See the Austin restaurants Netflix’s “Somebody Feed Phil” has visited
Phil Rosenthal created “Everybody Loves Raymond,” but year after year it seems more and more people know him as the affable, goofy host of his own travel cooking TV series that follows him through the world as he eats with old friends, makes new friends, and repeatedly breaks the fourth wall.
The concept that started with “I’ll get what Phil has” on PBS now works under the moniker, “Someone is feeding Phil.” The series’ sixth season was released this week on Netflix and one of the hour-long episodes focuses solely on Austin, with visits to four of the brand new’s top 10 restaurants. Austin360 Restaurant Guide. (modest whisper: this restaurant writer has a small five-minute appearance in the episode.)
Rosenthal has a long history with the city and its creative community. ‘Exporting Raymond,’ the documentary that first showcased Rosenthal’s potential as a dynamic screen presence as he attempted to translate his hit TV show for Russian audiences, won Best Feature. feature at the Austin Film Festival.
I met Rosenthal around this time, moderating a conversation with him at AFF (the 29th annual festival starts next week, by the way) and eventually shared at least one dinner with him. I can point out that his off-screen persona is only slightly different from the one he presents on stage. Of course, the edit makes it look like he’s still puffy-eyed and joking, which isn’t quite the case. The writer and producer is a good listener, a charming companion, and a thoughtful and concerned citizen committed to various socio-political causes.
Rosenthal and I shared a two-hour dinner at Birdie’s, neatly cut down to a quick five minutes, where we enjoyed pasta dishes from chef Tracy Malechek-Ezekiel that reminded us of Rome, drank an assortment of wines from exciting co-owner Arjav Ezekiel and a varied list, and discovered how Sicily influences the chef’s chocolate chip cookie.
Birdie’s wasn’t the only place Rosenthal visited. Rosenthal bounced around the city for a barbecue tour with Texas Monthly editor Daniel Vaughn, whom Rosenthal mistakenly calls an Austin resident at the top of the show (Vaughn lives in Dallas) for stops at LeRoy & Lewis (the burger and the bacon chop were big hits), Distant relatives (Chef Damien Brockway’s side dishes made a strong impression), and Interstellar BBQ (those scalloped potatoes, though). The final sequence of the show is a group meal at lick the salt (I was out of town that day).
Tacos received similar love from Rosenthal, as he hung out with the self-proclaimed bosses of the Austin Taco Mafia – Beto Robledo de Cuantos TacosJerry Guerrero from quesabirria-slinging Palo Seco 512 (formerly La Tunita) and Discada Xose Velasco – at Sara Mardanbigi and chef Edgar Rico. All establishments of these taqueros have landed on our list of the best tacos in town.
The episode also includes the following stops: goat barbacoa, among others, with chef Fermin Nuñez in Sure; the Japan-Texas mashup Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, where chef-owner Tatsu Aikawa gave Rosenthal a taste of the excellent Hot Pocketz stuffed with brisket and gouda cheese; a brief overview Torchy Tacos in the open air of the show; a slice of Homemade sliced pizza; and some ice cream Amy’s ice cream.
Stream the full episode now on Netflix and check out some of the restaurants Rosenthal visited in our Austin360 Dining Guide, which was also released this week: Birdies (#3) | Suerte (#4) | Nixta Taquería (#5) | Interstellar BBQ (#9).