WTF, Austin Eater?

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight stories about Obama visiting Franklin Barbecue.

Really. Couldn’t this have been covered in one, possibly two, entries?

Edited to add: Nine!

Edited to add 7/14: I’m going to call this one nine and a half, since it is an Austin Eater item, but links to a KUT interview.

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Opening: SLAB BBQ to Open in Old Texas Rib Kings Space

SLAB BBQ will be opening their first brick and mortar store where Texas Rib Kings used to be at Burnet & 183.

Food trailer SLAB BBQ will open its first brick-and-mortar location in mid-summer in North Austin.

Co-owner Mark Avalos said the permanent location will allow the business to grow its catering services. SLAB BBQ already operates a food trailer that frequents North Austin, and its new location will be in the former Texas Rib Kings spot at 9012 Research Blvd., Ste. C-4.

North Austin can always use more BBQ places…

Posted in Barbecue, Opening | 2 Comments

Das Cafe Ist Kaput

Following on Dwight’s lament about a lack of German places in Austin, someone mentioned Das Cafe in Pflugerville, which we were going to try at this weekend’s SDC.

Alas, it was not to be. When I called to ask about their hours, they told me they were closing this week for good. (According to a post on Yelp, it’s because the owner had a baby, so I suppose it’s a reasonably happy ending for a restaurant.)

(The headline is slightly misleading, since I think they’re closing on Friday, but I couldn’t resist the headline…)

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Something to talk about, part 2: what do you miss?

Question number two from dinner last night: what Austin restaurants do you miss?

I’ll start:

  • This isn’t really fair, as the restaurant still exists and there’s continuity. But I miss the original Gumbo’s/Yoli’s Jambalaya/Mama Roux. It may be more fair to say that I miss Yoli and Michael.
  • There was a place on North Lamar, between Rundberg and Parmer, called Captain Tom’s (something or other) that did North Carolina style barbecue. I loved that place; I ate there at least once a week when they were open. Ross’ Old Austin Cafe is there now.
  • There was another place on 6th Street that I didn’t eat at very often, but would go to with friends of mine; they had 2 for 1 chicken fried steak on Tuesday night, and my friend RoadRich would always get a homemade cherry Coke. (This was back before Coca-Cola bottled cherry Coke.) I think it was right at that 6th and Guadalupe corner, but I can’t recall the name. I know it was a sushi place for a while, and I think a French place as well…
  • The Filling Station, when it was good. Mostly for Clyde’s Birthday Party.
  • Lawrence suggested the original Night Hawk Steakhouse at 290 and I-35, where Texas Land and Cattle is now.
  • There was an Italian buffet place called Valentino’s that went through two locations on Burnet. I’m not sure if I’d call it good, but it was reasonably priced for our budgets at the time.
  • Lone Star Cafe, when it was good.
  • The Alvin Ord’s chain of sandwich shops.
  • I kind of miss the Thai Kitchen off of William Cannon, but I don’t go down that way much any more. And there is some continuity with the one on Guadalupe, so again, I’m not sure that counts.
  • I sort of miss The Old Spaghetti Warehouse. But what I really mean by that is I miss the old Old Spaghetti Warehouse that I first went to as a little kid, where you could get spaghetti with cheese sauce or with a mushroom butter sauce or both combined, and they had really good bread and where I had my first expresso. The Old Spaghetti Warehouse in Austin went fairly far downhill over the years, plus parking was a b—ch, and I wasn’t that sorry to see it go. (And even the one in Houston doesn’t have the cheese sauce or mushrooms and butter any more.)
  • There was a place in the strip center at the corner of Anderson and Lamar that I think was called Asian Restaurant. (Not to be confused with Asia Restaurant on Ben White.) They had really good spring rolls, several excellent squid dishes, and literally the best hot and sour soup I have ever had in my life. That stuff would heal the sick and raise the dead; I know because I often went there when I was sick for a restorative bowl of soup. I haven’t found a soup nearly as good in Austin in many years of looking.
  • Tien Hong.
  • The Pao’s Mandarin House that was downtown, in what I think was the old Lamar Savings headquarters. I’m happy the one in Lakeway is still there.

Edited to add 5/6: my mother reminded me of the old Magic Time Machine on Riverside (where Joe’s Crab Shack is now). I remember eating there on one of visits up here before I started going to UT, and I think I may have gone there once while I was in school. I know a lot of people have fond memories of it. My mother and I took a couple of nieces and nephews to the one in San Antonio a couple of years ago, and, well…nostalgia is a moron, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Posted in Closed, Meta | 11 Comments

Something to talk about, part 1: what’s missing in Austin?

Over dinner last night, Lawrence brought up a couple of questions. It occurred to me that these might be interesting for open discussion. So, question #1: what type or style of food is missing in Austin?

