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Feb 11, 2007 06:02 PM

Great Tex-Mex for a Texan

I know that out of towners generally ask this topic every 2-3 days, but please keep in mind that I have lived in Texas for more than 15 years (and I was born here as well).

I am looking for Tex-Mex, NOT Mexican or a Taco Stand.
Please not counter service and somewhere that I can at least get a beer.

It could be anywhere from traditional (Matt's El Rancho) to something more eclectic.

My wife and I are moving to Austin the last week in March and I am already anticipating the food especially the barbeque (Central Texas is the best in the world).


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  1. If you want Austin style enchiladas...tons of american cheese, meat gravy, and grease...which I think it a good thing but no one outside of longtime Austinites seems to like...go to Enchiladas Y Mas, Maudies, or AusTexMex (or whatever it's named this week).

    1. What part of Austin? I can tailor my advice.

      Jorge's is true West Texan Tex Mex. It is the sattelite sister restaurant of the original in Midland. Greasy, goopy goodness awaits you. Full bar.

      Enchiladas Y Mas also meets your requirements. Beer.

      You specified no counter service, so you won't get a chance to enjoy Tamale House on Airport. This place is classic, affordable, delicious. The most straightforward, plain jane Tex Mex in Austin. No beers, cash only, closes at 3 PM, not open Sunday.

      Flores on William Cannon isn't a bad choice for this kind of food. Full bar.

      1. I really like Amaya's Taco Village in Capital Plaza on 35. Everything I've tried on the menu is solid to passable. The crispy tacos are amazing.

        1. Strictly for enchiladas, the cafe in the Dart Bowl has some of the best in town. The greasy burgers are great , too.

          1. There is a tex-mex restaurant on the east side of 1-35 and Oltorf, in what used to be the La Quinta's coffee shop that is AMAZING. Sorry, I cannot remember the name. Great margaritas, enchilades and a fantastic tres leches- go!!!!

            17 Replies
            1. re: ChristineR

              In my opinion, La Terraza, the Tex-Mex restaurant in the La Quinta complex at East Oltorf and I-35, is horrible.

              And I'm a Texan, too. Of course, there are many kinds of Texans, all with very different tastes in food.

              Here's a link to my earlier review:


              1. re: MPH

                I think your statement is completly off the wall. I could name so many other restaurants that are horrible like the some of the ones you have already covered. But it is all a matter of OPINION. But I have been going to La Terraza for the past three years and I am a loyal customer. I am hispanic and know good food when I taste it! Maybe you just ordered the wrong thing but here is why I keep going back.
                1. Menudo great flavor and color the most authentic I have tasted very similar to my mothers.
                2. Barbacoa it is made fresh not the prepackaged store bought store stuff that most other restaurants use.
                3.Enchiladas verde...the green sauce has a nice flavor not mild and bland like most restaurants and the chicken is seasoned and not just plain boiled chicken like most places.
                4. Queso compuesto not velvetta like you claimed I have never eaten velvetta at any mexican restaurant and to my knowledge food vendors (sysco benekeith etc) do not even sell velvetta. Any way the queso has a scoop of guacamole and nicely seasoned ground beef.
                5. Charro beans are great
                7. Migas are great I like just the regular migas and chorizo migas.
                8. Also I almost forget to mention that the caldos are exceptional both beef and chicken along witht the tortilla soup

                So in a nut shell I think you just ordered the wrong thing and next to revisit to venture the menu. I think that most mexican restaurants have their own specialty which I will list a few for you.
                1. Enchiladas Y Mas the only really good thing is there enchiladas - they use store bought chips and tacos shells and there salsa is not made from real tomatoes.
                2. Angies and Amaya's they are know for there tacos but the rice, beans and enchiladas are ok at best.
                3. Joe's Bakery they are known for having really good breakfast and award winning menudo.

                So maybe you need to visit places that serve your comfort food and quit dogging mexican restaurant that serve food you think you know about.

                1. re: austingirl75

                  Austingirl75, you did see him preface his entire point with "In my opinion", didn't you?

                  However, your intense dissent has inspired me. I work fairly close, so I'll give this place a try.

                  1. re: tom in austin

                    Please do... and let me know what you think. I read this site frequently and never thought about signing up to give my opinion. But after checking back today I couldn't help myself. I needed to speak up for this restaurant. It is a locally owned and operated and I couldn't sit back and let this guy completely dog them. I don't think there is any place in Austin that has out of this world food. And after getting my blood boiling I went there for lunch and it was great. I had a lunch special and the tea is included I paid $6.22 for a good quality meal. Heck you can't even eat at Luby's for that price.

                    1. re: austingirl75

                      I'm always looking for good deals on what I consider "classic Tex-Mex"; as this place is so near my office, it is definitely worth a try.

                      One quibble with your statement: MPH isn't just "this guy". At this point, I trust his analysis more than any published Austin-based food critic.

                      1. re: tom in austin

                        Then I guess it is all a matter of opinion and we will leave it at that. I just happen to disagree.

                        1. re: austingirl75

                          I think it is exactly that: a matter of opinion. If someone disagrees with your opinion, it isn't a personal attack.

