Thursday, April 28, 2011

Little Deli - Austin, TX

Size doesn't matter.


This place is pretty good, and when you factor in the outdoor seating, isn't all that small anyway.  They market themselves as an authentic Jersey shore style deli and pizzeria.

Don't worry, they won't be there.

Seriously though, authentic Jersey, but I wouldn't know.  My only experience with the place is what I see on tv from these no-talent-ass-clowns, and I can't say that it's a compelling reason to check it out.

What I can say is that if you find yourself up in the north part of Austin, this is a good place to stop in for lunch.  Not so much a destination to seek out, as there are other good pizza and sandwich shops close in to town (I like Home Slice a lot for both a slice and a sub), but a great lunch stop if you're in the neighborhood.

I was passing through and had a craving for an Italian sub for lunch, so I stopped in and ordered one to take home and have later. But the pizza sitting in the case on the counter captivated me, and I ordered a slice of pepperoni to have while I was waiting.  Because that's what fat people do.  (I have a friend who once swung through McDonalds on his way to dinner, so I've learned from the best.)

Backing up though, this is a great place for carry out, pizza or sandwiches, and not a bad spot to eat at on a nice day.  There are only about five tables, small at that, inside, but several large picnic tables outside underneath a massive tree which provides great shade if you can avoid the bird crap.  It's an order at the counter and they bring their food to you operation, but without any Jersey attitude or fake tans.  Just a good, neighborhood spot.

Pizza was great.  Thin, chewy crust with a crispy layer on the bottom.  Piping hot with a sauce on the sweet side with an above average garlic content.  Cheese was falling everywhere, and the pepperonis provided a very nice grease content, but all is able to be captured with the standard fold.

The sandwich was for later, and it travelled well.  Nothing special about this thing, just a good sandwich by way of a great roll, good quality meats, and a heavy-on-the-vinegar dose of oil and vinegar to cut through the fat.  Garnished only with shredded lettuce and tomato, the flavors and textures mesh very well, and as a traveler, the bread held its own.

At six bucks the sandwich is nicely sized, and without a slice of pizza as an appetizer, would be perfect in filling you up but not stuffing you.  I ate half of mine (which, FYI, is NOT what fat people do), and packed the other half away for breakfast tomorrow.  Oddly, I'm a soggy sub kind of guy.  I love it fresh, but love an Italian sub equally, if not more, cold, soggy and leftover.  Sue me.


Atmosphere:  small deli, nice outdoor seating, limited seating inside, great for carry out, good for a group on a nice day

Food:  sandwiches and pizza

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  lunch, carry-out dinner

Crowd:  no guidos, no fake tans, no fatchicks

What to Order for the First Timer:  slice of pizza

G'Raj Mahal - Austin, TX

"G'Raj Mahal"

"Yes, can I place an order for carry out?"

"Sure.  What'll you have?"

"I'll have the Jalfrezi with chicken, some garlic naan, and some raita."

"Do you like spicy?"

"Light my ass up."

They obliged.  Holy shit, did they oblige!

Great carry out spot, the food travels well.  Despite the relatively crowded location come evening, they've got a little area in the alley for you to pull over, jump out, and pick up your food.  Frankly it's probably easier than parking and going in (under?) to eat, and given the current state of the Town Lake trail, is probably easier than walking to right now.

As far as the food went, like my previous posting on this place (, I strongly urge you to order some naan and raita, as much for the flavor as to act as a cooling agent if you've ordered something spicy or extra spicy, as I did.  The garlic naan is better enjoyed at the G'Raj than at home, as the garlic loses a little of its fresh taste as it steams in the foil and tastes a bit more like the pre-chopped stuff you get in a jar.  But, don't get me wrong, it's still good, and is a perfect shovel for the rest of the meal.

The Jalfrezi is an onion and pepper based curry, which unlike the Rogan Josh, is not cream based, allowing all that heat to come through unimpeded.  Flavor was rich, complex, and incredible, and the chicken all white meat, tender, and saturated with that heat.

See all that red?  Yeah, that's called fire.  Liquid form.

I kind of figured what I was getting into, it's called an excuse to hit Amy's Ice Cream for dessert, and I did, opting for their raspberry ice cream with hot fudge.  From a strictly medical standpoint, nine out of ten doctors call that combination the best firefighter for the job.


