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Favorite Fajitas in Austin?

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Aloo0628 Apr 27, 2007 05:34 PM

I've done a couple of searches, but haven't really found a thread devoted to this specific topic. Where do you go for your favorite fajitas in Austin? I'm more interested in learning about steak, but am happy to entertain suggestions for a good chicken number too. Thanks!

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    achtungpv RE: Aloo0628 Apr 27, 2007 06:29 PM

    Fajitas are absolutely my favorite food of all time.

    Favorite: Fajitas Al Guajillo at Polvo's

    Respectable fajitas:
    Texican Cafe
    Habanero's

    2 Replies
    1. re: achtungpv
      Twill RE: achtungpv Apr 28, 2007 07:27 AM

      I second the Al Guajillo at Polvo's. They have an almost Asian slant with the dried peppers and peanuts. Definitely a unique (and successful) take on a ubiquitous and sometimes banal dish.

      1. re: achtungpv
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        achtungpv RE: achtungpv Apr 28, 2007 10:02 AM

        Forgot about Garibaldi's. They have good fajitas also.

      2. y
        yimay RE: Aloo0628 Apr 27, 2007 09:06 PM

        Pappasito's

        with that said, let the stoning begin

        16 Replies
        1. re: yimay
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          ashes RE: yimay Apr 27, 2007 09:15 PM

          I also actually really enjoy the fajitas at Pappasitos. While I rarely go there on my own, if the parents are in town and footing the bill (it can get pricy) it's a favorite. I honestly think they have some of the best shrimp fajitas I've had. The beef is good, but they really excel at chicken, which is never never dry....a real problem with fajita chic. at many restaurants.

          My other favorite is the Cerveza Fajitas (Beef) at Polvos. With a pitcher of their frozen margs. this is a perfect meal for me (ok ok....I usually share the pitcher with my SO). The beef is tender, juicy and has a unique taste unlike other fajitas I've had.

          1. re: ashes
            s
            scrumptiouschef RE: ashes Apr 28, 2007 12:04 AM

            Los Comales
            2136 E. Seventh, 480-9358
            This is where the fajita conversation starts and stops.The finest in Austin.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef
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              achtungpv RE: scrumptiouschef Apr 29, 2007 06:12 AM

              That's a bold statement. I will try them immediately!

              1. re: achtungpv
                MPH RE: achtungpv Apr 29, 2007 11:03 AM

                Like scrumptiouschef, I love the carnes asadas at Los Comales. Both the regular fajitas and fajitas rancheras at Habeñero Mexican Cafe are delicious. I'm not a fan of Polvo's at all. A Google search will find more threads (and opinions) on the chow at both places.

                Here are a couple of links:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/307124

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387398

                Best,
                MPH

                1. re: MPH
                  rudeboy RE: MPH Apr 29, 2007 11:42 AM

                  MPH - have you had the fajitas at Polvo's, however? I thought that you had only eaten breakfast there before. Important point since fajitas is the subject here.

                  1. re: rudeboy
                    MPH RE: rudeboy Apr 29, 2007 12:14 PM

                    Remember our last long discussion about Polvo's? You asked me the same question then, too.

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/381077

                    I'll review what I said then: I tried Polvo's once-highly-recommended breakfast food and didn't like it. I returned to try their highly-recommended fajitas al guajillo and didn't like them. Maybe the latter is one of Polvo's best dishes; maybe it isn't. That's not the question in this thread. In my opinion, there are better fajitas in town.

                    Best,
                    MPH

                    1. re: MPH
                      rudeboy RE: MPH Apr 29, 2007 04:41 PM

                      Shoot, I can't remember anything anymore, except that the issue was not settled in my mind. The deal is that I guess I never heard what was wrong with them, and I equated that with you not trying them. My bad!

                      1. re: rudeboy
                        MPH RE: rudeboy Apr 29, 2007 07:09 PM

                        I like detailed posts, too. Unfortunately, that experience was one of those all-around bad ones that stuck in my mind simply as "not good—do not return." I distinctly recall that the meat tasted steamed that day, and that the inclusion of spicy guajillos wasn't enough to make me like this dish.

                        One of these days, if I'm feeling particularly devil-may-care about what I eat, I might give Polvo’s fajitas another try. It’s always possible that I’d suddenly love them. At the very least, I’d be sure to note all the reasons why I disliked them. In the meantime: Once bitten, twice shy. . . especially when there are many taquerías yet to try.

                  2. re: MPH
                    amysuehere RE: MPH Jul 24, 2007 06:17 AM

                    MPH,

                    Tried Habenero this past weekend on your suggestion. Ordered the ranceras and yes, they were quite good. Not better/worse than Polvo's; just different.

                    Firstly, I really enjoyed that they had been marinated. Added a depth of flavor I enjoyed very much. However, I found the meat quite rubbery and the whole piece would pull out when trying to take a bite. Would have liked more "goodies" in the mix but the onions and chiles that were there were carmelized very nicely. Think they have WAY better quacamole and charro beans than Polvo's, and the meat was very flavorful. Added bonus was that the salsa, while runny, had a nice bite to it.

