2004 Readers Poll
2004 Critics Picks
Best Bite of New Orleans

I know VBW has food locked in but this bunch of New Orleans-raised folks flipped over their hot roast beef pobobys, made the right way - they even ask if you want it "dressed," N.O. lingo for "all the way." Smothered pork chops, fried chicken, boudin, jambalaya ... it's all good! Going during lunch? There's likely to be some some jazz to add a little spice to your meal. Hey babe, call me on this to confer. I'm also going to do Queen Lola's right up the street which is NO cuisine. Good deal! 1209 East 11th Street Austin, Texas 78702 512-477-6600

Best Brunch Setting

This is, bar none, the most exquisite place to have brunch. There is no better eggs Benedict in town. There is no better muesli (a cold cereal with oats, cream, nuts, and apples) anywhere – it's chef Elmar Prambs' little gift to us from his German childhood. Sit outside on the patio on one of our town's patented perfect April mornings and at least for the moment, nothing is wrong in the world. On a very special occasion, skip the regular menu and order the Sunday brunch buffet: a treat that at $40 per person mayleave you light in the wallet, but heavy on the heaven.

TRIO at the Four Seasons
98 San Jacinto

photo by John Anderson

Best Burger, Fries and R.C. Cola for 2 Bucks and Change

Alonzo's location on Airport boasts the cheapest breakfast tacos in town, barbacoa, beef fajitas, and some of the oddest hours in the business (6:20am-1:45pm, anyone?). Yet when you find yourself at the order window in this old-school curbside eatery, the meal to beat is the "Johnny Boy" combo - a suprisingly hefty hamburger, fries, and soda for $1.99. Get there right when lunch starts at 11am to beat the crowd.

Best Coolest Snow Cones

The heat index must be around 200 degrees, sweat is pouring down your face as you ride your bike down South Lamar. What are those people doing in that line of umbrellas? They are waiting to cool off with some of the tastiest snow cones ever to stain a pair of lips or new white T-shirt (if you’re clumsy like we are). Go ahead, pull over, grab some shade and decide on a flavor ... we know, easier said than done, which is why we suggest mixing a few of your favorites. Your mouth will thank you.

801 Barton Springs Rd.
3402 Guadalupe St.

Photo by John Anderson

Best Display of Chinese Roast Duck

MAX promises he will do this so... HOLD FOR MAX or he is a Ded Duck!!!

Din Ho Chinese BBQ
8557 Research #116

Best Houston Transplant

Isn't it funny how the Mexican food can be so-o-o different in another Texas town? Welcome Berryhill Baja Grill, a Houston restaurant that recently expanded to Austin. From their dining room enjoy a killer view of the hills along with their signature homemade tamales and yummy fish tacos with tempura breading. This same delectable tempura encases the kids' chicken tenders. Lord knows (or at least families with kids know), we need restaurants with a new take on chicken tenders.

Best New Fish Takeout

Poised to make a big splash as soon as its neighbor (the newly remodeled Carver Library) opens, this small takeout on Rosewood serves some of the best seafood in a town lacking in good, affordable oceanic options. The fare here is fried, but batters consist of a delicate cornmeal. The fish is fresh, flaky, and full o' flavor, and the hearty shrimp dinner feast includes generous portions of fries, hushpups, and sweet coleslaw. To round it all out, take a stab at the sock-it-to-me cake and their summer-quenching drink concoctions – basically batches of Kool-Aid-type mixes blended together for a satisfying sweet-tooth tang.

1401 Rosewood, 322-9777

Best Phoenix From the Ashes

Fire in the hole! This über-relaxed West Campus bar suffered a tragic loss from an electrical blaze, which started in, of all places, the loo. Not only did this fluke of potty pyrotechnics rack up around $350,000 in damages, but it caused the cancellation of the ever-so-popular Free Pool Monday. What's a pledge to do? Fortunately, just as students were beginning to think their friendly, neighborhood, within-walking-distance hangout was done for, Cain & Abel's ably came back and had things cranked to their usual full-throttle by the end of the week. No doubt does this incredible resurrection (not to mention the composure maintained by all the devoted boys and girls) deserve a "Best of Austin" pick.

Cain & Abel's
2313 Rio Grande

Best Pizza Most Worthy of Its Name

Okay, the proprietors are from Boston, not New York. But this is still the only pizza in town that comes close to the slice you remember getting in NYC. Besides the so-good cheese slice and all the usual topping choices, they have an incredible feta and spinach pie, as well as a pie with gyro meat (gyro sauce served on the side for dipping!). For Pete's sake, enough with the imitators. Get the real thing! Calzones, gyro wraps, buffalo wings, and salads, too (the homemade Greek salad dressing is a must-try).

