Best Tex-Mex in Austin - where to go?

I’ll be in Austin for a couple days next week.

Title says it all.

Where do I go ??:confused:

My favorite is probably Chuy’s, and my favorite Chuy’s is the one on Barton Springs. There are other great ones, but my love for Chuy’s has me tunnel-visioned at the moment. My wife is a former long-time Austinite, I’ll give her a call.


Santa Rita

Mesa Rosa



I could go on.

Wife’s recs: Trudy’s (great breakfast buffet, great Mexican martinis if you drink), Maudies (good breakfast tacos & bloody marys), Guero’s Taco Bar. If you want Texas barbecue, try the Salt Lick, Ruby’s, Rudy’s, Stubbs, or Kreutz (pronounced Krites) in Lockhart.

ETA: or, what he said. :slight_smile:

Skip all that Austin stuff…drive to Kerrville, in the Hill Country, and eat at Mamacita’s…(or in Fredericksburg or San Antonio, for that matter).

I definitely second Chuy’s (especially the one on Barton Springs, its where Jenna Bush got caught with a fake ID) and Guero’s. If you are looking for a hole-in-the-wall type place, Olmeca’s on East Oltorf is super, super good.

I also will toss in County Line on Lake or County Line on the Hill for great Texas BBQ with great natural scenery. Also, Kerbey Lane or Magnolia Cafe for late night, diner-type food and breakfasts.

I am a big, big fan of El Arroyo’s. Though I may be one of the few based on the recent reviews. Those people are crazy! Try it. Its on 5th near Hwy 1. Inexpensive, too, for lotso food.

I’ll third Chuy’s and second Trudy’s. Mamacita’s is also OK, and the closest one to Austin is probably in San Marcos. For more authentic Mexican, I recommend taqueria Vallarta Jalisco on Congress just north of William Cannon.

Now, if Tex-Mex is not a requirement but a fantastic margarita is, then you might want to try Manuel’s at the Arboretum. Sit out on the patio.

Guero’s is where a scene in Death Proof was filmed.

And no love for Matt’s El Rancho?

I agree with the above, and will throw in a mention of Torchy’s Tacos. Several of their locations are just little trailers with picnic tables, but at least one has an indoor dining area. Delicious tacos, and my favorite queso on the entire planet. As the trailer/picnic table thing implies, it’s as casual as casual can be, but the memory of their food makes me a little misty.

Trudy’s and Chuy’s would be my recommendations for Tex-Mex places that have eating utensils though.

Thanks y’all !

Since this is a work trip on the company dime, the margarita option may figure into it (in a BIG way).

Keep 'em coming!

Matt’s El Rancho on South Lamar (not very far from Chuy’s on Barton Springs) is pretty damned good old school Tex-Mex.

Nuevo Leon on East 6th is good too, although a little more Mex than Tex.

El Azteca on East 7th is good as well, although it veers more toward Mexican than Tex-Mex.

This is where my Aunt and Uncle took me for “The best Mexican Food in Austin” when I was visiting over the summer. Very good, but as noted, more Mexican than Tex-Mex.

How could I forget El Chilito on Manor (say “May-ner”) in East Austin? It’s basically a cheap taco stand that is delicious and not run out of a shady truck. This is a great lunch spot.

The one I’d recommend is La Margarita, on IH35 in Round Rock (just north of Austin).

Back when I lived in Austin, I used to go there at least once a week. We didn’t even have to order- they knew exactly what we wanted: queso* and beef fajitas. They’ve got the best I’ve ever found. They make their tortillas right there in the dining area, so they’re completely fresh.

If you order the queso there, ask for “the spicy green salsa” on the side. That salsa isn’t on the menu, so you have to ask for it specifically.

*[SUB]Queso, for non-Texans, is NOT just cheese. It’s melted cheese with chilies, with plenty of tortilla chips for dipping. Jeez, I’m almost drooling just typing this.[/SUB]

Anyplace north of San Antonio won’t have really good TexMex.

Those would be my choices, for their Austin roots, but Chuy’s is everywhere and does a damn fine job as well. I love Torchy’s on the Drag, but I never for some reason considered it Tex-Mex. It’s more of Austin fusion cuisine, though their green chile pork taco is the shit.

El Arroyo is choice as well. I used to love Jaime’s on 8th and Red River, but I took a Yankee friend of mine there and was a little disappointed that I built it up to be so great. Matt’s also has some fantastic mojitos, as well…

Chuy’s, Chuy’s, Chuy’s. Oh man. Words can’t express my love for their Chick-a-Boom Boom Enchiladas. Great chips/salsa/queso/jalapeno ranch (I like the really tomato-ey salsa that they don’t automatically serve; the other one has too much onion). Their fajitas kick ass, too, and I’m pretty much a Pappasito’s purist when it comes to fajitas.

Now, as for margaritas, Chuy’s margaritas are pretty solid for not having fresh lime juice, but if you really want some bad-ass margaritas, fuck the bullshit-- Iron Cactus beats anywhere in town, no contest. Fresh lime juice, simple syrup, triple sec (/Cointreau/Grand Marnier), and tequila-- that’s it. The food and ambience deserve a mention there as well, but the real draw there is the amazing margaritas. Never had a better one, and I don’t expect to in my lifetime. They’re not cheap, but as long as you don’t get a shitty tequila (like the house brand), you won’t regret it. Highly recommend this place if you’re ok to spend at least $25-30 a person, especially if you go downtown and sit out on the upstairs patio overlooking Sixth Street.

Matt’s El Rancho is also pretty good. For food, it kinda depends on what you get. Their chips & salsa suck, but their brisket tacos are delicious, and they have the best black refried beans on the planet. I’m underwhelmed by their enchilada/taco entrees. Their margaritas are better than average, but they don’t come near Iron Cactus.

Abuelo’s hasn’t been mentioned, and I really love that place. Their chips/salsa/queso are freaking awesome. Never been disappointed with an entree there. They have a cheesy mushy potato side called papas (con something?) that you can get instead of rice, and it’s amazing. The shredded beef enchiladas… aghhhhhh. drool Their margaritas are not good, though-- watery and bleh.

Trudy’s and El Arroyo are both weak, IMO. Bland and boring and their margaritas suck ass. I’ll go to Trudy’s for breakfast, because that buffet is pretty awesome, but dinner, eh. If that’s your price range, go to Chuy’s, seriously. There’s nothing outstanding on Trudy’s menu, and their margaritas are watery and they use sweet and sour instead of fresh lime juice, PLUS they enforce a two mexican martini limit, WTF. El Arroyo’s ritas are even worse with the watery and the bleh, while their food is just… shrug. It’s food, but that’s about all I can say.

I also wouldn’t recommend going to Manuel’s for food-- their drinks are outstanding, and the patio is very nice, but the food is a) not Tex-Mex, but authentic Mexican, and b) expensive and really mostly flavorless.

I guess I won’t recommend Trudy’s, then…

My family came in for my graduation from UT, and they still talk about Chuy’s with sparkles in their eyes… I’m not sure if it was the food or the atmosphere… Or the t-shirts.