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What Jew Wanna Eat: From Bagels to Babka - The Best Jewish Food in Austin
Friday, 01 February 2013
By Amy Kritzer

A bagel with lox and schmear.Austin may be known more for breakfast tacos than bagels, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t spots to load up on favorite Jewish delicacies. I spoke to some schmaltz aficionados of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance in addition to other local nosh connoisseurs to determine where foodies go to get their hummus or Reuben fix. The results? Well, the verdict is still out on whether you can get a decent bagel in this one-horse town, but all is not lost. While we wait to see if Mastman’s is worth its weight in matzo balls, here are some of the favorites.

Bagels and Lox: Whether it is the water, the ovens or some secret of the underground bagel mafia, it seems impossible to get good bagels out of the Tri-state area. Despite the odds, Wholy Bagels seems to have won over the majority of harsh bagel critics. Crispy outside, chewy inside, with a variety of schmear and lox types to choose from. Short from having Bubbe ship you bagels from The City (which I have done) this is as good as it gets. A bagel with lox and schmear can run close to $10, so you can always pick up Acme Lox at Central Market or make your own.

Deli: Fingers crossed that Mastman’s will deliver the chopped liver, but in the interim Fricano’s Deli is a hidden gem near West Campus. Their Paul’s Spicy Reuben and Brandi (a mix of corned beef, pastrami and roast beef on rye) sandwiches, which are huge and made with Boar’s Head meat, are top choices. Also worth a mention is the Far West H-E-B. The only kosher supermarket in town makes a delicious pastrami on rye and arguably the best Reuben around. While you are there, pick up some of Green’s chocolate or cinnamon babka for dessert.

Vegetarian: Though Jewish food is often synonymous with meat heavy staples such as chopped liver and stuffed cabbage, Schmaltz will win over carnivores with their seitan pastrami and homemade pickles. Wash it all down with a homemade kombucha, lest you forget this isn’t your Zayde’s deli.

Stuffed Cabbage: Lucy’s European Cuisine, the food trailer on the Texas Hillel patio has stuffed cabbage for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Their chicken schnitzel is also tasty but not overly greasy, and the price is much more affordable than other kosher jaunts.

Falafel and Hummus: The falafel at Moses Falafel truck is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Just what falafel should be. Equally as delicious is the well-seasoned falafel at Sarah’s Mediterranean Grill and Market. You can even buy one individual ball for just $.50. No need for to order the whole platter when all you want is a nosh. Grandma’s hummus at The Mediterranean Chef is smooth and creamy and everything other hummus wants to be. Luckily, it is now available at many local supermarkets.

Bakery: At Sweetish Hill you can satisfy your cravings for rugalach, rye bread, and the rare bialy all in one stop. Upper Crust Bakery has some of the only homemade challah in town and a tasty rye bread that is hearty and flavorful.

Chinese Food: It would be amiss to do a post on Jewish food and not mention Chinese food, right? What these spots lack in atmosphere, they make up for in authentic Chinese cuisine. Chen’s Noodle House is the go-to spot for scallion pancakes and handmade noodle soup.  Asia CafĂ© has some seriously delicious dumplings, while Szechuan House makes a tasty chicken and eggplant and hot and sour soup.

There you have it. Austin isn’t a mecca for Jewish foods, but there are options that only seem to be growing with time. No matter where you choose to eat, ess gezunterhait!

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