Best Bites

The Cuisines Staff Noshes Through 2000

Lucky Dog
Lucky Dog (Photo By John Anderson)

Top 10 Ethnic Foods (in no particular order)

1. The Growth Spurt in New, Good Indian Food in town recently, with all different regions, styles, and flavors represented, as it should be. Swad and Little Bombay provide top-notch southern-style vegetarian, Clay Pit handles the upscale, yuppified version with aplomb, Sarovar the southern end for carnivores, and I can't wait to try the new Madras Pavilion.

2. There have been a few new ethnic food markets I've discovered lately. It's interesting to go to an Oriental market that isn't Vietnamese-owned, for example. The New Oriental Market (Korean) at Airport and Lamar is huge and has a great selection. Taj Market on Burnet Road is a superlative Indian market. K&S on Riverside is a small Japanese/Korean market with a nice selection and helpful staff. Asahi on West Loop is a customer-friendly Japanese grocer. The new Phoenicia on the south end of Burnet is outstanding -- hell, the old Phoenicia on South Lamar is wonderful, and has tons of stuff, from Near East and Middle East to Latin and South American. Say Hi on Burnet is a first-rate Thai market. Even if you plan on buying nothing, I'd encourage all you culinary freaks to cruise any or all of these spots to get a real feel for the food.

3. Austin Lurches Ever Closer to a Genuine Hot Dog, with the opening of Lucky Dog and the imminent opening of James' Coney Island. They aren't Gray's Papaya or Famous Nathan's, but they're sure not Der Weinerschnitzle either.

4. The Opening of Lemongrass at 1310 S. RR 620 (and their recent expansion) is a godsend for lovers of Southeast Asian cuisine. Chef Ped will gleefully cook anything from Cambodia, Laos, Burma, as well as their standard menu fare from Thailand with one day's notice. And after eating the real thing from Southeast Asia at the Foods of the World Conference at Greystone, made by some of the world's best in their respective cuisines, I can testify that Ped knows his stuff.

5. I hate to keep harping on this, but Java Noodles produces world-class Indonesian food at fantastic prices. I went to the incredible Sunday buffet last week to have my fix, and Johannes just keeps getting better and better. He and his wife are true masters of the art of Javanese cuisine. Expand your learning curve by going to the Sunday buffet to try an amazing assortment of different types of foods from the Spice Islands. And they've opened a new Indonesian market just up the hill that is small but growing.

6. Sallie's Down Home Cooking at 12th and Springdale serves up the best Southern-style soul food in Central Texas. One bite and you know that a big ole chunk of love went into the preparation of this chow. Huge portions and fair prices -- just don't even think about sitting in Sallie's easy chair. Sallie's resurrects the halcyon days of soul food fixins we enjoyed at the Southern Dinette and Brook's Tavern. Fabulous.

7. The Hot and Sour Soup With Fish and Shrimp at Twin Dragon is one of the best bowls of soup you can have in this city. A huge steaming cauldron of rich peppery stock, loaded with seafood and veggies and chunks of sweet, ripe pineapple, with rafts of herb leaves floating on the surface. The perfect brimming bowl of grub for an inclement nasty night or afternoon.

8. The Persian Cuisine at Chelo Kebab in Northcross Mall, right next to the ice skating rink. Most of Austin doesn't even know this place exists, but they produce excellent Persian kebabs and koreshes, or stews. The portions are huge, and easily big enough to share. The tastes are authentic and out of this world, and, if you haven't already, you really should try the food developed where civilization first began.

9. Osaka Sushi has some of the freshest, rawest, best fish in town -- impeccably fresh. The guys carving it up at the counter have the chatter and banter down pat, and offer up free treats to boost the tips. It's small and unassuming, but the food's what you go for at this happening sushi spot.

10. World Beat Cafe has imported the tasty and tantalizing cuisine of West Africa to West MLK. Great dishes (with groovy names like Jollof, Ugba, Egusi, and Fu Fu) done authentically at very reasonable prices. And if your dining companion isn't as adventurous, they can get a fine burger and a side of chili cheese fries for fewer than five bucks. More scrumptious international ethnic variety for Austin ... yeah!

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Mick Vann
Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine
Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine
Good things come in small packages

May 8, 2015

On the Cheap: Taquito Aviles
Taquito Aviles
Getting our goat on Braker

Feb. 20, 2015

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle