SZECHUAN-STYLE PORK INTESTINE/ASIA CAFE
Because you're ready to sit with the adults at the Chinese dinner table. Chewy and, yes, funky tabs of intestine bloom into a flower of seductive heat, propelled by husky peppers and Szechuan peppercorns with a flavor-break between cardamom and hellfire. 8650 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 114A. 331-5788, www.asiacafeaustin.com .
- Mike Sutter
CHILI SAMPLER/TEXAS CHILI PARLOR
The original Texas comfort food in a place where a gent can still hang his LBJ hat from a set of steer horns. My three-bowl sampler is XX (meat, no chaser), white-bean chili (smoky pork loin and Hatch chiles) and chili with black beans and Elgin sausage (barbecue in a bowl). 1409 Lavaca St. 472-2828, www.cactushill.com/TCP .
FRIDA KAHLO BURGER/YOUR MOM'S BURGER BAR
From a shop with a tattooed sense of humor and architectural nods to the Texas flag comes a half-pound burger with chorizo and pepper Jack stuffed inside beef, finished with a fried egg and chipotle-lime sauce. Grease stains are so metal. 1701 E. Cesar Chavez St., Suite B. 474-6667, www.yourmoms.net.
FRIED CAULIFLOWER TACO/PAPALOTE
So much promise wrapped up in one tortilla from a new South Austin taqueria, with tactile heat and texture from fried cauliflower softened by avocado, shredded cabbage and queso fresco. 2803 S. Lamar Blvd. 804-2474.
FRIED CHICKEN WINGS/NUBIAN QUEEN LOLA'S
With the stereo set on Gospel KFIT 1060 AM, you're never far from grace at this Cajun soul-food sanctuary. LoLa Stephens-Bell takes your order with floured hands. When the wings come, they're lined up five across, symphonic intervals of crunch and seasoned salt, hotter than the place the radio's trying to save you from. 1815 Rosewood Ave. 474-5652, www.nubianqueenlolas.com .
MONTE CRISTO SANDWICH/WALTON'S FANCY AND STAPLE
If this sandwich were my last meal on death row, I'd beg for reprieves just to get another one from Sandra Bullock's deli. Ham and turkey and Swiss four fingers high on challah bread, dipped in batter and fried crispy, with powdered sugar and strawberry-onion jam. May Doc have mercy on your soul. 609 W. Sixth St. 542-3380, www.waltonsfancyandstaple.com . (Reviewed 2/10: 6.8 out of 10)
PORK CHOP/SHOAL CREEK SALOON
The New Orleans Saints' fortunes rise and fall on Sundays, but a one-pound pork chop special is reason enough to be thankful on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at this Louisiana expats' escape. Just shy of 2 inches thick, it barely shares the plate with buttery mashed potatoes, peppered gravy and green beans for less than $10, glowing like toasted gold. 909 N. Lamar Blvd. 474-0805, www.shoalcreeksaloon.com .
SALT AND PEPPER TOFU/GET SUM DIM SUM
The dumpling pillow fight that makes up most of the menu in this chaperoned dim sum sleepover gets a sharp wake-up call from the crunch of deep-fried tofu in a spiky sauté of green onions and jalapeño. 4400 N. Lamar Blvd. 458-9000, www.getsumdimsum.com . (Reviewed July 2010: 7.0 out of 10)
SAMOSA CHAAT/TARKA INDIAN KITCHEN
Packing spices like incense and the colors of a sari, Indian food can make you forget about meat, at least for this crisp puff pastry stuffed with potatoes and dappled with chutney, garbanzo beans and chopped tomatoes - a Mumbai chimichanga of sorts from the mass-market-ready arm of the Clay Pit. 5207 Brodie Lane, No. 120. 892-2008, www.tarkaindiankitchen.com . (Reviewed July 2010: 7.7 out of 10)
SMOKEY GOAT BURGER/RED'S PORCH
Red's is a kind of urban chicken coop for grown-ups, with lots of levels to land on, 20-plus draft beers and a view of the Barton Creek greenbelt. The burger's a double-handed, half-pound monster with crumbly goat cheese, dense bacon and fried onion strings. Go with the dense, slightly sweet jalapeño bun and swap fries for a big baking dish of creamy mac and cheese. 3508 S. Lamar Blvd. 440-7337, www.redsporch.com .