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Jan 29, 2010 08:02 AM

Gloria's Restaurant in The Domain Is Open

My wife and I visited Gloria's, the new "Salvadorian/Tex-Mex" dining venue on Wednesday evening. For those unfamiliar, Gloria's is a small chain with several locations in the Metroplex area - we had previously dined at their Rockwall location with friends last year, and were impressed. Austin's new Gloria's is located in the former Oakville Grocery building adjacent to the Border's bookstore in The Domain.

First, I have to point out that this restaurant is beautiful - it's very spacious and airy, and the interior design and lighting are extremely tasteful. The appointments, fixtures and furniture are much more elegant than one would expect in a dining venue serving this type of cuisine.

We arrived at about 5:30 for an early dinner, and were seated immediately. The restaurant opened last week, and has apparently not advertised, so there were only a handful of diners and four or five people sitting at the bar when we arrived. A hostess greeted us as we walked in, and tried to seat us in a dark corner next to the entrance. I asked for another table, perhaps one next to a window with a bit more light, and she accommodated us. We also noted that there is an outdoor patio with a fine view of the street - it's likely that this al fresco seating will be very popular during the warmer months.

We were promptly served complimentary chips with salsa and their signature bowl of black bean dip. The chips were fresh and light (but a bit salty), the salsa was good (but mild) and the bean dip was a nice addition to the typical "chips 'n salsa" offering. We also asked for a side of guacamole, which came quickly - it was acceptable, just a bit too smooth and a bit bland for my tastes.

We each ordered a frozen margarita, and they were good, but just a tad "mixy"-tasting. The second margarita was much better than the first (but they always are, aren't they?).

The menu is divided into Tex-Mex", "SalvaTex" and Salvadorian dishes. On our previous visit to the Rockwall location, we had sampled somewhat typical Tex-Mex plates (enchiladas, tacos, etc.), which were very, very good, so on this night we tried the Salvadorian menu items: I ordered camarones al mojo de ajo, grilled shrimp sauteed in garlic, and my wife had Churrasco Tipico, a grilled sirloin served with chimichurri sauce, Argentine sausage and plaintains. Both of our dishes were accompanied by black beans and rice.

My plate was good, and my wife's was exceptional - the sirloin was prepared to perfection, very flavorful, and the chimichurri sauce was a nice accompaniment. Portions were slightly large, particularly my helping of "grilled vegetables", as they were described on the menu. They were actually steamed, and not grilled, but they were good, nonetheless, and I did not complain.

Other menu items that looked interesting were the grilled quail, fish tacos and the ceviche and papusas appetizers, which we'll likely try on future visits.

We finished our meal by sharing the flan, a generous slice which was about a 7 on a taste scale of 10 (my personal benchmark for flan is that served at Fonda San Miguel, simply the best in the world). The check for drinks, dinner and dessert totaled $57.43, for which we left a 20 percent tip.

In summary, Gloria's is an above-average casual dining experience. It's likely to become a very popular happy-hour venue, given the quality of the margaritas and the aforementioned outdoor patio. It certainly qualified for return visits by my wife and me.

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  1. That's the kind of report we need more of on the board. Nice work. Austin has lots of hard working Salvadorans putting out their nations cuisine:

    Words from hounds emeritus NAB and MPH above.

    Unfortunately Ponce's has closed.

    Where y'all been getting your El Salvador fix lately?

    1 Reply
    1. re: scrumptiouschef

      and, i am glad that the domain has an interesting addition.

    2. Happy to hear they finally opened. I used to go to the original restaurant located in the Oak Cliff part of Dallas. This location will be much more upscale than the original; but the food should be as good as I remember it.. I recommend you try the Gloria's special to get an idea of the main salvadoran staples.

      1. Wife and I made it to Gloria's Friday night. We've never been to the other locations so all we had to go on was marfaboy's review.

        Loved the black bean dip, and the red salsa was certainly acceptable.

        Wife had chicken soup and a tamale special plate, followed by flan. She quite enjoyed the food and is asking when we can go back.

        I had a Salvadoran plate called "Mar y Tierra", which I greatly enjoyed and recommend.

        Cost was $49 before tip (no alcohol). In spite of being open only a week, and not being advertised, the restaurant was 7/8ths full. The noise level was a little too much for my taste, though conversation was possible. I agree with marfaboy that it has a real future as a Happy Hour location; so I can't wait for warmer weather and the opening of the deck, where I hope the noise level is reduced.

        4 Replies
        1. re: thebodytx

          AS A FOLLOW-UP: my wife and daughter had lunch at Gloria's on Tuesday, February 2. My daughter ordered the grilled steak fajitas, which she pronounced as "delicious", but my wife described her tacos al carbon plate as being not particularly tasteful. Not bad, just not anything that got her culinary juices flowing.

          Each plate was $9.99, included rice and beans, and the tacos al carbon was accompanied by guacamole salad.

