Category Archives: Mediterranean

Sandwiches and Tacos

The move from California to Texas has been an eye-opening experience so far. The Texan accent and the whole Texas gentleman deal is starting to grow on me but I still get slightly taken aback whenever someone calls me ma’am or when someone holds the door open for me even though I am ten seconds from the door. Taking pictures of food here is also considered very unusual and I should probably exercise some control…

With no homework or midterms to study for on weekends, I have been spending my new found free time foraging for food in this city.One of the first sandwich places I went to was Potbelly Sandwich Shop. I had ‘A Wreck’ sandwich with salami, ham, roast beef, ham and swiss cheese — with hot pepper as a topping of course.

A Wreck @ Potbelly Sandwich Shop

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I love it when my sandwiches are neatly packed so Potbelly gets a thumbs up from me for that. ‘A Wreck’ was a good sandwich but has a little more meat and oil than what I would usually have.

Up the street on Guadalupe is Which Wich, another sandwich store that I did not know existed until I came here. Which Wich has a really cool way of getting their orders from customers. Over here, customers tick off their preferred options on a paper bag and pass it to the cashier. These paper bags are then hung on pegs suspended on a metal wire and slid down the room as they prepare your sandwich.

Tomato and Avocado Sandwich @ Which Wich

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Thumbs up for another neat, non-sloppy sandwich. Love the generous amount of avocado in this sandwich. Between Potbelly and Which Wich, I gotta say that my loyalty lies with Which Wich although the comparison is not exactly fair since I ordered a ‘cleaner’ sandwich in Which Wich.

One of the cool places in Austin is South Congress Avenue, a colorful and eclectic looking street. I have yet to explore the retailers but I did walk past a lot of restaurants including Hopdoddy, a popular burger place where people would line up an hour for. I ended up at a place with a shorter wait but good food nonetheless — Guero’s Taco Bar.

Picadillo and Fish Tacos @ Guero’s Taco Bar

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I chose the picadillo (spicy beef, potatoes and carrots) taco and fish taco with homegrown corn, and they came with a side of rice and beans. I had a hard time holding the tacos because the tortillas got soggy and ripped but this was a hearty meal and the fillings were great nonetheless.

Another great taco place in town is Turf N Surf Po Boy in Downtown Austin. This place is a food stand with a bar adjacent to it where people can watch sports on TV, eat and drink to their hearts’ content. The stand has a ghetto-looking exterior with some items on the menu featured on reused cardboards hung on windowsills. Customers get the option of having their entrees in the form of tacos, po’ boys or salad, and then they can choose to have their seafood fillings either fried, blackened or grilled.

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The tacos were pricey but they were also the largest tacos I have ever had. Each taco literally had a whole mahi-mahi fillet in it and was stuffed with a lot of salad greens, not just your usual coleslaw. They were also went a little crazy with the white sauce (sour cream?). No problem of soggy and fragile tortillas this time but eating these with my hands was still a problem because the tacos were too big. These are probably the most wholesome tacos I have ever had, and did I mention that these tacos were huge?! A great place to go to if you are looking for quantity and good seafood in your tacos.

I popped my Texas tex-mex cherry on my birthday at a place in South Austin called Maria’s Taco Xpress. This place has got to be the hippiest restaurant I have ever been to with its odd and psychedelic displays and live performances. The tacos here are cheap and well worth their price. I ordered the Al Pastor, a favorite raved by many, and while I thought it was good, I think it is confirmed that I am truly not much of a pork person. I do want to come back here and experience their hippy gospel sunday brunch though.

With the temperatures reaching a hundred degrees, there was no way I could get by without having some ice cream to cool myself down at some point. Amy’s ice cream is a local’s favorite (Sandra Bullock’s too) and is supposed to be a must-have in Austin. This place is similar to Cold Stone in the sense that you get to choose your toppings and have them mixed with your ice cream on a cold plate but Amy’s  has a wider range of toppings. Their Mexican Vanilla is their most popular flavor so I went for that as well as chocolate coconut rum.

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Perhaps my taste buds are not trained enough but I could not really distinguish between Mexican vanilla and regular vanilla. I still miss some of the great ice creams in the Bay Area such as those from Bi-Rite creamery and Ici’s, which have more interesting and pleasantly surprising flavors on some days, but Amy’s ice cream will do the job for now!

Austin Food Trucks!

