Our massive annual project comes to a head next month. The Austin360 Dining Guide will hit subscribers' front doors on Oct. 20, and we want to give you a sneak peek. I scour the city each year looking for the best Austin has to offer. My journey takes me from Dripping Springs to Georgetown, revealing the tastes and people who make the greater Austin area such a great dining destination. The guide, a magazine-style insert into the Sunday paper, will be delivered exclusively to subscribers on Oct. 20, so if you want your own copy and aren't already a Statesman subscriber, head to statesmansubscription.com.
I love a restaurant that’s not afraid to have a little fun with its customers. China Family on Airport Boulevard does that while also commenting on dining culture, and culture in general. You will sometimes find menus at Chinese restaurants that list daily-driver items preferred by American palates, your General Tso’s or sweet and sour chicken. Then there will be a listing that reads something like “house specialties.” China Family just goes ahead and calls it out. Those pages in the first half of the menu are listed as “Newbee’s Menu.” The back half are labeled “Foodie’s Menu.” And with all due respect to the sesame chicken, which I am sure is lovely, that back half is where the good stuff is. Dishes like sizzling Sichuan lamb, the gamey meat balanced perfectly with the Sichuan peppers and the buzz of cumin; rippled thin-sliced pork belly and cabbage stir-fried and enveloped in a haze of flavorful smoke; and thick hunks of fish still light enough to float in a chili oil broth abundant with Sichuan peppers toasted to a finish as luxurious as an oil baron’s auburn leather chair.
There are two locations of China Family, and while they have separate websites, they are jointly owned and have similar menus: 6801 Airport Blvd. 512-520-4171, chinafamilytx.com; 1914 Guadalupe St. 512-284-7671, chinasfamilyrestaurant.com.