Thursday, April 3, 2008

Magnolia Cafe

1920 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78704

2304 Lake Austin Blvd
Austin, TX 78703

Hello my fellow foodies. I hope the weekend found you eating well. I found myself eating very well.. in Seattle.. I flew up Thursday night to visit my friend Kasie and immediately threw myself into the local cuisine. Friday morning I was having shrimp and crab benedict at a warfside diner, Friday night I had 5 different types of chowder (yes there are that many!), Saturday I got thoroughly toasted at 9 local Washington wineries, Saturday night I had the perfect hang over food – fish tacos, and Sunday I had fresh salmon lox and banana french toast all the while glutting myself on fabulous Seattle coffee. Yum! But Sunday afternoon came around and I had to make my way back to Austin. I managed to successfully transport the 11 bottles of wine I had drunkenly acquired at said local Washington wineries through American Airlines checked baggage (yes it can be done foodies, and for future reference, they make suitcases specifically for transporting wine, seriously, only $386 and its yours). I managed to make it back to Austin only 2 hours later than the intended arrival time (thanks American), and when I finally landed I was STARVING. Not just any kind of hungry, the kind of hungry you get from being tired, hung-over and traveling 2000 miles. The kind of hungry only pancakes can satisfy.

I met up with my friend Ben and headed for Magnolia, my favorite Austin late night dining spot. I’ve been coming to Magnolia on and off since 1999. And how can I pinpoint that year? It was the year I got a car and could leave the confines of campus eateries. A whole new world of culinary delight opened up to me in that year. And one of the first places I ended up was Magnolia. The lure of 24 hour queso and pancakes is strong when you’re 21 and hopelessly drunk. And this is one restaurant that is so quintessentially Austin. Like Hula Hut, Magnolia is one of the places I always recommend to people from out of town. The interior is the perfect blend of crunchy granola and Austin funky chic. The wait-staff appear all rough and pierced but are in actuality very friendly and helpful.

Since I’ve started going there I haven’t strayed too far from the few favorites I started eating back in 1999. The first is the Eggs Zapatino. Its amazing. Fluffy yellow scrambled eggs on a crisp toasted English muffin covered in spicy, cheesy queso. It was incredible hang-over food then and it still is now. I got it last time I was at Magnolia (the day after my awesome Mardi Gras adventure on 6th at the 80’s Sing Along). I sometimes get the Love Migas. Picture it, regular migas, but made with a garlic & serrano infused butter. They’re nice and spicy, a real zinger of an egg dish. Magnolia also has awesome omelets. My favorite is probably the #15 Popeye. A huge monstrous omelet stuffed with spinach, bacon, cheese, onions, and sour cream. Not the healthiest breakfast in the world, but damn tasty.

This particular time I ordered a breakfast taco. I seem to be having quite the breakfast taco cravings lately, and this one fit the bill. The tortilla was perfectly toasted while the eggs, sausage and cheese inside were a lovely blend of all the wonderful things a quality breakfast taco should be. It wasn’t as good as the excellent and apparently aberrant (check out the SAT vocab) breakfast taco from Kerby Lane. But considering the Kerby Lane taco was a fluke (as I discovered on my second trip) I consider this taco to be superior.

What Magnolia is really known for are their pancakes, and not just any pancakes, their gingerbread pancakes. At Magnolia, you don’t order a stack of pancakes, you order them one at a time. Yes, they’re really that big – they fill up a whole dinner plate! Really! They’re always griddled (if that’s even a word) to perfection. Slightly crisp exterior and cakey interior. I’ve never had an over or underdone pancake at Magnolia. And the taste is always excellent, a hint of spice from the gingerbread, but not enough to overwhelm you. Covered in a glob of melty butter and maple syrup they’re spectacular.

Bottom Line: Fresh diner food with funky Austin charm

Mariah – 9