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Guy Fieri only wishes he had my hair.

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: Can’t go to Austin without eating Torchy’s Tacos, bro…

Now, back home in Toronto, if you’re getting tacos from a chain, it’s probably Taco Bell or Chipotle or some shit. But here in Austin, even the chain tacos don’t suck! Torchy’s Tacos is a local legend with locations all over town, and they’re serving up some outta bounds tacos with names like Trailer Park and Crossroads… Check out these renegades of funk in Flavourtown:

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The Trailer Park is packing fried chicken, green chiles, lettuce, pico, cheddar jack cheese and poblano sauce on a flour tortilla (although I got mine with a corn tortilla, just because.) Chicken is crunchy and tender, with a nice kick from the green chile and coolness from the tomatoes and cheese.

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Now it’s time for some green chile pork, with carnitas, more green chile, cotija cheese, cilantro and onions. Carnitas melt in your mouth, while that green chile sauce adds a nice little kick.

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The baja shrimp taco has crispy fried shrimp, coleslaw, pickled onions, and cilantro — and they don’t shortchange ya on the shrimp, either! Shrimp and slaw have a nice crunch, and the chipotle sauce is pretty spicy (for a white guy).

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And that brings us to the Crossroads, with shredded brisket, avocado, jalapeños, cilantro, and a whole lotta cheese, bro! Brisket is great by itself, but you’ve got the creamy avocado, a bit of kick from the jalapeños, and more of that green chile sauce — I swear, they put that shit on everything!!!!!

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: Seasons in the Bun @ P. Terry’s jacked-up burger joint!

Now, there are more than a few funky burger joints in Austin…but none of them seem to be south of the lake. But then I heard about this funky local chain that’s serving up Austin’s best burger (according to the Austin Chronicle), so you KNOW I had to check it out — this is P. Terry’s Burger Stand:

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Of course, we had to go with the biggest, baddest burger on the menu, a Double Cheeseburger combo that’ll only set you back 9 bucks. Patties are very thin, cheese is melted all over the place, and you’ve got just a bit of lettuce and tomato for those two servings of veggies.

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Fries are kinda like a cross between McDonald’s and Swiss Chalet. They’re thin like Mickey D’s, but not nearly as salty. And they’ve got a bit of that fresh-cut feel like Swiss Chalet.

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Washed it all down with a small iced tea. I keep forgetting that iced tea in the south is not the same thing that they sell in cans up in Canada…

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: $16 Middle East Feast @ Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet

Not only is everything bigger in Texas, but it’s usually cheaper, too. So when I heard about Dimassi’s Mediterranean Buffet, this funky joint with an AYCE lunch buffet for just $15.99, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!!!

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Plate 1: fried chicken, gyros, kofta, chicken breast, meatloaf, hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh, coleslaw, pasta salad

Kofta was hot and tasty, but the highlight was the spicy meatloaf, topped with a potato and a hot pepper. And I don’t even know what this dish is called, bro…

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Plate 2: chicken breast, pulled beef, fried fish, potatoes, okra, brown rice, potato salad, chickpea salad, fattoush, avocado hummus, baba ganoush

The pulled beef was outstanding, tender and tangy, while the fried fish was nice and crisp. And avocado hummus!? Shut the back door, bro!!!!

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Plate 3: fried chicken, baked fish, eggplant, cauliflower, grape leaves, falafel, spicy flatbread

Fried chicken was tastier this time around, coming in hot and juicy. And that eggplant melts like butter, bro! Not sure about that spicy flatbread, though. I thought it was pizza…but no!

And you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert! But after some rice pudding, baklava and halawa (which I forgot to take a picture of), that oughtta do’er.

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: New school BBQ @ LeRoy and Lewis

Now, you KNOW we couldn’t go to Austin without chowing down on some real-deal BBQ, bro! LeRoy and Lewis has been recognized as one of the best BBQ joints in town, and they’re serving it up from a food truck in the beer garden at Cosmic Coffee.

Like most BBQ joints in Texas, they tend to sell out early, so they were out of almost all their meats and half their sides when we rolled up at 6 pm. But they still had enough left for us to assemble this 1 meat, 2 side plate for $15.

