1992 Readers Poll
1992 Critics Picks
Best Anti-depressant

Basically, it's four shots of espresso and a shot of milk. Guaranteed to produce a pulse that will make you feel like you're living a life that's far more interesting than it really is. Combined with a brownie from Texas French Bread, it could very likely be a substitute to Prozac.

Captain Quackenbush's
5326 Menchaca Rd.

Best Bottled Spaghetti Sauce

It's the best you've ever poured out of a bottle. It's made here in Austin by Shabda Fresh Foods, the makers of Rose's Salsas. Each bottle contains lots of halved cloves of garlic and whole basil leaves and premium olive oil. The garlic cloves are specially cooked according to Patrick Timponi's mother's recipe so they're very mild, but very flavorful. It sells for $4.25 a bottle at supermarkets all over town. Try it with pizza or eggplant.

Best Cheap Breakfast

In Austin's "Taco Wars," the real winner is the consumer at all three Tamale House locations. Debating the relative merits of the breakfast tacos served at the Guadalupe stand near campus, the Airport Road location and the College Avenue restaurant off of South Congress is a moot argu-ment - all three are cheap and damn tasty - the migas with cheese at the Airport Road Tamale House have to be the winner in that category, with a serving so healthy that two folks can fill up on a single order.

Best Chicken Feet

Get the city's best chicken feet, duck feet and dumplings at Tien Hong's Dim Sum Feast - available weekends only from 11am-3pm.

Best Chicken Livers

The late Ken Threadgill's beer joint, founded in 1933, has become a popular country cooking restaurant, and a shrine to Austin's music scene under the ownership of Eddie Wilson. The chicken livers are a stand-out.

Best Comeback

This venerable barbecue establishment on E. 12th Street literally went up in flames last spring, but local and community support helped rebuild it and Sam's reopened for business early this summer. The smoky, spicy beef, chicken, sausage and mutton are as tasty ever - as delicious at two in the afternoon as they are at two in the morning. Unfortunately, the memorabilia - photos of longtime Sam's fan Stevie Ray Vaughan and other musical luminaries, auto-graphed paper plates, posters, laid in a crazy patchwork schematic across the joint's walls - burned to a crisp. Though the new place is bright and inviting, the memory of the old restaurant still brings a smile. But then, Sam's soul was always in its ribs ...

Sam's BBQ
2000 E. 12th

Photo by John Anderson

Best Donuts

If you drive by on Airport Blvd. at the right time, the scent of baking donuts woos you into this small, local bakery whose donuts are always fresh and tasty. The cake donuts have a dough that literally melts in your mouth, while the filled varieties are deliciously chewy. A perfect way to sate that sweet tooth.

Mrs. Johnson's Bakery
4909 Airport

Best Drive-thru Margarita

Where else can you drive your car up to the window and pull away happily slurping a frozen rita? (Shh...don't tell) It's the perfect Friday happy hour when you're not in the mood for crowds or that high-pitched scream of your blender.

Taco Fiesta
1206 W. Koenig

Best Immortalized Waitstaff

Red River Cafe may be best known for those obscene sunny side up eggs on its outside wall, but on the inside it holds a more respectable art. Oil Portraits of the Red River wait and kitchen staff cover the walls, and I'm no art critic but they're pretty good likenesses. Painted by Charlie Poston, an artist and resident cook, the portraits alleviate cafe boredom. I enjoy trying to match each waitperson to their picture - right down to the owner, and the breakfast tacos he holds in his hands.

Red River Cafe
2912 Medical Arts

Best Lunch Buffet

We can't identify anything beyond the sag paneer but when it tastes this great, who cares? Bargain hunters will hit the weekday lunch line when you can stuff to the gills for a mere $5.95. On weekends, the price jumps to $7.95 - still a steal for this real meal deal.

Taj Palace
6700 Middle Fiskville

Best Nostalgic Kid's Menu

Wahoo! Round up the little bucka-roos, and head on out for The Frisco, where the under-12 set can order "The Scout" (hamburger patty on an open toasted bun with french fries) or "The Ranger" (three large fried shrimp, cole slaw, french fries and tartar sauce). This menu is sure to bring back those old "Eating Out is Fun" memories of when you were a kid. Tofu and sprouts it ain't, but can you really see yourself ordering Junior a Weed'n'Seed special called "The Trail Boss"? Hmm ... thought not.

