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Looking for the best tex mex in the city!!

I am attending an event in Austin and am interested in the best tex mex in town. I'm bringing a team of about 10 people so looking for great food and a setting which would work for a group this large. Don't necessarily want a private room (those can feel like you're shoved off in a back hallway sometimes), but also want the restaurant to be able to comfortably accomodate a group that large.

I love the down and dirty places (think Mia's Tex Mex in Dallas which is an all-time favorite), but probably want something a little nicer for the group (think Javier's in Dallas). Overall just want really great food and fun, non-hokey atmosphere.

Thanks for the thoughts. I live in the Bay Area and while we have great food and restaurants good Tex Mex (or true Mexican for that matter) is pretty much non-existent.

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  1. Will likely get slammed for this, but I'd recommend Matt's El Rancho, esp. for a large group. Only thing I don't like about it is it gets kind of loud when very busy (too much tile in there I guess). But offers good standard tex mex. BTW, I loved Mia's (and Ojeda's) when I lived in Dallas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cstrombe

      you wont ever get slammed about MATTS by me...and it perfect for groups like that.

    2. I would recommend matt's too...it's a great place for a large group, it's been around forever, and it's consistently good. Best in Austin? Maybe not, if only because it's a bit too well-known, and true Austinites like myself tend to turn our noses up at places like that. Get about 3 Bob Armstrong dips, you can thank me later. I'd also recommend Guero's - great margaritas, very central location. The wait is bad at both places on the weekends, but after a marg or too you won't mind too much.

      1. Appreciate the responses. Is Matt's better than say an Uncle Julio's? Always nervous if a place is too big and focused on groups it tends to not be that good. Since we're only 10, doesn't need to be the "best for groups".

        Also, if I have a night solo (or with a couple colleagues) so group thing not an issue, what's the BEST food in town? Don't care if it's upmarket tex mex or low rent like Mia's? Just looking for your absolute favorites. Mouth watering already as I love Mexican and Tex Mex. I've been to Dallas for projects six times in 2008 and have eaten at Mia's at least once every trip.

        2 Replies
        1. re: teejaymoore

          As a Dallas native now living in Austin, Matt's is much better than Uncle Julio's. Aaaah, Ojeda's in the old days was the best!

          1. re: RoxieB

            Thanks RoxieB. I'll have to try Ojeda's and branch out from my Mia's rut. Also tried Sonny Bryans (original location) in Dallas. Great BBQ although the place is pretty frightening inside. Any good BBQ in Austin (like sandwiches not ribs)?

        2. If you have about 10 folks with you, then Matt's might be the way to go. There are a ton of excellent mom-n-pop Tex-Mex restaurants in town, and 10 people would overwhelm just about any of them. If it was a group of 4, I think this whole conversation would be entirely different.

          2 Replies
          1. re: AlanV

            So Alan - what's your favorite small one? Will likely hit it the other night I'm in town.

            1. re: teejaymoore

              I have not found one place where every dish is outstandingl so I tend to go different places for different things...Angie's for tacos, Las Manitas (on Thursday) for chili relleno (vegetariano is best...stuffed with corn and mushrooms), various for cheese enchiladas, Vivo's for tortilla soup, but if I had to pick the place with the highest overall average, it might be Enchiladas y Mas.

          2. TJ... There are more than 300 tex mex restaurants in Austin, many w/ your basic enchiladas w/ chile gravy & land o lake melts alot yella cheese, ordinary crispy tacos, guacamole & your average beans & red rice many much the same.
            You know that tourist place you send out of towners that you never go to, well that would be Rats el Muncho (Matt's el Rancho) just average Mexican fair

            I agree w/ Tim that there are certain dishes at different places that are good.

            Where to get great Tex Mex ???? I am not sure

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodcoyote

              There's the slam! I am from Austin and I go to Matt's all the time. I think it is much better than places like Maudie's, Chuy's etc. It's not that easy to get that yellow cheese & chili gravy juuust right. I also like El Azteca, but not good for large groups.

            2. TJ- everyone has their favorite, and as you can see, it'll cause quite a stir. I like real mom-n-pop places, where everyone in the kitchen is related and there is a dish on the menu made of something your mom would toss out. Going out on a limb, I like El Azteca (though many would argue otherwise) and Enchiladas y Mas.

              1. yeah, Matt's is probably the best place to take a group of that size for good food. I am a big fan of Maudie's for their standard tex-mex fare. However it wouldn't really work for a group of that size. You definitely need to get Bob Armstrong dip. The green enchiladas are very straight forward and delicious. The tacos al carbon are really good too. Matt's can be loud, but it is just part of the atmosphere. It is a very large restaurant and operates as such, but I have never gotten the feeling that the food has suffered because of its size.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kylep23

                  Funny, I recently had a similar quandry. Needed to take an out-of-towner to have Tex-Mex and wasn't really sure where to go. Didn't want interior Mexican or some kinda fusion place--just good, standard Tex-Mex faire. Problem is, it's hard to come up with that in Austin--seems like most Tex-Mex places are very greasy spoon/hole in the wall, and more upscale places don't do real Tex-Mex or don't do it well. We actually ended up at Matt's El Rancho (for a bunch of reasons), a place I hadn't been to since I was a kid. I had the brisket tacos (which I don't recommend--too greasy), some Bob Armstrong dip (yummy), an overpriced iced tea and some overpriced sopapillas. Our service was lukewarm to poor. It was super-crowded there. After we left, I remembered that I had been to Maudie's off Loop 360 recently and thought that might have been a better bet (except for the drive out there). I've been to several sub-par Maudie's in other parts of town, but the 360 one seemed larger and nicer than the others I've been to (N. Lamar and Brodie Lane). Other places that came to mind were Curra's (more interior Mex but good tamales and fajitas) and despite the fact that it is a chain, Pappasitos. When I was a kid growing up in the hill country, there was this great little Tex-Mex restaurant in my hometown that would have fit the bill perfectly, but that place has been closed for years. I think the key to Gueros success is its location; I've never had a meal there that was edible. I guess I'll have to try El Azteca and Enchiladas y Mas sometime; problem is, I rarely crave Tex-Mex since it is generally so unhealthy. I think the place to have it though is really San Antonio--it just doesn't fit in well with Austin's healthy lifestyle. Maybe that's the whole problem right there.

                2. It's probably way after the fact, but for future visits try Avila's on Maple Avenue. It's a family-owned place where they use grandma's recipes (she doesn't share - we've tried to get the mole recipe). Anything on the Special's Board is going to be heavenly and earthy. It's not nuevo mexican - just seriously authentic texican.

                  If you're going out on a Tuesday, the only place to go is Mia's. Stand in line to get a chile relleno that will blow your mind. They only make them once a week and people flock to the restaurant to get one. This isn't your souffle-style egg puff with cheese. It's a meaty, sweet, savory & spice bomb that will turn you into a relleno snob. Skip lunch and get there early to avoid the crowds.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: GrinPrincess

                    GrinPrincess,

                    the question is for Austin, but I agree Mia's and Avila's (sp?) are good choices for Dallas

                    1. re: Chefdavis

                      Thanks and agree on Mia's in Dallas. Mia's and Sonny Bryans (original location) are my must stops in Dallas.