Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Aug. 3, 2007
Mon.-Fri., 9:30am-10pm; Sat., 8am–10pm; Sun, 9am-3pm
Sazón1816 S. Lamar, 326-4395
Monday-Saturday, 7am-10pm; Sunday, 9am-3pm
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 4-7pm
We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Mexican restaurants in Austin. If you're like me, you have favorites, beloved eateries that appear in a semiregular rotation based on their preparation of certain dishes. For fans of Interior Mexican dishes made with the corn fungus huitlacoche, South Austin has a relatively new restaurant worthy of your list. Monterrey native Margarito Aranda opened Sazón about nine months ago in a building that has housed several previous Mexican spots. The surrounding 78704 neighbors are slowly discovering this new gem, no doubt enticed by the tasty food and the proprietor's signature margaritas.
Our lunch at Sazón began with an excellent Choriqueso ($6.99), molten cheese studded with grilled onions, strips of roasted poblano peppers, and a spicy queso, served with a warm pile of pillow-soft homemade corn tortillas. Next up were the Huitlacoche Empanadas ($9.99), three hefty masa turnovers stuffed with the musky corn fungus, served with a creamy dipping sauce. Finding such generous servings of this earthy Mexican delicacy on local menus is pretty rare. Sazón also offers a Huitlacoche Omelet ($11.99) on the breakfast menu, but it can be ordered all day. These two dishes should pique the interest of huitlacoche aficionados.
One yardstick I use to evaluate the quality of Mexican restaurants is their preparation of the style of chile relleno I prefer. At Sazón, the chile rellenos ($9.29) are made with perfectly roasted, peeled, and seeded poblano peppers stuffed with a choice of cheese, beef picadillo, or chicken. The peppers are fried in a delicate egg batter and can be napped with a choice of the house verde, chipotle, or ranchero salsas. I ordered one with beef picadillo and tomatillo sauce, and it passed the test: grade A. Top that off with a slice of their homemade Tres Leches Cake ($4.50), and you'll soon be planning a return visit to Sazón.