                    We also ordered a chile relleno and it was one of the best I've had - light, fluffy batter and virtually no greasy feel at all! Chicken filling (I asked for cheese, but hey...) was moist and flavorful. Odd thing was they didn't serve it with any type of sauce at all - not even on the side. While this kept the relleno from getting soggy, I would have liked to have some sort of sauce. Inspired me to ask for it on the side from now on.

                    Did it replace Polvo's as my favorite place for fajitas? No. They each have their own pros/cons and will satisfy a different craving.

                    Is it now tied with number one? Absolutely. Looks like I'll have to divide my time between the two.

                    1. re: amysuehere
                      MPH RE: amysuehere Jul 25, 2007 04:58 PM

                      Thanks for the report, amysuehere. I'm glad to hear that HMC is still turning out good chow. It's been far too long since I popped in there for breakfast or lunch. Maybe I'll get there sometime this week. . .

                      1. re: amysuehere
                        Nab RE: amysuehere Jul 25, 2007 08:41 PM

                        I stopped by there earlier this week, after not making a visit for over 3 weeks (I usually stop by at least once a week due to proximity to the workplace). I've heard many people find the meat a little too chewy, but I've not had this experience. it has always been easy to bite through, and it always has a nice char (and that nice marinade).

                        One thing I found different, tho, was that the salsa was orders of magnitude hotter than what I had been accustomed to. This actually happened on my previous visit as well, but never before that. On those two visits, however, the difference was that I was specifically asked (very rapidly) "pico de gallo/hot sauce ?" I figured he was asking me if I wanted one or the other, but I just responded yes/yes. Both were much hotter than what the norm had been for me. These burned my face off (with enjoyment .... and a roll of paper towels). Not sure what's up with that, but it's a new experience to me after having been there over well over a dozen times.

                        Still love it.

                        1. re: Nab
                          e
                          El General RE: Nab Jul 27, 2007 01:00 PM

                          I have had that happen at HMC before. I think if you get one of the last few portions of the batch, all the jalapeño seeds are at the bottom and it gets very hot. I have noticed that sometimes there are alot of seeds and sometimes there are only a few.

                    2. re: achtungpv
                      a
                      achtungpv RE: achtungpv Apr 29, 2007 05:43 PM

                      Just got back from Las Comales. The wife and I had the beef fajitas for two. These are classic Tex Mex fajitas with onions and bell peppers. The fajitas are hot (temperature)...literally must have come off the grill 30 seconds before they hit our table. That was definitely a plus. We got the sizzling platter and I thought it didn't look like that much meat but for only $15.99, it was fine. The waitress mumbled something in spanish about not enough meat and she was sorry. She came back 10 minutes later with about another 3/4 pound of meat. I guess the cook made fajitas for one instead of two originally. Overall, much better than most. I still prefer Polvo's but these are right there with my number two.

                      Horrible parking situation there. I can't imagine what it's like when the neighboring businesses are open.

                      1. re: achtungpv
                        amysuehere RE: achtungpv Apr 30, 2007 10:05 AM

                        In that same thought, let me go off-topic a bit. Under the category of great presentation, no taste - Chuy's...

                        I do not understand how it comes through the room sizzling like crazy and wafting off a really great trail of wonderful smelling steam and tastes so darn bland...

                        1. re: amysuehere
                          a
                          ashes RE: amysuehere Apr 30, 2007 12:46 PM

                          Secret or not so secret tex mex trick. Cook fajitas in advance in large batches and keep warm. When fajitas are ordered, remove super hot griddle/skillet from oven place fajitas on and there is no real sizzle....BUT add a little meat juice and water (reserved for this purpose) and it will beautifully sizzle all the way to the table. Disappointing....but true.

                          1. re: ashes
                            d
                            diva360 RE: ashes Jul 23, 2007 09:20 PM

                            I tried out Los Comales today for fajitas--they were great, much better than Polvo's imho (I get corralled into going there by vegetarian friends). My dining companion had a carne asada plate that came with a cheese chili relleno. Both of these items were very good--all the meat had a good smoky flavor. When you walk in you can see them blackening spring onions and jalapenos on the grill. They make the corn tortillas in house, so I'd get those instead of the flour. I'd also choose the beans a la charra over the refried, as the these were a lot more flavorful than the refrieds with plenty of bacon and chilis. I will go back to try more carne asada of various types.

                            The salsa was a bit runnier than I prefer, but the flavor was very good--plenty of white onions and cilantro and a mild to medium chili heat, probably from serranos. Next on my list is Habanero's.

              2. j
                jwynne2000 RE: Aloo0628 Apr 28, 2007 06:05 AM

                I'll jump in the persecution line with yimay and tip my hat to the Hawaiian fajitas (beef) at Hula Hut.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jwynne2000
                  Rustcat RE: jwynne2000 Apr 28, 2007 06:15 AM

                  I still like Pappasitos best, chain or not, and I've had the others mentioned

                2. amysuehere RE: Aloo0628 Apr 28, 2007 08:02 AM

                  Yup. Polvo's Guajillo fajitas are amazing. Love-Love-Love them.

                  1. c
                    cameronaus RE: Aloo0628 Apr 28, 2007 12:28 PM

                    Wife and I like the fajitas at Trudys North (something about the beef marinade)
                    Not much else good to eat but the salsa.

                    1. amysuehere RE: Aloo0628 Apr 30, 2007 10:05 AM

                      I've seen Fajita Warehouse come up with positive reviews several times on this board and have never made it there. Anyone comment?

                      1. h
                        hhenry RE: Aloo0628 Apr 30, 2007 11:08 AM

                        Enchiladas Y Mas has my favorite beef fajitas - in fact it is the only thing we ever order there! Anyway, I think you have to get the beef fajitas for 2 to get the nice Serrano peppers and fresh tomatoes that they throw on the grill with the meet. Otherwise you just get the standard bell peppers and onions. Not sure what is in the marinade, but it is very unusual with tons of flavor.

                        I'm looking forward to trying Al Guajillo at Polvos. Thanks!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: hhenry
                          amysuehere RE: hhenry Apr 30, 2007 02:03 PM

                          Was scared to go to EYM, but went with an office group on "dive Friday" and tried the fajitas. They were more marinaded than most. While I won't crave them, they were fair to Midland.

                          1. re: hhenry
                            alienzero RE: hhenry May 1, 2007 12:51 PM

                            Another vote for Enchiladas Y Mas. The grilled tomatoes are what really make the fajitas stand out here - they add quite a bit of juice to the platter, and there is a world of difference between biting into a slice of warm grilled tomato (which, incidentally, helps melt the cheese) and a bit of cold diced tomato. Very tasty stuff.

                          2. s
                            sc1 RE: Aloo0628 Apr 30, 2007 08:37 PM

                            I have to add to the blasphemy and vote for Pappasito's. The trick is the garlic butter sauce. It's not your typically garlic butter... it's heaven. They usually only bring it with the chicken, but if you ask they bring it with the beef.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: sc1
                              v
                              verily RE: sc1 May 1, 2007 01:38 PM

                              I'm another blasphemer who loves the Pappasito's fajitas. I've never had to ask for the garlic butter; they always include it with my beef fajitas (except that I don't like to use it).

                              They do commit a sin, however, for charging extra for sour cream and cheese. Considering their entree prices, they can afford a dollop of Daisy.

                              1. re: verily
                                r
                                Rene RE: verily May 2, 2007 11:45 AM

                                I agree with every word! Pappasitos does great fajitas. Charging extra for condiments is very tacky, though.

                            2. MPH RE: Aloo0628 Apr 30, 2007 09:03 PM

                              Caveat lector: This long post is full of details about the nature and deliciousness of fajitas.

                              The posts from Twill and others have made me think about the many different things that are called fajitas. Traditional fajitas, like Northern-Mexican arracheras, consist of marinated skirt steak that's cooked over an open flame and thinly sliced. The flavor comes from:

                              Marinade—This can range from basic lime juice to exotic fruits (papaya, mango, pineapple, orange), alcohol (beer, red wine, tequila), to "prepared" flavorings (“Italian dressing,” Coke, soy sauce, jalapeño pickling liquid). Sometimes oil and garlic are added to the liquid. A nice long soak guarantees that the liquid’s spices and seasoning permeate the meat.

                              Steak quality—Skirt steak is a relatively cheap cut, but there's cheap and then there's cheap. The end result benefits from a nice ring of fat on one side.

                              Wood used for grilling—Wood smoke flavors the meat in a way that charcoal alone can't.

                              Accompaniments— Average fajitas can be elevated by very good salsas, guacamole, grilled onions and peppers, etc.

                              Fajitas can be compared to:

                              Tacos al carbon: Steak (often fajita meat, but also tenderloin or sirloin) grilled over coals. You don’t need much in the way of seasoning when the cut of meat is inherently tender and flavorful. This is the kind of dish any place with good beef—including Pappasito's—can do right.

                              Carne asada: Beef—often skirt or flank—grilled over an open flame.

                              "Faux" carne asada: Griddled chuck steak, chopped into very small squares, that's seasoned only with salt. (Called carne a la plancha in Mexico.) This is often served at take-out shops and taco trucks, where they have no grill.

                              Today a co-worker who knew about this thread offered to buy me a late lunch at Polvo's, in an attempt to mitigate the dismay I felt about returning to a place that has already disappointed me. So, I checked it out this afternoon. As usual, it was packed with young, white South Austinites, which seemed so odd to me, given the very different clientele that frequents the places I’ve been checking out on the east side.

                              Someone recently compared the fajitas at Los Comales with the fajitas al guajillo at Polvo's. To me, that's comparing apples to oranges. A more apt comparison would be between Polvo's regular fajitas and the traditional ones served at LC. Thus, for the sake of research, I ordered Polvo's fajitas (plain) and split them with my companion, who ordered the fajitas al guajillo. All fajita plates are $9.99.

                              The regular fajitas at Polvo's, according to the menu, are "cooked with special spices," and served with grilled onion slices and poblano strips. They come with guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, beans, rice, and flour or corn tortillas.

