Austin, TX: Hey!… You Gonna Eat or What?

Hey you gonna truck

Narrowing down your food choices to satisfy your hunger pangs in Austin, Texas, can be a little like taking a five-year old to Disneyland and trying to decide what to do first.

When those rumblings hit your stomach it’s best to get used to it, because if you have to negotiate the preferences of a group of people before heading out, those rumblings are not going be satisfied for a while.  There are just so many options in this old Wild West town that narrowing it Dave in front of Hey You gonnadown to a specific choice can be a gargantuan task.

My advice is to go with a goal.  Which is what I did recently when I visited the famed trailer food area on South Congress Avenue known as the SoCo District.  However along with visiting this well-known area, I was looking for something specific… I was hunting for what many Austintonians have described as the best Monte Cristo Sandwich is town.

I am pleased to report that I found it.  Tucked off the main drag at the corner of South Congress and Gibson is a little parking lot with 3 or 4 food trailers, one of which is known simply as “Hey!… You Gonna Eat or What?” You’ll recognize it by its bright red color and sarcastic sayings painted on the side, owing to an idea left behind awhile back by Chef Eric and his wife Liz.

Don’t let the decor or the fact that you have to eat at a picnic table under a less than stellar umbrella discourage you.  This is food you cannot, and should not resist.

I saw the Monte Cristo on the menu board outside and knew I was in the right place, but walking up to the order window can give you pause.  Because this is where you see the beauty of what is being prepared in these spartan mobile kitchens.  Unable to stick with just the Monte Cristo, I decided we also needed to try the pork sandwich and the smoked turkey.

It was a horse race to decide which was best, but here’s what I thought.

The smoked turkey is otherworldly.  Before it ever hits your plate, it is smothered in a homemade jalapeño jelly and then grilled to a caramelized perfection.  Served with more of that sweet and spicy jalapeño jelly, the sandwich is then topped off with crisp leaf lettuce and some wonderful green tomatoes.

Next up is the pork sandwich.  Served on a ciabatta roll coated with a cilantro pesto, the hickory-tinged pork shares the spotlight here with thick slices of fried plantains.  Unlike what you may get at your local Cuban restaurant, these plantains are grilled to perfection when you order your sandwich.  Chef Eric is not pulling these out of some bin loaded with the day’s pre-grilled quantity.  It is that attention to detail and quality that makes this place such a treat.

Then there was our reason for seeking out “Hey!… You Gonna Eat or What?”  The Monte Cristo, scion of delis and golf clubhouses all over the United States.  For awhile you could get this sandwich at almost every coffee house in America, now, not so much.  Perhaps it is due to a fear of eating too much fried food.  We are worse for it and this sandwich explains why.

Dave eating Monte Cristo

Chef Eric has taken what admittedly was a throwaway greasy sandwich in many restaurants and made it a star.  He starts with hickory smoked ham and mesquite smoked turkey and then adds provolone and cheddar cheese before dipping it in the batter.  The batter is what sets this sandwich apart from what you may find in the rest of America.  Were talking a Shiner Bock Beer Batter and the result is a light and fluffy incredible reward for any serious sandwich lover.  It just encases all the flavors of this sandwich as they await there chance to explode in your mouth.  Served with a homemade cherry fig jelly this Monte Cristo is certainly worthy of its reputation here in Austin.

You won’t go wrong with any of these offerings, but clearly the Monte Cristo won the day with the pork and smoked turkey finishing in a photo finish for place and show.

All the sandwiches at “Hey!… You Gonna Eat or What?” come with a side of fresh fried russet potato chips right off the mandolin and if you add a soda, you’ll be looking at around $10.00 for your meal.  A real steal for food of this quality anywhere in America.

 

Hey!… You Gonna Eat or What?

