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.
Cuisine Type: Baja-style foods
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 11?25
Parking: Parking lot; free parking off San Antonio Street
Most popular offering: Grilled shrimp tacos
Alcohol: Full bar
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout Only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Pro Tip: Buy a souvenir cup and get refills for $1 FOREVER.
If it weren?t for father-son duo Alan and Chuck Bush, Fuzzy?s Taco Shop might?ve closed its doors permanently in 2003. Instead, the two bought the restaurant from its then-owner, transforming the flagship Fort Worth location from faltering to bustling. They slowly started to franchise locations across the country, and, now, 60 restaurants dot 11 states. Each one serves up a menu of Baja-style Mexican food, including jumbo burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas.
At Morelia Mexican Grill, generations of the Arreola Family cook up recipes from their ancestral home in Morelia, Mexico, captivating diners with savory dishes of chicken, seafood, steak, and pork. The restaurants immerse guests in an atmosphere of Mexican art and culture, with stone pillars and friezes decorated in Mesoamrican-style carvings and colorful wall-sized Diego Rivera–style murals. The dishes that sparkle against that backdrop included the shrimp-stuffed avocado, Fajitas Romanas, and mixed grill plates of quail and steak.
In 2002, when asked about his role as sous-chef at the wildly successful Castle Hill Cafe, Michael Taddeo told the Austin Chronicle, ?We have lots of fun doing what we do?. Yet, following executive chef David Dailey?s retirement, Caste Hill?s co-owner, Cathe Dailey, decided to temporarily close the caf??s doors and focus on a rebirth of sorts, refurbishing everything from the eatery?s menu and 110-year-old home to its very name.
Today, Chef Taddeo has taken the reins in the kitchen at the resurrected caf??Corazon at Castle Hill?where he and much of the old staff continue to churn out upscale Mexican cuisine tweaked with a few changes. Today?s menu adapts to the seasons, with the chef using products that are fresh and locally available; when the Austin Chronicle's Mick Vann visited during the winter months, he sampled warm comforting plates of flautas carnitas and arrachera beef, calling them a ?huge winner? and ?wonderful.? Yet, in the summer, the chef?s menu consists of lighter tastes, including shrimp enchiladas, potato-corn sope, and pork tenderloin roasted over a boy scout?s campfire.
Red-clothed tables set with white napkins and small vases of fresh flowers give diners a visual clue to the eatery?s elegant-yet-comfortable vibe. Customers? eyes also wander to the dining room?s vibrant orange walls, which house Cathe?s personal touches including Mexican folk art culled from her personal collection.
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.