Second Helpings: Water's Edge

Austin's Pacific Rim and Caribbean restaurants in this week's Second Helpings.


The weekly Chronicle feature "Second Helpings" offers readers the opportunity to sample tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were updated by Chronicle Cuisines Editor Virginia B. Wood from an original publication date of July 9, 1999. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.

Satay, the Asian Cookery

3202 W. Anderson Lane, 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 Philippines. But as a Thai-owned operation, Dr. 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. Check out the Sunday brunches where the buffet is all vegetarian on the first and third Sundays of each month.

Java Noodles

2400 E. Oltorf, 443-5282

Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm, 5-10pm; Sat, 6-10pm; Sun, noon-3pm

The food at the 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 Java's 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. The owners have also opened the new Java Market retail store a couple doors down from the restaurant.

Saba Blue Water Cafe

208-D W. Fourth, 478-7222

Mon-Fri, 4pm-2am; Sat, 5pm-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 to $12 range. This smartly designed spot is an inviting locale to gather the crowd to sample a variety of dishes for dinner and drinks. Friendly service and a very busy bar. We hear the new Saba outlet in downtown Houston is packing them in.

Bistro 88

2712 Bee Caves Road, 328-8888

Mon-Thu, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-9:30pm; Fri, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Sat, 5:30-10pm; Sun, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-9pm

Bistro 88 took over the former Chinatown and Pacific Moon location in Rollingwood this spring, featuring a somewhat nontraditional Asian 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. Their bistro lunch menu is priced in the range of $6 to $12, there is an "early bird" dinner menu served from 5:30 to 6:30 in the $7 to $11 range, and dinner entrées 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

Tue-Thu, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm

The five founders of Calabash craved the foods of their respective island homelands, so they pooled their appetites and talents to create this inviting island getaway in the heart of Austin. Relax on the shaded patio or in dining rooms painted with sun-washed island colors. 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 join in with the karaoke on Wednesday nights till midnight.

Borinquen

2728 S. Congress, 443-4252

Wed-Fri, 3-9pm; Sat, 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.

Gilligan's

407 Colorado, 474-7474

Mon-Thu, 5-10pm; Fri-Sat, 5-11pm; Sun, 5-9:30pm

This has long been one of our favorite places to be marooned at dinnertime. Piano music in the background, a very convivial bar crowd, and chef Fred Geesin's tasty seafood creations attract everyone from the Skipper and Mary Ann to downtown business types. Geesin's brightly colored sauces and enticing condiments are awash in Floribbean flavors that complement his grilled seafood offerings perfectly.

Cafe Josie

1200 W. Sixth, 322-9226

Tue-Fri, 11:30am-2pm, 6-10pm; Sat, 6-10pm

Homegrown chef/owner Charles Mayes has built up quite a loyal following at this cozy West Austin neighborhood joint. When the weather is mild, it's possible to enjoy his light and healthy island-inspired cuisine on the lovely little secluded patio. The small dining room is also a comfortable spot in which to feast on plump crab cakes, flavorful rice pilaf, and delicious grilled fish with fiery fruit salsas.

Bahama Breeze

9505 Stonelake Blvd., 345-9979

Sun-Tue, 4pm-midnight; Wed-Sat, 4pm-1am

This far northwest watering hole has become quite a popular spot in just less than a year. The menu boasts several authentic Caribbean dishes (conch chowder, jerk chicken, Cuban sandwiches, ropa vieja, fried tostones) as well as a large selection of American fare with definite tropical influences. They feature festive island beverages sure to soothe even the most rakish pirate and a huge selection of bottled beers from all over the Caribbean in addition to fresh-squeezed lemonade.

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