Ate at Polvos, and I liked it. It's a nice restaurant, and apparently extremely popular (although I had never heard of it before). The bad thing about the restaurant is that there's basically no fucking parking. The restaurant's parking lot is pitiful compared to how many people the restaurant can accommodate, so most visitors have to park in the adjacent residential neighborhood (I did at least; I had to park two fucking blocks away!)
But anyway, parking excluded, this is a nice restaurant with a large menu and a nice self-serve salsa bar. There were a couple of different salsas, my favorite being a dark garlic-y salsa, which was pretty good. Also available at the salsa bar were vegetables, carrots, onions, and jalapenos, that had been soaked in what looked like vinegar -- these were quite tasty as well (I'm guessing these were pickled vegetables of a sort).
For my entree, I couldn't decide between "Pescado al Mojo de Ajo" ("Grilled Snapper intensely sautéed in Garlic and real Butter served along with our House Salad and Rice"), or "Chili Relleno Original" ("Chile Poblano Pepper stuffed with Cheese, Vegetables, Chicken or Ground Beef, topped with a special Red Sauce and Monterey Jack Cheese. Served with Rice, Beans and corn or flour Tortillas. (Fish or Shrimp available)". My problem is that I just started watching this food/cooking series on PBS Create, "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" with Rick Bayless, and I just recently saw episodes that focused on both pescado al mojo de ajo and chili relleno, so I was hungry for both of them, but I could only choose one. I ended up choosing the chili relleno with chicken, which was quite good and really fucking huge. I was expecting chicken stuffed into a small poblano pepper, but what I got looked like a mound of chickened covered in the skin of a poblano pepper (along with onion if I'm not mistaken), battered, covered in a tomato sauce, and topped with cheese. It really was quite good.
I quite enjoyed Polvos, just wished they had better parking.
1400 E. 38 1/2 Street
Austin, TX 78722-1927
Head Public Restaurant Critic
I don’t know how it happened, but the last three places that I have gone out to eat at I have ordered fish tacos, so I guess this is part one of my three part fish taco review series.
The first place I went to was a place called Quack’s Maplewood Bakery and Café, the second place was Wahoo’s, and the third was El Chilito, which so happens to be the order of least favorite to favorite.
Quack’s is a restaurant/bakery/coffee shop, with breakfast tacos and sandwiches, which I think they specialize in, because they had a good many variety of them, but I don’t think they specialize in fish tacos (although they do advertise their fish tacos on their marquee sign).
The fish in my fish tacos were breaded and fried, and by itself the fish would have been good, but combined with the sliced cucumber, sliced red bell pepper, sliced jicama, tartar sauce and corn tortillas it was served with made for an unpleasant eating experience. The fish was hot, right out of the fryer or pan (or whatever they cooked it in), but everything else was cold, right out of the refrigerator. Normally, I like my food items to be in the same general temperature range, not on opposite sides of the temperature spectrum. Further, I’m used to hot tortillas when I order tacos at restaurants not cold. To add insult to injury, the cold makes corn tortillas brittle and my tortillas fell apart before I was half done with the taco. Eventually, I had to settle for eating my tacos with a fork, which is kind of the opposite way of eating a hand held food item.
It really felt like the restaurant was trying too hard to make their fish tacos unique with their use of cucumber, red bell pepper, jicama, and tartar sauce instead of the traditional cabbage and whatever light sauce most places use. My friends that went with me to Quack’s all got sandwiches, which they really liked, so the next time I go back I’ll probably get a sandwich, but definitely not their fish tacos.
Quack's Maplewood Bakery
1400 E. 38 1/2 Street
Austin, TX 78722-1927
Head Public Restaurant Critic
This is my second time at Quack's Maplewood Bakery. The first time, I got the fish tacos and could care less for them, but my buddies that went with me all got sandwiches and loved them. This time, I decided to follow the advice of my friends and get a sandwich -- specifically, the Cuban, which consists mainly of pulled pork on toasted/grilled bread. This time, I was not disappointed. The Cuban was really really good. Plus, I decided to get fries with my sandwich, and the fries were some of the best fries I have ever had -- they're homemade, long, sliced thick on one side and thin on the other, and they are battered and they are awesome.