                              The very chewy fajita meat was better prepared than it was on my last visit, when it tasted steamed. This was quite likely the result of reheating pre-cooked room-temperature fajitas in a dash of water (as ashes describes, above). I could taste a trace of dried onion and garlic, along with salt and dried chile powder, not unlike the spices in packaged "fajita seasoning." But that was it. The dominant flavor was unadulterated beef. This suggests that these fajitas were either not marinated or not marinated for very long. [Perhaps they only really marinate their "cerveza fajitas."] Their plain fajitas also tasted like they were griddled then transferred to a hot comal, which was so hot that it blackened the onions and poblanos that were touching the bottom.

                              Their vegetarian rice and hard frijoles a la charra are still not delicious, though the latter had some chile flavor. The guacamole is still awful—completely flavorless, like eating chunky, green water—and the store-bought tortillas, both flour and corn, have not improved at all. The pico de gallo was all large chunks of white onions and non-ripe tomatoes, with a touch of cilantro, that had not coalesced into something more than the sum of its underwhelming parts.

                              At Habeñero Mexican Cafe, the fajitas are grilled to order—over mesquite. The marinade and spices soak in for hours, so that they penetrate every part of the beef. I believe that their salsas, guacamole, and pico de gallo are good enough to stand on their own. Los Comales also grills to order, over an open flame, and serves up delicious halves of grilled onions with the meat. In my opinion, the flavor of the regular fajitas, and of the sides, at both LC and HMC are better than similar offerings at Polvo's. Polvo's fajita meat is not up to being showcased in plain fajitas, with almost no seasoning, that are not cooked over wood or charcoal.

                              And what about Polvo's fajitas al guajillo? According to the menu, this dish comes with sun-dried peppers (guajillos and thin, short red ones—maybe chiles de arbol), pecans, raisins, peanuts, grilled onions, and grilled strips of poblanos. Twill's comment that this seems more like an Asian dish than a Tex-Mex or Mexican one seems right on. It reminded me of Kung Pao beef, except that a Thai or Chinese dish featuring skirt steak would be more highly seasoned.

                              Toasted guajillos are used in salsas, pozoles, caldos, and stews. Birria, too, if I'm not mistaken. I've also had a very good Texas-style chile made with them. Yet I've never seen them torn into large chunks and thrown into a grilled-meat dish. Chiles guajillos are very tough and need to be soaked a really long time to be malleable. At Polvo's they did this long enough for the chiles to be unfurled into long strips. But that was it, flavor-wise: Dried chiles and peanuts. (There were only a couple of raisins and one pecan half.) Ground-up guajillos, chiles de arbol, and/or nuts are the basis of many different Mexican sauces (various moles; nut-based sauces like nogada). To me, it would be interesting to see how these ingredients would combine if roasted, pureed, and cooked with meat, rather than just thrown next to grilled meat.

                              The fajitas al guajillo are more flavorful than Polvo's plain ones. (The meat, separated from the chiles and nuts, tastes the same.) They are also unusual. If you like chewing on plain reconstituted guajillos, then you'll love this dish. I don't, really. Thus, these are neither something unique that I'll want to have again, nor something that I'll crave the next time I want fajitas.

                              I'll add just a couple of thoughts on items unrelated to the fajita plates. Good regional-Mexican restaurants make cooked and uncooked sauces that are delicious. La Regio Montana comes to mind as a great local example. Ironically, despite their salsa bar, Polvo's does not have much success with many of their sauces. (This is probably a blessing, considering how god-awful their store-bought corn chips *still* are.) Today Polvo's salsa bar offered a pretty, red, fresh-tomato-based salsa that tasted like very sweet spaghetti-sauce. It's made with pureed canned tomatoes, barely any chiles, and a touch of cilantro, and had mild to no spiciness. The watery tomatillo-and-guajillo salsa was the hottest of the three available. It wasn't good, though. It seemed like smooth tomatillos from a can, with barely any guajillos. The dark-brown roasted-tomato salsa looked quite dramatic, but it just delivered one note of smoked-until-totally-blackened tomatoes that were pureed and supposedly mixed with vinegar, salt, and a touch of chile. [Note: I was told about these additional ingredients; I couldn't taste anything but the tomato.] This salsa was also extremely mild. Today the salsa bar also had a vegetable escabeche, which I didn't try. On another occasion, I did try their salsa ranchera, which wasn't good. Since Polvo's "fajitas ranchero" are the same old fajita meat sautéed with their bad pico de gallo and their "ranchero" sauce, I have no plans to try them, especially since HMC does a deliciously seasoned version that I love.

                              We also ordered a plate of papas Monterrey as an appetizer, just so we'd have something that didn't have to be consumed with chips. This dish is basically a dry potato stew: It consists of large chunks of potatoes, large pieces of pickled carrot sliced on the diagonal (from the escabeche?), and slices of grilled poblanos and onions, all in a mild tomato-sauce-like red salsa. The pickled carrots had the most spice, and thus the most presence. The best-tasting pieces of potatoes were the ones that were well roasted, but most were under-cooked. If you ignored the almost-raw interior of some of the potatoes, this appetizer was mostly inoffensive. However, it was not exciting. I love Tex-Mex breakfast potatoes, potato-based picadillos, and interior-Mexican sweet-potato dishes, but I didn't really get the Polvo’s dish. It did distract me from the chips, though.

