The Austin Chronicle

Five Good Places to Eat in Pflugerville? Easily.

Austin’s growing neighbor to the north gets cookin’ for real

By Wayne Alan Brenner, November 1, 2019, Food

Because Austin continues to grow in all directions and one of those directions is north, eventually you might make a left turn on some unfamiliar road or other and, suddenly, there you are: Pflugerville. It's not such a dismal situation as it used to be (regardless of what the Austin Lounge Liz­ards may have sung in the past), no matter the playful barbs still aimed at the rapidly growing suburb by those madcaps of Master Pancake Theater. In fact, even for a dedicated citizen of this sprawling hub we might call Adleropolis, a jaunt up Pfluger­ville way can be a bit of a treat. Yes, even for foodies.

Not even counting the bedroom community's chain-riddled shopping complex known as Stone Hill Town Center, with its In-N-Out Burger, Panda Express, Chili's, IHOP and so on – although note that the unique Vietnamese joint Broth & Basil boasts "Austin's only pho made with wagyu beef" – there are five places to know about when you're hungry or thirsty for something really good. There are two destination places definitely worth the drive just to eat there, and three you should know about if you happen to be in P-ville when hunger, as it does, strikes.

Taste of Ethiopia

1100 Grand Avenue Pkwy.,
It's not the only Ethiopian restaurant in Central Texas, no, but just the welcoming ambience of this tastefully appointed venue run by Woinee Mariam and her husband Solomon Hailu more than rewards any amount of travel time. And the food: delicate sambusas to whet your appetite, the sumptuous turmeric-spiced beef stew called Alicha Siga Wot, the vegetarian Tikil Gomen with its simmered-and-sauced cabbage, carrots, onions, and tomatoes, and all of it accessed with handfuls of spongy injera bread – especially when followed by traditionally brewed Ethiopian coffee, oh! – will make you wish you lived right next door for convenience's sake.

Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue

15608 Spring Hill Ln. #105,
Our friends at Texas Monthly added John Brotherton and Kelly Gerry's place to their Top 25 New Barbecue Joints this year, and we'll confirm that the 2011 culinary collaboration between a barbecue guru and a sandwich artist in a Pflugerville strip mall has transformed itself into an almighty powerhouse of meat-based cookery (and amazing sandwiches made therefrom) that can hold its own against the best ATX has to offer. Drive on up and know that we recommend, especially, the Brisket Grilled Cheese and the Brisket and Kimchi Bánh Mì. But, whatever you get, don't forget a side of that wasabi coleslaw.

El Rincon

200 E. Pecan St. #9, 512/990-0250
So there you are in Pflugerville. It's been some kinda day, oh Lord, and you're thinking, "I want some Tex-Mex, and I want it right now." Never mind heading back to Austin or up to Round Rock, just get you to the corner of Railroad and Pecan where you'll find this local bastion of homemade goodness, this rambling diner replete with the sort of enchiladas and tacos and migas and sopas y mas that you've learned to crave ever since you moved to the Lone Star State from Poughkeepsie or wherever. There's meat, there's cheese, there's beans, there's rice. The chips and salsa are fresh and delicious, the coffee is, at least, hot – what more do you need from a friendly, bustling joint that's become a local institution?

Iron Fish

900 E. Pecan St. #800, 512/670-2480,
What? Sushi in Pflugerville? Well, when you want it, you want it – and maybe you don't wanna drive your ass out of this burgeoning little burg to get it. Luckily, there's a place – just a hole in the wall, really, but a damned good-looking hole in the wall – that's near the Twin Liquors a couple doors away from H-E-B at the corner of Highway 685 and Pecan. Yeah: Another strip mall gem. ("Another Strip Mall Gem" would be the theme song of Pflugerville, if the city's chamber of commerce had any gumption.) Iron Fish's about-the-size-of-a-large-shipping-container interior tends to always be busy, but that's partly due to the quality of the sushi, the grilled meats, the gyoza (my wife insisted I mention these; they're done just right), the miso soup, the sake, ah, the whole suburban Japanese American izakaya experience of it. And everything accompanied by a piped-in soundtrack of smooth-jazzy female-vocal versions of classic rock & roll, just (it seems) to disrupt whatever definition of "suave" you might have internalized in your youth.

West Pecan Coffee + Beer

100 W. Pecan St., 512/551-3471,
Been a long time comin', and now – in addition to that excellent Dazzle drive-through that's been serving up to-go java for years – P-ville's finally got a coffee shop that's kind of like the coffee shops that Austin's well-caffeinated hipsters are used to ... except without the hipsters. This elegantly designed (highly Instagrammable), community-forward venue, opened by Mary and Josh Foss in April of 2018, has an impressive array of coffee drinks and brewing methods to complement their fresh-baked bready noms, a rotation of seven local craft beers on tap, and – yes! – a selection of ciders and meads. Serving suggestion: It's the perfect place to grab a cuppa joe before going to stroll among the diverse bounty of plant life at that Green 'n Growing nursery right down the street.

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