Pacific Rim & Caribbean
Satay, the Asian Cookery
3202 W. Anderson, 467-6731
Mon-Thu, 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm; Fri, 11am-2:30pm,
5-11pm; Sat, 5-11pm; Sun, noon-3:30pm, 5-10pm
Satay is indeed an Asian cookery, blending culinary influences from Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Phillippines. But as a Thai-owned operation, Foo Swasdee's Satay is both a popular restaurant and a successful line of Thai condiments and sauces. The pan-Asian eatery features curries, noodle dishes, stir-fries, dumplings, salads, and several varieties of the signature dish for which it's named, satays. Look for a pleasant happy hour during the week and lively Thai music on occasional weekends.
2400 E. Oltorf, 443-5282
Mon-Fri, 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm;
Sat, 6-10pm; Sun, noon-3pm
The food at this unassuming Indonesian eatery is so diverse and remarkable that the Chronicle critics named chef Johanes Mulja Di as one of Austin's two best chefs in its first year of business. The traditional Indonesian dishes presented here are perfectly seasoned, spicy, and full-flavored without being too fiery. The $4.95 weekday brunch buffet and $5.99 Sunday brunch buffet have to be two of the best bargains in the city.
Westlake Dr. & Hwy 360 in Davenport Village, 327-3332
Mon-Thu, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Fri, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-11pm; Sat, 5:30-11pm; Sun, 11am-3pm
Neighbors in the far West Austin area gladly welcomed the snazzy new Pacifica when it opened late this spring. The bar and dining rooms are some of the most attractive in Austin and the comfortable patio offers a pleasant view of the hills to the west and the dynamic 360 bridge. Chef Michael Neff's cooking style reflects the influence of several years spent in Hawaii before coming to Austin. His opening menu features dishes from around the Pacific Rim, artfully garnished in bright, rain-forest colors
Saba Blue Water Cafe
208-D W. Fourth, 478-7222
Mon, 11am-10pm; Tue, 11am-11pm; Wed-Fri, 11am-1am (bar till 2am); Sat, 5pm-1am (bar till 2am)
The Warehouse District crowd has really taken to the tapa-sized portions on the Saba menu that chef Larry Perdido describes as pan-Pacific/Caribbean. Look for bright island flavors and prices in the $6-12 range. This smartly designed spot is just the right place for a light lunch downtown or an inviting locale to gather the crowd to sample a variety of dishes for dinner and drinks. Friendly service and a very busy bar.
9120 N. I-35, 835-4447
Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm, 5-10pm; Sat-Sun, 5-10pm
Thai-Thai is the newest entry on Austin's Thai restaurant scene, having taken over the longtime Gunther's location on North I-35 early this year. The menu features the traditional dishes of Central Thailand, and its $4.99 lunch buffet offers such staples as pad thai and a variety of satays.
2712 Bee Caves Rd., 328-8888
Mon-Thu, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-9:30pm;
Fri, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Sat, 5:30-10pm
This spring, Bistro 88 took over the location that previously housed Chinatown and Pacific Moon in Rollingwood. The new venture continues the tradition of Asian cuisine but with a somewhat nontraditional menu. The offerings include some of the more popular Pacific Moon dishes, plus an array of continental meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian items blended with ingredients from around the Pacific Rim. The Bistro lunch menu is priced in the $6-12 range, an "early bird" dinner menu served from 5:30-6:30pm is in the $7-11 range, and dinner entrees vary from Domino Tofu ($10.95) to Rice Paper Wrapped Sea Bass ($19.95) and Rack of Lamb ($19.95).
Calabash Caribbean Restaurant & Bar
2015 Manor, 478-4857
Mon, 11am-3pm; Tue-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm
The five founders of Calabash craved the foods of their respective island homelands so much that they pooled their appetites and talents to create this inviting island getaway in the heart of Austin. Relax in dining rooms painted with sun-washed island colors or on the shaded patio. Sip a festive rum drink or an icy cold Red Stripe beer from the thatched-roofed bar while enjoying traditional dishes from Jamaica, Trinidad, and other Caribbean ports of call. Look for special dishes on "Heritage Nights" and occasional live music on the patio.
2728 S. Congress, 443-4252
Tue-Sat, noon-9pm; Sun, 4-10pm
It's impossible to miss the brightly painted Borinquen as you drive along Congress between Oltorf and Ben White. This friendly family-owned spot has the honor of being the only Puerto Rican restaurant in town, with a menu that includes such specialties as Cuban pork sandwiches, arroz con pollo, arroz con giandules, and a dreamy flan, plus other national delicacies. The service is hospitable, and if the weekend merengue music doesn't get you moving, you probably don't have a pulse.
2815 Guadalupe, 472-6264
Sun-Mon, 11am-midnight; Tue-Sat, 11am-2am
This island-themed restaurant and bar bills itself as "a slice of paradise," with a daily happy hour where complimentary Tequila Sunset shots are served when the sun goes down. Look for lots of indoor and outdoor recreational activities (surf movies, live concerts) complemented with daily drink promotions. Lunch prices start at $5.95 for things like jerk chicken salad, po' boys, and fish tacos, while the dinner menu offers such item as vegetarian jungle curry, baby back ribs, fried calamari, and chicken enchiladas.