Yaghi's Pizza
12400 Hwy. 71 W. #510
Bee Cave

Best Place to be a Faux Vegetarian

You eat meat. Lots of meat. But today, your vegetarian friend is dragging you to Wheatsville because she says, "You have to try their Southern-Fried Tofu! It's absolutely the best thing you'll ever put in your mouth! C'mon, lunch is on me!" You think, "Tofu ... isn't that a type of couch/bed?" Of course you go because carnivores are loyal friends (and she's buying). You bite into the well-constructed sandwich containing the soy-based patty. It's delicious! Feelings of joy and shame well up in your meat-eating maw. Will your soul ever find peace in a world segregated into those who eat flesh and those who do not? Yes, and you shall be named Faux Vegetarian! And there's no better place to be a faux vegetarian than Wheatsville Co-op. Offering everything from pasta salads to tacos to smoothies to pizzas, Wheatsville's deli caters to everyone – veg and not. Most of their food is vegetarian, but they have something for everyone. Trust us: Try it all, the baked goods especially (mmmmmmm, the Cloud Nine Bar). While it might not make that "Meat Is Murder" bumper sticker jump onto your car, you'll no longer be turning down free vegetarian chili. Heck, who knows, maybe next lunch is on you!

Wheatsville Food Co-op
3101 Guadalupe, 512/478-2667
4001 S. Lamar, 512/814-2888

photo by John Anderson

Best Place to Be Treated to Lunch

For the fortunate ones out there with a sugah daddy/mama or for those finally cashing in on that longstanding promise to "do lunch," La Traviata should top the list when suggesting desirable afternoon dining spots. The atmosphere at La Trav speaks gently of European grace, as do the extensive wine menu and ample, yet not overwhelming portions of delightful, traditional trattoria cuisine. If the sound of Calamaria Puttanesca Pasta, Panini With Prosciutto, or Seared Salmon Salad tantalizes, prepare for the taste to exceed expectations. Go on, don’t be afraid to ask ... nay, insist on giving over to pleasure! After all, you’re worth more than the average, everyday cheese enchilada.

La Traviata Italian Bistro
314 Congress

Best Place to Enjoy Warm Salsa in a Dingy Strip Center

Tucked away in a dingy strip center at Stassney and Emerald Forest lies this little treasure. It may be small in size (seven tables), but it's bursting at the seams with flavor and hospitality. The migas are divine, and they serve a delicious warm salsa with their chips. BYOB for all you vaqueros who like a beer with your carne guisada.

Cilantro's Mexican Restaurant
1025 W. Stassney #103

Best Reason Not to Grind Your Own White & Blue Corn Tortillas

A few short months ago Central Market on North Lamar started making white corn tortillas so good you can eat them out of the package (not hard, stiff, or tasteless). Not long after, blue corn tortillas appeared on the shelf. They've already added fat-free, butter, and no-fat varieties, besides the traditional whole wheat and Southwestern flavors. Now if they would only bring them to the Westgate location ...

Central Market North
4001 N. Lamar

Best Slacker Coffee Shop

Who in the hell are these people? No seriously? 3pm and they’re still out there in their flip-flops and ratty T-shirts reading the paper, playing guitar, writing poetry, and debating philosophy with passersby. Have they no shame? Don’t they have to be at work? Don’t they have jobs? Most importantly, how can they afford the coffee? Existential questions like these apparently can only be answered over the long course of a weekday afternoon nursing a double espresso and noshing on a tasty pastry, reasonably priced at $1.99 and $1.49 respectively, but not exactly free. Both are served up by employees who look like they stayed up way later than you and with cooler people. Don't stress. They ain't trying to impress. Quack's has been serving slackers so long it was only a matter of time before the served became the servers.

Quack's 43rd Street Bakery
411 E. 43rd

Best Sustainable and Delicious Business

David Ansel is a man with amazing hair, none of which you will ever find in his equally amazing soups. Ansel started out a couple of years ago with about two cents and an idea: Make delicious (mostly vegetarian) soup and deliver it by bicycle to a small list of subscribers. He was an instant hit, and his business has grown from home kitchen to borrowed industrial kitchens to his very own location at the corner of Mary & South First. He is living proof that we can have sustainable businesses that are green-friendly and profitable, financially and spiritually, at the same time.

The Soup Peddler
501 W. Mary, 512/373-7672
2801 S. Lamar, 512/444-7687
13219 Hwy. 183 N.

Most Delicious Bobó de Camarão

While the words literally translate to "Crazy for shrimp!," for those who haven't mastered Baiana culinary lingo, that means "Yuca and Shrimp." Not just yuca and shrimp, though. We're talking about a creamy tomato sauce, onions, peppers, and spices galore swimming in a bowl fit for a king. Palates scream for this stuff, and stomachs growl. Sampaio’s Brazilian/Tex-Mex menu brims over with choices that would sate the pickiest eater. Mmmmmm, Magic Butter. One word of caution: That fabulously strong coffee could keep a 300-pound man up for days. But it’s worth it.

Critics: Entertainment
Critics: Kids

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