• September 11, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Savor the Spice: A Local’s Field Guide to Mexican Cuisine in Austin

Welcome amigas and amigos, fellow food explorers and connoisseurs of Mexican cuisine! Austin, the thriving capital of Texas, is a pulsating medley of cultural diversity, increasingly vibrant live music scenes, a destination for worldwide events, and most importantly, a treasure trove of food experiences. With an ecosystem this rich, it shall come as no surprise that Austin plays host to a fascinating variety of Mexican culinary delights. Consider this guide your local compass, leading you to the very best of Mexican Cuisine in Austin.

1. Embark on an Authentic Flavor Journey

There’s something magical about Austin. The city wakes up to the harmonious orchestra of sizzling fajitas, roasting chilies and spices, and tantalizing Mexican cuisine being prepared. As the day unravels, your senses are likely to be hijacked by the irresistible scent of homemade tortillas, the smoky promise of authentic salsa, and the undeniable lure of freshly made Mexican delicacies.

  • Suerte: Nestled in vibrant East Austin, Suerte is more than just a restaurant. It’s an homage to Mexican culinary traditions, coupled with the love for local Texan produce. The charm lies in their house-made masa (corn dough), crafted out of locally sourced Tex-Cot heirloom corn. It is the very soul of their tortillas, imparting a subtle sweet nuttiness to dishes from their crunchy tostadas to their mouth-watering tacos. Suerte will leave you with an enriched understanding of traditional Mexican flavors, one bite at a time.

  • El Naranjo: Mexican cuisine is as diverse as the country’s geography, and El Naranjo in Rainey Street brings the Oaxacan culinary heritage of southern Mexico to Austin. Founded by a husband-wife duo, their passion is evident in their delicacies, be it the hand-made empanadas filled with seasonal veggies and stringy Oaxacan cheese or Mexico’s national dish, Mole Oaxaqueño. This delight, showcasing seven types of peppers, spices, and a touch of chocolate, promises a bold symphony of flavors.

  • Veracruz All Natural: If there is one thing you can’t miss in Austin, it’s the iconic food truck culture. And among the myriad food trucks, the shining star is Veracruz All Natural. Initially starting as a smoothie venture, they quickly garnered city-wide fame with their Migas taco, loaded with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, pico de gallo, and cheese wrapped in the softest tortillas. Their journey from the humble food truck to having four locations, all while keeping the authenticity intact, is a testament to the love Austinites have for its cuisine.

2. Discover the Secrets of Austin’s Margaritas

Austin’s love for Margaritas is legendary. Whether you prefer yours on the rocks, frozen, salted, or flavored, Austin has got you covered.

  • Curra’s Grill: Curra’s Grill, fondly known as the home of the “Mother of All Mex”, prides itself on its eclectic margarita offerings. The showstopper here is a creamy, dreamy avocado margarita. It combines tequila, avocado, house-made secret syrup, and lime, blending into a sweet, tangy, frothy surprise. Surrender to this tropical temptation, and you’ll find yourself drawn back time and time again.

  • Polvos Mexican Restaurant: Polvos in South Austin brings an interactive experience to margarita drinking. Their DIY Margarita station allows guests to mix and match flavors, making for a hands-on and personalized margarita experience. With almost a dozen types of tequila to choose from and a rainbow of flavorings, including cactus pear, watermelon, and pineapple, Polvos transforms cocktail hour into a creative adventure.

3. Craving Sweet? Mexican Desserts to the Rescue

Mexican cuisine’s charm lies not only in its fiery mains but also in its dessert spread. Austin’s dessert scene is a melting pot of traditional and innovative Mexican sweets.

  • Churro Co.: Imagine a tiny, cute trailer on South First Street, with aromatic wafts of cinnamon, sugar, and fried dough. That’s Churro Co. for you. But don’t be fooled by “tiny.” Their creativity and flavor make an envious combo. Be it the classic churro with a sprinkle of sugar or the fusion Campfire churro layered with Mexican chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, and torched marshmallows, Churro Co. is where you relive childhood while discovering the art of churromaking.

  • La Pâtisserie: Cafe de olla may be warm-up, but the decadent Tres Leches cake at La Pâtisserie is a sweet Latin treat for the senses. The fine interplay of condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream, and light sponge cake, garnished with whipped cream and strawberries, results in a dessert that’s moist to the core, milky-sweet, and purely divine. It also pairs perfectly with a cup of Mexican coffee!

4. Explore the Local Food Trucks

Regardless of the time of the day, there is always a food truck waiting to satiate your cravings all around Austin.

  • Mi Tradición: Mi Tradición, also known as Chuy’s bakery, is an embodiment of Mexican culture, capturing the essence of Mexican baked goods. Their pastries, from Pan de Muerto (Day of the Death bread) and Tres Leches cakes to Mexican chocolate pies and cookies, are the fruits of recipes handed down generations. Caution: Highly addictive!

  • Tamale House East: Tamales are a time-honored Mesoamerican tradition that dates back to the pre-Aztec era, and Tamale House East stays true to that heritage. They serve up succulent tamales and are an integral part of Austin’s Mexican food saga. Their secret? Commitment to authenticity and familial recipes that have delighted customers for over fifty years.

5. When in Austin, Cook Like an Austinite

What’s better than feasting on Mexican fare? Mastering the art of cooking it, of course. The exploding interest in cooking classes points to the thrill of understanding a cuisine and recreating it in your kitchen.

  • Kitchen Underground: Kitchen Underground hosts cooking classes that immerse participants in a variety of cuisines, and the Mexican class is a standout. Learn how to make salsa from scratch, roll out your tortillas, and assemble the perfect enchiladas under the guidance of seasoned chefs. It’s an enriching, hands-on experience that will elevate your culinary know-how while promising an unforgettable evening.

Dear food lovers, this local’s guide to Austin’s best Mexican cuisine was crafted just for you. If you are keen to savor the zest, the spice, the soulful essences that embody Mexican cuisine in Austin, this is your roadmap. Remember, take your time, and feel free to take a few “food siestas.” After all, Austin is all about taking it slow, soaking in the ambiance, the people, the music, and of course, the food. Happy food trailing!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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