From the front window of a magenta food trailer, personal chef Tagan Couch metes out burritos and burgers from a menu as diverse as the citizens of Austin. Diners enjoy this blend of local and international fare at canopied tables outside the mobile eatery. The Cali burrito comes embellished with Texan touches, revealing seasoned french fries and beef tinged with Dr. Pepper and tiny, edible cowboy hats. The Falls Town burger — a nod to Tagan's hometown, Wichita Falls, Texas — is crowned with a sunny-side-up egg and country gravy, plus pico de gallo. Breakfast burritos and a special Sunday brunch reward early risers with noshes such as Spanish-style eggs Benedict with chipotle hollandaise.
Resting on Barton Springs just off South Lamar, Green Mesquite BBQ and More has been “smoking the good stuff” since 1988. And it’s not just a clever, colorful name: the stools at the bar to the left of the entrance, plus all the seats and booths – not to mention the awning outside – feature some amount of forest green coloring. The restaurant is also straightforward in its specializes of all things barbecue. Diners can dig into brisket, pulled pork, sausage and other traditional meats – but it’s the signs intriguing “more” that often keeps customers coming back. Sometimes, it’s a Green Mesquite cheese steak taco basket, made up of two ribeye tacos with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and pico de gallo. Other times, customers call for a po’ boy, bowl of jambalaya or chef’s salad. There’s a little bit of everything found inside Green Mesquite.
Once upon a time, a chameleon named Hugo sat on a balcony watching his owner eat dinner with a glass of Chinaco Anejo. The phone rang, and the owner went inside to answer it. Upon her return, the owner found the glass of Anejo sitting empty next to a satisfied Hugo, a boozy grin on the lizard's face. The next day, the owner again took her dinner on the balcony, but this time she sat down to a savory chameleon steak. This fable is the inspiration for Hugo’s Restaurant Y Tequila Bar—a place where no number of thirsty chameleons could exhaust the stock of more than 75 tequilas.
The chilled tequilas range from familiar to exotic and artisanal, and the menu of Southwestern fare definitely plays to area favorites by using locally grown ingredients. Entrees include duck-confit-stuffed tortillas and chorizo pork rib eye sheathed with a balsamic-blackberry-ancho jam. Though tequila is the star of the drink list at Hugos, diners can also choose from more than 25 beers and a selection of specialty cocktails including a strawberry-basil mojito and a Flamethrower Especial martini, mixed with one part gin and two parts actual flamethrower.
27 years ago, El Mercado came into being as a small operation selling breakfast tacos from a front porch on South First Street. Although the Mexican market they were once part of has disappeared, El Mercado has grown to three locations, with breakfast tacos remaining a staple of their menu. In the kitchen, cooks sauté onions for barbecue chicken enchiladas and rub beef with a secret spice mix before adding it to brisket tacos. Beans and sauces made without meat products can satisfy the cravings of vegetarians and giant carnivorous plants trying to change their ways.
Polvos Mexican Restaurant can be spotted from afar, on South First, by its brightly-colored sign featuring a martini glass in place of the “v.” With Mexican music trumpeting from the speakers, diners can either relax on the covered patio or head inside, where the tables are decorated with photographs and posters of historical figures and landmarks. Vibrant pink and red walls divide the indoor seating area, and hollowed-out brick windows housing potted plants give the interior the feel of a small village. Menu highlights include Mexican staples like enchiladas, quesadillas and carne guisada, while a self-serve freshly made salsa bar makes sure everything is to each patrons’ desired heat level. The standout margaritas are perfect for washing everything down.
Baker St.'s Oklahoma City menu offers pub classics along with tacos, sliders, and generously portioned sandwiches. Start with an order of the tripper dipper ($7.99), a medley of fresh salsa, creamy queso, and savory spinach-and-artichoke dip served with tortilla chips. Then filch a hearty helping of shepherd's pie ($8.99), a delicacy of seasoned ground sirloin, cheddar, whipped potatoes, and tomato mixed together and served with green beans and potatoes. From tender, crisped fish and chips ($7.99–$9.99) to a buffalo-chicken sandwich ($7.99) and southern-style mini-chicken sandwiches ($7.99), the menu's flavorful items bode well with a liquid companion. An impressive beer selection and a full bar shine during daily drink specials and happy hour, but they also provide an equally enjoyable sudsy-nectar blast to taste receptors at any time.