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So the one meat they had left was barbacoa, which I actually might have ordered anyways. Texture and flavour of the meat was on point, although it needed a bit of that BBQ sauce to give it that extra little kick.

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When it comes to the sides, we’re kicking it old school and new school…at the same time. On the one hand, we’ve got a Texas classic in Frito pie, with crunchy corn chips, meaty chili and some cheddar cheese. Nothing wrong with that at all!

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And we also went with kimchi, which was actually the least spicy thing on this plate. But the cabbage had a nice crunch, and the flavour was on point. Hands down the best kimchi I’ve ever had from a BBQ truck, son!

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Inside of Cosmic Coffee, we’re washing it down with a Real Ale Vamonos Lime Sour Gose. This is pretty much the perfect beer for Mexican food, like a Corona on steroids with the lime brewed right in. And at just 4%, I can pound these all night long….

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: Jambalaya, crawfish pie AND file’ gumbo? Son of a gun…

Now, Austin may be 500 miles from New Orleans, but you can still find some real-deal Cajun food…if you know where to look. We’re hanging out at Evangeline Cafe, this funky little joint inside a strip mall on Brodie Lane, where they’re serving up the kind of things that only Hank would sing about. We’re talking bout a Hank Williams Platter, with jambalaya, crawfish pie AND file’ gumbo — you KNOW we gotta check it out, bro!

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But first, we’re starting off with some gator bites. This crispy little nuggets of flavour are nice ‘n crispy, but I mean, you could tell me these were fish nuggets, and I wouldn’t know any better!!!

And now it’s time for the main event, so we’re lining up this holy trinity in Flavourtown…

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Jambalaya was nicely seasoned. Few little chunks of chicken — but the sausage is definitely the best part of this dish!

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Now, I’m not really sure what the “file” in file gumbo is, but the gumbo was quite tasty. More of that sausage, with some chunks of meat, rice and a good, dark gravy.

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But the crawfish pie is what makes it, son! It’s like a creamy seafood chowder inside a flaky pastry, with a decent little kick at the end. I’ll take three of these to go…

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This place is also serving up a buncha Abita beers, straight outta NOLA. Purple Haze is a nice, light lager with just a touch of raspberries — not bad for a first beer of the day.

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But now we’re kicking it up a couple notches with this AndyGator, a heavy helles doppelbock clocking in at 8%. It really doesn’t taste that strong, but like a gator on the bayou, it kinda sneaks up on ya…

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! And man, this place could sure teach Mother Tongue a thing or two when it comes to beignets. This pecan pistolette stuffs a perfectly flaky beignet with candied pecans, topped with syrup and powdered sugar — no Sichuan sugar tonight, son!!!!!!!

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: Chicken fried steak & traditional country music @ Broken Spoke

Speaking of OG funky joints in Austin, the Broken Spoke is one of the original honky tonks in town, throwing it down since 1964 on a stretch of South Lamar that’s now completely surrounded by condos. They do have a dance hall in the back, but from 6 to 8 pm, they’re playing live music with no cover at the front bar, which is right when we moseyed on in.

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One thing you won’t find here is a lotta craft beer — their beer list is very heavy on the macrobrews. But I did find me this Hopadillo IPA, a nice dry-hopped brew checking in at an evil 6.6%.

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When it comes to food, the main attraction here is the chicken fried steak. Meat is nice n tender, with a crispy breading and a good white gravy. Served with thick, crispy fries and one lonely dinner roll, it’s a pretty good deal for 15 bucks, bro!

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On this evening, a feller named Ian Stewart was kicking it old school with some traditional country tunes going back to “Blue Yodel #8” by Jimmie Rodgers, “Walking the Floor” by Ernest Tubb, the George Jones version of “Tennessee Whiskey” and even “Lovesick Blues” by Hank. Let’s just say he did NOT take my request for “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.” 😦

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: Pour some queso on me, in the name of Bob!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Matt’s El Rancho, one of the OG Tex-Mex joints in Austin, since 1952. This place has everything from tacos to burritos to fajitas, but the main reason to come here is for the Bob Armstrong Dip:

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OK, let’s break it down. Basically, you’ve got a great big bowl of queso, with ground beef and avocado, which goes great with the big and crunchy house chips. Nothing wrong with that at all!

