Wu Chow

Wu ChowWu Chow opened a few weeks ago, backed by the same group that runs Swift’s Attic, and is the answer to Austin’s almost nonexistent Chinese food.  With their sophisticated space, creative cocktail menu, and authentic dishes, Wu Chow is quickly becoming a top restaurant in Austin.

For me, Asian food usually pairs with white wine, and there are few good options in the sub $50 range, which is most welcomed!  The descriptions of the dishes on the menu are a little lacking, so be sure to ask some questions.  I got the sense the servers were still learning some of the menu items as well, but they helped us pick some great dishes.

 

Wu Chow Soup Dumpling 2

 

The Shanghai Soup Dumplings are not to be missed!  You eat them by picking them up from the top, as to not burst the soupy dumpling bottom, place in soup spoon, top with red wine vinegar and ginger, and then slurp away! These are the best dumplings I’ve ever had. We were told there is one person that makes about 4,000 a week.  They put a limit on how many you can order, they are that good.

 

 

 

Wu Chow Honey Pecan Gulf PrawnsHoney Pecan Prawns are lightly fried, and glazed with a sweet honey sauce.  They are large, tender, and a more generous portion than expected.  Wu Chow Special Fried Rice is also very good, a large portion of fried rice with three of four different proteins.  Most of the dishes came with white rice, so we had quite a few bowls of rice on our table, much more than we could finish.

Dry Fried Green Beans are crunchy, a bit spicy, and flavorful with garlic and some sort of fermented veggies.  We also enjoyed the Scallions Hugging Beef, very tender in a salty oniony sauce.

 

 

Two-Faced Crispy Noodles and Tangerine Peel Beef

I love the texture of the Two-Faced Crispy Noodles.  With chicken, beef, and a ton of vegetables, these crispy noodles are gently softened by flavorful broth to give them a nice chewy quality.

We enjoyed everything we tasted, and will definitely be back to try some of their dim sum for Sunday brunch.  I could see stopping in for happy hour regularly to slurp up those delicious soup dumplings!  (Seriously, get the soup dumplings.)

La Condesa

La Condesa Decor 2La Condesa is becoming a mainstay of ours. From their bright and cheery décor, to having one of the Top 5 Margaritas in Austin, this is the kind of place that just makes me happy.

 

La Condesa TacosOften thought of as one of the more expensive Mexican restaurants in Austin, the key is knowing when to go and what to order. On Sunday mornings, skip the specialty cocktails and opt for their $2 Bloody Mary and Mimosas. Get some of the tacos, they are mix and match and can be ordered a la carte. Grab a fish taco, grilled and dressed with a light aioli and pair it with one of the roasted chicken tacos, topped with cilantro, onions, and salsa verde and you are on your way.

 

La Condesa Mixta Con Pollo RostizadoThe best brunch dish at La Condesa is the Mixta Con Pollo Rostizado. Mixed greens are piled high with thinly sliced onions and cucumbers, avocado and queso fresco, very lightly dressed in a mustard vinaigrette. The roasted chicken is perfectly seasoned and seems to be finished with a confit style of cooking, which gives it a savory balance to the fresh greens, not often found in a typical salad.

 

 

Margarita La CondesaIf Happy Hour is more your thing, come in for some of the best specialty cocktails in Austin. I would love to know who comes up with their cocktail list. The Margarita La Condesa, with fresh pineapple and herbaceous cactus-lemongrass salt rim, is perfectly balanced, and is number one on my list of Top 5 Margaritas in Austin.

 

 

The cubico is La Condesa El Cubicodownright sinful. The spice of the saffron salt rim and the smokiness of the tobacco pairs perfectly with the sweet vanilla brandy and grilled pineapple juice. Top it off with a hefty pour of cazadores resposado, you have the perfect sipper for when there is a little chill in the air. Best of all, all drinks are half off during happy hour, so the normally pricey specialty cocktails are all $6 from 5-7pm.

El Alma

El Alma MargaritaWhat’s not to like about El Alma? Their frozen margaritas are some of the Best Margaritas in Austin, and they have a great rooftop patio that overlooks the Austin skyline. In a city flush with Tex-Mex, El Alma is a much welcomed, more traditional, approach to Mexican food in Austin.

El Alma CevicheI’m a sucker for a good brunch or a good happy hour, and since El Alma has both, it’s not surprising that we are there often. They have happy hour pricing from 3-6pm daily on some of our favorites. The Margarita Clasica and Margarita Chilanga, a spicier version of the classic, with the addition of Valentina hot sauce, are both discounted. The Ceviche Clasico is exactly how it should be; a large portion of flaky fish, dressed with tomatoes, onions, serrano and lime served with fresh, homemade chips. For a perfect balance of adobo marinated pork and sweet grilled pineapple, try the savory Pastor taco. All of their tacos are sold a la carte, and are perfect for a happy hour snack.

El Alma Huevos Franceses

If you can’t wait until happy hour, Saturday and Sunday brunch is where it’s at. The Huevos Franceses, two poached farm eggs and spinach on corn pudding; with chipotle hollandaise, tomatoes, and avocado, is one of the best brunch dishes I have had anywhere (and I’ve been to my share of brunches). It’s savory, mildly spicy, and visually stunning. When really hungry, you can’t go wrong with the Pollo a la Parilla, a large grilled chicken breast, chipotle tomato salsa, caramelized onions, and grilled queso panela on a platter piled high with spicy potato wedges.
You simply cannot have a better start to your day than a sunny patio, overlooking downtown Austin and frozen margaritas. That’s a fact.