Food Finds III

10.06.2013

Toastie's Sub Shop 
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Sub shops are just about as commonplace as gas stations these days, and each is desperately seeking to find its niche in the market: Subway's workin' the health angle with Jared's always decreasing waistline; Quizno's is milking the toaster oven for all it's worth; Schlotzsky's got a good thing goin' with its Cinnabon partnership; and Austinites will forever be loyal to Thundercloud.
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But there's a hidden--but not for long--gem on South Lamar by the name of Toastie's which easily ranks at the top of my list.
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It's the "little sandwich shop that could," offering just enough options to please any sandwich craving--a banh mi, muffalatta, tuna melt, reuben, several veggie options and more.
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The indoor seating provides entertainment with a selection of arcade and board games. The outdoor area is pleasantly shaded and tucked away to where you barely notice you're facing Lamar traffic.
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Exciting news for all West Campus residents! Toastie's second Austin location behind Cuatro's and Freedmen's (next to the new 7-Eleven) will be opening on Halloween Day with free beer and sandwiches to celebrate.
my order: Roma Chicken Sub (grilled chicken tossed w/ sundried tomato pesto topped w/ provolone cheese, fresh baby spinach, balsamic soaked roma tomatoes served on a sweet wheat hoagie)
next time: The Cuban (slow roasted pulled pork, ham + pickle stackers sandwiched b/w swiss w/ a combo of spicy brown + honey mustards served on a cuban loaf)
rating:    ★ ½
good for: an easy lunch under $10. have it Favor'd for ultimate convenience and deliciousness right at your doorstep

East Side King
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When chains like Potbelly and 'Doba won't do the trick in between classes, there's a spot just around the corner that's serving food from the most acclaimed Austin chef, Paul Qui, owner of Uchi, Uchiko and Top Chef season 9 winner. Kinda sorta a big deal.
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There's something to be said about a chef that can delight customers in both a white tablecloth setting
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and out of paper trays and plastic utensils coming out of a moving vehicle.
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Paul Qui does just that.
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My rush adviser, Cathy, joined me on my first ESK experience at their drag location, nestled behind the Hole in the Wall.
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The mural artwork is about as funky as the flavors, but in the best way possible. Your taste buds will find it hard not to enjoy the novelty of Qui's dishes. And for students, your wallet will appreciate this bill over one you'd see at Uchi or his newest establishment, Qui.
my order: beet home fries w/ kewpie mayo & Brussels sprout salad w/ fried Brussels sprouts, sweet-spicy sauce, shredded cabbage, basil, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and a deep fried bun
next time: Veggie Meshi - Brussels sprout salad (insanely good) w/ the special Liberty Rice
rating:    ★ 
good for: a savory snack if you're overdosed on fro-yo, sno beach or amy's // happy hour (mon-fri 3-8pm) where heart attacks are only $3 when you order the fried bacon balls (can't say i've been myself, so feel free to extend the invite if you take this opportunity)

Swift's Attic
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Tucked away in the upstairs of the Elephant Room jazz lounge, Swift's Attic lives up to its name as you feel comfortably hidden from the the whirl of city and simultaneously in the midst of it all.
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I'd say Swift's epitomizes the vibe of a "trendy" restaurant. Make of that what you will, but William and I really liked it.
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Rich velvet accents coordinate with the chestnut leather booths and somewhat gaudy (in a good way) light fixtures. Even the bathrooms emit a swanky air. It's a glamorized attic, a secret chamber which draws an eclectic mix of families, couples and single folk.
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The menu, made up of all small plates, is categorized by meat, seafood, snacks, veggies and sweets. For two, they recommend six plates, so we picked one from each section. Some were better than others, but the best were really, really good--like the whangs and thangs and pigtail carnita puffy tacos.
my order: snack: charred edamame w/ pop rocks // veg: grilled hearts of romaine w/ sweet corn, chili oil, bacon & avocado buttermilk // sea: house apple smoked trout // land: lockheart quail w/ bleu cheese grits, candied almonds // land: whangs and thangs w/ bbq sweetbreads // sweet: sesame cornbread
next time: chocolate & cheese // warm brussels // Albacore tataki w/ sweet corn puddin'
rating:    ½
good for: a New York-esque dining experience in the capital city of Texas when you're feeling indecisive and want to pick at better "bar food" than mixed nuts and pretzels. jump here to look at the blog following the construction of Swift's

