South

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Priced to please even the stingiest pho lovers, this place makes a lackluster travel schedule more tolerable with a swath of legit Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese dishes. Go bold with frog legs or flank steak two-yellow curry, or full comfort with one of a trillion noodle soups and vermicelli bowls. And yes, Becky, they make delicious shrimp fried rice and chicken pad thai, too.

2400 E. Oltorf Ste. 1-A
512/448-4722
888panasian.business.site/

Strip mall secret Asiana makes a mean dosa. And a goat curry that’ll leave you licking the bones. And a saag paneer so rich and creamy you could drink it out of a glass. Careful with that move though – you might get asked to leave before you can head back to the buffet for seconds.

801 E. William Cannon #205
512/445-3435
www.asianaindiancuisine.com

Owners Elena Sanguinetti (l) and her daughter Gladys Benitez   David Brendan Hall

This Argentine mother-daughter operation is churning out great coffees alongside savory arepas, sweet alfajores and other pastries, and addictive fried (or baked) empanadas. The chimichurri alone is worth a visit, but the fresh-squeezed juices deserve mention, too.

1700-A Montopolis
512/840-9066
www.cafenenai.com

Of course Austin would have a food trailer dedicated to the simplest of childhood pleasures: grilled cheese. But don’t expect the greasy, Velveeta-stuffed basics of your formative years. Between grilled chicken with pesto and provolone, and the classic tomato, basil, and mozzarella, this grilled cheese is all grown up.

440-F E. St. Elmo
512/256-4608
www.emojisgrilledcheese.com

Photo by John Anderson

We’re not going to discuss the San Antonio-Austin foodie debates, but we will be the bigger city and thank our South Texas neighbor for hosting the first iteration of Karam’s Tamales for more than 60 years. But they’re ours now. The eponymous menu items have a perfect ratio of filling to masa, and there’s also a dreamy guacamole tostada. We win.

7800 S. First
512/696-1373
www.karamstamales.com

Chef Deepa Shridhar designed her “low country Indian meets Hill Country Texan” menu using only local, seasonal ingredients. It changes often, but features dishes like spicy Caesar salad with sourdough roti churros, barbecue lamb dirty rice, and signature roti tacos, samosa pies, and naan croissants.

12521 Twin Creeks Rd.
Manchaca
www.puli-ra.com

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Photo by Jana Birchum

True to its namesake, this longtime stand dishes out (dare we claim) the very best tacos al pastor in town. Their succulent yet crispy red-tinged pork is so good that some of the Chronicle Food section writers have been known to battle I-35 rush-hour traffic for a taste.

1911 E. Riverside
512/442-8402
www.rositasalpastor.com

Soursop is the trap music of Austin food trucks, and it’s far too melodious and hype to be held down by its current food truck medium. This Pan-Asian nano-sized masterpiece is a sophisticatedly layered smash-hit of kick drum percussion and 808 bass samples like char siu pork belly, Thai chile sambal wings, kaeng kua barbecue sticky ribs, and the occasional salt/pepper chicken or cheesy lamb tots one-off. Grab a dead-cold Carl Kolsch inside hosting hot spot St. Elmo Brewery to complete the collab.

440 E. St. Elmo, Bldg. G-2
www.soursopaustin.com

Photo by John Anderson

Hidden near a South Austin mini-mall, Tuk Tuk makes some of the best Americanized Thai food in town. Try the smoky sweet panang curry and a couple of orders of their fabulously thin-skinned steam dumplings, with a Thai iced tea, of course, to wash it all down.

5517 Manchaca Rd.
512/326-1619
www.tuktukthaiaustin.com/#/

If Valentina’s doesn’t scream “puro Tejas,” we don’t know what does. From the handmade tortillas to the expertly smoked brisket, this food trailer-turned-restaurant is the epitome of Texas foodways. One Real Deal Holyfield and you’re fixed for the day – not that you’ll want to stop at one.

11500 Manchaca Rd.
512/221-4248
www.valentinastexmexbbq.com

Photo by John Anderson

 
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South Congress and South First

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