Some thoughts:

  • There’s no German food within the Austin city limits. I mean, I like Walburg, but let’s face it, that’s a bit of drive from most of Austin.
  • No Afghan food, as far as I know.
  • No Himalayan food, either.
  • And no Serbia-Croation/Bosnian places, either, which makes observing Gavrilo Princip Day tough: I don’t think I can talk people into driving to Houston.
  • There are plenty of Japanese places of one sort or another, but there’s probably at least one style of Japanese cooking we’re missing.
  • ETA: Austin has plenty of Italian places, but we don’t have what I’d call a “spaghetti house”, like The Old Spaghetti Factory in Boise (now sadly closed, and yes, I know they are a chain) or The Old Spaghetti Warehouse. That’s another post…
  • We don’t have any kind of Polynesian or tiki place. Of course, that’s not unusual: even the Trader Vic’s in Dallas has been closed for years.

That’s all I can remember from our conversation. I’m sure Lawrence can add some more. Any thoughts from our readers?

Posted in Meta | 3 Comments

More tales from the police blotter.

You may have heard of Damian Mandola. He and his nephew Johnny Carrabba have had cooking shows on PBS. The Mandola family are prominent restaurant operators, and the Carrabba’s chain was founded by Johnny and Damian. Damian also has a local chain, “Mandola’s Italian Market”, that I kind of like, and a higher-end Italian place in Driftwood closer to the Salt Lick, Trattoria Lisina.

Damian Mandola is also at the center of one of the more interesting local crime stories I’ve seen in a while.

The story starts on Thursday. Local law enforcement responded to a report of someone driving a golf cart erratically in the area of Trattoria Lisina. This led to Damian being taken into custody and charged with burglary; specifically, he is alleged to have broken into a building at the Dutchman Family Winery (which is next to Lisina but not owned by Damian) and stolen some wine. Other reports I’ve seen put the amount stolen at one or two bottles, which is odd; if he just wanted a couple of bottles of wine, surely Lisina would have that on hand?

So this is already odd enough. But I was talking about the story with my mother this morning, went to look up the press reports, and…

Damian Mandola was arrested again last night, after putting up bail on the burglary charge. This time, the charges are assault with a deadly weapon and “criminal mischief”.

There’s not a whole lot of detail so far about the sequence of events, and I haven’t seen any reporting except for brief stories in the Statesman and HouChron. It is worth repeating that these are just charges, and Mr. Mandola deserves the presumption of innocence. On the other hand, I doubt the Hays County Sheriff’s Office goes around picking up prominent business owners for no reason. And an ADW charge implies both that there was an assault, and the assault victim could identify their attacker (or that there was other physical evidence tying someone to the attack).

This is a darn shame. I really do like Damian’s ventures other than Carrabba’s. (I also like Carrabba’s, but I don’t think he or anyone else from the family is involved in managing it any longer.)

It is sad and odd and I hope it gets straightened out for the better.

(Crossposted from WCD.)

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North Verona Ristorante Italiano Closed

According to a Yelp reviewer and Google Maps, the north location of Verona Ristorante Italiano closed late last year. (The south location still seems to be open, and they’ve done a half-assed scrubbing of mentions of the north location off their website.)

A pity, since they were a pretty good Italian place.

That strip between Middle Fiskville and I-35 really seems to be a cursed as far as restaurants surviving there goes, and I don’t think anyplace except the Korean/Sushi joint that keeps changing names has made a go of it since the Bookstop closed.

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Flipnotics Closing Effective Tonight

I know it’s old news, and from the Austin Chronicle, no less. And since I’m not a coffee drinker, it’s not the sort of place I’d patronize.

But I did want to ask: How the hell do you lose $1.8 million running a coffee shop in Austin?

Wouldn’t the little lightbulb above your head flicker on after you had already lost about $200,000? “Hey, I’m losing my shirt! I should stop throwing good money after bad and seek another career!”

Either the original owners were very, very stupid, or there’s some sort of money laundering/tax dodge involved…

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Yelp’s Top 100 Places To Eat Include Six from the Austin Area

So Yelp has release a Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list. Their ratings, being based on actual diners, are very different than high-end restaurant critics, and include six places around Austin:

  • 8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
  • 35. Turf N’ Surf Po Boy, Austin, TX
  • 85. Uchiko, Austin, TX
  • 86. Little Deli & Pizzeria, Austin, TX
  • 91. Taste of Ethiopia, Pflugerville, TX
  • 99. Uchi, Austin, TX

Quick thoughts:

  • Yeah, because it just wasn’t hard enough to get Franklin BBQ already.
  • Uchiko and Uchi are run by the same people.
  • I’m really happy to see Taste of Ethiopia on here. It’s a swell joint run by great people.

By comparison, only one place made the cut in Houston, and none in Dallas…

(Cross-posted to My blog.)

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Prima Pizza Pasta Relocating, Mi Pizza Taking the Space

A double-dose of restaurant relocation news I don’t think has been reported anywhere else:

Prima Pizza Pasta has relocated from its location at Parmer and McNeil to a new location at Anderson Mill and 620 as of February 1st. (The news is so new they haven’t updated their website yet.)

Taking the old Prima space on Parmer (as well as their phone number) is a new restaurant called Mi Pizza, which seems to focus on custom-designed 11 inch pizzas cooked in 5 minutes for $6.99.

(News duped from my own blog.)

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