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.
From the exterior, it doesn't look as if much has changed about Buddy's Convenience Store, a 30-year-old stalwart of supplies and Texaco gas. The shop still sports its modest, ranch-style frame and functioning pumps, but inside it's another story. Jorge and Julie Garcia, scions of the family that spawned Curra's Grill Restaurant in South Austin, purchased the old filling station and slowly transformed it into a bastion of fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine called Señor Buddy's.
Now, in addition to the fuel that still flows from the pumps, 20 foam-flecked taps gush with draft beers to accompany a full menu of seafood enchiladas, breakfast tacos, tender cuts of pork and steak, and Curra's exclusive Oaxacan coffee. Out back, majestic trees cast cool shadows and misguided fishing lines over an expansive outdoor patio, where patrons can enjoy the soothing sounds of live music every Friday and Saturday beneath strings of twinkling lights.
Juan Meza, Juan in a Million’s smiling, sociable owner, greets customers within his comfortably bustling restaurant, which has appeared on Man vs. Food. Since 1980, he has smiled and shook the hands of guests as they order gigantic breakfast tacos or rib-steak dinners. The covered outdoor patio boasts a homey charm that complements the bountiful menu and its numerous breakfast tacos, like chorizo with beans and machacado with egg, tomatoes, onions and chile jalepeño. Plates of huevos rancheros and migas, a steaming dish of scrambled eggs with tortillas served with refried beans and potatoes, keep patrons full for the day ahead.
From its expansive open-air patio to its host of friendly servers, Cuatro’s cultivates a breezy dining experience in every sense of the word. As diners survey sports across 13 TV screens, including the massive 10'x10' “Cuatro-tron,” the kitchen staff sets to work dressing up the menu's two familiar staples—burgers and tacos—with eclectic ingredients. Tacos brim with meaty fillings such as brisket, chipotle chicken, and grilled shrimp, and burger patties steam under a cover of jalapeños, avocado slices, and fried eggs. Diners' four-legged companions also eat well at Cuatro’s, as the outdoor patio is dotted with water bowls, dog treats, and snout-sized moist towelettes.
Berryhill Baja Grill continues an 84-year-old culinary tradition begun by Walter Berryhill, who sold his handmade tamales around Houston with nothing but a pushcart, a tortilla press, and his personal recipe. Today, the grill’s tamales pack savory cornmeal and fillings such as beef, pork, and spinach within cornhusks recently liberated from overcrowded cornucopias. Elsewhere on the menu, fish tacos combine tempura-battered fish, special sauce, and cilantro in a hearty corn tortilla, and pollo platters smother grilled chicken breast with affection in the form of poblano peppers and mushrooms—the hugs and joint tax returns of the food world.