Campus Restaurant Roundup, Summer 2008

Campus Restaurant Roundup, Summer 2008
Photo by John Anderson

Cuatros

1004 W. 24th, 243-6361
Sunday-Thursday, 11am-11pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-12mid
www.cuatrosaustin.com

Cuatros is the brainchild of "Cuatro" Kowal­ski, a UT grad and Texas Culinary Academy alum, who managed at Hula Hut for a few years before embarking on his own. At first glance, it appears to have limited parking, but there are 40 spaces available in the old Nau's Pharmacy parking lot to the north – a true luxury. The vibe is laid-back, with several open, airy dining spaces; an eclectic mix on the sound system; and flat screens when there's something worth watching. Staff members are unobtrusive and efficient, sporting big smiles.

The menu is based on burgers and tacos, with a mix of salads and sides. The back of the menu is alcohol-centric, with a broad selection of specialty cocktails and a good mix of popular beers, both on tap and bottled. Desserts are basic: cookies and milk, ice cream sandwiches, cheesecake, and icebox pie.

Cuatro burgers are based on a half-pound patty of an 80%-to-20% blend of fresh Angus sirloin which is hand-formed daily, and that attention to quality carries over to the plate. We sampled the bacon cheeseburger ($6) with cheddar, tomato, sweet onion, and lettuce and found it delicious. The bun is made of real bread, not the standard gummy bun that instantly falls apart. We had the grilled fish tacos ($7) and enjoyed them, even though the fillets were a tad overcooked.

Pulled-pork quesadillas ($6) were nicely done, with tender pork, caramelized onions, roasted green chiles, and Monterey Jack cheese. Attention is paid to the fries and sweet-potato fries: They are done in the classic style of the Belgian/French pomme frite. After several washings to remove the starch, the potatoes are first fried at a lower temperature to cook the center and then finished at a high temperature to make the exterior nice and crispy. Bravo. Our only complaint: The chairs, although design-rich, aren't the most comfortable. Opt for the picnic tables instead.

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