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Dining Beyond the Chains

Good food moves to the 'burbs

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., July 18, 2014

Dining Beyond the Chains
Photo by John Anderson

El Monumento

205 W. Second, Georgetown, 512/591-7866
Sun.-Thu., 11am-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-10pm
www.elmonumentogeorgetown.com

As someone who has been reviewing restaurants for 20 years, it is all too rare that I am totally captivated by a restaurant, impressed by the decor, the ambience, the food, and the service as a complete package. I experienced this unique phenomenon recently at Georgetown's El Monumento and my only possible complaint is that this exemplary restaurant isn't in Austin. The setting on a bluff overlooking the San Gabriel River, the limestone walls, and native plant landscaping create the impression of a gracious hacienda from bygone days. Once inside the stone enclosure, shaded and misted seating areas beckon; an interior courtyard with a fountain and easy access to the very attractive bar, and the other, a fully landscaped patio with a view of the river. The large and comfortable dining room offers a full view of the gleaming open kitchen and managers work the room, greeting regular customers like family and making newcomers feel welcome.

The menu here is based on both Tex-Mex and Interior Mexican dishes but the kitchen has put their own distinctive farm-to-table spin on things. There's a Tex-Mex Queso El Mon ($8) made with white cheese sauce or a hot skillet of Queso Flameado ($7) with roasted poblano rajas, caramelized onions, and homemade corn or flour tortillas. The shrimp relleno ($15) offers grilled shrimp and a filling of cheese, nuts, and raisins arranged on a roasted poblano pepper in a pool of fresh tomato salsa. Beef short rib enchiladas ($11) in a smoky red chile sauce are first-rate, and the creamy green chile pork stew ($12) provides warmth, rich flavor, and satisfying comfort. The drinkers in our party pronounced the Bloody Maria ($8) and the El Mon margarita ($10) beyond reproach, and the cinnamon sugar-encrusted churros ($6) with a rich chocolate dipping sauce were the perfect ending to a delightful meal.

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