Atmosphere:   food truck/restaurant, outdoor seating both covered and uncovered, good for a date, good place to start or end an evening of drinking at the neighboring bars, good for groups, great for carry out

Food:  Indian

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  dinner, late

Crowd:  hipsters, 20somethings, 30somethings, old people, REAL Indians

What to Order for the First Timer:  naan bread, rogan josh with meat of your choice, raita

El Sazon De Gto - Austin, TX


If you find yourself driving on the winding roads of the hill country just fifteen minutes or so due west of downtown Austin on a crisp, clear morning, how are you NOT going to stop at this place when it jumps up on you "just up around the bend" in the middle of seemingly nowhere?


You stop.

So I did.

And I was not disappointed.

Seriously, this place caught me by surprise when I rounded a curve and the trees and brush opened up to a small pasture with angelic-like rays of sunlight bursting through the trees on this serene little outdoor eatery.  So much so that, at the posted 35 mile an hour speed limit of course, I flew right by it and had to double back for what ended up being a quick, relaxing breakfast amongst only the noises of nature, and a damn good breakfast taco.

The people living the in the Sterling Acres area of town along the south bank of Lake Austin are incredibly fortunate to have this semi-secret little place in their neighborhood, because I'm certain that because of it's location 95% of its customers come from the neighboring secluded houses in the woods.  It's not a place anyone would just happen to drive by unless they're visiting friends in the area.  For you all, if you're in the mood for a short drive through the hills on a nice morning, I recommend making your way west for a nice breakfast over the morning paper, of which they have several copies available.

As far as food trailer atmosphere goes, it gives G'Raj Mahal a run for the money, and may actually nudge it out of the top spot just given the surroundings.

I ordered my standard chorizo egg taco, and asked for fresh jalapenos, but since they were out I opted for some freshly made pico de gallo instead.  Given the choice of red or green salsa, I opted for the green, the hotter of the two.

Wow, great taco, primarily because of the eggs and pico.  The soft tortilla was amply mounded with incredibly fluffy scrambled eggs, scattered with just a small amount of bacon bit sized and textured chorizo which was dry, by design and not unappetizingly so at all, but very flavorful.  The pico added an awesome fresh flavor to what was already an incredibly fresh tasting breakfast taco.  I could have eaten two, but one was just fine given the size.  The salsa was a perfect compliment, providing heat but not overpowering the flavor nor the overall enjoyment.  I got my taco within two minutes of ordering, but it certainly wasn't one that had been sitting around by any means.

So shhhhhhhhhhhh, don't tell anybody that this gem is here, save it for yourself.  Ok, just tell a few, because this is a place that you want to have around, so keep 'em in business.


Atmosphere:  food trailer, great outdoor seating area, covered, great for a relaxing breakfast alone or with family and friends

Food:  tacos and burritos

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  breakfast

Crowd:  neighbors

What to Order for the First Timer:  breakfast taco with eggs and pico de gallo

Louie's - Dallas, TX

Met My Lovely Wife Mrs. Gordo and a friend of ours, we'll call her Miss X, at my favorite place on this planet Tuesday night.  Louie's.

With travel back and forth between Dallas and Austin, it has been over a month since I've been there, which is absolutely too long, as I'm typically there one to two nights a week.  I figured it was a great night to be in a Chicago bar given the lineup of the Bulls-Pacers playoff game five, and the seventh game of the Blackhawks-Canucks series, and I was right, and also was fortunate enough to leave before the end of the Blackhawks game, and subsequent end to their season in overtime.

When I got there I saw something that really excited me, the chalkboard specials.  For the first time in all the time that I've been frequenting Louie's, he had lamb on the menu.  Shocking to me that this was the first time given the family's rich Greek history (just ask Louie, and he's happy to go into his family's lineage back to the 300 Spartans who defeated the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae), and so as a lover of all things lamb, I was as ecstatic as the woman on the men's room wall.

Alright, I'm going to get sidetracked here.   I hate this lady.  She's relatively new and was drawn over perhaps the greatest men's room graffiti I've ever seen and my all-time favorite.  "Does Fecal Matter".  Sad day indeed when some bonehead decided to get rid of that for the large and completely out of place peeper that is now there.  That said, Louie's still features some of the best graffiti in this part of the country, including among others:

"Go home Dad, you're drunk."

"Fat kids are harder to kidnap."