                              That's it for me as far as Polvo's is concerned. The fajitas meat itself wasn't as bad this time, but nothing was very good and too many things were bad. Combination regional-Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants can have great chow. I'm thinking of El Mirador and even some dishes at La Fogata, both in San Antonio. On my visits, Polvo's has offered mostly mediocre dishes—in a colorful atmosphere complete with plentiful, though not particularly good, margaritas; bilingual staff [not rude on this visit, though they have been before]; and user-friendly food that's unique in a way that's readily understandable to their customer base. By this I mean that fajitas al guajillo are more accessible than, for example, sesos [brains] would be. Polvo's has hit on a winning formula, so they won’t miss this chowhound’s business. And I definitely won't miss them.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: MPH
                                s
                                scrumptiouschef RE: MPH Apr 30, 2007 09:49 PM

                                Tell us what you really think about Polvos' MPH.Quit mincing words already.
                                Another bad fajita alert and one I'm grateful for...I have been known to darken the door at Polvos from time to time...used to you could "bring your own food"from next door at La Mexicana but they've started their own slide downhill so that's no longer in effect.I see the allure,for their neighborhood and client base they're perfect.A better Mexican dining option is right down the street at Torchy's Tacos,grab a couple Green Chile Pork Tacos,large and tasty,but Cook:please do not tell me the corn tortillas are homemade and then turn around 4 feet from me and pull them out of a bag from HEB and throw them on the griddle.
                                Take a couple Tall Girls in paper sleeves,rear back on the blacktop out front and soak in some South Austin.

                                1. re: MPH
                                  Twill RE: MPH May 1, 2007 05:41 AM

                                  Well considered and articulated, as usual, MPH. I agree with you on a number of points. The beef fajitas I've had at Polvo's didn't really do it for me, either; not tender enough and tasteless. I'll say (and you'll consider me a philistine for it) that I'm not a big beef eater, so I generally order the chicken version of fajitas, and in the case of the al Guajillo, I think this might make a difference (think Chinese Chicken with Peanuts). Maybe if you suspended your disbelief and thought of Polvo's as a Mandarin restaurant for a moment....

                                  If you're ever dragged back against your will, give the tortas a try or experiment with the Enchiladas Exoticas. I'm not sure they'll impress, but it seems to me that if you're going to have to suffer anyway, you may try doing so with a dish for which you have no comparable expectations.

                                  I'm looking forward on your rec to trying the fajitas at Los Comales; I even plan to go in for the beef option. I enjoyed the asada at Habanero, though I'll have to try the fajitas there, as well.

                                  1. re: Twill
                                    Rustcat RE: Twill May 1, 2007 06:33 AM

                                    Forgot bout El Azteca.....great variety of fajitas!..tried to attach a list from their menu,,,hope it's legible

                                     
                                  2. re: MPH
                                    amysuehere RE: MPH May 1, 2007 12:09 PM

                                    Okay, MPH, you've convinced me to give Habenero's a try for the fajitas.

                                    1. re: amysuehere
                                      MPH RE: amysuehere May 1, 2007 12:41 PM

                                      If you like fajitas rancheras, amysuehere, they're the daily lunch special on Wednesdays from 11 to 3. It costs maybe $5.99 for the plate. Even when the fajita plates are not a special, they’re affordable and very popular with the lunch crowd. [Note: This place is only open for breakfast and lunch most days, with the exception of Friday and Saturday, when they're open until 9—as of last weekend.]

                                      Add a mesquite-grilled lengua taco, too, if you like that cut or are feeling adventurous. I order lengua all the time, and Habeñero’s is the best non-stewed lengua I’ve ever had.

                                      To Twill: Thanks for the feedback on how to approach the offerings at Polvo's, should I ever return. A chowhound's always gotta be prepared. . .

                                      Best,
                                      MPH

                                      1. re: MPH
                                        amysuehere RE: MPH May 2, 2007 06:33 AM

                                        Unfortunately as you know, I'm stuck up here in the land of the bland during the week, but I'll venture across town this weekend and give it a whirl.

                                        Is ranchera your all-time favorite there?

                                        1. re: amysuehere
                                          e
                                          El General RE: amysuehere May 2, 2007 08:44 AM

                                          If you make it into Habanero's for breakfast and want to have the best of both worlds, they offer Roberto's special. An order of huevo's ranchero's (using a green chili tomatillo sauce) and a good portion of their fajitas. It is outstanding.

                                    2. re: MPH
                                      Twill RE: MPH May 15, 2007 11:28 AM

                                      Just returned from Los Comales for lunch. Their fajitas are going to make it hard to really objectively enjoy the dish elsewhere. The tender beef is thoroughly marianated and lightly charred on the outside, and has a rich, smoky flavor. As I've noted elsewhere, I rarely tend to eat beef, but I wanted to see what the hubub was about, and Los Comales may very well have helped to revert me to my former meat-eating self. I had the puerco cascabel, as well, and though it's not one of the specialty al carbons, it was pretty damn good; I like a good guisado as much as I do grilled meats, so it's good to know that if I introduce friends to Los Comales, I'll have other options if I so choose.

