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New Restaurant Review: Garrido's

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travisleroy Jun 9, 2009 08:16 PM

New and terrific. Located in the Austin 360 building at 3rd and Nueces. The atmosphere is lovely, with a gorgeous deck on Shoal Creek and a spacious, modern interior.

The food was delightful, plentiful, and reasonably priced. We had the mixed green salad ($4.25) which was large and tasty, with plantain chips, queso fresca, some chopped watermelon, etc. Really good.

Then an appetizer of shrimp tostaditos. Four large shrimp with a mango salsa, each on it's own little tostada. Very nice ($6-ish).

There is a limited selection of main courses. Mostly soft tacos ($7 to 10 or so) with chicken or beef or fish or pork or mushrooms. Served with black beans and green rice. All very, very flavorful.

Splendid chips and hot sauce ($1.50 with free refills).

I know this sounds like a puff piece, but I love Mexican Food and find most of what Austin has to offer to be pretty awful. This place wowed us with every mouthful. The chef (David Garrido) has given each dish his own spin (like anise in the black beans) to wonderful effect.

We finished with the squash cake. Just amazing. Do not miss it.

The menu is in transition, and more will be added soon. I suggest trying this place now, while you can still get a table. It was already nearly full tonight, and it has only been open 5 days.

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  1. c
    Carter B. RE: travisleroy Jun 10, 2009 05:46 AM

    Hi Travis, nice to see you around. I haven't seen too many of your posts of late. It's good to see a face from Chowhound's past.

    Limited main courses mostly featuring tacos? That's very unexpected. Is that the part of the menu they will be expanding? I've been skeptical of Garrido's based on too many "modern" Mexican places within a half mile but given your review we'll have to check it out soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Carter B.
      t
      travisleroy RE: Carter B. Jun 10, 2009 05:55 AM

      Thanks Carter B. I haven't posted much 'cause I'm in kind of a rut, eating at all the old favorites when I'm in town.

      I believe Garrido's is having a "soft" opening. Did I mention that the service was friendly and attentive?

      I know what you mean about all the new places, just the name "Cantina Laredo" has put me off trying the place.

      Try sunset on the patio of Garrido's and the ambience alone will make you want to return.

    2. a
      addlepated RE: travisleroy Jun 10, 2009 12:35 PM

      David Garrido used to be the head chef of Jeffrey's for a long time, so this should be interesting.

      1. n
        NirvRush RE: travisleroy Jun 10, 2009 01:53 PM

        glad to see a review. when checking out the menu, i was pleasantly surprised at the price points. i had assumed this was going to be another through-the-roof mexican place a-La Condesa. i would totally try it based on the affordability. i'm curious about the fried oyster tostadas since there is a jeffrey's relation.

        1. fabulousdrinksaustin RE: travisleroy Jun 10, 2009 07:29 PM

          thank you for your report. I am very skeptical about yet another upscale Mexican joint in town (leave Fonda San Miguel be!) Anyway, I have high expectations because Garrido is behind this. Very much looking forward to trying for myself. Encourage other Chowhounders to report. Please don't oust me, but compared to other city's boards, we are a little weak, and I am very much to blame.

          1. marfaboy RE: travisleroy Jun 12, 2009 09:11 AM

            My wife and I are David Garrido fans, so we had to try his new restaurant last night after reading travisleroy's post, and, I have to say that we were not disappointed. The restaurant is located adjacent to Waller Creek, and has an attractive and well-shaded outdoor area. Although it was a very warm late afternoon when we arrived at 6:00 pm, we opted to dine al fresco.

            The covered patio and evening breezes made for a comfortable experience and David, our personable and efficient server promptly brought our drinks from their full bar - JJ had a well-crafted mojito, and I had a very acceptable Mexican martini. We perused the somewhat small menu (largely featuring interior Mexican-influenced creations), and opted to begin our meal with the oyster tostados appetizer, served on yucca chips with honey habanero aioli, which was one of Garrido's signature dishes from his earlier period as Jeffrey's head chef.