Sway
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You'll note below that this is the only place that received the high remark of all five stars and there's a good reason for it.
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Sway has mastered every facet of the dining out experience--from ambiance to price to menu to flavors to setting to service, your time at Sway will be well spent.
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{yes, they serve a banana split}
After hearing rave reviews from everyone who'd been, my mom and I went on the second night of parent's weekend, opting out of the game and the BBQ at our Kappa Cookout. No regrets there.
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They don't take reservations, so we were anxious to see what the wait would be like, especially with our 7pm arrival.
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We just so happened to get the best spots in the house with two of the eight seats at the kitchen bar where you can watch the master chefs perform their craft while you eat.
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Each has their expertise--one chef made what had to be over forty orders of spring rolls during our time there. One handled the fish, freshly laid out over piles of ice, ready to be served whole.
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Each dish comes out one after the other and sharing is encouraged. This place is not for those wary of spice or bold flavors, as most dishes come with both. It's certainly some of Austin's finest food fare, and I cannot wait for my next visit.
my order: prawn miange (betel leaf, toasted coconut, toasted cashews, lime, fresno chile, grapefruit) // tiger cry (char-grilled hangar steak, red chili namh jim, thai basil, fresno chile, toasted rice, nahm prik pao) // blue crab fried rice // avocado sorbet
next time: the prawn miange (yes, again...it's that good) //  nashi pear chicken // one of the noodle dishes // son in law (crispy farm egg, braised pork shoulder, thick soy, chile vinegar) // chinese broccoli
rating:      
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good for: an authentic thai family style feast if you reserve ahead of time under "moo sway" on their website or a date where entertainment is included when you sit kitchen-side

Benji's Cantina
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Most restaurants I've covered in this series are fairly new on the restaurant scene, but Benji's opened its doors most recently.
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Tex-Mex is abundant in Austin, but Benji's atmosphere will keep customers--like myself--coming back as its lively atmosphere (upstairs and down) fits its locale on the always bustling 6th Street.
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I went with about 20 girls for my friend Katie's 21st birthday and if Benji's has perfected anything, it's large party dining.
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We sat on the top patio, which provided the perfect setting to celebrate, with plenty of room to move around and visit with everyone.
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Benji's--not to be confused with Houston's Benjy's--offers Austin another delicious option for our favorite guilty pleasure, Tex-Mex.
my order: La Chupacabra margarita w/ jalapenos, blackberries, agave nectar + fresh lime // tomato + crab salad // tacos de mare
next time: quesadillas w/ pork al pastor, pico de gallo + a trio of Oaxaca, Chihuahua and smoked cheddar cheese
rating:    ★ ½
good for: i enjoyed my food but also found myself picking off of meghan's veggie fajita platter, so give that a try if you're going the sans-meat route // a change of pace from Matt's and Maudie's

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Though I'm fresh out of good eats to report on for the time being, Austin's food supply just continues to grow and I have every intention of furthering my search for all the new flavors this city has to offer.

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Next up: G'Raj Mahal Café, Justine's and Arro for French fare, Blue Dahlia Bistro (haven't explored East Austin nearly enough) and staking out early one Saturday morning for Franklin's world famous barbecue.

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For all of you who joined me on these dining adventures, thanks, gracias, merci and gratsi. Your company certainly exceeded the cuisine. Until I uncover more food finds, prepare yourself for more fashion, music and entertainment; BOD's going on a food post diet. Happy Fall!


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