted and pulled pork tenderloin, jamón serrano, Manchego cheese, green-apple slices, paprika aioli, sautéed shallots, and mesclun greens.
Favorite Reason to Slaughter a Pig
Bahn Mi to Beat All Bahn Mi
Transport Me to a Borough Pizza
Best (and Only) Hand-Shaved Noodles
Best Use of a Restaurant Garden
Madam Mam'sBecause most of the stuff that Sap and Mam grow in the vegetable and herb garden cannot be bought here (a cornucopia of Thai eggplants and chiles, herbs and spices like 5 different types of Thai basils, chaplu, and fresh galangal) the food tastes that much more authentic.
Best Locovore Experience
Attend any of the delicious and adventurous dinners staged by Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield of Dai Due Supper Club to find out what can be prepared with truly fresh and pristine local ingredients.
Best Way to Silence the Unctuous Lambs
Dimassi's Mediterranean BuffetAll-you-can-eat lamb shanks at DiMassi's – sure, it's a buffet, but there are piles of unctuous marrow-laden lamb shanks waiting to be scarfed. Lamb shanks, people!
Most Laid Back Italian Dining
Most Amazing Jingle Bell Pork
The Chinese Dish I Never Thought I’d Like
Best Under-the-Radar Hamburger
Favorite Snack on a Hot Afternoon
Spicy Peel and Eat Shrimp with Escabeche at Perla'sI love these jumbo shrimp tossed with homemade crunchy vegetable escabeche, washed down with a pint of beer, a glass of rosé, or the daily sparkling cocktail.
Favorite Hot and Crispy Snack
Dal Pups at Whip-InChandan "Mom" Topiwala won my heart with these addicting spicy patties of garbanzo, lentil, and select Whip-Indianized spices served with a tamarind-date-chili dipping sauce. Also great with a pint of beer or glass of rosé.
Summeriest Happy Hour Snack
Scallop carpaccio at AquarelleChef Leonard Reese came up with this beauty: paper-thin slices of sea scallop perched atop homemade orange granité, Thai chili slices, and chili oil. Ohhhhh.
Best Place for Your Bacon Fix
Most Succulent Pork Dish
The Carillon's crisp pork bellyCrisp on the outside, falling-apart juicy on the inside, with a sweet-spicy "Diablo" glaze and a crunchy Asian pear salad to balance it all out. Serious swine!
Best Nouvelle Torta
Pulled Pork Torta at Izzoz TacosSloooow roasted carnita-style pork, seasoned with ancho chile, served in a toasted bolillo with pickled slaw, red onions and chipotle aioli...oh, and those hand cut garlic fries!
Favorite Place to Hold Up the Bar
Favorite Non-Traditional Hot Dog
Buffalo Hottie at Man Bites DogVienna beef frank with blue cheese crumbles, buffalo wing sauce & green onions, lovingly set in a kolache-style bun...make that two, please!
Dish I Will Miss Forever
Picadinho de porco at Sampaio'sI miss so much about Sampaio's, but thinking about the picadinho makes me cry. Chef Johnny: send me the recipe, please!
Best Use of Chilis in a Cocktail
TIE: Good Knight, Paggi HouseMuddled pear and fresh jalapeño, pear brandy, mescal and sparkling wine make the Endless Summer; The Redbud features muddled mariachi peppers and sea salt, Tito's vodka, grapefruit bitters, house-made grenadine, and lime juice.
The Gibson LoungeThe Trailer burger at the Gibson rocks with a 1/4 pound patty topped with bacon and American or Swiss cheese sandwiched between Round Rock donuts. I kid you not!
The Roasted Banana and Brown Sugar milkshake at 24 DinerIt is Bananas Foster in a glass, topped with whipped cream, and yes, it will stun your brain, gloriously.
Best Greenbelt View
Best Post-Modern Retro Throwback Dessert Experience
The Flambe Cart at The HighBallWhen they wheel the Flambe Cart out, in all its polished wooden glory, you will feel like you are eating at a Vegas Casino in 1962. When the chef lights the brandy, your table is the center of the room; and the Highball’s Cherry Jubilee Bread Pudding is even better than the build-up.
Best Argument So Far for Living Foods
Beets Living Foods CafeWhile the idea of Living Foods is exciting, the reality can often be a jaw-exhausting pile of raw vegetables. Not so at BEETS, where the all-raw cuisine is delicious, memorable, and a pleasure to eat.
Best Classic French Pastries
La BoîteLa Boite was perceptive enough to grab Pastry Chef Extraordinaire Barrie Cullinan to provide their pastries. Cullinan takes Croissants, Pain au Chocolate, and Brioche to new levels of flaky perfection that must be experienced to be believed.
Best Place to Build Your Own Sandwich
The Chef is a Genius, the Ambiance is Perfect, But Have I Mentioned the Hassle-Free, Non-Valet Parking?
Best Eastern Mediterranean Dessert
Flying Falafel & Po-boysIt’s likely that minuscule Flying Falafel near campus is the only restaurant in town whose menu is a mashup of Jordanian dishes and New Orleans’ classics. It’s all fresh and flavorful, but one standout is the succulent pan-Eastern Mediterranean dessert called kanafeh, made from mild white cheese and crispy shredded phyllo, sprinkled with pistachios and soaked in sweet syrup. Heaven.
Best Housemade Frozen Custard
Outdoor Bar Space
Paggi House CLOSEDMichael Paggi, the Italian entrepreneur who first brought ice to Austin in the 1870s, is probably smiling down on the open-air bar in the courtyard of what was once his family home. Paggi House has been a restaurant since 1970, but the courtyard bar, revamped in 200?, is an incredibly pleasant venue under the stars, complete with trickling water sculpture over the old cistern. Oh, and the drinks are good, too.
Best New Regional Mexican Food (Trailer)
Most Satisfying Bowl of Polenta
Best Urban Grocery
Best Spicy Fish
House special crispy fish at Asia CafeIf you haven’t been to the Café at Asia Market yet, just go. Order the House special crispy fish-- chunks of crispy white fish in a fiery garlic and chili broth, atop lightly steamed bok choy—and you won’t be disappointed.
Best Place to See Your Food
Shrimp chilaquiles at Garrido'sThese chilaquiles are made with thick, homemade strips of tortilla, plenty of tender shrimp, then smothered with a tangy, creamy chili sauce. Original, yet oh so comforting.
Best Taqueria You've Never Heard of
Best Coconut Cream Pie
Best Place to be Seen
Best Recycling of an Arby’s Sign
Best Shaved Ice
The Mangonada at the Snow ConeThe ‘Mangonada’ is a mix of mango ice, fresh squeezed lime, tangy chamoy, and chile salt. It’s tongue-clacking and highly addictive.
European BistroThough Schnitzel has been handed down (after a fashion) to the modern-day Texan as our beloved Chicken-Fried Steak, the original German version of breaded cutlets is a culinary triumph of its own. European Bistro serves up the quintessential version of, not only Weinerschnitzel, but Chicken Schnitzel, Pork Schnitzel, and the heavenly Jaagerschnitzel, which comes to the table drowned in fresh mushroom gravy.
Curbside Cuisine Goes Big in Austin
Central and South America Arrive
Sushi Takes Over Austin
Cocktails: Drink Fresh