            Fantastic! We could have easily sat at our table and ordered this dish until we had our fill – we have missed this fabulous dish, and Jeffrey’s never quite seemed to be able to recreate it following Garrido’s departure. Instead, we opted to try the offerings from the a la carte section of the menu. We began with coffee-marinated ribeye tacos and a mahi mahi BLT taco, both perfectly grilled and served atop impossibly fresh corn tortillas. Carmelized onion and habanero salsa garnishes added an explosion of flavor, and we followed these with the pork carnita tacos, which JJ pronounced as her favorite of the evening. We accompanied these with a perfect platter of frijoles negras, which was by no means a throwaway - they were smokey and well-prepared, and a wonderful companion dish to our gourmet tacos.

            We had glasses of Bourgogne, and an excellent Grenache that was recommended by our server, both very good pairings. The wine list is somewhat small, but offers mostly French and Spanish lower to mid-priced glasses and bottles.

            Dessert was a pastel de calabaza with crema fresca (a dense pumpkin cake) for JJ, and I enjoyed flan with mango and habanero honey, both very, very commendable.

            Other menu items include quesadillas, soups and salads, which we look forward to sampling on future visits.

            To us, this was a near-perfect dining experience, as we thoroughly enjoy their shared-dish/tapas concept which which is similar to that offered by venues like FINO, Wink and Malaga. But for many, Garrido’s may be presenting portions that are simply too small. David Garrido spoke with us about this during our meal, discussing his emphasis on “quality” food over quantity, and we realize that some diners simply prefer larger servings.

            The total bill was $78.96, which we thought was very reasonable, considering that we had several adult beverages with our meal. We left a 20 percent tip, as both the food and service were excellent. The only downside to the evening was the $8.00 (in advance!) valet parking service. Garrido’s is a downtown Austin restaurant, and we could find no available street parking when we arrived, so we were somewhat forced to pay this confiscatory amount to park our car.

            But, Garrido’s is definitely worth a visit by any Austin foodie. We gave it a solid eight out of ten for food and ambience.

            4 Replies
            1. re: marfaboy
              amysuehere RE: marfaboy Jun 12, 2009 09:24 AM

              $80 bucks for a TACO DINNER??? are you serious?!

              1. re: amysuehere
                a
                addlepated RE: amysuehere Jun 12, 2009 10:59 AM

                From the drinks he described, I'm seeing at least $35 in alcohol -
                http://garridosaustin.com/menu/garrid...

                $20/each for appetizers, tacos and dessert doesn't sound too bad.

                For those who have been, what was the atmosphere like? Would my well-behaved foodie children like it, and would they be welcome there? Or is it more of a scene?

                1. re: addlepated
                  marfaboy RE: addlepated Jun 12, 2009 02:13 PM

                  Right - I don't have the itemized bill in front of me, but we spent at least that much on the two mixed drinks and six glasses of wine that we had with our meal. By "scene", do you mean a singles-type atmosphere? If so, I don't really think so, but we were there somewhat early in the evening.

                  Also, there was a wide range of age groups dining there last night - no children, though, but I can't imagine that there would be a problem with kids.....

                  1. re: addlepated
                    s
                    Seanicus RE: addlepated Jun 14, 2009 10:40 AM

                    I think your kids would be fine there but the place is an open concrete box type place with high ceilings and things echo quite a bit. Since I have hearing issues (motorcycles, musician etc), excessive background noise makes it a bit difficult for me to have a conversation sometimes at an eatery.

              2. s
                Seanicus RE: travisleroy Jun 13, 2009 06:34 AM

                My friend and I went last night for dinner. Some of my critique of this place I will chalk up to "growing pains" of a new restaurant. I've worked in a few new places in the past so I understand it.

                Automatically there was confusion at the door when we walked in. "Who's going to sit them?" is what I heard between the 3 girls crowded around the podium. Looks like there was someone in training, no problem. We came on the recommendation of a friend of mine and she loved it. So the very courteous waiter comes and takes our drink order and tells of the tapas "theme" of the place.

                So we order our drinks, 2 house margaritas. I feel that you can tell a lot about a "Mexican" place by their margaritas. They come in martini style classes with no stem, basically just a v-shaped glass. I know you're thinking, "why is this a big deal?" It's a big deal because it was blatantly difficult for the waiter to handle it without putting his hands on the rim. We watched as others tried serving them to customers and all seemed awkward. I recommend using different glasses. Tastewise the drinks were fine, we ordered 2 each!