"Jesus Saves, Gretzky Scores"


"Wang Chung"

and "34 will always be better than 22.  Go Bears!"

OK, sorry.  Back to the food.  I started with my standard olive and juniper berry appetizer

and from there moved on to a Caesar salad before getting to the main meal.  I've learned over the years to take advantage of the specials when he's got them, particularly any fish or meat that is grilled.  Clearly it was time for me to try the lamb, which I ordered with a side of his poblano mashed potatoes.

Wow.  Were these things ever incredible.  They have the same fantastic char flavoring that his well seasoned grill cranks out on a daily basis, resulting in a caramelized and nearly crispy, without any chewiness, exterior which seals in all of the natural juices of the meat, which, with help from the bone, keep the meat inside incredibly juicy and flavorful when cooked to the recommended medium rare.  Topped off with a buttery glaze, these four chops imparted their flavoring to the starchy next door neighbor and made for a really, really great meal.

MLWMG opted for one of her rotating staples, the grilled pork chop, with a side of broccoli.

I'm assuming he brines his pork chops overnight, because as usual they came out perfectly, and incredibly moist despite being fully cooked.  And I'm not a huge broccoli fan, but the way they do theirs is simple and fantastic.  Steamed to perfection and drizzled with a little butter, it's not as healthy as it could be, but the flavor and texture could not be better.

And last, Miss X.  She ordered incorrectly, asking for the chicken meaning the chicken breast, but instead got the half chicken with a side of homemade chipotle sauce, which may change her mind on future orders.  Also likely brined, the chicken comes out as a whole half chicken, with all of that flavor and juice trapped inside a perfectly edible and flavorful skin.  Like the lamb, it's a win win with that oozing out on to the potatoes with the first cut.

I can't say enough about this place, other than it would be my last meal if I had to choose it, it's the best bar to go to in Dallas, and whenever I'm back in Dallas it will be a mandatory stop on my schedule.  Hell, I may even make a trip to Dallas just to hit it and stock up on supplies at Jimmy's Food Store, Dallas's finest and best Italian grocery store.


Atmosphere:  hole in the wall, Chicago style tavern, good place to watch the game, good place to belly up, good place for a date, good place for a group, good place to meet people, good place to meet new people, good place for a drink

Food:  pizza, Italian, Greek, American

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  dinner

Crowd:  regulars, journalists, families, angry old guys, Cubs fans, 20somethngs, 30somethings, groups of dudes, groups of girls, mixed groups, no douchers or tight shirts allowed, hotchicks, me

What to Order for the First Timer:  I'll be very specific here.  Start with a large Greek or Caesar for the table, as well as sauteed oysters and a large sauteed onion, jalapeno, and sausage pizza, then make sure someone gets the pork chop, another the spaghetti with oil and garlic, and another the fettucini alfredo.  Report back to me about just how good it all is.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Last Night's Dinner

Spaghetti Positano

Watercress, Asparagus and Radish Salad with Saffron Citronette

Capitol Pub - Dallas, TX

Friday was about perfect in Dallas as far as weather was concerned, so I grabbed the dogs and headed over to Capitol Pub again to meet a friend for lunch.  

Got the Capitol Burger this time, and I recommend you do the next time you go.

This burger is fantastic.  Thick patty of flavorful ground beef with a char-grilled flavor which oozes juice with every bite.  Served on a soft, toasted bun with dijon mustard, bacon, caramelized onions, with your choice of Maytag blue or Cotswold cheese.  I love a bacon and blue burger, but it's not often that you find the herb laced Cotswold offered on a burger, so I went with it and wasn't disappointed.  Onions are cooked to the point of being sweet and soft, which contrasts perfectly with the sharp cheese and smoky, crisp bacon.  

I think I've mentioned the fries here before, but I'll do it again because they are awesome.  Fried and tossed with parsley and fresh, chopped garlic, they scream with flavor, AND be sure to get a dipping sauce or two with them, they have several to choose from.  I opted for the french onion and the traditional curry.  The french onion was a very mild carmelized onion and sour cream mix, which was good but frankly think I'll reserve for potato chips.  The curry was an excellent blend of sweet and spicy with strong curry flavoring and the consistency of a whole grain mustard.  Went excellent with the fries and was a good option to slather on a bite or two of the burger.  

