Via 313 Pizza

After hearing rave reviews of Via 313 for months on months now, I finally made a long overdo visit to the pizza trailer during a recent visit night out. To be honest, as a Neapolitan pizza girl at heart, thick, deep dish style pies don’t normally call my name. However, maybe it was the crunchy cheese crisped along the edges of its pizza, but I must admit Via 313’s Detroit-style pie lived up to the hype.

The Herbivore - $12

The Herbivore – $12

Not unlike a Sicilian-style pizza slice, Detroit-style is a rectangular pizza with a thick crust oven cooked in a metal pan and cut into squares. Toppings are layered in reverse order, starting with meat or veggies and finished with a thick layer of red sauce painted across the top. In this case, Via 313’s freshly crushed red sauce is robust and hearty, with plenty of flavor to stand up to the pie’s thick crust. Though the pizza’s crust is about an inch or two thick, it is surprisingly lighter than expected and manages to garner a slight toasted crunch while cooking. Continue reading Via 313 Pizza

#AustinRW Budget Eats: Austin Restaurant Week 2014

Happening now, Austin Restaurant Week provides the perfect way to test the waters at a new restaurant or visit an old favorite without breaking the bank. Visit one of several participating restaurants during lunch or dinner to enjoy either a two-course prix fixed lunch or three-course prix-fixed dinner. Prices range from $12-17 for lunch and $27-37 for dinner. Austin Restaurant Week takes a timeout for the weekend but returns in time for Sunday brunch on May 18 through May 21. Check out the list of participating restaurants here. The best part about this week? $2 of each meal benefits . . . → Read More: #AustinRW Budget Eats: Austin Restaurant Week 2014

Tamale House East

Since opening a couple years back, Tamale House East has continually ranked high on my list of favorite Mexican food eats. Known for its tried and true Tex-Mex style, Tamale House East delivers with dishes that are easy on the wallet but big on flavor. The atmosphere at the family owned and operated Tamale House East is always one of casual familiarity, which makes it an ideal weekend lunch spot, especially following a late evening.

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Chicken Verde Enchilada – $7.95

It’s hard to go wrong ordering, but when in doubt, the enchiladas are always a safe bet. In particular, the chicken verde enchiladas are a favorite go-to of mine, thanks largely to a citrusy housemade tomatillo salsa. While waiting for entrées, however, it’s never a bad idea to start with a couple of tamales.

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Pork Tamale w/Mole & Cheese – $2.75

On this visit, the bean and cheese tamale was excellent; the masa was thin, and the filling was flavorful with just a little kick of heat. While the pork tamale’s masa would have generally been too dense for my liking, the thickness actually worked in its favor, as it was weighty enough to hold up under the rich, well-developed red mole sauce.

Continue reading Tamale House East

Cold Weather Eats: Ramen Tatsu-ya

Between this winter’s blistering cold temperatures and gusty winds spreading cedar fever like the plague, I find myself with a constant craving for the warm healing properties found in a bowl of ramen. Thankfully, Austin has welcomed a plethora of new spots specializing in the Japanese dish over the last couple of years to help satisfy this need for noodles. The indisputable leader of the pack is North Austin’s Ramen Tatsu-ya, whose addictive ramen bowls have cultivated a local cult following and garnered the shop national acclaim from the likes of Food & Wine and Bon Appetite magazine, to name a few.

Ramen Tatsu-ya’s menu focuses on different renditions of the traditional pork broth based ramen bowls in addition to a chicken broth version offered during the newly added lunch time hour and a Sunday evening veggie ramen special. From the two and half day cooking process to a firm no take-out rule, the Ramen Tatsu-ya team is fanatical about the quality of their ramen beginning with the backbone of each dish, the broth. A far cry from the supermarket dried noodle package, Ramen Tatsu-ya spends hours upon hours slowly developing the ramen broth in order to draw out the nuances of every ingredient. This painstaking attention to detail pays off in spades by giving each bowl richness and depth.

In a failed attempt to somewhat keep those January resolutions, I choose to feed my craving by visiting Ramen Tatsu-ya during lunch to test out their chicken broth-based ramen instead of holding out for the creamy, rich pork version. Inspired by the traditional ramen style of Tokyo, Ramen     Tatsu-ya’s Ol’ Skool shoyu ramen features thinly sliced soy-braised pork belly, half of a soft boiled egg, nori strips, and marinated bamboo shoots.

