Tag Archives: margaritas

Papi Tino’s Makes Me Happy :)

26 Mar

After my bike tour with Austin Eats Food Tours a few weeks ago, I’ve had a new appreciation for East Austin.  One great gem I recently discovered is Papi Tino’s on East 6th.  The atmosphere of a place is very important to me and Papi Tino’s absolutely delivers on this.  The restaurant, which serves fresh Mexican cuisine, is located in this adorable old house that, if the walls could talk, I am certain would have some stories to tell.  The rustic home still feels like a home, with its wooden walls stripped of many layers of paint and wallpaper, vintage fixtures in the bathroom and the space still divided into separate rooms – you almost feel as if the residents just stepped out for a moment and allowed you to stay a while, relax and make yourself at home.  There is ample outdoor seating in the front yard underneath beautiful shade trees and seating in the backyard as well.

Along with the great atmosphere also comes great food.  The menu is simple and elegant, not the typical East Austin Mexican dive (which can be great as well, by the way).  My husband and I had the guacamole to start, which was fresh and delicious.  For the main course, I ordered the Camarones a la Diabla – five or six large shrimp covered with a spicy peanut salsa on top of diced mango and avocado and garnished with baby kale, which was a nice combination of spicy and sweet.  Really good.  My husband ordered what I consider the gold standard for Mexican food – chicken enchiladas with suiza sauce.  The creamy green sauce was one of the best I’ve ever had – after he was finished eating, I scooped up the rest of the sauce with chips!

I also enjoyed their house margarita – not too sweet and very refreshing. Happy hour only runs on Saturdays from 4 to 6pm, but I imagine it is a fun one, especially on a beautiful day.  I really liked Papi Tino’s – the food was wonderful and the ambience was fantastic.  I don’t think I can get back soon enough.

Papi Tino's on Urbanspoon

Spend your pesos at El Alma Cafe

11 Dec

El Alma Cafe

A friend of mine suggested I check out El Alma Cafe, a Mexican restaurant on Barton Springs Rd that opened this summer, replacing what was El Chile.  My husband and I  arrived around 7 pm on a Friday and the place was hopping.  It is not very big,  you are able to scan the entire restaurant from the front entrance and the tables are placed closely together.   But this arrangement gives a feeling of intimacy and coziness and I like it.  I absolutely love the colorful artwork on the walls and the lighting that illuminates the room makes the place sparkle.

Happy hour runs Monday – Friday 3 to 7 pm and Saturday – Sunday 3 to 6 pm.  Their drink specials consist of $2 Lone Stars, $3 Sangrias, $4 house margaritas and $5 margarita chilangas, which are a spicy, orange infused frozen margarita (yum).  I was really hungry so I was mostly interested in what they had to offer in terms of food.  The happy hour food deal is half priced appetizers and they have some great choices.  We tried the empanadas – crispy, deep fried, filled with mushroom and cheese and served with salsa and guac.  Very tasty.  We also ate the ceviche clasico, which are pieces of lime marinated black drum fish tossed with tomato, avocado, serrano peppers and red onion and served with thick tostada chips.  I love ceviche  and will order it any chance I get – theirs did not disappoint.

ceviche

empanadas

I was still hungry so decided to order an entree and boy am I glad I did.  Sometimes it pays to ask the waiter what his favorite dish is and he did not steer me wrong.  I love meat but the veggie verde enchiladas were so fantastic that I did not miss meat one bit.  The veggie filling of poblanos, mushroom and spinach was so so flavorful and what really did it for me was the smokey yet sweet blanket of tomatillo sauce.  I think I could drink that stuff!  I consider enchiladas the gold standard for mexican food and these were the best vegetarian enchiladas I have ever had.  Seriously.  They are paired up with white rice and black beans for $10.95 and are worth every penny.

I found the quality of the food and the service of the staff to be excellent at El Alma.  The appetizers, though good, are a little expensive if you aren’t able to take advantage of happy hour prices –  full price is $7.95 to $9.95 and they are small.   The main dishes, however,  are reasonably priced – the enchilada plates are $9.95 to $12.95.  They offer tacos a la carte of all sorts (I bet they are delicious) – $3.25 to $4 per taco.  There are also more expensive plates on the menu, varying from $14.95 to $18.95, but considering the yumminess factor (that’s a real word, right?) of the enchiladas, I bet they are worth it.

My vote – go to El Alma for the food.  Go for the atmosphere.  As far as for happy hour?  If you’re a fan of margaritas, 4 to 5 bucks seems pretty good.  If you like Lone Star beer, which I don’t, then you can’t beat 2 bucks for a beer (are they worth that?).  The appetizers are good but small and if you have an appetite like me, then my guess is you’ll be ordering off the regular menu soon enough – and that is not a bad thing.

El Alma on Urbanspoon

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