I wish Capitol Pub was open every day for lunch, particularly in this short window of nice weather we have down here before the heat kicks in.  But alas, only on Fridays during the week, so head that way and get your fill on Friday, and roll it into happy hour.  Selection of beers, both by the bottle and on tap are excellent, with a full range of styles and countries represented.  


Atmosphere:  upscale pub, indoor and outdoor seating both covered and uncovered, bar seating, see and be seen, great place on a nice day, great place for happy hour, great place for beer, good for groups, good place for a visitor to grab a bite and drink solo

Food:  upscale pub, appetizers, burgers and sandwiches

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  lunch (Fridays and Saturdays), happy hour, dinner, late

Crowd:  20somethings, 30somethings, trendsters, yuppies, douchers, cougars, hotchicks, groups of girls, groups of dudes, mixed groups, students

What to Order for the First Timer:  Capitol Burger with fries

Margarita Ranch - Dallas, TX

Let's get right to it.

Best beef fajitas in Dallas.


Dallas, Texas is the birthplace of Tex-Mex, but the best fajitas in town aren't found at one of the numerous hole in the wall institutions around town.  Instead they are found at this trendy looking, never crowded, often overlooked Mexican restaurant in Mockingbird Station.

I'm really not sure how this place survives in what has got to be a high rent spot.  I got the picture off the web, but it's pretty indicative of their lunch crowd, including Thursday afternoon when we hit it up.

I've never been for dinner, but assume that, plus its advertised happy hours keeps the lights on.

We hit this up often whenever we're craving fajitas in Dallas, and we prefer to sit at the bar, in either one of the spacious booths or at the bar, which is separated from the rest of the restaurant by a half wall, which is enough to make it a more intimate setting than the modern and somewhat cavernous main dining room.  Not a bad place to hit with a date, or by yourself, particularly if in addition to craving fajitas, there is a game on the tube.

Standard starters come with your waiter, chips and salsa.  The salsa is an excellent red salsa, served warm, with mild heat, but a great smoky flavor.  Much more complex and tasty than the typical fresh red salsas around town, which are great in their own right, but this is a nice change of pace, and is indicative of the flavors of the food to come.

On to the fajitas.

Yep, that's butter.  Beautiful.  Fatty.  Melted.  Butter.

And though the fajitas are excellent as is, I think it's the butter that puts them solidly in the lead as Dallas's finest.

The beef has a a great char-grilled flavor and come out very tender, still sizzling on the plate, and is served with grilled onions and a whole grilled fresh jalapeno, also both with the same great char flavor.  Tortillas are slightly thicker and doughier than your typical store bought variety and are clearly made in house, and served piping hot.  Standard sides of beans and rice hit the mark, but I don't get to them until I've finished the main.


Atmosphere:  trendy, nice bar, good for a date, good place to watch a game, decent spot to fly solo to, good people watching when they're there

Food:  Tex-Mex

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  lunch, happy hour, dinner

Crowd:  I've yet to see one

What to Order for the First Timer:  beef fajitas

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tuesday's Dinner

Parmigiano Reggiano Crusted Pork Loin Chop with Spring Risotto


Burrata with Tomato and Basil Oil

Monday's Dinner

Szechuan-Spiced Halibut with Garlic Chili Green Beans

Chen's Noodle House - Austin, TX


Hands down best Chinese meal I've ever had.  I'll qualify that by saying that the only Chinese food I've really ever had is the Americanized standard Chinese fare...Mongolian Beef, Orange Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork, etc., and I'm pretty confident that this is the real deal.

Yep, hole in the wall.  Mr. Chen has put his money and effort into the food, and not the decor, and that's just fine.  One small room with a counter you walk up and order at, from a chalkboard English menu, a series of paddles with Chinese descriptions on them, or a sheet with pictures of the food on it, so take your pick.  Probably around ten tables in the place, all two person variety but can probably accommodate four.   Not exactly the place for a group lunch or a date, but an awesome dive for an awesome Chinese meal.

So I ordered lamb skewers and a side of scallion pancakes.  I've already said that this is the best Chinese meal I've ever had, and I'm going to also say that this is the best preparation of lamb I've ever had.  I've had a lot of lamb in my life, and I don't think I'm going out on a limb here in saying that.

