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Nov 14, 2010 04:11 PM

Pre-1970 Mexican Restaurants In Austin Texas

Back on another old kick.

Looking for Mexican or Tex Mex joints that opened up prior to 1970.

What's your favorite, other than El Gallo, from this small sampling of restaurants?

Please include the surrounding area. I might be missing out on something in Round Rock, Pflugerville or Rosanky for all I know.

El Gallo Restaurant
2910 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

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  1. For reference, I lean towards Tex Mex more than Mex Mex. When I do vintage, my plate is usually called the Deluxe, the Number 1, or the "name of restuarant" plate (i.e., El Gallo Dinner). And I don't go in expecting mango salsa, ceviche, any sort of cactus, or $10 guacamole to be on the menu. It helps to set appropriate expectations when eating 40-year-old recipes. :-)

    El Patio is the one that got me started seeking out old-school Tex Mex again. More nostalgia than great food for me now, though.

    As you said, there's El Gallo.

    El Azteca, since 1963. Good salsa and charro beans. And they have cabrito (none for me, thanks, but I thought it was interesting in an older place).

    Matt's has been around a long time. I like it, I know many here don't.

    I don't know if Amaya's dates to pre-1970, but it's got the old-skool vibe. The tacos on the just-fried corn tortillas, yum...

    Dario's. Not sure if it's that old, but it's got that sort of vibe.

    Joe's Bakery, 1962. Only been once, I'd go back and try it again.

    There was Jaime's Spanish Village, but they finally closed this year.

    Felix in Houston started it all for me as a kid. They were around for maybe 75 years, finally closing about a year and a half ago. I had started going back a couple times a year, and it definitely brought back those flavor memories from childhood. People that didn't grow up on it tended to hate on the food, but I blame a lot of that on inappropriate expectations.

    Depending on the particular mood, I tend to rotate between El Gallo, El Azteca, Matt's and Amaya's.

    El Azteca Restaurant
    2600 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

    El Patio Restaurant
    2938 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

    El Gallo Restaurant
    2910 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

    Jaime's Spanish Village
    802 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701

    1 Reply
    1. re: ampeg66

      Joe's Bakery comes to mind. So does Matt's El Rancho.

      Matt's El Rancho
      2613 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

    2. Two more of the old-school shops that vaguely remind me of the El Fenix variety of enchiladas I grew up with: Dart Bowl, since 1970, at 5700 Grover Ave., and the Frisco at 6801 Burnet Rd., since 1953. Neither is my cup of tea, but there you go.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bubbleboy79

        For old time cafes that still serve an old style enchilada plate (beef or yellow cheese enchiladas with a thin chili gravy), I'd add Arkie's and Jim's to this list.

      2. El Patio jumps to mind first. Started UT in '73 and ate there many many times per week. Benny was my waiter of choice. They didn't serve chips--just crackers. I thought and still believe that the Tex-Mex was/is really good.

        El Patio Restaurant
        2938 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

        1. I missed this thread the first time around. The cabrito at El Azteca is pretty good, as are their chipotle-sauced enchiladas. Lots of vegetarian options, too.

          (As with most Tex Mex of this variety, I'm not claiming it's great food. That said, I enjoy the stuff.)

          I tend to rotate between Azteca, Angie's (which I'm guessing is not pre-'70), and occasionally Matt's.

          Ampeg66 has it right--it's all about expectations.

          El Azteca Restaurant
          2600 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

          1. I forgot about Jorge's over on Hancock Rd. They've been around since 1957 according to their website.
            Haven't been in a long time - could be time for a visit to see how they're holding up.

            Jorge's Restaurant
            2203 Hancock Drive, Austin, TX 78756

            2 Replies
            1. re: Alan Sudo

              I like their enchiladas, but the service has been so awful lately that I've avoided it.

              Jorge's changed owners sometime in the 2000s, but I guess it's technically 70s whether you go by the origins of the place or the current chain that it's a part of.

              1. re: verily

                I find the modern Jorge's, which descends from the true West Texan Jorge's line, is the preferred Jorge's.

                See this thread for details:

                When we're all talking about "old school Tex-Mex, like in the 70's!", we need to realize that we're talking about the style of Tex-Mex that really originated in West Texas, and is still the prevalent style there.

                This style of cuisine really boomed at the same time oil boomed in Texas -- throughout the 70's, peaking right there around 79-80.