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la condesa on 2nd st

my usual bike route to work took me past lambert's last week and i saw, across the street from it, some interesting-looking construction happening... and today i biked by and saw that same construction had come quite a ways, and is going to be a new restaurant called la condesa. i have to say i get excited about interesting decor/interiors almost as much as i do about good food, so i was really happy to see that we're going to have another place to eat that's as pretty to look at as lamberts.

looks like they already had their soft opening (last night?)

despite the annoying review above that doesn't tell us much about the food, i'm excited to check it out. anyone know anything about this? any 'hounders invited to the soft opening and have sneak preview insight?

any 'hounders wanna try to have a small-ish group dinner (or lunch) there sometime?

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  1. Their website just says opening in February, but no menu listed yet. Looking forward to hearing about this place.

    1. I'm a line cook in that neighborhood, and some of the managers from La Condesa have been stopping in our place--make a long story short, word is they are extremely nice, put off a very positive vibe, even making nice with one of the dishwashers (who are usually treated like untouchables by upper management in the trade). I understand they've had the kitchen running for a few weeks now.

      1. As our posting guidelines explain:

        "We don't allow reviews of "soft open" or "friends and family nights", which are held for a select group prior to the restaurant's opening to the general public. These nights represent either the restaurant pulling out all the stops to impress for a smaller than usual crowd or the time when a restaurant is still working out the kinks and not expecting public review. They won't usually accurately represent the actual experience of dining at the restaurant once it's fully open for business."

        We've removed some reports about the soft opening meal and ask hounds to refrain from reporting until the restaurant is fully open to the public.

        1 Reply
        1. re: The Chowhound Team

          They opened to the public last night. We walked by on the way to Lamberts. Didn't look too crowded at 6:30 but I'm guessing they'll be swamped for a bit. They are taking reservations on Open Table. I'm not terribly excited by another upscale Mexican place downtown (Manuals, Maria Maria, Cantina Laredo) but maybe they'll be different and interesting. I sure wouldn't have thought I'd still be enjoying Lambert's fancy barbecue years later either.

        2. I stopped by yesterday to verify some things I had heard, and it seems that they are going to begin serving lunch next Monday, and then the first brunch will be on Sunday the 8th of March. After that, the brunch will be on both Sat. and Sunday. Didn't have a chance to eat anything yet, but the place looks very cool. It seems that they are focusing on cocktails, so I'm sure I'll visit soon, if just for a drink.

          1. Went here for dinner last week. What a drag. One of my dinner companions said it reminded her of the LA scene. I thought of Dallas. It's a place packed with people trying to impress one another. Fake breasts falling out of skimpy dresses, stiletto heels, shirts with chest hair coming out, and men donning gold jewelry. Where did this come from? Is this the scene in Austin now? Were all these people tired of Pangaea‎ this night? Well, so there's a club upstairs and I guess that's the crowd they attract. So obviously La Condesa will have the same crowd.

            As a side note, apparently there is a place in Dallas that's called La Condesa. Are these two places owned by the same management? Maybe this explains some things.

            The bar was overly crowded with lots of people trying to look important and impress one another. Expect to have to fight your way to the bar. And if you don't look the part, expect to be passed over for someone who does when trying to order a drink. Drinks, by the way, are on the expensive side, but they have a pretty nice selection – especially of tequila. They also have a nice menu of different specialty/mixed cocktails.

            The food at La Condesa is good but expensive. I don't think the restaurant justifies the price they charge, even though there were no complaints with the quality or taste of anything ordered (ceviche, taquitos, pork belly entrée with jicama/bacon side). I think my biggest complaint with the food was that the portions are TINY, especially the appetizers. (It's a bummer because all the appetizers have very interesting descriptions and sound like they would be wonderful shared.) If you are a female and are watching your portion sizes, then you will be okay with the quantity. Otherwise, you'll have to spend a lot in order to leave satisfied . . . Am I wrong in my thinking here that if I spend $12 on two tacquitos, I want one that is bigger than three inches long? I don't think this is being cheap, but I feel like this is what's expected in Austin unless you market yourself as upscale or fine dining.

            After being so disappointed with the experience, by the time I was eating the food, I couldn't help but look longingly over towards Lambert's (continuously) wishing I had chosen to eat there instead.

            3 Replies
            1. re: italyvespa

              Thanks, for the reminder. I meant to post about our visit this past weekend. We were heading to Jo's for dinner but got distracted by their menu. It is a very different menu than the other places I mention above and for that I'm glad. Any other place in town serving friend crickets?

              I won't go too into decor but while we thought the bar scene was very Dallas, the rest of the restaurant was no different than others downtown--plenty of jeans and flip-flops. My annoyance is with the booths. the table legs were majorly in the way and it seemed cramped. We kept kicking each others feet. Next time we'll request a table.

              Anyway, the menu though ambitious didn't wow liked I'd hoped. We had one of the "flatbread" apps with crab, the pork belly (called carnitas on the menu though it wasn't fried at all), the pork ribs and a chocolate/caramel torte. The crab dish was nothing special while the pork ribs were not at all fall-off-the-bone tender. The pork belly was the best of the savories--but still not as wowful considering you are eating pork fat and want to feel that the sin was worth it. The torte, however was quite good--more caramel than chocolate, it was a treat. No complaints on portion size.

              We'll be back in time but are in no hurry. I remember we weren't impresed with Lamberts when it opened but it seems that all of our food qualms there were resolved within months. It's expensive so it has to be worth it.

              1. re: Carter B.

                dishola has a a few drinks and some food items with high marks, and speaking of high, i was surprised at the price points!

                i realize that downtown rents are $$$ but when did pork belly and crickets (just two random examples) become luxe ingredients w/ high price tags?

                i guess i should try it before i get all bitchy... :-)

              2. re: italyvespa

                I went this weekend finally, and thought I would throw my 2 cents in: it is kind of a scene. Heavy on the Mojitos. But who cares if the food is great, right?

                Unfortunately, I was kind of underwhelmed. Portion sizes were not an issue, but services wasn't entirely prompt. A flavorful ceviche was somewhat overproduced, or busy, and I was less than thrilled with the plating of the duck with mole (it was all kind of crowded into a...soup bowl?). The mole wasn't a home run either. Dessert was sublime however!
                All in all a mixed bag.

              3. Does it ever seem like you are suddenly hearing about a restaurant all the time? I guess it would be neat if Chowhound had a Zeitgeist feature, but it seems like I'm hearing a ton about La Condesa and Franklin's right now.

                Anyway, I tried to go there for lunch yesterday...and they aren't open for lunch. Which I thought might be helpful info too others, as their hours aren't really posted on their website-though perhaps I should have noticed the conspicuous absence of a lunch menu.

                3 Replies
                1. re: NWLarry

                  You are hearing a lot about La Condesa because they are a James Beard nominee.

                  1. re: NWLarry

                    In my opinion, the best time to go is Happy Hour. They make killer drinks that are a steal at $5 (half price) and their happy hour menu can't be beat. You could conceivably order one of everything on the HH menu for about $35 and feed 6 - 7 people easily. Some of the larger HH plates ($7 - $9) would even make a light dinner. I only wish I didn't work so far away.

                  2. Did they take the Pork Belly off the menu?? (the pork belly with a side of chicharron and bacon-studded jicama)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: conquer

                      Honestly I didn't notice, as when I saw a Mole Duck I quit looking.