                                      When we paid the bill, I found myself so transfixed on the grill behind the counter with its mounds of roasting onions and jalapenos, so much so that I had to be physically pulled out of the restaurant to return to work. Although I'll still return to Polvo's for my far eastern influenced chicken fajitas, they are no match for that grill at Los Comales.

                                      1. re: Twill
                                        s
                                        scrumptiouschef RE: Twill May 15, 2007 12:17 PM

                                        Welcome back to the Beefy Fold,Twill.Now have your faith reaffirmed in the intrinsic value of a pork based diet:Go across the street from Graciellas' to El Zunzal,have their Carnita Tacos,wash them down with Regia,if you need something green they prepare their Guacamole by skinning an avocado after you order it.The food there is better during the day than at night but it's always at the top of the Pork Pecking Order in Austin

                                        1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                          Twill RE: scrumptiouschef May 15, 2007 12:23 PM

                                          Serendipity! That was the next scheduled stop on my 2007 off-campus lunch tour. I'll report back on my experience directly.

                                          1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                            Twill RE: scrumptiouschef May 30, 2007 10:49 AM

                                            Got there, sc. I went during lunch, so no Regia, and we stuck to the Salvadoran fare, so no carnitas. Guess I'll "have" to go back.

                                      2. austx03 RE: Aloo0628 May 2, 2007 05:22 PM

                                        I think the fajitas at El Chile are great! Everything tastes "fresh", not as though it has been in a steam table for hours. Plus their salsa is awesome. Made with charred tomatoes. I don't think you can go wrong here.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: austx03
                                          Knoblauch RE: austx03 May 2, 2007 05:46 PM

                                          Thanks for the recommendation. Cooked-to-order is definitely the way to go, especially when there is not a steady stream from the grill to the table. Does the "fresh" flavor taste to you like the normal flavor of grilled beef, or did you detect a flavorful marinade? How was the meat's texture?

                                          I've only visited El Chile once, but so far I have considered it to be the best of the Mexican-inspired restauraunts aimed at tourists (or students). I didn't try the fajitas during that meal, though.

                                        2. Lear RE: Aloo0628 May 8, 2007 10:35 AM

                                          The only good fajitas I have had in Austin were at Los Pinos!!

                                          Los Pinos is what I would describe as a VERY authentic Mexican restaurant. It reminds me of Spring Break in Mexico. The place looks a little run down and there are kids playing in front kicking a soccer ball. Although authentic it is very clean. The fajitas are excellent, I have only tried the chicken and the shrimp and I would say they were the best fajitas I have ever had. The best part is they have affordable drinks and if you have ever been to any establishment near Lake Travis you know that the average price for a beer is 4 bucks and they serve it in the can plus it takes about 20-30 minutes for the dumbass poorly groomed pot head kid to come back with your beer. Go during Happy Hour!! Family ran business with a very nice staff.

                                          4919 Hudson Bend Rd
                                          Austin, TX 78734
                                          (512) 266-3231

                                          Lea!!

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: Lear
                                            MPH RE: Lear May 8, 2007 12:05 PM

                                            Fajitas refers to a particular cut and preparation of beef, though the term is also used generally to refer to grilled chicken or shrimp. Perhaps you could share what about these "fajitas" made them "excellent"—the marinade, the quality of the chicken or shellfish, the cooking method (over charcoal or hardwood? griddled?), something else? Tastes vary, after all, and you want people to know what delicious means to you before they drive all the way to Lake Travis.

                                            For those who may not know, Los Pinos is owned by the same people who own Polvo's. It has elicited a range of opinions, not all enthusiastic:

                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/308652

                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/93309

                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/369277

                                            Lear, you say that the only good fajitas that you've had in Austin were at Los Pinos, but I’m not sure how many other versions you’ve tried. I hope you’ll find that there are plenty of clean and authentic Mexican restaurants [these categories are not mutually exclusive] in town, including some of the ones mentioned above as having delicious fajitas.

                                            Best,
                                            MPH

                                            1. re: MPH
                                              Lear RE: MPH May 8, 2007 01:26 PM

                                              Well to be honest I would not ever drive out of my way for fajitas but what made them good was the Vegetables were very fresh and the marinade was extremely tasty. I tried to figure out the marinade but could not and the owner said I can't tell you!! If you are going out for a day trip at the lake and looking for somewhere to stop and have a few $2.00 Margaritas (happy hour) and some Awesome fajitas and if you do carbs their their tortillas are homemade. I recommend the flour tortillas! Since the drinks were so cheap I don't really remember why the fajitas were good but they were!!!!!!

