Restaurants slotted into strip malls have long been the backbone of Austin dining: unassuming outposts that overlook sun-bleached parking lots, sharing a low-slung patch of roadside property with a little supermarket, an accountant's office or a Pentecostal church.
Why it matters: Food trucks now supply a lot of the great culinary action, but strip mall joints take us back a decade or two, when Austin was more slacker, less hipster. Relatively cheap rents make them an available rung for immigrants on the ladder to the American dream.
Asher grabbed lunch this week at Manna, a Korean place on North Lamar and ordered:
- The bibimbap was scrumptious: A bowl of kimchi, fried egg, marinated beef, shredded cucumbers and carrots over a bed of rice.
- Vegetarian japchae — glassy noodles speckled with chewy, succulent mushrooms — a tasty and filling partner.
For groups wanting some fun, raw marinated pork, beef and chicken and also on the menu for in-table barbecuing.
If you go: Manna is open 11am to 10pm Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays; Sundays it's open noon to 10pm.
Pro tip: If you're feeling inspired, jump next door to the Han Yang market to stock up on bibimbap ingredients — plus banana-flavored milk drinks and honey cookies.
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