Quail sandwich at South Congress Cafe, Austin

South Congress Avenue is an all-Austin success story, once down on its heels and now up in the sky, bubbling with hot spots like the Austin Motel and Hotel San Jose, as well as shops and restaurants staffed by the quietly hip. Noplace represents SoCo more than South Congress Cafe, in the middle of the strip. Staff seem chosen for their striking good looks and friendly demeanor, and the fact that they’re conversant in food words like “remoulade” (with no hint of pretension) made me kind of melt.

So did the quail sandwich. Come to think of it, it’s probably the first time I’d ever heard of any quail sandwich, or a boneless quail. It’s marinated overnight in butttermilk and spices. Normally the chef would fry it crispy, but I got mine grilled instead. Topped with bacon, caramelized onion, roasted portabello mushroom, arugula and tomato. Texas two-step slaw came on the side.

The menu changes regularly, but faves for breakfast and lunch include migas (eggs, crispy tortillas, tomato, onion, jalapeno and three cheeses, with a smoked gouda potato pancake), eggs benedict (with steak and migas, or crab cakes) and sea bass with roasted herb gnocchi.