Ol’ Skool Shoyu Ramen - $9.00

Ol’ Skool Shoyu Ramen – $9.00

As with all of their dishes, Ramen Tatsu-ya’s Ol’ Skool ramen is set apart by subtle complexities built from the well-developed flavors of each individual component in the dish.  From the slices of tender, fatty beef to the crispy, tangy pickled bamboo shoots, every element is delicious enough to stand on its own but also complimentary to the overall dish as well. Continue reading Cold Weather Eats: Ramen Tatsu-ya

Breakfast of Champions: King and Country

Every once in a while, I stumble across a dish at a restaurant that is so deliciously perfect, it becomes – in my mind – the touchstone by which all future similar dishes are compared. Such is what happened during a visit to a tiny diner in Brooklyn, NY a few years ago when I discovered an omelet to end all omelets. Since that time, my search to find an equivalent match in Austin has proved to be a sad and fruitless endeavor.

King and Country French Omelette

King and Country French Omelette

However, my search officially ended last week when an omelette at King & Country, a newly opened East Austin trailer eatery, washed away any residual longing for breakfast in BKY. Light, fluffy golden-yellow eggs were mixed with Parmesan cheese and expertly folded into a creamy French omelette. A flavorful blend of sweet and spicy homegrown peppers filled the inside of the delicate dish. Paired with Cuvee Coffee espresso, it was an incredibly satisfying breakfast I can’t wait to wake up to again soon. Continue reading Breakfast of Champions: King and Country

(Dish of the) National Taco Day: Matt’s El Rancho

Happy National Taco Day! What you see below is a delicious trio of smoked chicken soft tacos from Matt’s El Rancho. The tacos, stuffed with tender chicken tossed in a smoky chipotle sauce, were a special of the evening, but like many of Matt’s best dishes, can be ordered as an off the menu special. Unlike the regular chicken soft tacos, these were topped off with queso fresca, avocado slices, and a drizzle of roja sauce. A solid dish that is now in the rotation of standard Matt’s El Rancho orders.

Smoked Chicken Soft Tacos

And though it’s . . . → Read More: (Dish of the) National Taco Day: Matt’s El Rancho

La Cocina de Consuelo

Despite having been recommended La Cocina de Consuelo by some very trustworthy sources over a year ago, I failed until now to take this sage advice. A few Sundays ago, I finally convinced a few wary friends to venture outside the box with a little arm twisting (nagging). Serious Tex-Mex cravings more often than not coincide with the tequila flu, and in those instances, there is something to be said about the safe and reliable, even when this means sacrificing fresh tortillas. At first, the no-frills atmosphere and lack of beer* did little to ease my friends’ trepidation, but any residual hesitations were soon erased after one taste of La Cocina de Consuelo’s fiery salsa and gooey queso.

Pollo de Monterey

Pollo de Monterey

La Cocina de Consuelo’s humble restaurant beginnings began after owner Connie Martinez began selling plates of enchiladas for her church fundraiser in the early 80s. After her enchiladas quickly garnered a cult following, Connie began a catering side business before finally realizing her dream of opening a brick and mortar in 2004. Truly a family owned and operated restaurant, the food originating in La Cocina de Consuelo’s kitchen seems to be made with a little extra TLC than the average Tex-Mex spot. Continue reading La Cocina de Consuelo

Summer Field Trip: Argus Cidery

If found longing for a way to escape the city limits without playing an expensive game of planes, trains and automobiles, then its time to take advantage of one of several local escapes just a mere daytrip away. First on that list should be a venture to Argus Cidery’s tasting room, located a mere hop, skip and a jump from the heart of downtown.

Argus Cidery

Argus Cidery

With its ability to appeal to both wine and beer drinkers, cider is largely expected to be the next big craft beverage trend. As the first 100% Texan hard cider maker, Argus Cidery is on the forefront of this movement. Each one of their ciders is created from different apple varieties sourced from Texas growers. This commitment to keeping it local combined with the outstanding quality of their product helped Argus Cidery secure one of the Austin Food and Wine Alliance’s inaugural grants, which will be used to develop onsite orchards.

Argus Cidery

Argus Cidery

Earlier this year Argus Cidery opened a new tasting room in an open air barn next door to its production facilities. Every Saturday Argus Cidery invites folks to visit the adorably decorated tasting room for cider tastings and a daily picnic basket inspired by a favorite cookbook.

My kind of picnic basket!

My kind of picnic basket!

During a recent visit, we couldn’t get enough of Argus Cidery’s new summer release, Idalou Brut, created from Panhandle apples. It has the easy drinkability of beer but with a complexity of flavor like wine. Dry and crisp, it’s perfect for sipping in the summer heat. In addition to cider, we enjoyed outstanding samplings from Tartine such as tuna nicoise sandwiches and kale Caesar salads. For those with smaller appetites, there are also a number of dips and spreads available as well.

Continue reading Summer Field Trip: Argus Cidery