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Apr 14, 2007 09:10 AM

best tex-mex in Austin

going to be in Austin in a week or two.
love to have some Austin tex-mex. what place or two do i need to try. THANK's!

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  1. Well, that kind of depends on what type of Tex-Mex you are looking for and what you consider good.

    For the Tex-Mex cooked by Texans of Mexican heritage, I'd take these threads as a jumping-off point. The first includes links to the prior 7 in the series (thanks to tastegood).

    For Tex-Mex heavier on the cheese and chili—the only “Mexican food” known when I was growing up in the mid-Atlantic region—you might look at these threads. I'm still interested if anyone has found truly delicious versions of this branch of the Tex-Mex family. So far, it's just comfort food to me—it's warm, it's familiar, and plenty of cheese can distract me from most shortcomings. (Beer and margaritas are also good distractions.) •

    Of course, it all comes down to what tastes good to you. These topics along with searches on Chowhound or Google may help you to find what you're looking for. If you can be specific about your likes and dislikes, you may prompt some of our resident aficionados to give you more focused recommendations.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Knoblauch

      Every place has it's lil specialty,but here's what i hit ,depending on mood: 4* rankings
      Los Palomas -excellent Caldo (interior style leanings)3.5*
      Tequila Azul - delicious Albondigas (meatballs)3*
      El Azteca - yummy Cabrito norteno-style (good time for it now)3.25*
      Evita's Botanitas - Chicken Chipolte enchiladas (Tex-Mex)3.25*
      Enchiladas y mas - best brkfast tacos in town , and a cheap Tex mex enchilada plate (my favorite Tex-Mex)no decor 4*
      Angies - just plain good)3.75*
      Chuy's- kinda chainy , but decent 3*
      Pappasito's -best major Mexican chain I've tried,fajitas and ribs!- 3.5*
      Serranos - mesquite grilled ,the pork grilled is excellent (can't think what it's called)3.25*
      Manuels ( for interior style) 3.5........just an opinion of course

      I have never cared much for:
      Maudies -bland ,chicken dishes tastless as if boiled, average food 2*
      Matt's - WAY overrated, lot's of undercooked ,flavorless items 1.5*
      Jaimes' Spanish Village - nothing special 2.5*
      Guero's - flavorless, but nice hangout 2.5*
      El Arroyo - good chicken enchiladas, but sides are average 2*
      Jorge's , Baby Acapulco, and Trudy's are bars , not mexican food - 1.5*

      1. re: Rustcat

        Not sure when you last went to Jorge's.....about six months ago I went a couple of times and they had changed everything.....more upscale - specialty margs, different food. The building somehow still creeps me out, though, and the service was off the two times I went.

        However, I got some excellent flour tortillas with my fajitas.

        1. re: rudeboy

          Yep, kinda unexplainable creepy feel to it like it's a front for money launderin' or something..They used have pretty tasty stuffed jalapenos , too, but that was at the old downtown location. i won't go back, too many better spots IMHO.

          1. re: Rustcat

            Jorge's hasn't been Jorge's for several years. It's now owned by a chain out of Amarillo or Lubbock and they kept the name but added theirs in small letters on the sign. Completely different food. The old Jorge's was owned by Jorge Arrendondo who owns AusTexMex or whatever it's called now just north of the bubble on I-35 and TexMex in Round Rock.

              1. re: Rustcat

                Achtungpv is wrong. Jorge's is owned by the original Jorge's, which started in Midland, TX several decades ago. They have two restaurants in Midland, and several in other cities as well, including the one in Austin.

                I got a chance to talk to the current manager of Jorge's when booking an event there. She is related to the family that owns Jorge's.

                Jorge's serves West Texan-style Tex-Mex. This is a slightly more Americanized Tex-Mex than what MPH (for example) is looking for, although its roots stretch back at least forty years. West Texan Tex-Mex also features more New Mexican-based Native American influences, especially with the sauces and peppers. This isn't to say that you'll be chowing down on Navajo-style food. The influences can be subtle.

                Jorge's Austin wasn't doing very well because Austinites like pretty tricked out Tex-Mex. For instance, the Midland-style chile con queso is a plain bowl of very creamy, liquidy cheese; so smooth, you might accuse it of being velveeta-based, and with very sparse, tiny chunks of tomato, pepper, or onion. Austin-style "Gringo Mex" chile con queso usually features tons of stuff thrown in -- fresh or pickled jalapenos, pico de gallo, chorizo, guacamole, whatever. (For the record, I really enjoy both forms, but prefer the "Gringo Mex" style.)