Until two weeks ago, I had failed to realize what phenomenon food trucks are in some cities in the United States. Sure, the Bay Area has its fair share of mobile food trucks but it has got nothing on Austin. Austin has a crazy number of food trucks serving a lot of delectable treats (with quite a lot of fusion food such as Korean tacos). My first food truck experience in Austin was at West Campus — at The Mighty Cone specifically.

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This truck features tortilla  cones filled with a mango-jalapeno coleslaw and chicken / shrimp / avocado crusted in almonds, sesame seeds and chilli flakes, which lends it its crunchiness. The crunch and the mild spiciness and tanginess makes this cone a pretty mighty meal. This is definitely one of my favourite meals in Austin (not that I have had that many to date) and I will be back for sure.

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The Cow Tipping Creamery probably has the most elaborate soft serve in town. Customers get to customize their soft serve and choose from over 20 toppings, or they could go for their signature cones and stackers. They do have a lot of pleasant combinations in some of their signature cones but I simply went for 8 ounces of the good ol’ caramelized banana split, served with caramelized bananas, strawberries, pecans, caramel, whipped cream and Ghirardelli hot fudge. I am a bigger fan of regular ice cream or gelato so I did not go super crazy over this but it is still pretty good for what it is – a soft-serve. Probably the fanciest soft-serve I will ever have.

I had also set my mind to trying out The Halal Guys in Austin, and it is probably safe to say that it is inspired by the famous Halal Guys in New York City. The Halal Guys I went to on West Campus is technically not a food truck but my review is gonna go in this post anyway since it first started out as a food truck or stand.

Combination over Rice

Not wanting to choose between chicken and lamb, I went for both with the Combination over Rice. The meat is covered in an orange spicy sauce which I really like, and a lot of the white yogurt-like sauce. I personally liked the chicken a little more than the lamb although most would probably beg to differ, and I thought there was a little too much of the white sauce which muted — as opposed to accentuate  — the flavours of the meat. I would not mind coming back here for another meal but I would probably request for less generous servings of the white sauce and more of the spicy one. The portion size is quite satisfying but is supposedly pretty small for its price compared to what you get in the big city. Also, I seriously hope this was not 2000 calories as claimed by the internet for the Halal Guys in NYC…

I have started compiling a list of food trucks or stands to check out while in Austin and this is how the list is looking like so far:

  1. ChiLantro BBQ – A Korean-Mexican fusion food truck with food like kimchi fries and spicy pork bulgogi burger.
  2. Via 313 – Detroit-style pizza that has been lauded by many.
  3. Turf N’ Surf Po’ Boy – Mexican and Cajun food stand with po’ boys (which I loved at Brenda’s in San Francisco) and large grilled fish tacos.
  4. Kebabalicious – Pretty self explanatory.
  5. Gourdough’s – Super elaborate doughnuts.
  6. Julie’s Handmade Noodles – Zha jiang mian and beef noodle soup to satisfy my Asian food craving.

Boy, I am going to get fat this summer eating at food trucks, on top of eating stuff like briskets at Rudy’s and tacos and burgers.

Greek Out

Chicken and Lamb Shawarmas @ Troy, Berkeley

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No, I did not eat two whole wraps. I had the chicken shawarma and had a sample of  my friend’s lamb shawarma. They were both good but what I liked best was not the wrap itself but the red hot sauce that came with it. The hot sauce had a sufficient level of spiciness that was not overpowering and complemented the wrap very well. Totally love the sauce and may or may not have gone berserk with it…

The greek fries topped with cheese and herbs are delightfully crispy and delicious. Gotta have some of these while you’re at Troy.

 

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La Mediterranee

Middle Eastern Plate: Chicken Cecilia, Grecian Spinach and Feta, Levant Sandwich and Chicken Pomegranate with Green Salad

Levant Sandwich, oh you so tasty. I could eat a whole roll but all that cream cheese and feta cheese would do bad things to my waistline.

Chicken Cecilia, you intrigue me – in a good way. You are like a crispy spring roll stuffed with chicken floss and raisins. Your interesting combination of sweet and savoury brought such delight to my taste buds.

Chicken Pomegranate, I’m glad I chose you over the Lamb Lule.

And slice of cheese, you confuse me. I did not know what do with you – was I suppose to just eat you as it is or stuff you in the pita bread or what?

I am having conversations with my dinner plate. This is not a good sign.