Simple, I know, but the flavor was absolutely incredible.  Dry rubbed with what seemed to be a combination of chiles and cumin, or spices of the sort, it was earthy, spicy, and still let the intense flavor of lamb come through.  The meat itself was perfectly cooked.  Incredibly tender, incredibly flavorful, the drippings from it created the only condiment it needed.  It doesn't look like much, but eight skewers and four pieces each give you thirty two of these little pleasure nuggets, and combined with the pancakes made for a nice, but not too filling meal.  This is a Chinese meal you don't walk away from feeling sluggish.  Perfect in every way.  

The pancakes.  Wow.  Really, really good.  Tortilla meets flaky pie crust meets Mr. Chen and his green onions.  Very flaky, near crisp exterior with thin layers of soft pancake in the middle.  I'm not sure what you're supposed to do with these, but I dunked them in some sort of soy vinegar combination they had in a bottle I couldn't read, and they were fantastic.  I also tried them as a vehicle for the lamb, but decided that I liked the flavor of each dish better individually, with the flavor of one not masking the other.  

I'm going to hit this place again in the next week or so, because it was a difficult decision not to get the lamb noodle bowl, which looked and smelled incredible.   And if you're looking for quantity in addition to quality, this appears to be it.  The bowl is bigger than my head, and filled with a rich broth and thick cut, homemade noodles.  Looks unreal, and I look forward to my next report.


Atmosphere:  hole-in-the-wall, order at the counter, handful of small tables with uncomfortable chairs, good for a quick lunch or takeout dinner

Food:  authentic Chinese

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  lunch, carryout for dinner

Crowd:  mixed, Chinese

What to Order for the First Timer:  lamb skewers and scallion pancakes

Polvo's - Austin, TX

One of my favorite spots for dinner in Austin.

I hadn't even planned on going there on Sunday night, and with Mrs. Gordo out of town I was headed to the store to get capers, fennel, green olives, and all sorts of other things she's not fond of, to make a dish for my dinner.

Got hungry on the way, and started craving fajitas, so despite the fact that it's not the best place to go if you're by yourself, I diverted to Polvo's, a funky little South Austin spot on South 1st.

So I mentioned it isn't a great spot to go to if you're grabbing a bite on your own, but all that really speaks to is that there is no bar to sit at.  That said, the atmosphere here is fantastic, loud and festive, and there is always a crowd, normally taking their chances with Polvo's famously strong margaritas.  Great outdoor seating, covered and uncovered, as well as a couple of small dining rooms, the largest of which is anchored by a giant round salsa bar featuring three different salsas and homemade escabeche.  Help yourself, but be warned, even though they automatically bring chips to your table, the salsa isn't free, but it also isn't too expensive at all, particularly if you're with others.

So, with just a few tables open at around 6:30pm, I was ushered inside to a giant round table for four, which could easily accommodate six, given a menu, and was convinced to get a margarita.  Let me go ahead and start with that margarita, and then get back to the salsas.  First off, I like tequila, and I like limes, but I'm not a margarita guy, and certainly not a frozen margarita guy.  There's generally two things that contribute to that...the sickly overly sweet pre-made margarita mix that places dealing in bulk usually use, and cheap tequila.  Polvo's does them right though, and I'll happily drink them when I'm there.  No mix used here, just fresh squeezed limes evidenced by the pulp floating amongst the ice.  I opt for a premium tequila, and the combination of the two ingredients creates a smooth, fresh, tart tasting margarita with no residual goo left on your tongue and teeth after a bite.

Back to the salsas.  I love the idea of a serve yourself salsa bar, so I really hate to say that I'm afraid that this one misses the mark, at least for me, with the exception of one item.  Three salsas to choose from, we'll call them yellow, red, and black.

Let's take them in order.  The yellow is the spiciest of the three, but is anything but spicy.  Looks tomatillo based, has a sweet, fruity flavor, and though it's well prepared for what it is, I'm just not a big fan.  The red is a classic red salsa with zero heat whatsoever, but it does taste very fresh, and I like the chunks of white onion and cilantro that it contains, but I'm not sure there is a single pepper in it, and the lack of spice is disappointing.  The black is a flavorful, earthy, smoky, and complex salsa, also with absolutely no heat.  This is probably my favorite of the three, but that's not saying a lot.  I know these guys can do spicy, because they do a really hot specialty sauce for enchiladas, which is a verde sauce with what's got to be habanero in it.  I wish they'd take some of that heat and offer it in at least one of the salsas.

