Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Veracruz All Natural

I recently discovered what may very well be my favorite tacos in town. I'd heard many raves about the charms of Veracruz All Natural, and finally made my way to their trailer down south for a late lunch one Sunday afternoon. It was well after 2:00 and I hadn't eaten anything all day, so I'm afraid my usual propensity for copious photo-taking was a little hampered. But don't let my lackluster photos dissuade you. These tacos are amazing, featuring fantastic tortillas (both flour and corn are housemade), flavorful fillings, and addictive sauces that almost make you wish the fillings were ever-so-slightly less flavorful, so as to justify more sauce usage.


Veracruz2
Migas

Veracruz1
Al pastor

Veracruz3
Rich & luscious chicken mole

Veracruz4
Full o' flavor fish

The tacos run around $3ish apiece; an absolute steal. And the south location is conveniently located outside the lovely Radio Coffee & Beer, so you can order any number of caffeinated or adult beverages to complement your taco goodness. I fell madly in love with this white blueberry tea made by one of my favorite local companies, Zhi tea, as well as the sweet infuser pot it was served in.

Radio Cafe


Veracruz All Natural has quickly earned a spot on my shortlist for a freshly prepared, very reasonably priced meal. Enjoy it on Radio's patio while basking in this absolutely gorgeous fall weather, and you have the recipe for a perfect Austin meal. 

Veracruz All Natural
1704 E. Cesar Chavez
Austin, TX 78702
or
4204 Manchaca Road
Austin, TX 78704
Hours at Manchaca location: 
6:30a - midnight (weekdays)
7:30a - midnight (weekends)

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Shawarma Point

Not long ago, my friend PJ posted a bit of smack talk on my Facebook page about his willingness to pit Shawarma Point's shawarma against any shawarma in town. I'm certainly no shawarma expert and I have no idea how many shawarmas are in town, but I can't resist a good shawarma smack talkin' and so I agreed to meet PJ for lunch.

Shawarma Point has a couple of locations - one at 519 E. 7th Street and another at 1503 S. 1st Street. We met at the South First location because it's near Vuka which, thanks to PJ, meant we had an indoor place to camp out and eat.

Shawarma Point

Shawarma Point's menu is easy even for the chronically indecisive. First, you decide whether you want a wrap, a plate, or a salad (I got a plate). Then you choose your protein: chicken, beef/lamb, or falafel (I picked beef/lamb). Other than add-ons and sides, the only other thing you need to decide is how spicy you want it. I chose "brown people spicy" which, besides being delightfully un-PC-sounding to say, was a mid-range spiciness level that I felt sure I could handle even if shawarma spiciness levels rivaled Thai food spicy. It was just right.

Shawarma

We also got a side of fries to share ($3), which I did not at all need - the shawarma was plenty of food.

Shawarma Point meal

I loved it. The amount of kick was not shy, and was perfectly balanced by the creamy white sauce and the feta (which we had added for $1 extra), tender meat, and wonderful basmati rice. If only it was nearer my house or my office, I know I'd be a regular here.

Shawarma Point
Two locations:
519 E. 7th Street and 1503 S. 1st Street
Austin, Texas
(512) 887-0076
Their Facebook page (I could not find a website)

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Oh la LaV

This may sound a little strange, but I didn't plan on liking LaV. There just seemed a little too much hype, a little too much glitter, a few too many stories about outrageously-priced wine lists and food that didn't live up to its price tag. I assiduously avoided it for months after it opened. But then a friend suggested that we go, and because I truly feel like it is my duty as a restaurant blogger to have tried every single restaurant in this town, I agreed.

It's really difficult not to love the interior of the space. It is decadent and rich, and it is easy to convince yourself that you're in a (restrained, updated) chateau somewhere in France.

La V 1


La V 12

La V 2

If you're planning a visit and you're wondering whether you're going to be able to afford a drink, the answer is yes. The wine list is HUGE. And yes, they do carry $6700 bottles of wine. But they also offer wines priced comparably to pretty much every other wine list in town. I was able to order a delicious $10 glass of prosecco, and my husband had an outstanding old fashioned for $12.

Once we were settled in with a sip or two of our drinks, we turned to the food.

They started us off with a little loaf of bread with butter.

La V 3

Our friend had an aqua dulce green salad tossed with hazelnut vinaigrette and served with warm goat crottin ($14). I had just a little bite of this - enough to know that the crottin was ah-may-zing, just a tiny bit stinky and warm and deeelicious.

La V 5

My husband tried the fall broccoli soup with aged cheddar crisps ($10). It had a roast-y, very broccoli-forward flavor. The aged cheddar crisps were a nice textural addition.

La V 4

For my entree, I chose the roasted whole black sea bass with eggplant caponata and charred lemon ($32). It was a little too fussy for my mood, trying to extract the meat from the bones, but the caponata was absolutely perfect - the flavors and textures melded beautifully together and provided a luscious counterpoint to the flaky fish.

La V 7

My husband ordered the bacon wrapped Massachusetts cod with beluga lentils, mushrooms, and sherry reduction ($33). I thought the bacon overpowered the cod and lentils aren't my starch of choice; this dish didn't really work for me.

La V 6

Our friend ordered one of the small plates for her entree, the hand-rolled whole wheat garganelli with lamb sausage ragout and cherry tomatoes, topped with pecorino ($17). This was my favorite of the three dishes, and I wished for an entree-sized portion of it.

La V 8

We finished the meal with warm brioche doughnuts with Texas peach jam ($11):

La V 9

And my favorite dish of the meal, the Stilton bleu cheese ice cream with port figs and candied pecans - a little painfully priced at $8 for a tiny portion (see the fig on the bottom of the bowl for scale), but it was wonderful (so wonderful that I just looked online for bleu cheese ice cream recipes).

La V 10

The check was presented in this beautiful suede folder. No detail was overlooked here.

La V 11

Did I like it?  It was sumptuous. It was spendy. It could easily provide suitable cover for all of your annoying pretentious fantasies. But, despite myself, yes, I liked it. There are other places in Austin with better food, but there aren't many places where you can spend an hour or two playing that you're a richy-rich in the French countryside, and afterwards walk less than a block and pull up a stool at a dive bar in the best city in the world.

LaV
1501 E. 7th Street
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 391-1888
Their website

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