                                              LEA

                                              1. re: Lear
                                                k
                                                kirelerya RE: Lear May 8, 2007 01:39 PM

                                                I am sure to get negative comments about this response but recently I ordered the chipotle shrimp fajitas at Maudie's North, and was shocked with how tasty they were. I will fully admit I rarely order fajita's, I am not a big fan of Maudies AND I know shrimp fajitas are not "real fajitas" but I had three people with me who all orded the same dish and the response was the same by everyone at the table - yum! The shrimp was tender and well seasoned, as were the accompanying condiments, onions and peppers. The tortillas were bland and store bought, but with such tasty filling, it didn't matter much. On the other hand the unexpected
                                                rice and beans that were served with the fajitas should have stayed in the kitchen. They were terrible. The service was inconsistant. The interior was pretty dumpy and the rest of the dishes were all a thumbs down BUT if I ever have to go to Maudie's at least I have something really tasty to order. Or it was a one time fluke.

                                              2. re: MPH
                                                rudeboy RE: MPH May 8, 2007 01:43 PM

                                                FYI - I finally got to Habanero Cafe to try the fajitas. My over all impression was "ehhh."

                                                The cuts of beef weren't very uniform - not that they needed to be, but some were so big that they had to be cut and others were very small. The result was that they seemed to be cooked unevenly. The larger pieces contained gristle that had to be chewed through and spit out. Not that this is a huge problem for me......it was more that there wasn't much flavor to them. They were not very tender. I detected no charred flavor from mesquite grilling nor any depth of flavor from any sort of marinade. Maybe they were yesterday's fajitas?

                                                On a positive note, they did grill (or warm) them up with habanero peppers, sort of spearately. I could chew on a habanero for a minute to get some flavor. If only they had guajillos!

                                                Otherwise, I like this little place. The staff is very friendly, and there seemed to be a mix of hispanic and non-hispanic customers. Other dishes have been passable to very good, but I probably won't order fajitas here again.

                                                1. re: rudeboy
                                                  amysuehere RE: rudeboy May 8, 2007 02:15 PM

                                                  Hmmm. We almost met by chance, Rudeboy. I too was going to try Habenero on Saturday. We had hit Kerby Lane early (not a normal choice, but we were up earlier than usual do to a family emergency) and there was too long a wait. We decided on CHEAP and thought of MPH's rec on fajitas, but for the life of me I couldn't remember the name. We ended up at Polvo's and again had a plate of guajillo/carbon and they were loaded with chiles.

                                                  1. re: rudeboy
                                                    MPH RE: rudeboy May 8, 2007 02:36 PM

                                                    I would have been very surprised if you'd liked Habeñero Mexican Cafe’s fajitas, rudeboy, since your ideal seems to be the guajillo fajitas at Polvo's. The two dishes—and the two places—are quite different. Or perhaps you’re comparing the regular fajitas at HMC to the plain fajitas at Polvo’s?

                                                    What else did you have on this one visit to Habeñero’s that you found "passable to very good"?

                                                    1. re: MPH
                                                      r
                                                      rudeboy43 RE: MPH May 8, 2007 08:32 PM

                                                      No, my ideal is the camarones a la plancha with the reconstituted guajillos. I like the nice fresh salad and the toasty shrimp. Fajitas are secondary, but good at Polvos. I like the fact that they take a chance. I appreciate a little finesse and exploration with flavor - something that I did not find in the Habanero fajitas.

                                                      And for the other dishes, that's a different topic. I'll be glad to discuss on a dish-specific thread.

                                                    2. re: rudeboy
                                                      Twill RE: rudeboy May 8, 2007 03:28 PM

                                                      Next time you're there, rudeboy, give the verde enchiladas a try if you haven't alreayd. We went with the chicken, and I thought they were outstanding.

                                                    3. re: dcc628
                                                      MPH RE: dcc628 Mar 7, 2008 04:10 PM

                                                      From a post (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/93309 ) by a longtime 'hound:

                                                      "It's now close to 11 and we're just about done with our meal and no one is rushing us and in the corner of the dining room I see a familiar face - holy smokes! It's the wife of the owner of Polvo's!!! I go over and say hi, and wonder of wonders, they've added on Los Pinos. Los Pinos has a lot of the same flavors as Polvo's but it's not the same dishes."

                                                  2. y
                                                    yushi RE: Aloo0628 Jul 25, 2007 05:27 AM

                                                    Absolutely has to be Papasitos. Recently tried Habenero, not too impressive; tried Polvo's, like it, almost as good as Papsitos plus different taste. Plan to try Los Pinos and Los Comales.
                                                    But want to say the only place I have been has slightly better Fajitas than Papasitos is Lupe Tortilla's in Houston. They will open one in Austin in 2008. (Yeahhhh).

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: yushi
                                                      y
                                                      yimay RE: yushi Jul 25, 2007 10:29 PM

                                                      !!!

                                                      omg i love lupe tortilla

                                                      1. re: yimay
                                                        s
                                                        Sofa King RE: yimay Mar 9, 2008 10:52 AM

                                                        I love Lupe Tortillas too. Papasitos doesn't use skirt steak so IMHO they aren't true fajitas, then Iffin I remember correctly they try to upgrade you to tenderloin for an extra $4/person, with that being said and charging extra for condiments....screw the Papas, a real clip joint.

                                                      2. re: yushi
                                                        i
                                                        ieathereforeiam RE: yushi Aug 12, 2008 08:35 PM

                                                        anyone heard anymore about Lupe Tortilla's opening in Austin? With Ninfa's closed and a lousy meal at pappasito's today I'd like another choice for houston style tex mex

                                                        1. re: ieathereforeiam
                                                          s
                                                          scrumptiouschef RE: ieathereforeiam Jan 6, 2009 04:23 PM

                                                          Reviving the thread.Where are y'all getting your fajitas these days?

