Austin

In a city the size of Austin, it’s always been a mystery as to why there are more than a dozen ramen-dedicated spots to choose from. So when Kanji Ramen opened its doors, everyone was curious to compare. Less than a year old, this new Japanese noodle shop is already a part of the northwest Austin community.

 

Tex-Mex is a popular cuisine describing the fusion between the United States and Mexico, but it’s not called U.S. Mex, but “Tex” short for Texas in honor of the culinary creation of Tejanos. Yes, it’s big business throughout the Lone Star State, but most especially in our capital.

The story began when Michael Rypka left his executive chef job to pursue the taco dream. Torchy’s Tacos started as a food truck, and its success led to a total of thirty restaurants nationwide and an Austin trailer park. The slogan “Damn Good” derives from the first food truck customers who repeatedly exclaimed, “These tacos are damn good!” so it stuck.

School may be back in session, but summer is not quite over yet. With a city like Austin reaching 100 degrees almost six months out of the year, being an ice cream owner is big business. La Michoacana Natural Ice cream opened two years ago at a shopping center mostly frequented by Hispanics.

Brunch is considered an official pastime here in Austin.  In order of importance it goes tacos, bbq, food trucks, and then comes brunch.  It’s just that serious.  I’m not a big brunch person, but I’m married, so by default I must be a willing participant.

“I’ve been meaning to try that place.”  “Oh man, let me know how it is!” “I’ve always wanted to go there.”  “I’ve seen the commercials and wondered about it.”  Just some of the comments I heard when I talked to friends about my upcoming visit to Vince Young Steakhouse.  I was pretty excited when they invited me to dine as a guest and knew that it should be a great experience.

Driving up to this quaint little place feels more like stopping by a friend’s than arriving to a culinary destination.  High walls surround the patio area, which are dominated by a huge, beautiful, shade-casting tree.  Upon stepping in, I felt like I had been transported to “the old country”.

The multi-story patio, the casual feel and the smiling faces, coupled with the converted home reminded me of many restaurants I’ve visited in Europe; this restaurant is built into its surroundings, instead of the other way around.

Sunday brunch. That particular day when it is perfectly acceptable to have mimosas before noon without being judged. In Austin, there is never a need to wait because brunch is served daily at South Congress Cafe!

The Live Music Capital of the World welcomes One Taco! Owner Axel Beverido, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, opened this eatery just last month. An engineer by trade, he discovered that the tacos he tasted in Austin neighborhoods were more geared towards Tex-Mex cuisine.

Trained in French Culinary School, Chef Nikki Kaya from Istanbul, also known as The Mediterranean Chef, was a chemical engineer by trade. She has been featured by Food Network’s Healthy Eats and the Austin Chronicle.  With experience working in both Swiss and American nutritional analysis laboratories, chef Kaya perfected a Middle Eastern family recipe.

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