All of that said, you really can't start a Mexican meal without chips and salsa, so get it and try it for yourself, and also get it for the escabeche.  I could eat this stuff all day long.  Pickled jalapenos, carrots, and onions, with a fair amount of heat.  The vegetables are all cut in large pieces, and retain their crunch despite saturation with a vinegar based brine.  I eat it like it is, but it would also be good on tacos, fajitas or quesadillas.  This makes the $1.75 you pay for the salsa bar all worth it.

Now, the fajitas.  These things are damn good.  First rule of ordering fajitas at Polvo's, don't allow yourself to get upsold to their guajillo or cerveza marinated fajitas, which they will try to do.  Stick with the original fajitas, they're the best.  I got sold on the cerveza ones once and they are a little to stir-fry tasting to satisfy my desire for Mexican food.

The beef fajitas are not the minimally seasoned and char-grilled variety, which are good in their own right, but are instead a heavily seasoned, dried chile based, flat-top grilled variety which scream with flavor.  The beauty of these is that I'm nearly certain they put raw sliced onions on your sizzling plate, then throw the beef on top, resulting in onions cooked just to the point of keeping their crispness while being cooked long enough to completely saturate them with the jus and spice from the beef.  Added bonus, some melted cheese and tomato to go with the standard accompaniments.  Oh, and there's a ton of it.  I filled three tortillas to the point of bursting with this stuff and still had about an equal amount of beef leftover.  Easily splittable between two people, or great to make a meal out and a meal at home out of.

So the standard accompaniments include guacamole, sour cream, shredded carrots, rice and beans, and don't forget about that escabeche.  The rice is just well cooked, standard fare Mexican rice, and the beans are of the charro or boracho variety, with incredible flavor coming from the addition of the pig.

You know, I laughed when I got seated by myself at a table for four, but I think they knew what they were doing...

One man.


Atmosphere:  funky, old South Austin, casual Mexican restaurant, outdoor seating, no bar but full bar, fun, great for groups, great for a start or end to an evening of imbibing, great for a day after

Food:  Mexican and Tex-Mex

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  lunch, dinner

Crowd:  young, old, partygoers, 20somethings, 30somethings, Mexicans, South Austinites, beatniks, drunks, groups of girls, groups of guys, groups of girls and guys

What to Order for the First Timer:  queso, beef fajitas

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jeffrey's - Austin, TX

My Lovely Wife Mrs. Gordo is headed out of town tomorrow, so we decided to take the opportunity to get a really nice dinner at a really good price by taking advantage of Jeffrey's "reverse" happy hour on Saturday night.  From 9-11pm on Saturdays (and 5-7pm on all other days), the bar menu at Jeffrey's is half price, and you can sample some of their fantastic food for relatively cheap.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Jeffrey's, it is one of the nicest restaurants in Austin, and is the quintessential high-end neighborhood restaurant.  Literally, it's next door to houses.  The atmosphere is very, very nice, and homey.  When you walk in the door, you feel like you're in a house, with the main room containing the bar having carpeted floors and a classy, but completely unpretentious, feel to it.

The bar is nice sized, with probably around ten stools, and is a good place to belly up and visit with your date, your spouse, the bartenders and the other patrons.  As for the bartenders, they really know their stuff, both on wine and on spirits.

I was already a bit out of place with my flip flops (though I did at least wear pants and a nice shirt), so I opted not to embarrass MLWMG any further by taking pictures.  But, I certainly wanted to show you all the great food we got, so I took a shot at drawing it on the computer, and think I really nailed it.

We decided just to split a few things from the bar menu, which had some really great options on it ranging from a cheese plate, to squid, to quail to their burger, all of which sounded innovative and fantastic.

