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Mexican Food in North Central Austin

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Given the wealth of Mexican and Tex-Mex offerings in South and East Austin, in north Austin (Crestview), with the exception of Arandas, are we in a Mexican food wasteland? Any recommendations? My experiences have been whelming if not underwhelming. We've tried La Casita, have followed the consensus on this board and others as to the middling food of Casa Chapala, have suffered through the shockingly bad food of Marisco's on Burnet, and have left Enchilada's y Mas puzzled as to the fanfare it's received. Are we missing some? And, we have tried, and somewhat enjoyed Elsi's, despite the yuppiefied environment and the 9 dollar (what!) pupusas? It's a meat stuffed pouch, come on.

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  1. As a preface, I'll say that wasteland is a relative term. Compared to San Antonio, Austin is nearly a wasteland for delicious Mexican food. On the other hand, even the number and quality of places you've already found would blow many neighborhoods outside of Texas away. Since it's hard to control where people produce delicious chow, it's often the fate of a 'hound to jump in a car or on a bus to get a fix. (Rumor has it that some exceptional 'hounds will use a motorcycle or a Concorde [RIP], but that's outside my ken.) People make long treks from other parts into north-central Austin to get the best in Vietnamese and Chinese food.

    That said, the closest delicious chow that I can recommend is the following:

    * tacos al pastor at a truck on the west side of Lamar a little north of 183
    * Sport Taco at Parmer and Lamar (homemade flour tortillas)
    * Don Luis at Parmer and MoPac (homemade flour tortillas, AC, and table service)
    * Taquería el Rinconsito at Airport and Manor (homemade flour and corn tortillas)
    * Fonda San Miguel

    As I was putting together this brief list, I noticed even closer to Crestview (in Google maps) a lot of Mexican places that I've neither tried nor seen reports on. It looks like you've just carved yourself out a real chowhounding opportunity. I do hope that you'll try out some of the lesser known places in your neighborhood and report on the ups and downs of your search.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Knoblauch

      If you continue east on Anderson Lane from Enchiladas y Mas you will come to a little Mexican cafe on the right just about at the rr tracks. It has gotten good reviews from DR at its other location. I have only had breakfast tacos there and was happy with them. Their menu looks good. Anyone recall the name? BTW,, the Mexican place further east on Anderson at the intersection of Anderson and Lamar is no good. Nor is Maud's (is that right?) up on North Lamar. Also just south of Koenig Lane on Lamar, across from the Half Price book store is a little Mexican place that had pretty good food the one time I ate there. DR gave it a good review. It is small and dumpy and a little hard to see with all the other signs around.

      1. re: singlemalt

        "Just south of Koenig Lane on Lamar, across from the Half Price book store..."

        Do you mean El Carribbe, next to the Korean grocer? I've been for breakfast twice and really liked it, though it's been a while. I seem to remember being a bit confused by the chip and salsa situation though....like there's a salsa bar or something that wasn't apparent if it was a help-yourself type thing. Anyway, I keep meaning to go back and try it, but always forget it's there.

        1. re: nacho

          Thanks, that's the one. I had forgotten about the salsa bar. Their breakfast situation looked good on the menu. Have to try it soon. Joe

        2. re: singlemalt

          If you continue east on Anderson Lane from Enchiladas y Mas you will come to a little Mexican cafe on the right just about at the rr tracks.

          That's La Casita.
          Decent affordable breakfast, nothing really special but right around the corner from us.

      2. i'm in north central austin. places i like are oaxacan tamaleo, taqueria arandas #3, el caribe and los jalisciences. then there is always fonda san miguel.

        6 Replies
        1. re: yimay

          Oaxacan Tamaleo has closed its Anderson Ln. location and reopened on 71 in Cedar Creek. They still hit the farmer's markets in town.

          Consuelo's Kitchen (on Burnet next to Upper Crust) got mediocre reviews in another post, but I've had good breakfast tacos there. I've had lunch there once and had a terrific relleno daily special.

          Jorge's (Hancock off Burnet) is on my list to try. I grew up with the West Texas/New Mexico slant on Tex Mex, so items like their stacked enchiladas w/a fried egg sound very appealing. Have not eaten there.

          There's a Jalisciense in an old Wendy's on Airport near Lamar, and Taqueria de Jalisco on Koenig at Woodrow.

