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Jun 5, 2009 07:10 PM

Manuel's Downtown

I am just back from a very disappointing dinner at Manuel's Downtown - a place I have always loved but have not been to for a while. The menu looks much smaller and the prices way higher than I remember. I got there before my dining companion arrived so had a Margarita and shrimp cocktail at the bar. The Margarita was excellent, as were the pico and the guacamole in the shrimp cocktail. The shrimp however were atrocious, clearly pre-cooked, frozen and then thawed - thin, soggy and miserable, The chile relleno del mar, I had for a main course looked beautiful but was not much better - the seafood was bland and watery with rubbery scallops, the rice undercooked and chewy and not in a good way. My companion's mole enchiladas were arguably worse- way too much cumin and no chile heat at all. Has there been a change in the cooking staff? i have many fond memories of food at this place. I am left wondering has La Condesa so raised the bar on Mexican food downtown that I am now spoiled or is Manuel's in precipitous decline?

It was a beautiful evening and downtown looked magnificent. The Austonian only has a few floors to go. The menu at Cork and Co. next door looked interesting as did the menu across the street at Annies, which looked like it was getting the finishing touches. i am very excited by how culinarily vibrant downtown Austin is becoming, and I want the old stalwarts to hold their own. But Manuel's tonight was BAD. What gives?

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  1. i had lackluster food at both locations in the past 18 months.

    last memorial day weekend, we had an absolutely atrocious food and service issue at the north location.
    our waiter took a nap in a booth, and i had to wake him up to help us.
    we were told there was no manager to talk to, so i wrote a letter instead (no email addy online or on the receipt).
    of course, i never got a response.
    i just decided to give up on them, as the food was really sub-par and the service was a joke.

    chango's is owned by the same people, too.
    we recently went to the south location, after many years of enjoying their fresh mex,
    the portions were teeny tiny so i guess that is their way of coping with the bad economy.

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