          1. re: marfaboy

            I have been eagerly awaiting Gloria's opening at the Domain. I used to frequent the location in Dallas on Lemmon and have been dreaming of their black bean dip since I heard they were opening an Austin location. The dip was as good and addictive as I remember. Hubby had the brisket tacos and said they were very flavorful and tender. I had the tacos al carbon and was very impressed with how tender the meat was. And it had great flavor. Service was fabulous. All of the employees were clearly busting their butts to make sure all of the guests were very well taken care of. It will be interesting to see how much of that slacks off as time goes on. Service could be much less attentive and would still be outstanding. My drink was never completely empty before being replaced by a full glass and the water stopped by frequently to check on us. There was a decent number of folks in for lunch on a Friday but it wasn't crowded by any means. I do think that noise will be a problem when the restaurant is full. Lots of hard services. This seems to be the way all new restaurants are. Do the architects who design restaurants not actually eat in restaurants?

            The price point was a little high for Tex Mex. But I will definitely be back for Salvadorian fare. And of course to fill up on the black bean dip!

            1. re: BarkNFly

              Was back again on Wednesday,. after my previous visit a week ago. Realized that I should have mentioned the noise level on my previous visit. Restaurant was probably 3/4 full. Noise level was quite high; not enough to prevent conversation, but almost.

              On my latest visit I was part of a group of 12. Service continued to be unbelievably attentive, with several waiters rushing in with water, tea, cola etc whenever they spotted a partially empty glass.

              For the group aspect: (1) NO automatic gratuity, (2) SPLIT checks. Overall, a great place to take a group.

              1. re: thebodytx

                We went back to Gloria's for happy hour on Friday, February 5, primarily to try some of the appetizers we'd seen on the menu at our first visit there last week. At 5:00, the restaurant was less than a quarter full, but was very loud - this could mostly be attributed to the raucous group of women at a table close to ours, but it's obvious that this is not a restaurant where you'll want to take someone for dinner and quiet conversation.

                We ordered frozen margaritas and mojitos - the mojitos were pronounced as "excellent", and we'd enjoyed the quality of the frozen margaritas on our previous visit. For our first appetizers, we had the "Ceviche Trio" ($11.99), a nice sampling of orange roughy and scallop ceviche and shrimp cocktail. Very clean and fresh, and the cocktail sauce had a slightly different sweet and spicy kick to it.

                We followed that with the "Gloria's Supper Special" from the "Comida Salvadorena" section of the menu, a generous dish that included tamales, papusas, yucca, plaintains and black beans with rice. This platter was $10.99, and a good sampling of some of the Salvadoran items available from Gloria's. The tamales were especially good, steamed and hand-wrapped in banana leaves - they were nicely seasoned and filled with chicken, pork, potatoes and peppers.

                We enjoyed the tamales so much that we ordered three more (at $2.00 each) to round out our happy hour.

                We were seated in an area adjacent to the bar, with large windows facing one of The Domain's interior streets. It appears that these windows are designed to open wide, so it will likely be very open-air and appealing once the weather warms.

                A good happy hour venue, and Gloria's continues to impress us......

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. When Gloria turn in to hell, we are out of town, for recomendation we travel by two hours May First to have a dinner at Glorias restaurant at Domain location, we try to have a nice weekend at Austin with a friend that was visiting us from California, We read the menu online, Tacos, Tostadas, and Pupusas, just a csual diner, nothing on special, my frien tire for the trip, he decided to use tennis shoes, sorprise, the hoster just told us we can't to get in to the location, because he was using tennis shoes, hello!!!, next time please, managers and people encharged of Glorias Restaurant, advise it on your web page that it is a formal dressing for a casual dinner, next time, I 'll stop a Taco Cabana better.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Mrcbro

              They do spell it out on their website:

              I find Gloria's formal dress code peculiar in a town where many of the really good restaurants still have casual dress codes. Not to mention it's in an outdoor mall and isn't really all that fancy in terms of food... They don't enforce this dress code much at all before 6. I've eaten there for Sunday brunch and they didn't bat an eye at my usual t-shirt + jeans outfit.

              1. re: Mrcbro

                I went about 2 weeks ago and had no problem with the dress code. One male member of our party was wearing shorts and a tshirt with flip flops. My husband wears sneakers (pumas or chuck taylors) at all times so I'm assuming he was wearing them that night. We got no flack at all. Very strange.

                As for the food, we really enjoyed it. We started with a ceviche sampler. The scallop ceviche was a little bland...needed salt. But, scallops aren't my ideal ceviche ingredient. The shrimp and fish versions were great though. I'm fairly certain the ceviches (along with the rest of the apps) are on special during happy hour. I can totally see myself enjoying the ceviche with a mojito (these were also great) on a hot summer day on the patio.

                For the entree, I had the grilled quail. Aside from a little difficulty in getting to the meat (I forget that quail is often eat with your hands type fair) the meat was juicy and tasty. It was accompanied by really creamy refried black beans, fried plantains (sweet and tasty) and rice (which I tend to skip). The others in our party all had the surf and turf menu item (steak and shrimp) which was a real steal at around $13. They especially raved about the chimichurri.

                I want to go back to try the pupusas and tamales. And, I like that there is another place in the domain where I can go for a nice meal without breaking the bank. All in all, I liked it and plan to return. Sorry that your experience was not great Mrcbro.

                1. re: ashes

                  Wow, am I the only dissenter in the group? Wife and I went there for lunch,nice place, especially the feeling of al fresco but inside. We both thought the food was very average, corporate,franchisey kind of stuff. Not tasty at all, but overall bland and unintereting. Won't go back from this one experience alone. Sorry to rain on your parade. J.