When he immigrated to America, Jesse Berenji took a job in the kitchen at a family member's Mexican restaurant. By keeping a close eye on all aspects of the business, he was soon able to pioneer his own Mexican place—El Patron Restaurant & Cantina. The cooks here fry hand-breaded boneless-chicken breast drizzled with cilantro sauce, for example, and prepare El Patron fajitas—chicken and beef with sautéed veggies on a heated platter, served with homemade tortillas for creating edible Venn diagrams. The menu even touches on American classics such as burgers and chicken tenders.
Los Reyes' tables brim with traditional Mexican entrees, Tex-Mex favorites, and fresh seafood. Chefs begin slinging breakfasts and insults about the sunrise at 6 a.m. before lunch specials infiltrate empty stomachs with tacos, burritos, and enchiladas at 11 a.m. Rice and beans flank authentic south-of-the-border proteins such as carne asada, barbacoa, and tripe, and a separate seafood menu hooks cravings with broiled or fried shrimp, catfish, and flounder.
Start your tour of Texican's massive menu by slinging your jaw around spinach, mushroom, and onion quesadillas ($7.99) or clearing your taste buds of impurities with spicy cream-cheese-stuffed jalapenos ($5.49). The plentiful options let you supplicate at the altar of a traditional dish such as cabrito—a platter of tender goat roasted with mysterious spices and topped with tomato and bell pepper ($14.99)—or head straight for the grill with a 10 oz. rib-eye steak tampiqueña ($14.99). To enter the mythical realm of "New Mexico," head northwest of south of the border for some Santa Fe enchiladas in smoky red chile ($9.49), or fly straight up into space instead with a deadly delicious chile relleno plump with chicken, beef, shrimp, or cheese and legally drowned in red tomatillo sauce ($8.99).
A decade is a long time to be in the restaurant, but MasFajitas Mexican Restaurant's three kitchens haven't slowed down in all that time. The owners attribute their success to their signature dishes, including the cadillac fajita, a medley of veggies, tender chicken or beef, and all the bell and whistles from creamy guacamole to handmade pico de gallo. They keep things fresh by working contemporary American ingredients into their menu, such as grilled catfish or a cheese and spinach quesadilla. The kitchen can also export its wares via its catering service, available for parties of any size, from intimate gatherings of friends to huge gatherings of strangers who you will turn into friends with your benevolence and Mexican food.
Chef David Garrido has been creating a buzz in the Austin dining scene for years. And people have taken notice. The former chef at the popular fine-dining establishment Jeffrey's was invited to the James Beard House in New York City and to open a Jeffrey's at the Watergate in Washington DC. He has also appeared on the Food Network show Chopped and did Dancing with Stars Austin.
At Garrido's Patio Dining, he combines fresh, local, and organic ingredients into his New World Latino cuisine—his playful twist on traditional Mexican recipes. Garrido whips up lamb chops coated in a chile-honey demiglaze and topped with mango-cilantro yogurt, and he stuffs tacos with creative ingredients such as coffee-rubbed steak and gulf snapper. He also fries oysters and piles them atop yucca root chips, and then sends the dish out with habanero honey aioli.
Diners enjoy these dishes outside on the patio, which overlooks picturesque Shoal Creek and cools patrons off with misters and fans. They can also dine inside, where live music and refreshing cocktails—including watermelon-jalapeño margaritas and mojitos made with fresh mint—inspire dance competitions to determine who takes home leftovers. The restaurant is open for dinner seven days a week and brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Owners Chris Courtney, Kelly Chappell, and Jay Bunda designed Zocalo Cafe to be directly rooted in service to their community, even going so far as to name the restaurant after the Spanish word for "meeting place." This goal is evident in their participation in a locally run recycling program and use of compostable, eco-friendly to-go packaging, as well as their dedication to displaying work by local artists. Furthermore, their eatery boasts high vaulted ceilings, enormous floor-to-ceiling windows, and a bright garden patio, all of which create a space as open and inviting as their community mission.
Zocalo Cafe's chefs craft a Mexican menu as deliberately light and fresh as the restaurant's minimalist decor. The selection of classic, yet updated, interior Mexican cuisine includes crispy stacked enchiladas as well as turkey, beef, and mahi mahi tacos prepared using housemade tortillas and salsas. The weekend brunch menu unleashes modern twists on traditional breakfasts, such as eggs benedict with sweet potato biscuits and chilaquiles.