I don’t really cook, and I don’t own a car, so if I want something good to eat and want said something good to eat in short order – I’m pretty dependent upon restaurants/eateries/deli’s (whatever you want to call them) that are within walking distance. I’m particularly partial to those establishments where I can get something tasty, satisfying, and simple at a reasonable price.
Which is why I was pumped when three new restaurants recently popped up in my Downtown Austin neighborhood: Thundercloud Subs, El Naranjo, and Nacho Creations.
Thundercloud Subs is more than a catchy jingle (btw, I’m a Veggie Delight and Jude is a New York Italian), they are “your neighborhood sub shop.” And now they are MY neighborhood sub shop, too! They’ve been open at their 360 Condos location for a about a month, and I’m delighted to say that the vibe AND the food is what we’ve all come to expect from Thundercloud. Quick, delicious, and fresh food at a reasonable price (I got the regular Tuna Sandwich combo – sandwich, chips, and drink for $5.99) with a simple and clean (but with more character than Subway) vibe. Service was friendly – but my sandwich artists looked a bit bored – only because apparently business hasn’t been quite as good as expected. I was the only person there at noon on a Saturday, which seems weird. I want to keep the likes of Thundercloud in Downtown Austin, so please go out and support – buy a sandwich (and get a cookie, too – you deserve a treat)!
For your convenience – click here for a downloadable menu.
4/2/2010: UPDATE – I ran into Chef Ileana after this was originally written – she informed me that the portion sizes are now larger. I have not re-visited el naranjo yet, but will take some pics next time I’m there and report my findings!
I will say this – the food was delicious. Chef Ileana de la Vega knows the cuisine, and knows flavor – I readily exclaim this to the masses. For me, the main problem (nay, really the only problem) with el naranjo was that I didn’t feel like I got nearly enough of that delicious food for the amount of money I paid. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the quality in relation to the portion size at G’Raj Mahal, where I can get a very tasty, high quality $9.00 plate that takes me two sittings to eat (even though I did initially have some pricing concerns here, as well), but I left el naranjo feeling like I got a $12.00 snack (albeit a flavorful one). I’m kicking myself for not taking some snapshots of the food – as I think a picture would be worth a thousand words in this particular case.
However, other than portion size (of which I do not want to minimize the importance), I was pleased. Right now, as an intermediate step toward opening a full blown indoor restaurant, el naranjo has taken up in what seems to be all-the-rage in Austin eateries these days: a trailer (fun!)! They’ve also put out picnic tables for outdoor seating, adding to the patio-scape that is the Rainey Street bar and restaurant scene:
Click here for a downloadable menu of El Naranjo’s opening selections.
I actually have not been here yet, but heard second-hand about this casual Tex-Mex concept’s opening. Apparently, Nacho Creations rents the Texas Picnic Company location during the evenings and weekends. Different owners, entirely different concept, same space. A great idea to maximize the use of an otherwise only day-time and weekday business space. Nacho Creations’ hours are as follows:
Wed – Thurs: 5:00 pm – 1:00 am
Fri: 5:00 pm – 3:00 am
Sat: 12:00 pm – 3:00 am
Sun: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Planning on trying it after the SXSW rush, and will hopefully add some commentary then. If any of our readers have tried it – would love to hear your thoughts!
I’m excited that new, casual style restaurants are continuing to open here in Downtown Austin. I like the “everyday people” focus these establishments are taking, and believe they are well-suited to the residents and visitors of Downtown Austin.
Now, I gotta go, because it’s time to eat!