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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Daily 11:00am–2:00am

Features Outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted

Southeast Austin
2400 E. Oltorf St.
Austin, TX
(512) 448-4722
If you’re marooned south of Research after midnight, you still gotta eat

The kitchen at 888 seems to be enjoying a long, agonizing downturn. Our last few visits have been a succession of unfinished plates (“No to-go box, thanks”), hopeful tasting of our friends’ dishes followed by wincing and grimacing, and a declaration that there won’t be a next time. Even the better choices here have begun to take on a greasy, depressing sheen that isn’t suitable except maybe after a few cocktails.

Similarly depressing is the bistro’s unique shade of darkness. Even in the midday sun, the place manages to impart a sinking feeling—especially once you’re sunk deep into a decrepit booth. An aquarium holds a few fish lolling about gloomily; apparently, the odd mountain paradise landscapes on the walls don’t delude them, either. Enjoy the taxidermied pheasants and restaurant-close-out odds and ends like empty cases and...an organ?

The thesis-length menu contains countless varieties of pho, vermicelli dishes, Chinese-American stir-fry dishes, and so on. Pho’s broth is developed enough, but the meat is dry and chewy. Whole fish is a good way to go, and is usually not overcooked. Vermicelli bowls are fine—the pork has a nice charred taste and shrimp are succulent. But be aware that “lemongrass” seems to be code for “sugary.” There’s better Vietnamese, Chinese, and Thai (much, much better) to be had, but it’s all a bit farther up north, and this place is open late-night. Besides, some might say, it all tastes the same in the dark.

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