Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Texas Monthly's Top 50 Mexican Restaurants

Texas Monthly posted its top 50 Mexican Restaurants list recently:

As you can tell by the comments, Mexican food in Texas is a hotly debated topic. What's better: Yellow cheese? Cotija? Who has homemade flour or corn torillas? Should tex-mex be included on a list of Mexican restaurants? So many questions! I do know I'm jealous of the people who got to taste test and had the hard work of narrowing down the list to 50.

I haven't eaten at all of these places. I can vouch for Curra's in Austin - my favorite mexican breakfast spot - but I can't for Fonda San Miguel as a I got a mad case of food poisoning from there. However, my biggest complaint: Where the heck is La Mexicana from Pharr, Texas??


It's a travesty that La Mexicana is not included.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gypsy Picnic Letdown

I was beyond excited when it was announced that this year Auditorium Shores would host the very first Gypsy Picnic. 30 of Austin's favorite food trailers would be in the same location offering sample sized options for $3 a pop (and some regular menu items at regular cost), live music would be provided and beer would be for sale – so basically this was a perfect Austin event. Until you got there. First off parking was a mess - the Settlement Garage Sale was going on as was an event called Barkitecture. When you finally got to the Gyspy Picnic the lines for each trailer were ridiculously long. We stayed for about 10 minutes before deciding it would be in my stomach's best interest to just go eat elsewhere which was probably for the best as I heard some trailers ran out of food. That was everyone else’s idea too as the waits at all the nearby restaurants were long as well (the poor guy at A Touch of Fire thai food trailer truck down Barton Spring was so overwhelmed I think he needed a hug - I didn't give him one but I will be back to try those thai tacos). I guess the event was overmarketed and the planners had zero idea the crowd it would attract. I was really looking forward to trying the brisket and cheesy mashed potato sandwich from 86 This, a bacon ice cream on a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich from Coolhaus, and a bahn mi taco from The Peached Tortilla but I guess I’ll have to do that at another time. I didn’t get around to taking any pictures but this sums up how I felt:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reale's - Austin, TX - August 28, 2010

Unfortunately for Italian food in Austin, the dreadful Romeo's and the terminally disappointing Mandola's get a lot of ink.  After that all that is left are chains (Maggiano's has been reviewed on this site).  A restaurant that doesn't get as much hype as it should is Reale's, which is absolutely the best red-sauce Italian restaurant in Austin.  It is go-to comfort food for my wife and me.  When I first moved to Austin I couldn't find decent Italian food similar to the great red sauce Italian restaurants found in San Antonio 20 years ago (Caparelli's comes to mind).  Then I went to Reale's and my search was over.

The first time I had manicotti I was a child on a family vacation and the manicotti was made by my cousin.  I was hooked.  What could be better than enchiladas?  How about Italian enchiladas?  That's how I viewed them as a kid and how I continue to describe them today.

Our meals at Reale's start with an appetizer, bruchetta - basil, olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, and tomatoes on top of toasted French Bread.  It's wonderful, full of garlic and basil flavors that meld with the mozzarella.  I've managed to copy the Reale's version (an upcoming post) and am very pleased with the results.

Entrees are followed by a salad with the house dressing.  The dressing has a nice vinegary bite that, paired with the bread sticks, could be a meal all themselves.

The manicotti is one of my top ten meals.  Thin and light manicotti tubes are filled with a tasty B├ęchamel that isn't overly creamy and is seasoned well.  Reale's marinara sauce is full of garlic and wine flavor (I still haven't been able to duplicate the sauce), and it is perfect on top of the manicotti.  The flavor is complimentary to the filling and is also great on it's own.  I always finish up the sauce on my plate with a bread stick.

The Reale's waitstaff is always on the ball and they help make the dining experience even better.  We've been eating there for seven years and most of the servers I have seen there for all seven.  The restaurant is family owned and they do make patrons feel welcome.  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloween, non-food, unfashionable edition

I present Serena's outfit in the Gossip Girl episode "Easy J".

I'm a sexy Darth Vader!

XOXO - Jimbo