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Caldo de Res

I used to look forward to Thursdays because that was the day that long gone, long lamented but not forgotten 'Manitas would make their C de R. Not that it was the best, although certainly enjoyable, it was something one could count on. Now I have had problems finding a steady supplier of C de R in my area, north central and learned last week that Elsie's has dropped it frorm their menu entirely.;

But today I have good news, I think. I had a bowl of very good C de R at a grocery store on N. Lamar called La Hacienda. In the store is a small taqueria with a few stools and a few tables. They have a steam table and make rice, beans and other Mexican meats of which their names I do not know because they do not post a menu. Basically, it is a Spanish speaking only place. But, to get to the point, they always have a big pot of C de R on. I ate some last week and almost teared up it was, at least to me, so good. (There is always the possiblity that it had been so long since I had had any that anyone's would have tasted delicious). But I think that this was genuinly good soup(stew?). In a big bowl, the size of David Letterman's head, I got a whole potato, almost a quarter of a head of cabbage, zucchini, the traditional piece of corn on the cob,, and about four chunks of that cheap meat that they use, boiled to the point that it could be cut with my spoon. Also I was given a plate with chopped onions, Spanish rice, cilantro and some limes plus some homemade corn tortillos. . Gawdalmity, all I needed was a beer and I would still be there eating.

Now, this place is on N. Lamar in the thick of many , primarily, Mexicann restuarants, fast food places and right south of T and S. I hope you will enjoy as much as I did. Sorry for the verbosity, and I'm not even drunk.

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  1. About 4 years ago, I had a bowl of caldo de res for lunch at Taqueria Arandas on Burnet. That was the first time I'd tried it and I was weirded out by the large vegetable chunks and cheap cut of meat... the giant bowl. Hesitant at first, I remember learning to enjoy it when I saw my co-worker dig in with gusto.

    However, that's as far as my experience goes. I think La Casita on Anderson has a CDR. Never tried it, though. I like their very basic tortilla soup and crave it even on hot summer afternoons. They have menudo and caldo de pollo, too.

    Fun reading your post!

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    La Casita
    400 N Magnolia Ave, Luling, TX 78648

    Aranda's
    2129 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

    6 Replies
    1. re: topodrinko

      Fun reading your post!

      Thank you, J.

      1. re: topodrinko

        I've only had Arandas' on Burnet once and it was pretty good for a restaurant version - the best I've had in Austin. That cheap cut of meat is beef shank. The good pieces have a large round of bone filled with marrow. The marrow and bone are much of what makes the soup so rich and good. Then there's the meat. It's flavorful and full of connective tissue, which makes the broth that much richer. Traditionally, it's not browned first. The resulting broth looks much like chicken broth, but tastes nothing like it. I think many people get put off there. I love the vegetables in large chunks. They're hearty and done properly, cooked until tender but not mushy. The rice is a crucial component. It's made separately and has to be right - fluffy, dry, tomato flavored and lightly flavored with garlic, comino and cilantro. Fresh lime is also important. So are warm, reasonably fresh and decent corn tortillas.

        I have to say the best version I've had is made by my husband. He makes it based on the hand-me-down recipe gotten from his mother who grew up on a ranch in Coahuila. He knows just how much to use of which ingredients, makes great rice and clued me in to the ritual. I love good chicken soup and my family's beef vegetable soup, but my H's caldo de res is now one of my great loves.

        1. re: agoodbite

          You can also get a very nice bowl of C de R at Taqueria de los Jalisciences on 290 by Cameron. I think they have it on their daily menu.

          1. re: agoodbite

            That cheap cut of meat is beef shank. The good pieces have a large round of bone filled with marrow. The marrow and bone are much of what makes the soup so rich and good. Then there's the meat. It's flavorful and full of connective tissue, which makes the broth that much richer. Traditionally, it's not browned first. The resulting broth looks much like chicken broth, but tastes nothing like it. I think many people get put off there. I love the vegetables in large chunks. They're hearty and done properly, cooked until tender but not mushy. The rice is a crucial component. It's made separately and has to be right - fluffy, dry, tomato flavored and lightly flavored with garlic, comino and cilantro. Fresh lime is also important. So are warm, reasonably fresh and decent corn tortillas.

