Second Helpings: Interior Mexican
Interior Mexican restaurants
The weekly Chronicle feature "Second Helpings" offers readers the opportunity to sample tasty, bite-sized restaurant listings compiled from new and previous reviews, guides, and poll results. This week's entries were updated by Chronicle Food Editor Virginia B. Wood. When you need quick, reliable information about Austin eateries, check here.
Curra's Grill614. E. Oltorf, 444-0012
6801 Burnet Rd., 451-2560
Hip old-Austin style and affordable prices make meals at these popular Austin neighborhood joints a fun, satisfying way to spend those hard-earned pesos. The menu in the original South Austin location features traditional, interior style dishes such as cochinita pibil (achiote rubbed pork cooked in banana leaves) and enchiladas en mole poblano, while the newer north-central outlet serves all that plus a few upscale specials such as cabrito and grilled salmon.
Polvo's2004 S. First, 441-5446
Located on the South First Mexican Food Mile in a building that once housed both the legendary Jalapeno Charlie's and Seis Salsas, Polvo's has a great location and some good cooking karma going for it. They've developed a very loyal happy hour clientele, many of whom are partial to the frosty margaritas and the definitive tacos al pastor, cubes of marinated pork served with fresh tortillas, chopped fresh onion, and cilantro and lime.
Jalisco Bar & Grill414 Barton Springs Rd., 476-4838
Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm
Inside Jalisco's inviting purple stucco edifice, the Saltillo tile floors, whitewashed stucco walls, dark furniture and high ceilings create the feeling you're in a Mexican hacienda. The Jalisco menu offers a reliable selection of Mexican dishes including ceviche, carnitas, carne adobado, and grilled meats with first-rate sides of rice and beans. Over the years, the bar here has earned a reputation for its boisterous happy hour ritual of tequila slammers and lively mariachi music.
Las Palomas3201 Bee Caves Rd., #122, 327-9889
Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-2pm; 5-9:30pm
Even though West Lake Hills limits business signs, hungry people have been finding their way to this cheerful family restaurant tucked into the corner of a shopping center for 19 years this month. The proprietors celebrate their anniversary every Valentine's Day, making sure their loyal clientele enjoys steak chimichurri ($12.95), cochinita pibil ($10.95), pollo en mole ($10.95), or pescado a la Veracruzana ($12.95) to the strains of strolling mariachis Los Romanceros.
Fonda San Miguel2330 W. North Loop, 459-4121
Monday-Thursday, 5-9:30pm; Friday-Saturday, 5-10:30pm; Sunday, 11am-2pm
Long recognized as the premier interior Mexican restaurant in the U.S., Fonda has been serving up beautifully rendered versions of authentic Mexican regional dishes for more than a quarter century. It's also highly regarded for the lush, hacienda-style interior and museum-quality Mexican folk art collection. During the past year, founding chef Miguel Ravago has returned to the restaurant, and longtime customers greet him enthusiastically as he presides over his famed Sunday brunch buffet.
Evita's Botanitas6400 S. First, 441-2424
Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-9:30pm; Sunday, 9am-9pm
How can you go wrong in a family-run Mexican restaurant that serves a selection of six homemade salsas, several of them award winners, on every table with hot chips? For more than 10 years now, chef/owner Ruben Rodriguez and his family have been satisfying adventurous diners with his stellar sauces and affordable, authentic interior Mexican specialties. Sample the broiled lamb chops in chile arbol sauce, the Shrimp ô la Diabla in smoky chipotle sauce, or Juanita's homemade poblano and cheese tamales and you'll be back for more.
Garibaldi's4201 S. Congress Ave., 326-9788
This relatively new South Austin spot has a pleasantly decorated, sparkling clean dining room. The owners are Mexico City natives who named their restaurant after that city's famed plaza Garibaldi, known as the gathering spot for mariachi musicians. The menu here offers a variety of weekday lunch specials for $4.25, and all entrées come with fresh, homemade corn or flour tortillas. Garibaldi's is the only place in town we've found birria, a hearty stew made with shredded lamb in a rich, flavorful stock, heavenly with those fresh tortillas.
Manuel's Downtown310 Congress, 472-7555
Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sundays, 11am-9pm
Manuel's Great Hills10201 Jollyville Rd., 345-1042
Sunday -Thursday, 11am-10pm;
Manuel's is justifiably famous for their remarkable half-priced appetizer deals at happy hour and their Sunday jazz brunch. We suggest the Campechana or Blue Crab Nachos at the former and the Huevos Motulenos at the latter. Their excellent tortilla soup, rich and dark with pasilla, guajillo, and ancho chilies, is unique in Austin while their traditional chiles en nogada, grilled beef in pasilla sauce, and pork loin with pepitas deliciously reflect the complexities of interior Mexican cooking.