We started with an appetizer of Burrata with Crostini, which is the famous very soft, almost runny, Italian cheese.  As creamy as it gets.  They put this on a bed of crushed and roasted beets, which were actually quite tasty and almost tasted a bit like red cabbage while retaining the signature earthiness of the beets.  On top of this was mint and watercress, drizzled with a light sherry vinegar, which added needed acidity to the mellow flavors of the overall dish.  The crostini were served fresh from the oven, and all in all, the dish was a great way to start the meal, and despite it's lightness, went very well with the northern Rhone wine we were having.
The burger, which I have been wanting to have for quite a while, was every bit as good as I thought it might be, and then some.  On a normal night, this is a $20 burger that is served with their pommes frites (french fries, freedom fries, whatever, they were Wendy's-sized, very tasty and served with a malt vinegar aioli and a spicy curry ketchup), but on this night it was just $10.  It is not a gutbuster by any means, and is an incredibly flavorful house ground mixture of dry-aged beef and lamb, served on house-made brioche with red romaine lettuce, and grilled Maui onions.  You have the option of adding cheddar cheese, bacon and foie gras to it, which we took them up on, save for the foie gras.  The burger was incredibly flavorful, and I highly recommend getting the bacon on it, which adds a very likable smokiness to the richness of the meat.  The burger was juicy, the bun was soft, and the flavors worked together unbelivably.  This is one of the best gourmet burgers I've had, and is a must at Jeffrey's happy hour.
It's also served with a homemade coarse grain mustard, which was fantastic, but I didn't think the burger needed it, so I just ate the mustard by itself.  

We had the sommelier recommend a red to us that would go with the burger, and he brought us a bottle of a Crozes-Hermitage, which was dry, earthy, and hit the spot.  As for the wines, they have a nice range, both by the bottle and the glass, and I was happy to see that had we opted for a glass of wine, we could have chosen a couple with a price tag under that of our meal.  There is just something fundamentally wrong with the other way.


Atmosphere:  upscale restaurant, great bar, homey feel, dressy

Food:  upscale American

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  happy hour, dinner

Crowd:  sophisticos, older, regulars, neighbors

What to Order for the First Timer:  happy hour burger with cheddar and bacon

Tacos La Guera - Austin, TX

Quick review here, with very little humor.

Great spot for breakfast tacos, especially if you don't feel like getting out of your car.  Drive-thru, order at the window, and have patience as they are cooked to order.

Taco Loco - chorizo, grilled onions, tomato, jalapeno, cheese

Bacon & Egg

Chorizo & Egg

All very good, and pretty cheap.  As for the salsas, they have a red (mild) and green (hot).  The green has a great kick and I strongly recommend bypassing the red and getting all green.  It's of the super bright green and smooth variety and is perfect for any breakfast taco you want to get.


Atmosphere:  fast food drive-thru

Food:  tacos

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  breakfast

Crowd:  drivers, the hungover, Mexicans

What to Order for the First Timer:  breakfast taco of your choosing, green sauce

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tonight's Dinner

Spaghetti alla Gricia

Can't believe I haven't made it since starting this blog, as it's our favorite go to pasta, particularly for a quick meal on a weeknight.  Pancetta (or guanciale), onion, garlic, and red chile flakes.  

Followed up with a Mocha Cream ice cream from Amy's, after trying both it and the Chocolate Guinness.  

The Jalopy Rotisserie and Press - Austin, TX

Hit up the Jalopy, at 15th and San Antonio, this afternoon after I'd fully digested and said goodbye to my tacos from Maria's.

Another great Austin food truck.

This one is run by two really nice guys who like their music, and who love their jobs.  And they specialize in rotisserie chicken, which they brine overnight in a mixture of vinegar, salt and spices, sandwiches.  The sandwiches are just $6, and each one will fill you up.  Plus, they serve Grape Crush and A&W Cream Soda, the only place around I know that does, and that is proud of it.

I picked up a couple of sandwiches to bring back for me and Mrs. Gordo to have for lunch today, The Jalopy Original...

 ...and the Folleto...

The Original is their signature sandwich, which got them started in the business.  It's brined and roasted chicken with a chicken demi-glace which they prepare over a 50 hour period.  They mound an ample amount of this between two pieces of toasted sliced french bread and top it with a red onion marmalade, shredded cabbage, and some sort of unmentioned green pestoey sauce reminiscent of a good chimichurri.  Great sandwich.  An excellent mixture of temperatures and textures, with the onions lending the sweet, and the pestoeystuff adding some real freshness.

The Folletto was the one I thought I'd like the best, though it ended up the Original was.  The chicken in this one is brined in a pepperocini brine, and has homemade pickled jalapenos, scallions, shredded cabbage, a parsley, leek and pepperocini vinaigrette.  Also very good, with a nice but not overwhelming spiciness and good crunch.

Awesome spot to pick up a sandwich quickly for lunch, though I'll give you fair warning the bread will get a little soggy if you take it to go.  If you eat there, just watch where you park, and find a spot at one of three picnic tables out front.