            Thank you for that explanation. When i used to get Caldo at 'Manitas it usually contained a vegetable that was something like a blend of a potato and a squash, sort of a stringy texture. One of the sisters told me the name of that veggie but I quickly forgot. I have asked around and no one seems to know what it was. Perhaps you do. it was not jicama, I remember that much.

            Funny story, for me at least. I asked the sister one Thursday what the veggie was and when i ate the next Thursday I was paying her and she asked "Did you get some today?" I was momentarily taken aback then I said " You're talking about the soup, right?" Needless to say she was somewhat chagrined by my response. I like that story, as you can tell. Thanks again for your information. J.

            1. re: singlemalt

              yucca? or maybe chayote? yucca seems to fit the description better with the stringy potato like-ness, but chayote is more squashy, can be creamy like a potato, and is sometimes stringy if you don't peel it right.

              I thought it was so cool that you got to walk through the kitchen to get to the back patio at Las Manitas..

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              Las Manitas
              211 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

              1. re: singlemalt

                I'm guessing it was chayote, too. A little more bitter than summer squash, but certainly usable in something like caldo.

          2. I love La Hacienda. We get their fajita marinada there for family parties. As a matter of fact, I was just in there today and we grilled up 5 lbs of their meat for a family parrillada. I have tried their deli a few times, just my typical choice of tacos like tripa or what have you. I wasn't blown away but they are decent cheap. La Hacienda has good Mexican vegetables, too.

            I haven't had a good caldo de res in a restaurant in a while because most places seem to fill it with norsuiza (MSG stock powder) and though I don't mind a little MSG, it isn't good if that is all I can taste. I will make it a point to check it out at La Hacienda next time I stop in.

            1 Reply
            1. re: luckyfatima

              They (La Hacienda on N Lamar) used to have a really good house-made sausage. It wasn't the usual linguisa/choriso bola but it was light pink - not red. I think it contained allspice and maybe a touch of cinnamon, lightly sweet. Not achiote based and not spicy hot at all. Different than they sell at all the other carnicieras. It was sold as links and in bulk. I've checked back there a few times since 2002 and scoped out a few of the of the La Haciendas down south, but I can't find it any more. They stuff they sell now is nothing like it.

              Has anyone seen it there or even know what I'm talking about? Seasonal or daily special of some sort?

              -sw

            2. killer bowl of Caldo de Res at Mi ranchito, FM 1626 at Manchaca Rd. Melts in your mouth like mom's pot roast, loaded with veggies, very rich and flavorful stock. Comes with side of onions and cilantro, and they have 4 different salsas you help yourself to, mick

              3 Replies
              1. re: chowmick

                I went there today and saw someone eating it. Looked freaking amazing. I'll try that next time. Only downside is the price ($8).

                1. re: tom in austin

                  That's down-right criminal considering it costs about that to make a batch that'll feed six.

                  1. re: agoodbite

                    I don't know, $8 for dinner is less than I usually spend, even at HEB. The description of the soup, the labor involved, the sides cut up for you, and four salsas....sounds like a decent deal.

                    I just wish that it would freaking rain and the temps go down into the 50s.

              2. When my Grandma was alive she liked the caldo at El Jacalito on E. Riverside. She made tamales at Green & White and was very critical of anyone else's food, except for her own, of course. I haven't been to El Jacalito in a long time but I thought I'd mention it.

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                El Jacalito Restaurant
                2030 E Oltorf St Ste 110, Austin, TX 78741

                2 Replies
                1. re: chispa_c

                  I have eaten many,many bowls of CR at El Jacalito since I used to work right down the street. We called it "cabbage and bone soup" because that was just about all there was to it. Sorry, to disagree, but I honestly think they have the worst TexMex in the city. I don't know, in retrospect, why we ate there so much except for the fact that it was close and cheap and fast.

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                  El Jacalito Restaurant
                  2030 E Oltorf St Ste 110, Austin, TX 78741

                  1. re: singlemalt

                    Doesnt bother me a bit. It was something my grandmother enjoyed but she was beyond old school. It's been well over 10 years since I've been there.

                  1. The C d R @ Taquerria Arrandas on Burnet always looked interesting but I haven't had it. Anyone?