South Austin taco news and other culinary updates in this week's "Food-o-File."
South Austin Taco News
A hungry horde of 300-plus invited guests swarmed into the new Chango's (3005 S. Lamar, 416-1500) outlet in the Corners Shopping Center a couple of weeks ago and were greatly satisfied with the fresh, light Mexican fare served up by chef Carmen Suarez and her able staff. This cheerful new "quick casual" restaurant from the company that owns both Manuel's restaurants should be a welcome addition to the South Austin dining scene. They're serving meat, fish, and vegetarian tacos and giant burritos garnished with a variety of fresh salsas plus sodas, aquas frescas, beer, and frozen sangria, daily from 11am to 10pm.
Meanwhile, back up the street a few blocks, Taco X-Press (2529-A S. Lamar, 444-0261) owner Maria Corbalan and her staff returned from their holiday hiatus to find the city had installed "No Parking" signs on the grassy areas both north and south of her wildly popular taco joint. Because Maria's paved lot is so often full at peak dining hours, hungry Taco X-Press patrons have become accustomed to parking on the grassy areas, even though they aren't designated parking lots. It seems some motorists had complained about the danger of cars entering and leaving the grassy parking areas, and driving over curbs and/or sidewalks in the process. The city sent inspectors who reported on the problem, hence the new signs warning folks not to park on the city easements or they'll be towed away. At press time, Corbalan was meeting with city officials and an engineer to see if it's possible to reach a safe and equitable solution that satisfies the city and restores the much-needed parking spaces. In the meantime, taco lovers are encouraged to carpool.
Every year, the folks at Chuy's (1728 Barton Springs Rd., 474-4452; 11680 N. Research Blvd., 342-0011; 10520 N. Lamar, 836-3218; 2320 N. I-35, 255-2211) celebrate the birthday of their patron saint, Elvis Presley, with a big dinner bash in his honor. This year, I attended the party at the South Austin location, and it was quite a sight to behold: diners of all ages decked out in full Elvis regalia, sporting festive paper crowns and fans bearing the King's likeness, wolfing down Elvis Presley Memorial Combo Platters followed by Twinkies! It was so goofy, and just so Austin. Thank you, thank you very much. The next celebration on the Chuy's horizon is their Red Chile Daze food fiesta that runs January 21-February 10. This event pays tribute to the distinct flavors of a variety of New Mexico red chiles, including the chipotle, chile fresno, and chile arbol. Specialty dishes such as Chiles Diablos, Red Chile Stew, and Grilled Fish Tacos featuring the hearty flavors of these and other chiles will be offered on Chuy's menu during this period and should be the perfect culinary antidote for cold weather.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
Invitations for the fifth annual Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? benefit for Project Transitions are out! Three hundred lucky people will enjoy fabulous meals in private homes around town and then come together for a Champagne and dessert reception at the Lyric Opera building on Saturday, February 2. Everyone is encouraged to make their top three dinner choices and return reservation cards as quickly as possible to assure getting placed in the dinners of choice. If you didn't receive an invite to one of the year's most enjoyable fundraisers and would like to attend a dinner party, contact the Project Transitions office (454-8646) immediately.