Best Okra

Dot's okra taught us to love that vegetable. Besides her awesome smoked roast beef, the chicken fried steak is classic. The best Southern cooking in town, at an incredible price - lunch will run you $4.46.

John Anderson

Best Organic BBQ

The only restaurant in Central Texas to serve certified hormone- and chemical-free barbecued beef. You can also get vegetarian black bean tacos here, but don't let the healthy stuff scare you away - Ruby's puts out a great plate of ribs and outstanding side orders. Located next to the legendary Antone's.

Best Pan Dulce

The pan dulces are ready, hot from the oven, around nine in the morning, or when the baker is finished. El Porvenir also features a diverse array of Mexican medicinal herbs.

El Porvenir Panaderia Y Yerberia
2217 Santa Rita

Best Place For A Warm Meal And Kind Words In North Austin

Nina's lays out a beautiful array of Moussaka, Pasticcio, Souvlaki and Dolmas. All you have to do is point and eat. As for the kind words, well, they're really more like sympathetic smiles for salary people on short leashes and shorter lunch hours.

Nina's Greek Food
5144 Balcones Woods

Best Place To Eat In Peace With The Toddler

The kid may not eat, but you can. They created a, what? 8' x 8', play area, say the size of another table space, threw a few toys in and voila, the only place in town I've been able to eat in peace in two-and-a-half years. Politically correct food, whimsical paintings, friendly wait staff. Now, if they put a changing table in their bathrooms...

Best Place To Get Kitschy Calendars

If you've ever pined for those calendars that feature lusty studs in Aztec get-up rescuing busty maidens in ersatz bikinis, or those flowery religious scenes with Mary and Jesus, or the classic "Orphans in the Storm," go no further that this excellent restaurant. The time to buy them is at the end of the year, of course, when the selection is well-stocked. And they make great stocking stuffers.

Best Place To Have Dinner In Your Bathing Suit

The cognoscenti arrive by water. We drive. Either way this dockside joint earns top honors in the relaxation department. Gorge on beer and battered fries while you critique the style of passing skiers (a great antidote to boat lust). Fine oldies jukebox makes the twilight timeless here. If Valium were a restaurant, this would be it.

Ski Shores Cafe
2905 Pearce

Best Place To Photograph Yourself Eating Ice Cream

Those old-time photo booths are no replacement for a heavenly sweet cream milk shake with fresh strawberries, but they are lots of fun ... and less fattening.

Amy's Ice Creams
1012 W. Sixth, 512/886-5737
3500 Guadalupe, 512/886-5933
2805 Bee Caves Rd. #416, 512/883-4187
10000 Research #140, 512/886-5955
AUS: Amy's Ice Creams, 3600 Presidential Blvd. #20, 512/530-2918
1301 S. Congress, 512/440-7488
4477 S. Lamar #790, 512/886-5998
13265 Hwy. 183 N., 512/918-2697
5624 Burnet Rd., 512/886-6153
9600 S. I-35 Ste. 400-C, 512/399-8030
12800 Galleria Cir. Ste G-150, Bee Cave, 512/262-9447
2901 S. Lamar, 512/447-2697
2002 Manor Rd., 512/551-8225

Best Taco With French Fries

We thought it sounded lousy too, until we tried one. And then another.

Joe's Bakery & Mexican Food
2305 E. Seventh

Photo by John Anderson

John Anderson

I Want Love, I Want Drugs, I Want Sex And Affection

If you go to Fonda San Miguel and drink two glasses of the house red and eat an order of chicken mole enchiladas, you will think you've had those things, at least for a little while.

Fonda San Miguel
2330 W. North Loop

Newest Place For Breakfast Tacos That Your Friends Won't Know About

This new place on South Congress serves fresh, hot breakfast tacos and great migas. As for the pig noises, well, there is a bakery and they do have ginger pigs, but the chewy little porkers aren't talking.

El Aguilla
5311 S. Congress

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