TxMo's 31 flavors
Texas Monthly names 3 Austin-area restaurants to comfort food faves list — we suggest 3 more
The staff at Texas Monthly has shared some of their favorite local restaurants in a new list. Published this week, “The Good Place” covers 31 restaurants across the state that have stood the test of time.
Of course, these restaurants cover a broad range of cuisines. Classic American comfort food is represented, but the list also includes Tex-Mex, Mexican, Indian, and more. After all, modern Texans are as likely to crave sag paneer as chicken fried steak.
The magazine offers some insight into how it selected these specific establishments. “What each of the restaurants on this list has is a strong sense of place, an abundance of hospitality, and a lack of pretense,” the magazine writes in an introductory essay. It continues, “most important, these restaurants share an intangible vibe, a know-it-when-you-feel-it quality.”
All of Texas’s major cities score spots on the list. Austin has two restaurants, plus one nearby that locals may recognize. Houston and San Antonio have four each, while Dallas and Fort Worth claim two each.
The representatives in Austin proper are:
- Joe's Bakery, a Mexican diner and bakery in East Austin
- Texas Chili Parlor, a divey Tex-Mex restaurant near UT Austin's campus
Taco editor (seriously) José R. Ralat found the tacos at Joe's "intimidating and glorious," and appreciated the family ambiance. Columnist David Courtney, a.k.a, the Texanist, ties Texas Chili Parlor's excellence back to its many famous patrons, including Willie Nelson and Ann Richards in a group referred to as the Mad Dogs.
"Though few Mad Dogs are still around, the famed hole-in-the-wall in the shadow of the state capitol endures, some 47 years after it opened its doors," Courtney writes. "Upon entering, patrons are instantly transported back to more-carefree times."
In Georgetown, Monument Cafe also made the cut, with arts and entertainment senior editor Josh Alvarez attributing much of his moving there to the retro diner. He calls out several items from what he characterizes as a well-balanced menu, but does not shy away from choosing a firm favorite: "the best buttermilk pancake in Texas."
Admittedly, deciding on whether or not a restaurant qualifies for a list like this one rests entirely on each writer’s individual impressions of it. Still, it’s easy to imagine a number of different possibilities for the Austin-area entries.
In North Austin, Top Notch is as much a visual comfort as a tasty one, with its iconic sign marking a relic of old Austin and a drive-in providing longstanding novelty. Not far away, Chinese barbecue restaurant Din Ho shows off its famous barbecue ducks at the entrance and charms with frosted glass, lazy Suzans, and greasy (in the best way) hot and sour soup. Downtown, although the German Scholz Garten is Austin's oldest operating restaurant, it's keeping up with the times, always hosting community events with a special focus on live music.