The first time I went to Quack's I was severely disappointed (I really wanted some good fish tacos). The second time I was impressed.
I went to Quality Seafood with some friends. For the longest time, I didn't know this place was a restaurant -- I had always assumed it was a seafood market, which it is, but it's also a restaurant, hot damn. I got a plate of grilled snapper that came with two sides, of which I choose the fried okra and macaroni and cheese. This was the first time I've ever knowingly had snapper, and it's good. Also, we went on a Tuesday, on which they have two dollar draft beer, which was icing on the cake.
The only problems that I noticed with this place are 1.) the long wait to order (this place is too small for its popularity), and 2.) their macaroni and cheese, which was good, but which should have been called spaghetti and cheese.
I recently visited a nearby Quiznos on a lunch break a few days back. I rarely eat at Quiznos, because in general, I don’t like most sandwich places as I feel they are overpriced for food I could just make at home – to be honest, most sandwich places do not even cook anything, they just throw pre-cooked meats and breads together with vegetables and condiments and wrap it up. But recently, I got a flyer for Quiznos in the mail advertising their ‘sammies’, cheap two dollar little sandwiches, which piqued my interest (see, advertising does work). Tired of the dollar menu burgers from fast food restaurants, I decided to check out these ‘sammies’.
At the Quiznos I visited, a small little hole-in-the-wall situated in a strip mall, I found a large lunch crowd. I ordered a chicken balsamic vinaigrette sammy with a medium drink, and complemented that with free peppers from their little condiment/pepper stand. The sammy was good, a very nice alternative to fast food value burgers, but smaller than I had thought it would be. But oh well. Also, as advertised, the sammy I had (they have different varieties) comes with diced tomato, but mine had a slice of tomato – honestly, I don’t know what would have been better, but just wanted to note the discrepancy between the advertised and the actual.
All in all, it was a good visit, with just some minor things no one else but me would even care to mention. First, for some reason my cup holding my soda was leaking from the bottom, not a lot mind you, but enough to the point that every time I took a drink there was a ring of soda, not water from condensation, but soda on the table that I had to wipe off. It wasn’t a big enough deal to make me want to get a new cup, but was still a big enough deal that I wished that I didn’t have the luck to get this faulty cup (I wished the person in front of me had ordered another drink).
Second, this Quiznos gets crazy busy during the lunch hour, which, for most sandwich places, must be their peak, make-it or break-it hour for the store in general. The Quiznos was packed and I had to sit at a table basically right next to the restrooms. Also, since it was so packed, it was hard for me to take pictures without being noticed and thought of as a crazy person or voyeur, but some how I managed.
Finally, my biggest quam with Quiznos, and the restaurant industry in general, is the proliferation of the tip jar. It seems that almost any service establishment you go to now-a-days, from restaurants to the video rental stores, have tip jars. I don’t have anything against tipping when its warranted, like being waited on, but at a fast food restaurant where you give and pick up your order yourself, tipping is a bit extraneous. Not only do they have a tip jar right next to the register where you pay at, but, like myself who pays everything with my credit card, the receipt you sign asks you how much you want to tip, and I always feel bad or guilty or cheap or mean as the cashier watches me write 0 on the tip line.
Overall, as a desperately needed alternative to normal fast food, I will be back to try out the rest of the sammies, even if I do have to sit next to the restrooms again.
And just an added note, I could not help but notice that Quiznos now has advertisements on their tables, as you can see in the pic below an advertisement for 'The Apprentice', which, for some reason just rubs me the wrong way. I know that, since I have advertisements on my website that I could be seen as a hypocrite, but really, having advertisements on the table you're eating on just seems a bit much.