Los Pinos Restaurant

'Chronicle' foodies dive into the fresh offerings out west

Los Pinos Mexican Restaurant

11715 FM 2244, Bee Cave, 512/263-2320, www.lospinosrestaurantaustin.com
Sun.-Thu., 7am-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 7am-10pm
Have Your Lake and Eat There Too
Photo by John Anderson

Los Pinos Restaurant

11715 FM 2244, Bee Cave, 512/263-2320
Sun.-Thu., 7am-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 7am-10pm

Chef/owner Margarito Maldonado is a veteran of Dean Fearing's kitchen at the Mansion on Turtle Creek as well as historic Austin kitchens such as Brio Vista, Castle Hill, and Mirabelle. In 2005, he opened the original Los Pinos on Hudson Bend Road. Tragedy struck in July 2011, when his restaurant suffered severe fire damage. Not only was he able to rebuild that site, but he has recently opened a new outlet in Bee Cave in the former Zoot/BC Tavern location. Considering what a trek it is to the original location, this new spot is a treat for those of us who love his food.

We're willing to share several secret treasures we've discovered at Los Pinos. First are the most dependably delicious handmade corn tortillas in town. Be sure to dip them in the fantastic house salsa. Next are the fresh-daily licuados. In season, I always look forward to a sandia ($2.15), and for some reason it's always better than the version I make with watermelons at home. Sadly, they aren't sharing their recipe. Don't miss Maldo­nado's take on Fearing's tortilla soup, as delicious a soup as you'll ever find in a Tex-Mex restaurant, and his pozole is great, too. Like queso? Try a large bowl of their Chile Con Queso Especial ($6.99/large). If you order plain queso, that's what you get, but the Especial comes loaded with meat, avocado, and pico de gallo. Scoop some onto a corn tortilla and experience what a chef with Maldonado's background can do with Tex-Mex. Lunch Special No. 3 ($7.59) offers a traditional Tex-Mex combo of a cheese enchilada, a tamale, a beef chalupa, and some incredible borracho beans. We also love their cochinita pibil ($11.99), Los Pinos' most traditional Interior Mexican dish. The pork comes out fork-tender with a powerful achiote and garlic kick. The fish borracho is a lovely combo of whatever is fresh from the ocean smothered in a chipotle cream sauce. Stick with the above and you'll agree with one of their Hispanic customers who wrote, "Este lugar es la bomba!"

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Margarito Maldonado, Dean Fearing, Mansion on Turtle Creek, tortillas, tortilla soup, Interior Mexican, queso

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