Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Austin: Home Stretch

We did a lot of good eating in Austin and this wraps up the rest of it. On the way to downtown from the Austin airport, we spotted Casa Colombia. We headed there for dinner and I ordered the Bandeja Paisa.

Highlights of the dish were the rice, the plantains, and the fried yuca (which was a substitution for beans... delicious). The egg tasted bizarrely like dish detergent. The arepa, a cornmeal patty, was so hard that it was inedible, as was the chicharron (top of plate). The steak paillard was tasty, but tough due to overcooking. We also had to wait an hour for our food and the mediocrity of my entree was somewhat infuriating. On top of that, our server was unbelievably pushy with the upselling. While very nice, she just would. not. back. off. Gah... talk about ruining the mojo of a meal.

There were some saving graces in the food: D.'s bistec criollo was delicious, as the criollo (spicy garlic sauce) was really flavorful on top of a similarly dried-out steak paillard. The plato vegetariano was also very tasty with the criollo. Arepas were much better with filling (cheese, potato, etc.). Winner of the night was the aborrajado, plantains stuffed with mozzarella.

Wandering downtown on a Sunday morning looking for breakfast, we happened upon Cafe Crepe.

I was a fan of the flavors... great eggy flavor from the crepe itself, the smoked salmon, and the garlic/dill/cheese of the Boursin. We saw the crepes being made en masse and being stacked in preparation for filling, which was disheartening and led to a too-chewy crepe. Also, $8 for this? Yikes. Service was excellent and the outdoor tables were perfect for great company on a sunny morning in Austin.

After breakfast, I needed to visit a drugstore, but the closest one was closed, so the Garmin pointed us to Nau's Enfield Drug. It's an old school drugstore with a soda fountain. Yay! Naturally, we had to stop for shakes, malts, and sundaes.

The shake was ridiculously cheap at roughly $2. It was also very good, made with Texas' Blue Bell ice cream.

The pulled pork tacos at Chupacabra would have been the perfect meal to have with the extensive beer selection, with the cool jicama slaw and the tasty pulled pork. However, stale tortillas and a gut-searingly hot habanero sour cream upset the balance of flavors. I don't mind spicy, but this was just hot and needed to be used sparingly or served on the side.

Airport food tends to be very meh, but Austin's airport had lots of choices and many turned out to be decent. Quite pricey, of course, but quite tasty. J.L. and D. liked the Waterloo Ice House, while C.B., M.T. and I enjoyed sandwiches from The Salt Lick. It was great how the airport's food courts had mainly local establishments. Even the coffee was Austin Java vs. the ubiquitous Starbucks.

My pulled-pork sandwich was quite lovely. The pork itself wasn't anything to write home about, but the sauce was really tasty and the bread was a super-fresh egg bread. I picked a vinegar slaw as my side, which was very fresh and nicely balanced. Tart enough to be a good slaw without being completely overwhelming. Afterwards, I had to have the Oreo Speedwagon (coffee ice cream mashed with Oreos and chocolate chunks, topped with hot fudge) from Amy's Ice Cream.

Our Austin trip was delightful and I hope we return soon. Goals for the next trip: sampling Austin's myriad of food carts and exploring SoCo (South Congress).

1614 East 7th Street
Austin, TX 78702

200 San Jacinto Boulevard
Austin, TX 78701

1115 West Lynn Street
Austin, TX 78703

400 E 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701

4 bites:

Kim in the Kitchen said...

Blue Bell ice cream is huge in Arkansas too. There's always a big debate- Blue Bell vs. Yarnell. I am personally a Blue Bell gal.

caninecologne said...

hi - i've been enjoying your travel posts! :)

too bad your colombian food experience wasn't so good. i like their style of chicharron.

buy r4 said...

Me to is a Blue Bell fan. There is no point of choice when it comes to the blue bell. No competition with it.

Meandering Eats said...

Kim and buyr4- Blue Bell all the way!

Caninecologne- Yeah, that place was such a disappointment... it might have been a lot better if we'd gone during a quieter time, like lunch on a weekday.

4 bites