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
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
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
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.
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.
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!