Pelón's Restaurant & 508 Bar
Tasty new eats in the central city for hungry ACL fans
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., Oct. 12, 2012
Pelón's Restaurant & 508 Bar802 Red River; 243-7874
Daily, kitchen 11am-10pm; bar 11am-2am
Though the name Pelón's won't be familiar to frequent Austin visitors, this new Mexican eatery occupies one of Austin's oldest restaurant spaces: the low-ceilinged, brick and stone building at Eighth and Red River that for decades housed Jaime's Spanish Village, a popular spot for Tex-Mex food and margaritas. The building had seen hard use over those many years and was seriously run down when Jaime's finally closed for good in 2011. Hospitality entrepreneur Doug Guller of ATX Brands took over the property last year, lavishing much-needed love on the restaurant building and enclosed patio and turning the infamous musicians' flophouse on the corner into a cozy little bar. The makeover is very impressive. The restaurant space is clean and updated but still has that same cool, cavelike quality it always had. The new wooden deck is shaded by one of the loveliest old oak trees Downtown and provides a comfortable, secluded spot to enjoy drinks with friends.
The menu is straight-up Tex-Mex with a few Interior Mexican enhancements. The house presents two very good salsas: a robust red with fire-roasted tomatoes and smoky chipotle peppers, and a verde sauce based on fresh tomatillos and serranos. The chips are fresh and crisp and the tortillas are made in-house daily. The carnitas enchiladas ($10.49 for three) and chicken chile relleno ($12.99) we had for lunch last week were well-prepared, with generous portions and reasonable prices. Based on our recent visit, Pelón's has yet to develop a busy Downtown lunch crowd, but on evenings when there are music events across the street at Stubb's, the place is likely to be packed.