Best of Austin: Restaurants 2022 – Chronicle editors name their favorite dishes: We all have our favorites – food
James Renovitch with a Nada Chicken at ThunderCloud (Photo by Kimberley Jones)
Editor-in-Chief James Renovitch: I’m far from a vegetarian, but damn, I love that tasty fake meat and surrounding sandwich fixins in ThunderCloud Subs’ signature Nada Chicken Sandwich. Prepare for good small talk with your sandwich maker and impatient taps from those behind you in line while you wait for the patties to cook.
Different places, gewitterwolke.com
Deputy News Editor Maggie Thompson: I’m one of those 20-something guys who moved here from the west coast, couldn’t get a place in Austin, and ended up at sweet home Cedar Park at the last minute. I’m glad because of hidden gems like Aleida’s Latin Food. The restaurant on Little Elm Trail is very charming and always has a great cake (big Abuela vibe), but something about the food truck in front of the Chevron on S. Bell Boulevard looks different. The original arepa literally appeared to me in a dream, crunchy and smothered in Aleida’s sauce.
Restaurant: 2011 Little Elm Trl., Cedar Park; Food Truck: 602 S. Bell Blvd., Cedar Park. aleidas.com
Arts and Grocery List Editors / Food Lieutenant Wayne Alan Brenner: I’m a three-minute drive from my house to El Rincon, a funky Tex-Mex joint in Pflugerville. I could still drive there if it took an hour. The bustling cantina ambiance, the ever-flowing coffee and perfect salsa, and omg, that generous Carne Guisada plate: just what it takes to beat the hungriest morning of any day of the week.
200 U. Pecan, Pflugerville, elrincontexmex.com
Katherine McNevins, Special Screenings and Community Entries Editor: Last time I ordered my favorite from Vivo I said I wanted this for my last meal. Kind of a morbid thought, but it cemented itself in my head as if I didn’t know how good it was: shrimp tacos, perfectly seasoned and on lightly toasted cheese tortillas, almost a quesadilla, and complemented by chilled chipotle Cream sauce, crispy cabbage and the best fries and salsa in town.
6406 N. I-35 #2343, vivoaustin.com
Editor-in-Chief Kimberley Jones: I love the salt and pepper tofu at Bun Belly so much that I pay Favor’s ridiculously high fee of $6 just to have it shipped to my door. It’s a sinus-cleansing salad, dressed heavily in lime, with sautéed jalapeños and radishes. The main event is the pillowy tofu, encased in a delicately spiced tempura that somehow still retains most of its crunch as you drive around town. Worth every penny.
6929 Airport #132, bunbellyatx.com
poke poke (Photo by John Anderson)
Staff writer Rachel Rascoe: I’ve weathered the lunchtime fixation on a few poke bowls around town, but Poke-Poke on Hancock has held my focus the longest for its consistent freshness and perfectly simple OG seasoning (soy sauce, sesame oil, onions, and sesame seeds). Specifically, I grab the Lil Salmon Poke with white rice, kale, and — when I’m feeling extra fancy — macadamia nuts.
2320 Hancock, poke-poke.com
Proofreader and Qmmunity Editor James Scott: To be honest, I could count every dish from Bouldin Creek Cafe as my main course: the Swamp Thing cure for hangovers; Slacker’s Banquet’s magical pile of beans, vegan cheese and rice; or the vegan eggs Benedict, the Renedict, which always makes me think of our editor-in-chief James Renovitch. But the Potato and Leek Omelet tops them all, a starchy king covered in black pepper sour cream and stuffed with delicious potatoes and leeks. Breakfast of champions I would say.
1900 S. First, bouldincreekcafe.com
bento picnic (Photo by John Anderson)
Proofreader and news reporter Lina Fisher: The bean burrito at JewBoy Burgers is my guilty work lunch because it’s both convenient ($5, filling, and hand-held) and indulgent (lard and queso?? c’maaaan). The garden bento box at Bento Picnic is perfect for special occasions – anything about the all-bagel-esque spice they put on the fresh avocado with the kale salad, sweet squash, and pickled veggies on the side? The finest vegetarian delicacies.
Food editor Melanie Haupt: I’m not a big consumer of fried chicken, but my family really loves it. So if Tumble 22 shows up in the overnight rotation for family takeout, I’ll be grateful there’s a salad option. The Full Cobb Salad is a huge portion and it’s filled with tasty things like avocado and bacon and cheese and eggs. Even without the plump chicken tenders, it’s an extremely filling dish. When I eat fried chicken, I might as well feel better by eating it on a bed of lettuce.
Different places, tumble22.com
News Editor Mike Clark-Madison: Orange Chicken at 888: I wouldn’t order this dish anywhere else (unless I was looking for mall Chinese, which I sometimes do), and it’s not what most people would order from the Vietnamese pan-Asian mainstay, but give it a try Try it – fruity, but also spicy and a little astringent, with perfectly roasted chicken and hearty enough for your hungriest moments.
2400 E. Oltorfstr. 1-A, 888panasianrestaurant.com
Culture Editor Richard Whittaker: A fish dish can be complicated, but the fish itself should be simple. District Kitchen + Cocktail’s Rainbow Trout bridges that seemingly illogical divide by searing the river trout to buttery, flaky perfection, then layering it on golden raisin wild rice that has the look, but not the texture, of a rocky riverbed. The pesto sauce adds just enough pizzazz against the surprising delight of the roasted Brussels sprouts. Pair it with the Citrus Old Fashioned.
5900 W. Slaughter Ste. D-500; 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd. Ste. B.; districtaustin.com
Proofreader Jasmine Lane: Oh man, those Cuban yucca fries. Something about hanging out on the patio at Kinda Tropical with a cocktail and a crispy, starchy pile of yucca fries really brings the weekend home. And that jalapeño avocado dip? Magic.
3501 E. Seventh, kindatropical.com
Platanos Fritos in El Sunzal (Photo by Kevin Curtin)
Music Editor Kevin Curtin: Plátanos fritos con crema y frijol at El Sunzal: Perfectly ripe plantains, sliced vertically and deep fried, then placed in the center of a plate and topped with a rich, flavorful Salvadoran cream on one side and uncurdled fried on the other Pinto beans spiked. Overall, this $6 dish, which pairs well with pupusas a la carte, presents an image that resembles a yin-yang symbol. And why not? It’s fruit, protein and dairy in unexpected harmony.