You Gotta Try This: Wholy Bagel, Blue Star Cafeteria, Ms. P’s breakfast tacos
A quick-fire round of You Gotta Try This recommendations. Do you have a favorite place that you think deserves more attention that it gets? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-912-2504.
You don’t expect to find a taste of New York in Southwest Austin, but that’s exactly what Scott Campanozzi created when he opened Wholy Bagel three years ago. The New Jersey native says he’s quite happy to have settled into the strip mall off William Cannon and MoPac, but even with the success of the little bagel shop that could, doesn’t have plans to open another anytime soon.
With that news, you might as well plan a trip to try one of Campanozzi’s bagels, and if you’ve spent any time in the Northeast, one trip won’t cut it.
Every day, the Wholy Bagel staff makes about a dozen kinds of New York-style bagels, including the hard-to-find egg bagel that gets its yellow hue from yolks used in the dough. You’ll find even more varieties of cream cheese, some of which have a flair you’d only find in Texas, such as one with Hatch peppers or another with bacon, scallion and Cheddar cheese.
On a recent visit, the woman working the counter was happy to let me try two different kinds of cream cheese (one made with olive and pimento and another with lox), one on each half of the bagel ($3.99). (A tip: In line with tradition, speak up — and clearly, repeating yourself if necessary — if you’d like your bagel toasted. I thought I’d asked for mine toasted, but I don’t think I spoke up loudly enough about it, but even untoasted, my everything bagel was everything I’d hoped it would be.)
My friend, who lived in Jersey City for five years, went straight for the breakfast sandwich bagel, ordering one with Taylor ham (a Jersey favorite), Swiss cheese and a nicely fried egg ($4.79).
You can sit inside the bakery on one of the barstools along the wall, but if you’re lucky and go on a nice day, grab the little cafe table on the sidewalk.
It’s not exactly Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, but it will do.
Open: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: 4404 W. William Cannon Blvd, 512-899-0200, no website. Search “Wholy Bagel” on Facebook.
Ms. P’s Electric Cock
If you can get past the name, you can find some pretty good food at Ms. P’s Electric Cock, the silver bullet of a trailer on South Congress Avenue across from the Texas School for the Deaf.
I’ve only been able to get as far as breakfast tacos, thanks to the suggestion of a friend who had heard through the grapevine that Margarita Escobedo Melendez, who for many years served the faithful patrons of Nueva Onda just down the road (that building houses another fried chicken restaurant that likes to play on innuendo), was now slinging her famous tacos for Ms. P. (Yes, there really is a Ms. P., trailer owner Perry Jane Ray.)
We met for breakfast tacos recently and tried two distinct takes on this Austin staple. The first was Melendez’ specialty, Marg’s migas topped with ranchero sauce and thick avocado slices and wrapped in a flour tortilla. The flavors are enough to transport you to a different time and place, when South Congress was a little sleepier, the salsa spicier. The second taco gives you a taste of new South Austin: a perfectly fried piece of Ms. P’s chicken, two crispy slices of bacon and a handful of Cheddar cheese tucked inside a corn tortilla. The breakfast tacos, which you can also have filled with staples including ham, chorizo, bacon, beans and chicarrones, start at $2.50, and they only serve them until 11 a.m. or noon, depending on the day.
Open: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to midnight Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 1101 S. Congress Ave., 512-912-7778, electriccock.com
Blue Star Cafeteria
The wonders of Blue Star Cafeteria’s meatloaf (and meatloaf sandwich, served at lunch with a bounty of crisp french fries) are well known, but Kenny Kopecky, who took over the kitchens last year, has another dish that deserves a turn in the spotlight.
You’ll find fried Brussels sprouts on many restaurant menus in Austin, but none like Kopecky’s, which are tossed with candied pecans, tart green olives and a slightly sweet dressing. If that sounds like a lot of flavors and textures crashing together, you’re right, but as an olive and nut lover who sometimes needs an excuse to eat them both at the same time, it’s an umami dream come true. The only problem is that the sprouts aren’t on the menu permanently. The dish is one of many that Kopecky has been playing around with as he settles in to the restaurant and considers changes to the established (and much-loved) menu.
Don’t forget to leave room for a slice of one of the many pies — buttermilk, apple and the Almond Joy-inspired dream are available every day — displayed in the case by the door.
Open: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: 4800 Burnet Road, 512-454-7827, bluestarcafeteria.com