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Tacos, Migas, and Tex-Mex: Help Me ID These Restaurants

m
Mark P Apr 21, 2009 09:46 AM

I'm a SF hound who's going to be in Austin for a few days next weekend. After reading lots of posts on this board, I get the impression that you locals distinguish between restaurants that are good at tacos & migas and restaurants that are good at other types of Tex-Mex. As I only have a few meals in Austin and vicinity (and some are devoted to other cuisines such as BBQ), I'm trying to make sure I sample at least one restaurant of each type.

Hence, I have the following questions/requests:

* Is the distinction between tacos and migas vs. other Tex-Mex a good distinction to make?

* I've got a list of hound favorites from advice you've given other visitors. From my notes, I cannot easily tell which type a restaurant is. Please help me classify these restaurants so I can decide which few (likely two) I should try to get an idea of the type of foods in this broad Mexican-like category that Austin has to offer:
- Las Manitas
- Maria's
- Curra's
- El Chile
- Polvo's
- Manuel's
- Enchiladas y Mas
- Moonshine
(Yes, I know a restaurant like Fonda San Miguel is something else entirely.)

* Should I have a third category?

thanks,
mark

  1. b
    brattpowered Apr 21, 2009 10:30 AM

    - Las Manitas: Gone
    - Maria's: Kinda Austin-funky gringo taco place
    - Curra's: Interior Mexican
    - El Chile: Hipster-influenced Mexican
    - Polvo's: Keeping it Weird Interior Mexican/Tex Mex
    - Manuel's: Somewhat fancier Mexican
    - Enchiladas y Mas: Gloopy greasy glop-Mex
    - Moonshine: Contemporary Texan

    2 Replies
    1. re: brattpowered
      amykragan Apr 21, 2009 11:08 AM

      Moonshine is best experienced for their brunch fare.

      1. re: amykragan
        m
        Mark P Apr 22, 2009 12:45 AM

        So, judging by this list, if I eat
        * at Fonda San Miguel (or maybe Curra's) for interior food
        * migas at, say, Maria's or Enchiladas y Mas
        have I gotten the Austin Mexican-related experiences?

        If I could fit in another meal, which of these restaurants would give me sometime truly different?
        - El Chile gets pretty positive reviews on this board and is a common place that you guys refer visitors too, but a couple of posters called it interior (though others call it other things), which makes me think it might be similar enough to Fonda San Miguel that I shouldn't do both. Is it really different?
        - Or I could try Polvo's which is the only item on my list that brattpowered labeled clearly as Tex-Mex, but will it be a different enough style of cooking than the migas that I'm already planning on? (I definitely want to try migas because don't see them on menus here near San Francisco, though "breakfast burritos" abound.)

        Moonshine sounds interesting, but unfortunately I have only one Sunday brunch.

    2. f
      Ferd Apr 21, 2009 02:51 PM

      You have a good list. Curra's has good food, but it is not Tex-Mex (more interior in taste and style, much like Fonda San Miguel, which is also good but overpriced). I would add El Arroyo on 5th street. It is genuine Tex-Mex. I would suggest you try the encheladas and the soft tacos (I prefer soft corn tortillas as opposed to the flour tortillas). Mark, you just might stay a few extra days after eating some of our Tex-Mex. Have fun.

      1. h
        HookEm Apr 21, 2009 03:20 PM

        Hi, Mark. I don't think that you need to make that distinction based on what you've read here. There are lots of posts about favorite tacos which aren't even from traditional restaurants, rather they are from taco carts/trailers. Migas are available at many types of restaurants here in addition to Mexican and Tex-Mex.

        If you are a big fan of tacos, I recommend one meal at either Tacodeli or Torchy's because both places have many, many choices and are consistently good. Tacos are their specialty.

        If you eat at Polvo's, ask for Rob L. to be your server.

        2 Replies
        1. re: HookEm
          d
          danny_w Apr 21, 2009 04:35 PM

          I've never been to Torchy's. but I do not recommend Tacodeli. I cannot see what all the praise is about. The tacos that I have had there (and I have tried several different kinds at different times of the day and week) have never been more than mediocre except on a very few occasions. The last ones that I got from there (sometime last week) were OK but certainly not great. I vote for Taqueira Arandas any day.

          1. re: danny_w
            c
            cstrombe Apr 22, 2009 09:27 AM

            Agree on Tacodeli. I don't get the appeal. Overrated.

            Go to Cisco's for migas.

        2. a
          auspr Apr 21, 2009 07:37 PM

          Everybody has their favorite places. Doesn't means one is better than the other. For me a big mexican breakfast you go to Polvos. To eat tacos you go to El Meson or Changos. For other mexican you go to Curras, Sazon, Polvos or El Caribe.

          1. n
            neverded Apr 22, 2009 11:29 AM

            Mark, Mark, Mark...your quest is great...the path is long and often delicious. Your decision rests on one thing (well...a couple of things really but...) do you want fine dining? A wine list? A table with chairs? Does your food have to be served on a plate or in a styrofoam box? ALL this needs to be taken into account, Mark. There are numerous Taco stands throughout our fair city-most of them are really very, very good! I can attest to that since my last job had me driving all over Austin and surrounding areas, with little time for a formal lunch, they were my safe haven. I like Torchy's! They've got an awesome $6 burrito! I digress...no one mentioned the best place yet....The Texican Cafe at 11940 Manchaca 512-282-9094 I know, I know there's another one on Pecan Park but I've yet to eat there so I can't say anything about that locale. As if your list wasn't extensive enough, I'd like to share more of my faves: El Sol y la Luna - Casa Garcia's - El Patio - Azul Tequila - Baby Acapulco - Curras - El Gallo - La Fuente's - Matt's El Rancho - Maudie's.....I'll leave it at that, Mark. Good luck and have a good time!

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