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But now it’s time for the main event. This place has a whole lotta lunch specials for just $11.95, but this here’s the Mac daddy. This fajita plate comes with enough filling for three fully loaded fajitas, with your choice of beef or chicken — you KNOW we went with beef, bro!!!

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For the last one, I even put some Bob Armstrong Dip on top, which really kicked it up a notch!!!

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And if there’s one beer that screams Austin, it’s gotta be this McConauhaze IPA from local brewer Twisted X. Let’s just say it’s alright, alright, alright…

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: Texas BBQ meets Japanese izakaya @ Loro

Now, we’re no strangers to Franklin Barbecue on Triple B, having lined up there for six hours last time I was in town. So when I heard that Aaron Franklin had opened this new funky joint with Tyson Cole of Uchi, the most popular Japanese restaurant in town, you KNOW I had to check it out, bro!

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Of course, it’s still all about the brisket, which is so tender they don’t even give you a knife, and is served daily AFTER 4 pm. This beef comes topped with chili gastrique and Thai herbs for a little extra kick!

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But they aren’t just doing BBQ here, bro! They’ve also got Asian food, like these tender and juicy chicken karaage, which are great on their own or with the chili aioli. I’d put that on a flip-flop!!!!

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Washed it all down with a couple pints of Swifty IPA, which happens to be just 5 bucks during Happy Hour, from 2 to 5 on weekdays — now that’s what I call perfect timing, bro!!!!

SOUTH BY SOUTH AUSTIN: The biggest, baddest brisket breakfast tacos in Texas!!!!

Dude, Austin is one of my all-time favourite food cities, bro! We’ve been here a couple times already, but there are so many funky joints in this town that you just can’t visit ’em all in one trip. And hey, I’ve already lined up at Franklin’s and thrown down on Sixth Street, so this time, we’re only going to places that are south of the river. Cuz you don’t need to go downtown to get some of the best food in this town, son!! 
 
Now, I’ve had a few breakfast tacos in Austin before, but I heard that Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ, this funky little joint waaaaay down south in South Austin is serving up some of the best in town, so you KNOW we gotta check it out! This place is dishing out BBQ and Mexican food throughout the day, but if you wanna get your hands on one of these bad boys, you gotta get there before 11…
 
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As you can see, the brisket is the star of this show. It costs $3 to add brisket to one of their breakfast tacos, but let’s just say it’s money well spent. Dude, this is some of the most melt-in-mouthy brisket I’ve ever had, bro! I’d almost go back and order 3 more pounds of brisket…except the lineup is kinda long.
 
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So we’re starting off with the Ultimate Bean and Cheese, which adds a fried egg on top of beans and cheese — and then of course they put the brisket on top. Brisket is the main flavour here, but the other elements add to it quite nicely.
 
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But now we’re kicking it up a notch with The Real Deal Holyfield. You’ve got a fried egg, bacon and home fries, plus brisket, topped with salsa. Forget breakfast — this is one of the best tacos I’ve had any time of day, bro!!!
 
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And yeah, these were some of the biggest tacos I’ve ever had, too. Normally, there’s no way I’d be full after eating two tacos… But I honestly don’t think I have room for a third (at least not for breakfast, anyways.)

This lamb breakfast stew is like a Persian dip sandwich, bro!!!

So, we’re hanging out at Takht-e Tavoos, this funky little Persian joint at College and Dufferin. Now, this place is only open on the weekends, and only from 10 to 3, so you’re not coming here for lunch or dinner — they serve breakfast and brunch only.

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Now, one of the most popular Persian brunch dishes is this lamb stew called Abgoosht, or Dizi (named after the stone pots they cook it in), and there is some assembly required. What you do is pour the broth into a bowl, and then take this metal masher, and mash up the rest of the ingredients like so. It’s actually kinda therapeutic — take that, chickpeas!!!

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And here’s where it gets really funky. The proper way to eat this dish is to put the remaining meat mixture between two pieces of bread, and then dip it into the broth. So it’s kinda like a French dip sandwich…except it’s Persian. And man, if you love lamb as much as I do, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to put it all together, bro!!!!!!!!

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