Just Touching Base ...
with classic Austin tastes: old favorites, new reviews
Curra's Grill North6801 Burnet Rd.
The self-proclaimed "Mother of all Mex" has given birth, and her offspring sits in the old Good Eats location on Burnet Road on the northern reaches of town. For South Austinites who consider Curra's the new kid in the old Güero's spot, this will come as a shocking reminder of how time flies. It's like seeing your friends' children after several months and meeting them eye to eye. Curra's isn't the new kid on Oltorf anymore, and if the crowd at the Burnet location on a recent Sunday is any indication, it has firmly found its foothold up north, too. Following the time-tested strategy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," the Burnet location offers up the menu from the Oltorf location virtually intact, with a few new items to broaden the options. The ambience is similar, as well -- perhaps a little less shopworn, but the hordes of people who frequent the place will soon cure it of that difference.
We began with chile con queso ($4.50). That is, we tried to begin with queso, but the order was obviously forgotten, as our waiter apologized and offered to bring it with the entrées. We accepted, as we remembered the queso being a highlight of the original location. It was a good decision; it is an exceptional bowl of smooth, flavorful goodness. Slathered on the homemade corn tortillas (a red variety that is as delicious as it is visually lovely) it's a perfect fat/carb one-two punch.
A whole menu of margaritas are available, and for the tequila connoisseur, this is no doubt a gold mine. I'm not a tequila expert, so I left the choice up to our server's discretion and was satisfied with the results, a Herradura Silver margarita with Grand Marnier ($5). A little sweet for my taste (Maybe orange juice was added? Or sweet and sour?) but tasty.
The fish has always been a highlight, so at the waiter's suggestion, I opted for the Pescado Mojo de Ajo ($11.95), a filet of snapper grilled with garlic. It's an option I hadn't recalled from the original menu. I chose whole black beans (they come refried too, as do pintos) to accompany the fish, plus the rice. It was a complete success. The fish was flaky yet moist, and smothered in a garlicky butter sauce whose bite had been softened by a thorough sauté. Other entrées that night were the always-reliable Camarones Diablo ($11.95) -- big, moist shrimp sautéed with white wine and chipotle sauce -- and the Punta de Filete ($11.25). This beef option is an enormous platter of tenderloin chunks and mushrooms swimming in chipotle sauce. It thoroughly satisfied the confirmed carnivore of our group with the tender beef and its piquant sauce. It may be my imagination, but the portions seemed notably larger than I had remembered; the fish filet was almost overlapping the plate.
Service was spotty: the overlooked queso already mentioned, pools of water were left unattended at the table, we weren't offered seconds on the margaritas until after we had finished our meal, and the check was a long time coming. Still, it's easy to see why our northern neighbors have taken this child into their hearts.