                                                          1. re: scrumptiouschef
                                                            d
                                                            DasTennis RE: scrumptiouschef Mar 2, 2014 07:24 PM

                                                            It doesn't look like anyone has added to this conversation in a while, but being a beef fajita lover I had to weigh in.

                                                            My all time favorite Austin Beef Fajitas were found at Ninfa's on 183 near I35. Unfortunately, after Momma Ninfas passed most of the Ninfa locations closed down including Austin's lone location. However, if you find yourself in Houston you can still get the best Fajitas in the world at the location Ninfa's claims to have invented fajitas - on Navigation.

                                                            Austin lacks great beef fajita's on it's own. Sorry to report this, but compared to 4 largest cities in the USA Austin lacks in the restaurant department overall anyway.

                                                            Best Beef Fajitas in Austin still goes to one of Houston's Top 5 producers Pappasito's.

                                                            When I try beef fajitas in all of the other locations here in Austin there is always something missing. No one can match Mama Ninfa's style of cooking down on Navigation ( beware just because it's called Ninfa's most locations don't get it right). The beef is never seasoned just right and they just don't have the right technique that seers the beef all around each piece of meat. Secondly, most don't even have fresh tortillas. I think it's crazy that people like Torchy's. Their tortilla taste store bought! Ingredient to make the unique tacos are good but they still get a D- because of their tortillas.

                                                            If I want a fast fajita, Rosa's Cafe on 1431 in Cedar Park makes a good beef fajita and at least their tortillas are fresh.

                                                            1. re: DasTennis
                                                              slowcoooked RE: DasTennis Mar 2, 2014 08:00 PM

                                                              I am pretty sure fajitas are illegal in Austin...but times, they are a' changing

                                                              1. re: slowcoooked
                                                                popvulture RE: slowcoooked Mar 3, 2014 06:13 AM

                                                                Pssssh. They're certainly not the most high brow menu item, but they've always been here, and people are definitely buying em. Just eat at Polvos and see how many go out.

                                                                For beef I like their cerveza fajitas, but I usually go for half chicken / half pastor. Always tasty.

                                                                Re: Ninfa's, the original location is still great, but I've never had the fajitas – my go to has always been the carnitas. I'll have to try them! The reason I wanted to add to the Ninfa's conversation: the last time I went, I learned that Mama Ninfa's family hasn't owned the navigation location in years, and they've just recently built a new restaurant right next door. I forget the name, but it's literally right next to the original. I'll be trying that one next time...

                                                                1. re: popvulture
                                                                  c
                                                                  chrisdds98 RE: popvulture Mar 3, 2014 08:03 AM

                                                                  the new restaurant is called el tiempo. Its good, though fairly expensive (http://www.eltiempocantina.com/best-t...). I still prefer the original ninfas but go to at least one of these two places every time I go to houston.

                                                                  1. re: popvulture
                                                                    i
                                                                    ieathereforeiam RE: popvulture Mar 3, 2014 10:46 PM

                                                                    Lupe Tortillas is a pretty good ninfa's knockoff from houston i think. if you can tolerate the joint, they make craveworthy grilled beef fajitas, beans and tortillas.

                                                                    habanero has the best all purpose tex mex grill in town but it's tiny.

                                                                    1. re: ieathereforeiam
                                                                      tom in austin RE: ieathereforeiam Mar 4, 2014 05:48 AM

                                                                      Habanero's toothsome fajitas come with a tang of mesquite. Totally different from Houston-style (Ninfa's, Papasito's, Lupe Tortilla, Cafe Adobe[RIP]) which focuses on tender succulence, these can be chewy or even a tad bit tough, but the flavor is fantastic. For those who haven't had them, this is an absolute must for Austin Tex-Mex dining. Go for breakfast and get Roberto's Special, which is huevos rancheros and fajitas.

                                                                      And FWIW I really like Lupe Tortilla (and Houston-style fajitas), although the pricing is usurious.

                                                        2. t
                                                          tximagineer RE: Aloo0628 Mar 4, 2014 08:27 PM

                                                          #1 Lupe Tortillas. Hands down.

                                                          Before the haters go "blah blah blah, chain." The original one opened by my house in Houston years ago and it was family owned. The original family still has an interest and the chain aspect hasn't turned the core food product to crap. Yes they started bottling a sauce that is just okay and yes the restaurant has lots of "flair."

                                                          I hate the way that their success can be their failure but the core products, mainly fajitas, are still a solid choice. I still go to the family run locations (they didn't sell those) and also go to the ones here. They've translated the quality well.

                                                          Also their salsas are really good. (It is an expensive fajita experience, but worth it).

                                                          Previous to that I'd say that #1 used to be Austin original Maudies however recently I've some bad experiences with lazy cuts of sinuey beef that's hard to chew (and then hard to swallow).

                                                          Not Tex-mex style but also check out Habaneros on Oltorf.

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