Is Hog Island Italian Deli in downtown Austin. I've never had such an amazing restaurant experience in my life as the lunch I had last Thursday with my friend David G., who is a friend of Carlo the owner. Carlo very kindly treated us to some extras after we ordered, and all four of the things that were brought to our table were the best of their kind I had ever had. EVER!
First, the cheesesteak. Carlo and his brother Steve are from Philadelphia, and curiously that didn't encourage me in my hopes for the world's best cheesesteak. I've never had an actual Philly cheesesteak, so for all I know they put peanut butter and maraschino cherries on it, and I heard once that they use Cheez Whiz instead of real cheese in Philly, but my worries were groundless. Hog Island makes the single best cheesesteak I've ever tasted, and as the newspaper writeup they have proudly framed near the register says, to put any kind of sauce on it would have been a crime. I don't know what to say other than it's utterly fantastic and I've been daydreaming about it ever since.
Next we got a lasagna with Italian sausage, which was the best lasagna I've ever had by far. I'm not even a lasagna fan, but this thing was just amazing. After that, the thing I was most looking forward to: the Italian sub. If there's one thing I can eat for every meal, it's an Italian sub made by a real Italian deli. And this one blew every other one I had ever had away. Just perfect in every way.
But the best was yet to come. Carlo kindly gave us 15 minutes to regain some appetite and then he brought the holy grail: the Pastrami Special. Imagine toasted marble rye, brown mustard, cole slaw, and the finest Philadelphia pastrami brisket, chopped and grilled. It was simply the best pastrami I've ever had and I desperately want more of it. All of it. I can't wait to go back Monday.
Anyone who's reading this, for God's sake come to Austin and call me. I'll meet you there.