                          What do you think of El Meson Taqueria on Burleson? The prices are a little more ($6.55 for a lunch plate, not including drink), but I find their tacos to be some of the best I've had in Austin. Their pipian especially is quite delicious! On the downside, their barbacoa is extremely unreliable: sometimes it is absolutely delicious, other times it is nearly disgusting.

                          1. re: tom in austin

                            It has been recommended before...I need to try. Do you know their hours. Also, did you see the article in the Statesman about Mi Columbia ( E 7th street). I really like that place. If you haven't tried you need to go there. I recommend going for lunch the prices are cheaper.

                            1. re: tom in austin

                              Tom, I took you up on checking out El Meson for lunch. I have to say it was not that great for me. I went with a friend and he had the fajitas and I had the al pastor plate. The pastor was ok but it was lacking something flavor wise it was a little bland I had to use alot of lime. The rice and beans were bland as well. They had two choices of salsas that weren't very good either. I did like the corn tortillas. Also the food was not hot it was barely warm. My friend's fajitas were dry and tough they looked like they had been prepared ahead a time and reheated. Overall, it was ok but I would not be in a rush to get back there.

                              1. re: austingirl75

                                Austingirl75! I am saddened! I wish your experience had been better!

                                I also wish I had warned you that the fajitas are mediocre. The pastor is generally very good, but has off days now and then.

                                My sincerest apologies for steering you wrong, and thanks for giving it a shot.

                    2. re: austingirl75

                      Hey, I'm about to lose my only good white posole connection (Las Manitas). Does La Terraze have posole that doesn't simply use the menudo broth?

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        No they don't. Arandinas used to served good posole made with pork. Not sure if it is still on the menu I had several years ago.

                        1. re: austingirl75

                          Had it there a month ago. It is good and dirt cheap like everything else there.

                        2. re: rudeboy

                          Don't fret about losing your white Posole connection.Oaxacan Tamaleo on Anderson lane has the finest in Austin.Strong,clear broth,toothsome Posole,chicken and lettuce as opposed to Pork and Cabbage and the chef is about 15 feet away watching you eat.Separate note.MPH is the Alpha dog of our chow board.Note the great detail in his/her reviews..."steely-eyed"is how one observer put it.He or she always indicates the reviews are an opinion and if chosen as a career path I don't doubt MPH could earn a very nice living as a food writer.This is in response to an above poster accusing MPH of "dogging"a local establishment.

                          1. re: scrumptiouschef

                            Thanks for the tip - I pass by there everyday, twice, on the way to and from work. Do they serve breakfast? That's when I usually want posole!

                            I don't think that I had any reaction to anything that MPH said. Unfortunately, with the way work has been going lately, I really don't have time - I'm just trying to find new info!

                            1. re: rudeboy

                              Yes,they do server breakfast and it is wonderful.The chef has a great touch with fried eggs...have them with a green tamaleo and beans and rice.It's topnotch.

                        3. re: austingirl75

                          I was in the neighborhood of La Terraza when a few of us got hungry, and we thought we'd give it a try.

                          A first course included chile con queso and menudo. Before it came we had undistinguished chips with a thin tomato-based salsa. It didn't have much depth of flavor, but did have a strong dose of jalapeño. The chile con queso was a thin, melted homogeneous cheese product (I won't say Velveeta®, but the flavor and consistency was reminiscent.) with sliced jalapeños in it. When it got to the table, there was a skin on top and the peppers had drifted to the bottom. A quick stir fixed that. The overpowering flavor was the chile; the cheese added only texture.

                          The menudo was a combination of more flavors. The broth was very thin with a mild red chile flavor. The tripe had a slight flavor and approximately the texture I expect. The posole was firm with a distinct flavor. Overall it was a bit bland, without the spice I'd expect in a viable hangover cure. It was a little less greasy than the best versions I've had and was served without tortillas, which was a little surprising.

                          The main dishes we tried included carne guisada and enchiladas verdes. Both came with sides of refried beans and rice. The refried beans had some good flavor, thanks, I assume, to the frijoles a la charra that both MPH and austingirl75 described. They may as well have just been mashed charra beans, as there was no lard or bacon-grease flavor to them. The rice was very bland, with the occasional pea or tiny carrot piece.

                          The main dishes themselves suffered most from having dry, somewhat tough meat. The carne guisada had an average brown gravy, and the smaller bits of meat benefited a bit from the stewing, but the large pieces (the bulk of the meat) were dry and flavorless in their hearts. The chicken filling of the enchiladas had the flavor of cooking in a broth, but was also dry and a bit stringy. The salsa verde was a pretty mild tomatillo sauce with a subtle tang, and combined reasonably well with the white cheese melted atop the enchiladas.

                          The flan and sopapillas were nothing to write home about.

                          Nothing here really hit the delicious end of the scale, and so I would not recommend it as a chowhound destination. I could see dropping by for convenience reasons if I had to eat at that intersection and I didn't want Chinese food. I liked the people and the atmosphere, but the chow's the thing.