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Where to Eat in January: Unexpected restaurant menu finds from Austin food experts

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Austin Photo: Places_Food_Home_Slice_Pizza
Home Slice Italian Sub 365 Things to Do in Austin
Pieous pastrami sandwich
The pastrami sandwich at Pieous Pieous/Facebook
Fresa's Chicken al Carbon tacos
Fresa's tacos Fresa's/Facebook
Austin Photo: Place_Food_lulu_b's_sandwich
Try Lulu B's brisket banh mi Photo by Ben
Austin Photo Set: News_Jackie_elizabeth street cafe_feb 2012_2
"Anything croissant" at Elizabeth Street Cafe is a winner. Photo courtesy of Home Slice
Din Ho Chinese BBQ wonton soup
Won ton soup at Din Ho Chinese BBQ Din Ho Chinese BBQ website
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_michael hsu_aug 2012_uchiko exterior
Uchiko's "kaarage chicken" is great when you want to depart from the sushi menu. Photo by Veronica Meewes
24 Diner Exterior
24 has maybe the best Caesar salad ever. Tasty Touring Courtesy of Tasty Touring
Whole Foods Market flagship store in Austin
BBQ sandwich at Whole Foods? Excellent. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market
Haymaker Austin exterior signage
Haymaker serves a great black bean burger. Photo courtesy of Haymaker/ Facebook
Austin Photo: Places_Food_Home_Slice_Pizza
Pieous pastrami sandwich
Fresa's Chicken al Carbon tacos
Austin Photo: Place_Food_lulu_b's_sandwich
Austin Photo Set: News_Jackie_elizabeth street cafe_feb 2012_2
Din Ho Chinese BBQ wonton soup
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_michael hsu_aug 2012_uchiko exterior
24 Diner Exterior
Whole Foods Market flagship store in Austin
Haymaker Austin exterior signage

This month we celebrate new discoveries. In this case, they're the kind that are often overshadowed on menus at celebrated Austin restaurants by more widely known showstoppers. We asked a few local industry experts to reveal some of their favorite unexpected, underrated or unsung menu heroes around town.

Jessica Dupuy, CultureMap
I've always been a creature of habit at Home Slice Pizza, ordering variations of my favorite pizza when I visit. (Although I love the Sicilian pizza on Monday nights.) But I recently discovered their sub sandwiches. (The Italian sub in particular.) They're all made on a special house-made Italian bread that's crisp and crunchy on the outside, but soft and seductive inside. Layered with ham, dry salami, capicola, Genoa salami and Provolone cheese, it's a fantastic treat. I'm also usually too full to indulge in dessert, but the Home Slice cheesecake is phenomenal. It's light and airy, but big on flavor. I think lemon zest is the key. Also, this may not be a big secret, but while I'm usually dazzled by the myriad sushi dishes at Uchiko, I can't help but order the "karaage" chicken. It's basically just fried chicken marinated in a sweet chili sauce. I could swear it's laced with crack, but either way, I find myself craving it regularly.

Craig Collins, beverage director for Arro, 24 Diner and Easy Tiger
"Ever since 24 Diner opened, I've loved the Caesar salad. It's amazing and has honestly ruined all other versions for me. The BBQ sandwich at Whole Foods Market on Lamar is delicious, as is the "The Tricky" breakfast taco at Fresa's. And if you have a chance, try the Cubano sandwich at Live Oak Market — Convenience Store on Manchaca."

Philip Speer, director of culinary operations, Uchi restaurants
"At Pieous near Dripping Springs, their house-made pastrami sandwich with fresh homemade bread really blew me away. Although, I agree about the Home Slice Pizza sandwich, too. Also, Swift's Attic did an amazing ramen using housemade noodles that they just ran for a special for a few days. Not sure if they are bringing it back, but I had it with a few other chef friends one day, and we all were surprised and impressed."

Andrew Wiseheart, executive chef/owner Contigo
"Right now, my girlfriend and I are liking Winebelly as an unexpected find in Austin. The pig ears are a nice surprise and something I order every time, but the entire menu is thoughtful and tasty."

Wes Mickel, Argus Cidery
"Not everyone knows, but you can buy a puck of dough for $5 at Home Slice Pizza for a "Make Your Own Pizza Party" at home. Also, pretty much everything croissant at Elizabeth Street Cafe is amazing. Lulu B's food trailer has a brisket bahn mi special, and it's probably one of the best briskets in town. And one more, at Wholy Bagel, the owner sometimes makes the best pizza. He sells it early in the morning. I call it 'Hungover Pizza.' It's really good."

Josh Hare, Hops & Grain Brewery
"I'm a huge fan of Pinthouse Pizza for the pizza and beer, but my favorite thing on the menu is their Pinthouse Salad with spinach, red onion, dried cranberries, blue cheese, candied pecans and poppyseed dressing. A new place that has just opened on the east side is Haymaker. They have a hefty menu of meat and cheese dishes, but their black bean burger is one of the best in town."

Sarah McIntosh, chef/owner Epicerie
"My first thought was also the Italian sub at Home Slice — It's my personal favorite, too. Also, at Din Ho Chinese BBQ, the BBQ is amazing, but my favorite thing is the wonton noodle soup." 

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