Influenced by the colonial history between France and what is now Vietnam, Elizabeth Street Cafe offers the quaint atmosphere and charm of a French bistro while serving complex and flavorful Vietnamese style food.
The appearance of the restaurant itself is picturesque, with sea green shutters, striped canopies and a pink door. Bright blue iron chairs topped with sea green cushions dot the patio. A large striped canopy and outstretched umbrella shade the waitresses, themselves a crucial part of the atmosphere, clothed as they are in Vietnamese inspired dresses with differing wild prints, like jungle leaves or flamingos.
Sake Cocktails Live Up to the Hype
A rising trend, sake and wine cocktails are a clever and delicious way to maneuver around a liquor license. Who needs rum, when Contratto Lemonade is a sweet, refreshing alternative to a traditional mojito? Muddled mint and strawberries steep at the bottom of the glass as you enjoy the bubbly mixture of wine, Jade Oolong coconut syrup and Topo Chico.
Another favorite, which would perhaps appeal to fans of jalapeno margaritas, is a spicy drink of a different kind. The Red Dragon is aptly named, since this brightly colored sake cocktail cries out for comment.
Don’t let its fun color fool you, however. The muddled Fresno peppers are the visible root of this drink, and the hot kick is heightened by beet sake, orange sherry, ginger brew for spice, falernum and lime juice.
Artfully Complex Flavors
All of the food I’ve eaten at Elizabeth Street Cafe has been deliberately prepared to provide complementary and unexpected flavors that work together to produce satisfaction in customers.
The pork & shrimp crepe, for instance, is an excellent testament to the Vietnamese/French fusion this restaurant specializes in. The slightly crispy, sweet crepe is folded in half, and the insides overflow with crunchy bean sprouts, small pieces of shrimp and pork and chives. The plate is adorned with lettuce leaves, in which you wrap a section of crepe. Then, you add Thai basil leaves and dip it all into a sweet nuoc cham sauce. Nearly every food texture is represented and the endeavor, albeit slightly messy, makes eating more of an adventure.
Quality Starts with Service
Surprisingly enough, my favorite dish at Elizabeth Street Cafe during my last visit was something I didn’t even order. The place was packed with guests on a Tuesday night, and because we waited a while for our appetizers, a server brought a complementary Green Mango & Cucumber Salad.
I never would have ordered this on my own, but it was alternately sweet, spicy, fresh and delightfully fishy. Shredded mango and cucumber pieces were topped with shrimp flakes, mixed with homemade beef jerky, and complemented with Thai basil and cilantro grown from their own garden on the same property.
Not only was I desperately grateful to the heaven-sent server who blessed me with this unexpected assault of delicious flavors, I also appreciated the courtesy of the wait staff and management who noticed a long wait time.
For a unique dining experience, Elizabeth Street Cafe offers the atmosphere and quality cuisine many Austin foodies seek. Helpful service is needed for any restaurant to succeed, but here, it is the dedication to carefully constructed, hearty meals that will keep me and so many others coming back.
1501 South First Street – Website
Have you visited Elizabeth Street Cafe? Is so, which dish would you recommend?
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