Tacos and Tequila
The fabulous cocktails, cool atmosphere, and plenty of garage parking will make this a favorite spot for meeting friends for drinks
Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, Fri., July 16, 2010
Tacos and Tequila507 Pressler, 436-8226
Monday-Thursday, 11am-11pm; Friday- Saturday, 11am-12mid; Sunday, 9am-11pm
When I heard that Tacos and Tequila was opening with chef Alma Alcocer-Thomas at the helm in the kitchen, I imagined a cantina-style Mexican eatery serving a variety of tacos. The menu turned out to have a Southwestern influence instead, which isn't entirely surprising, given Alcocer-Thomas' 15 years of experience at Jeffrey's. The menu is the same for lunch and dinner, centered on marinated, grilled proteins served in a variety of combinations and presentations. Diners can choose tacos or skewers served with corn or flour tortillas or burritos, wraps, or salads. Choices include grilled skirt steak with a chile baste, chicken with chipotle-ginger glaze, red adobo shrimp, Southwestern vegetables with balsamic marinade, corn-crusted chicken with coriander and pickled red onions, pulled barbecue pork, and Korean-style beef short ribs.
The modern, open floor space is very welcoming, exuding a cool yet neighborly vibe. The freestanding square bar is outfitted with 100-plus tequilas in all price ranges, lining the shelves of a striking rebar fixture that hangs from the ceiling. The north wall boasts two flat-screens projecting local and national video art, and the open kitchen has a sit-down bar for those who like to dine close to the action.
The cocktails from Tacos and Tequila's enticing list are made with fresh-squeezed juices and fruit purees, using only seasonal flavors, local when possible. From the permanent menu, we loved the cucumber-jalapeño margarita ($9.50) made with 1800 Silver, fresh cucumber muddled with jalapeño, and fresh-squeezed lime juice. The Modern Paloma ($10.50) is a take on my favorite tequila cocktail with the addition of fresh ruby-red grapefruit to the grapefruit soda and lime. There are also three taps of ice-cold tequila, including a featured tequila that changes weekly and is served straight up or in a special cocktail blended with seasonal fruit (on a recent visit it was honeydew-avocado-lime, mmmmm!). The other two are infusions created by bar manager Shelby Lynne Erickson. Examples include pineapple-ginger, organic green tea with fresh peaches and apricots, and chocolate-guajillo. As impressed as I was with the cocktails, I was disappointed by the sangrita, which was nothing but bottled Bloody Mary mix and orange juice. With such amazing attention to the quality of cocktail ingredients, I'd like to see a little more love toward the sangrita.
On my first visit, we were welcomed with a paper bag full of piping hot sweet-potato chips served with a trio of homemade salsas: an avocado tomatillo, a smoky and chunky tomato, and a guajillo chile mayonnaise. The TNT signature Good Karma Guacamole ($8.50) is freshly made table-side and is the best-tasting guacamole I've had at a restaurant in town, and TNT donates 50 cents from every order to support the local farm group Urban Roots. The specialty platters ($11) are good for tasting a variety of meats. The taco platter comes with three tacos and a choice of sides; mine was the ginger rice (ginger is neither a Mexican nor Southwestern spice, but it's featured prominently on the menu). I particularly liked the Korean short rib and the barbecue pulled pork tacos. The mixed skewer platter comes with steak, chicken, and shrimp skewers with tortillas and a sweet corn and masa pudding. It also comes with Chimayo market corn, served on the cob and heavily seasoned with mild chile powder, spices, and grated cheese. In general, I found most of the glazes and marinades to be on the sweet side, and my palate tired of the sameness after a while.
On a happy hour visit, our food experience was not as good. The sweet potato chips arrived cold, limp, and stale; I sent them back and was given commercial tortilla chips instead. The queso flight ($5) offers three small servings of your choice of flavored quesos. Those I picked – beef chorizo and artichoke spinach – are the same regular queso with a tiny portion of each topping. They were runny and tasted suspiciously like condensed cream of celery soup. Not the best I've had, by far. The shrimp in the ceviche ($9) was not marinated in lime juice (therefore it should not be called ceviche), but rather it was overboiled and rubbery, tossed with cooked pineapple chunks in a spicy sauce that was almost sticky sweet. We hated it. Luckily, the free quesadilla bar that's available during happy hour, 4-6:30pm, came through with crispy flour tortilla quesadillas filled with sautéed mushrooms, chopped steak, and pulled pork. And at the end of this meal, I liked the push-pop made especially for TNT by Dallas' Dude, Sweet Chocolate: an apricot mole ice cream with Chubby Nuts, which are macadamia nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and soy nuts – tasty and innovative.
While the food here is not entirely to my taste, the fabulous cocktails, cool atmosphere, and plenty of garage parking will make this a favorite spot for meeting friends for drinks all the same.
Jessi Cape, Fri., June 7, 2013
Claudia Alarcón, Fri., June 7, 2013
Wes Marshall, Fri., June 7, 2013
Mick Vann, Fri., May 31, 2013
Ivy Le, Fri., May 31, 2013
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