                Because of this, they've made some modifications to the menu (adding a "queso compuesto", for example) to better suit their audience, as well as trying to make the restaurant as Austin-friendly as they can.

                Personally, I really like Jorge's for what it is: greasy West Texas-style Tex-Mex that takes me back to my childhood in Midland. It isn't the best Mexican restaurant in town, but it is far from bad, and I prefer it over our other Texan chains (better than Chuys, Pappasitos, Serrano's, Maudie's, and Trudy's for example, and many, many times better than the horrible and incomparable Baby A's) and even many local places (Evita's Botanitas, for instance, which I'm about to give up on completely, or El Arroyo, which is definitely mediocre and unexceptional).

                Of all the places in town (as far as I know), their food is most similar to Matt's El Rancho (although clearly better, in my opinion). But don't go expecting some high-falutin' purist or "authentic" Mexican food experience. It is in a whole different class from places like Fonda San Miguel, El Chile, and even Curra's. Like Matt's and Enchiladas Y Mas, it definitely subscribes to the "gloopy, greasy" school of Tex-Mex.

                1. re: tom in austin

                  No. Jorge's on Hancock was originally started by Jorge Arrendondo serving Austin style TexMex. About 6-7 years ago, it was bought by Original Jorge's from Midland (i erroneously thought they were from up in the Panhandle). They both happed to have "Jorge" in the name which may cause the confusion. Used to go to the old Jorge's once a week for over 10 years straight. Moved down south and didn't go for over a year. Walked in about 5 years ago and the restaurant had been completely remodeled and the menu completely different. The waitress informed us that the restaurant had been bought by the west texas group.

                  Next time you're in there ask them specifically how long they've owned the Austin branch. They definitely didn't own it prior to '00 and it was called Jorge's for years prior to that.

                  1. re: achtungpv

                    You're totally right, Jorge's only recently moved to Austin -- that wasn't my point. My point was that Jorge's Midland is decades old. It was founded by Jorge Veloz. The fact that they bought out Jorge's Austin doesn't make them any less authentic Jorge's; in my opinion, it enahnces their Jorge Authenticity Level(tm), as the original Jorge's is the Midland variant.

                    Some amusing notes on your objections w/ regards to their cuisine can be found here:

                    "Upon opening the Austin store, long time patrons of Casita Jorge's , (owned by Suzi Piaget, ex wife of Jean Pierre) grumbled and mumbled (as is almost always the case) about the subtle and not so subtle changes in the Mexican cuisine. Well, they're not grumbling anymore."

                    [Actually, it sounds like some of them (like achtungpv) might be grumbling a little still]

                    Really, this family (and their restaurants) has amazing history. And your thought that the Jorge's was based in the panhandle is totally understandable. The Amarillo branch of the family is kind of in control of the whole deal, now. George Veloz (grandson of Jorge) founded Jorge's Amarillo decades ago, and his daughter is the owner/manager of Jorge's Austin. (For those keeping count: that is four consecutive generations of Tex-Mex restaurant experience, if you include Jorge's Austin's manager. Wow!)

                    Jorge's Austin is (as far as I know) the only option for West Texas Tex-Mex this far east; it bears a close relationship to the delicious New Mexican-Mex -- a positively delicious fork of the Mexican Food family. It isn't for everyone, but it has forty-plus years of history and is probably worth a shake or two (if you like greasy/gloopy Mexican food at all).

                2. re: Rustcat

                  By the way, AusTexMex no longer exists. The place sat empty for about six months and is just now reopened as Aster's Ethiopian restaurant

                  1. re: rollledspleen

                    That's for clarifying Tom. I'll grumble to my grave. Casita Jorge's was our favorite TexMex ever. though, i'm not surprised it was sold...or AusTexMex for that matter...Jorge must be the worst businessman ever. He's never been able to hang on to a restaurant very long even with lines out the door.

      2. I've replied this before, but I happen to enjoy Amaya's on I-35 in Capital Plaza. Good enchiladas, excellent breakfast, and really great crispy tacos.

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