Open 12:00 – 10:00pm six days a week

Closed Wednesdays

1618 South Congress Avenue

Austin, Texas

 

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Restaurant Review – Austin TX: 24 Diner

Chicken & Waffles at 24 Diner, Austin

The newest addition to downtown Austin’s 24 hour dining scene is aptly named. 24 Diner, located at 6th & Lamar next to Waterloo Records, serves upscale comfort food and boasts a more than decent wine & beer list.

The decor is clean, crisp and clutter-free, almost an industrial chic, if you consider the open ceiling and polished concrete floors. The only artwork adorns the wall above the hostess stand while the large windows offer a glimpse of the city in motion. It’s a charming renovation of the old Waterloo Ice House spot. READ MORE

See their Menu: http://24diner.com/public/pdf/food-menu.pdf

See our US and Canada Restaurant Review Section: Multi Cultural Cooking Network Restaurant Reviews

Film and Foodie: Predators Trailer

On the Set of Predators

THE FILM: Predators

THE FOOD: Chicken Fingers and beer at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin

After lines of people curved around the block and down the streets surrounding Austin, Texas’ storied Alamo Drafthouse, Robert Rodriguez let members of the press and even a few honest-to-goodness film fans inside to premiere the forthcoming trailer and answer questions about the new film Predators. Attendees drank beer and chomped on chicken fingers as Rodriguez appeared before a capacity crowd alongside director Nimrod Antal and effects guru Greg Nicotero to screen footage and offer hints at what’s to come from the sequel-cum-reboot he agreed to produce in 2008.  READ MORE

The film stars Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne- Count me in!

Preview:

Click Here for more: Film and Foodie Reviews

Sandra Bullock’s Restaurant: Bess Bistro

Sandra Bullock at her restaurant Bess Bistro

Bess Bistro is an eco-friendly restaurant in Austin, Texas, owned by actress Sandra Bullock. Bullock opened this restaurant in 2006. The carryout containers and cups look like regular styrofoam, but are actually made with sugar cane, which is biodegradable. Bess Bistro features French, Cajun/Creole, Southern and American cuisine. The restaurant is most popular for their tasty cocktails, macaroni and cheese, and late night dancing. Find address and hours- Read More (-Maholo.com)  Owning a restaurants runs in the family, her husband, ex -Jesse James owns Cisco Burger in Long Beach.

 

Read About an Austin Restaurant Owner that serves the homeless on Sundays:  Nubian Queen LoLa’s Cajun Soul Food

or Sandra Bullock Cultural Trailblazer

Touched by a Culinary Angel with a Cajun Twist

Lozina “Lo-La” Stephens, owner of Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food

East Austin, Texas is the proud home of the Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food. The charming purple restaurant, unforgettably covered in alligators, is the brainchild of Lozina “Lo-La” Stephens. According to Stephens, after having a series of God-influenced dreams depicting the minute and major details of her eatery, she created the Nubian Queen.

An experienced cook, Lola learned the ropes of food preparation while “…sitting on a rice sack…” in her mother’s kitchen. The culinary diva expresses her love of cooking by working in the kitchen with love, Jesus, and olive oil. “Cooking,” she declares, “is the best way to a person’s heart.”

There are no guests, patrons, or customers at the Nubian Queen. Stephens affectionately refers to her clients as angels. These angels help the Nubian Queen stay open and fulfill Lozina’s God-appointed duty of aiding the homeless.

Every Sunday “The Queen” is closed. Although the doors are closed to paying angels, the restaurant welcomes the homeless in every Sunday for a meal. In the backyard of “The Nubian Queen,” Lola distributes her culinary blessings to the less fortunate.

With tasty menu items ranging from crawfish etouffe to burgers and fries, Nubian Queen Lola’s Cajun Soul Food will continue to be a blessing to all of Stephen’s angels-paying or not.

For more information on of Lozina “Lo-La” Stephens, check out her website at http://nubianqueenlolas.com/.

Checkout her short film at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2eahbfufg4.

Article  by Catrina A. Sally