Atmosphere:  food truck, picnic table seating, great spot for lunch on a nice day

Food:  pulled chicken sandwiches

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  lunch

Crowd:  you're not going for the crowd, you're going for the sandwich

What to Order for the First Timer:  The Jalopy Original

A Quick Comment

With this blog, I'm able to track how people are steered toward the site, and when someone performs a Google search, the search phrase or keywords show up in a section called "Search Keywords".

I'm so proud to say that my site evidently shows up when you search "bars for overweight people in Austin".

I'm overwhelmed, and I'm humbled.  It's a dream I've always had.

As I do periodically, I try to cross-reference that with the same search on Google images, and I was ecstatic to see that immediately after the third picture on the search...

was this one...

My dogs.

Congratulations ladies, you're overweight drunks.

Maria's Taco Xpress - Austin, TX

I think Carlos Santana sang a song about this place, and I know Guy Fieri tried it out.  So it's got to be good, right?


I headed over there around eleven this morning for some breakfast and lunch together.  I'd heard good things about their migas taco, so wanted to try it, and figured I'd get something else at the recommendation of the staff.

Let's start with the place itself though.  I've never seen a place quite like it, unless you count the traveling carnival.  This place has more colors, in more places, than I've ever seen, and upon arrival you're greeted by a massive statue of Maria herself, welcoming you with open arms.  From the outside it's hard to see if this place is a food truck or a restaurant (it's the latter), as it's positioned in the parking lot of a Walgreens, and the entrance is no more than just an opening to a partially covered multi-story patio.

Yep, that's her.  You must be this tall to enter this restaurant.

Once you verify your height and are granted access to the carnival, you find a door and go inside to an order at the counter and wait for your number to be called restaurant.

I ordered my migas taco and asked the guy at the register what his favorite menu item was, and he immediately answered "pollo guisada" almost before I finished the question.  He explained that it was slow roasted and pulled chicken in a chipotle broth, and he gave me a little bowl of it to taste.  How could I refuse such confidence?  I didn't.

While I waited for the "Number 39" call, I ventured over to what I think is my favorite part of this whole place, the condiment bar.  I love condiment bars.  This one had fresh chopped onions that weren't at all wilted like they'd been sitting for hours, chopped cilantro, pico de gallo, a classic red salsa, a bright orange and smooth salsa, a dark verde salsa, and in a nod to Maria's homeland, a chile-laced chimichurri.

I got a little of each of the salsas, heard my number and sat down.  I quickly removed the migas taco from the container they both were in to save it from drowning in the chicken juice, and I'm glad I did.  I recommend you do to. The pollo guisada was very basic and very good.  The smokiness of the chipotle didn't really come through at all, but the chicken was tender and moist, and contrasted nicely with the shredded lettuce and chopped tomato which came on it.  I tried it with each of the salsas, and think with this one, I liked the orange one the best.  It had the best heat of all of them, and a good sweet flavor that went well with the chicken.

 Now, the migas taco.  This was like a migas taco like I've never had before.  It's like an egg pancake full  of onions, jalapenos, tomatoes and smashed tortilla chips, topped with a ton of cheddar cheese.  The flavor was awesome, and while I'm generally not a cheese on a breakfast taco kind of guy, I loved this because of the sheer volume of it (see picture below).  The other really nice thing about this was that it all stayed intact, and nothing fell out the back of the taco because it was one big pancake.  I once again tried all of the salsas with this one, and think the verde was my favorite, which is normally the case.

The chimichurri was something I had high hopes for, but I thought it fell a little short.  The spice was good, but it was overwhelmingly vinegary, not having been balanced out with some olive oil, and would have been very good on a smoked pulled pork sandwich but not so much on a taco.

I liked this place, and I want to hit it up on a Sunday morning, as I understand they have a full gospel choir for entertainment.  Good spot.  Don't shy away because it's been publicized on Triple D, it's still as Austin as Austin gets.


Atmosphere:  carnival-like restaurant, ample seating indoor and out, order at counter, mix and match salsas, good for a family, good for a group, good for a quick breakfast or lunch

Food:  mexican and tex-mex

Dog Friendly:  yes

When to Go:  breakfast, lunch, Sunday mornings

Crowd:  carnies

What to Order for the First Timer:  migas taco