                Another great indicator of good Mexican food to me is the house salsa. We ordered the chips and salsa. OK, thick crunchy chips. But the salsa? what the heck? Seriously, it tasted more like enchilada sauce or the sauce that comes on Spaghetti-Os. And how can one have salsa with no chunks of veggies in it? Seriously, this was terrible. After a few tries we gave up on it.

                Food time. We went ala carte to try some different things out. My friend and i LOVE tacos. LOVE THEM. We first ordered the pork quesadillas appetizer. Not too bad. Then we ordered 4 tacos: the beef skirt, the chicken, the mahi BLT and the pork carnitas. the mahi was great, but everything is great with bacon on it, right? my friend said the beef skirt was good except that they out that "salsa" on it. bad idea. i tried a bite of her chicken and it was a bit bland. i liked the carnitas although the pork was a little dry for my tastes.

                I also ordered the arroze verde which was fine and my friend ordered the refried black beans. holy crap! was that black licorice or fennel in there? whatever it was that they add to the beans, it's nasty. we both tried a bite and placed the plate to the otehr side of the table. seriously, it was gross.

                Now, of course this place is in the trendy new part of down town and there is a definite douchebag factor of clientele that visit this and these types of places, but it wasn't too overwhelming. For me it seemed alike a cool polace to come in on some friday or saturday night and pick up a cougar from the bar. there were some hanging out! meow!

                but to the restaurant itself, i seriously doubt I'll ever come back and my friend stated the same thing. i'm all for good tapas and i am a freak for tacos, but I can name a dozen or more places in town that i'd rather eat in as far as "upscale" cuisine goes.

                The patio looked nice.

                Our final bill was $43, 24 of which went to the 4 drinks we had. $6 for a house margarita in a small glass is a bit excessive but they were the best tasting thing in the house. 3/10

                1 Reply
                1. re: Seanicus
                  i
                  iceman007fdh RE: Seanicus Jun 15, 2009 07:39 PM

                  Never been more unimpressed with a so called upscale restaurant than with Garrido's. To be centrally located with the given views is an easy sale, but right from the start the experience is poor, the lipstick on my glass from the previous patron and the bartenders fingerprints on the lid were just for starts. The bartending area looked to be too small and too unsanitary. The drinks were small and expensive. The steak tacos was made for someone on a diet, small portions to go with poor taste make for a bad combination.
                  I refrained from attempting the desert and left as I started, unimpressed. Austin sells itself, this restaurant needs to sell its food and reasonably priced drinks to go with the view which it fails to do. I would place this in the 180 degree section of Austin. Just turn around.

                2. i
                  ieathereforeiam RE: travisleroy Jun 13, 2009 06:08 PM

                  interesting that this place is drawing so many first time posters to comment negatively. i haven't been yet, so i'll leave my comments at that.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ieathereforeiam
                    Chicago Wine Geek RE: ieathereforeiam Jun 16, 2009 08:41 AM

                    I just got an email today about this place. I'll give it a try and report back on my next trip to Austin. Hope they work out the kinks!

                  2. r
                    reina_de_fideo RE: travisleroy Jun 17, 2009 12:42 PM

                    great ambience. beautiful view on the patio. feels like you're on vacation (though the piped-in salsa music could use some changing up. i love dancing and listening to salsa, but i don't appreciate restaurants piping in mediocre salsa just for the sake of having latin music.)

                    i liked the way a lot of the choices on the menu sound. original takes on the usual suspects at mexican joints.

                    but... where's the chile? this is clearly mexican food for gringos. i had to ask for jalapeños for my ceviche. i guess it's called shrimp cocktail to avoid people thinking it's ceviche and hence expecting spice. also, rather than finding cilantro, as i'm used to, in my shrimp-filled martini glass, there was what seemed to be shredded lettuce. bizarre.

                    there was also no spice on my (otherwise delicious) fried zucchini taco, though i guess i could have asked for hot salsa.

                    i will probably go back for cocktails. i really like the patio. i might try the coffee rubbed steak taco next time, too (but ask for spicy salsa.)

                    1. chispa_c RE: travisleroy Jun 30, 2009 12:13 PM

                      Going there with friends for my birthday dinner. Funny thing is David Garrido used to flirt with every one of my girlfriends while at Jefferey's. This should be interesting...

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