          1. re: mkwng

            Jorge's on Hancock is very good (with certain dishes). They have a pork dish my husband loves. Can't remember the name but it's cubed pork in a verde sauce. I always get the two enchilda plate with one red New Mexico sauce and one green New Mexico sauce. Reminds me of home.

            1. re: amysuehere

              I still like Enchiladas y Mas on Anderson for great junky tex-mexxy enchiladas and great b-fast tacos

            2. re: mkwng

              jorge's frozen margaritas kick my a**

              1. re: mkwng

                "There's a Jalisciense in an old Wendy's on Airport near Lamar"

                I had a lousy breakfast there once, no flavor and it still feels like a Wendy's.

                1. re: mkwng

                  I used to live right around the corner from El Caribe (on Lamar, just south of Koenig by the Korean food store and the Dan's)and really liked their Enchiladas, especially those with the Chipotle sauce. It is a very small place, and the decor is nothing to write home about. The menu is a little more diverse than your standard Tex-Mex with a lot of seafood offerings. Sadly I never got to try any of these. It's been at least a year since I have been there, so my memory's a bit sketchy, but I remember my wife having a good Chile Relleno there. I'd definitely go back if I was close by.

              2. I'd like to put my 2 cents in for La Casita near Anderson and Woodrow...my co-workers and I tried it for lunch because Enchiladas Y Mas is closed on Mondays. We've eaten there 2 times a week ever since. The tortilla soup is really good, very few spices but lots of chicken flavor with avocados etc. They put tons of fresh chopped onions and cilantro on the side and you can add what you want. My Hispanic friends really like their Tortas with fajita meat and the Carne Guisada. Reasonable prices and they will split your ticket (unlike Enchiladas Y Mas) and that's another reason we end up there regularly. Clean too, even the bathroom.

                1. I stumbled upon this little El Salvadorian place
                  on the corner of 183 & Cameron called Costa del Sol.
                  I think their pupusas are better than El Zunzal's.
                  Theyre like 2 or 2.50 - has anybody ever tried this place?
                  Their chips are really similar to El Zunzal too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lasergangsta

                    I went to Elsi's today for breakfast and the Sandia (watermelon juice) was fresh and not overly sweet. I also ordered the Huevos Montulenos (fried egg on a corn cake with black beans) and it was disappointing. I ordered it without the ranchero sauce because I'm expecting and spicy tends to give me heartburn. The dish came out with the sauce on anyhow. When it was returned to me the egg was undercooked and it was coated it a thick Chedder cheese. The corn tortillas were faintly stale. The black beans were good though. The restaurant was not crowded and had only two other tables. If someone else wanted to go I might give this place another try for lunch, but I'll stick to Curras for breakfast.

                  2. We had a chance to sample El Caribe this weekend on North Lamar, just south of Koenig. Wonderful food, unappealing staff. The spinach and mushroom enchiladas were excellent, and the diverse offerings on the salsa bar were uniformly delicious. Unfortunately, both the waitstaff and the owners (I assume, since they were periodically barking orders to the kitchen and server)--who did not bother to either greet or seat us when we walked in or, for that matter, peer up from their newspapers--were extremely unfriendly and unwelcoming. I'll probably give it another shot, just because the food was so tasty, but I'll do it reluctantly and won't do it again if I'm met with more disinterest.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jackietreehorn

                      I too found it 'unwelcoming'.
                      Also, I don't think they have any breakfast menu to speak of, at least when we went.

                      1. re: jackietreehorn

                        I went a couple of weeks ago and had the opposite experience. There was only one waitress, and when I walked in she was sitting with a young girl, I think her daughter, helping her with homework. As the place filled up (it was a weekday, maybe 4-5 tables) the waitress managed to check in on everyone, get the food out quickly, answer my menu questions, and keep an eye on the daughter. I found it a pleasant, charming experience.

                        The food was also good. The salsa bar is a cool touch. There was a red pepper salsa that was quite unique. I had the pollito relleno - chicken breast butterflied, stuffed with chorizo and mushroom, battered and fried. Slightly overcooked, but the filling was amazing.

                      2. I've always found Curra's on Burnet to be rather good. Not quite a Tex-Mex joint but offers more of the interior Mexican flair.