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Tasty Tuesdays: Best Interior Mexican

14 September 2010 5,781 views 25 Comments

Google “Austin Interior Mexican” and you won’t have to scroll far down to find Fonda San Miguel. Before Fonda opened in 1975, Austin was a decidedly Tex-Mex town.

La Gringa Tacos at El Naranjo

La Gringa Tacos at El Naranjo

What’s the difference? That’s up to your own personal interpretation but I think of Tex-Mex as dishes like chips and salsa, queso, fajitas, and the combination plate.

Taco at La Condes

Taco at La Condesa

Interior or Regional Mexican is more traditional cuisine that is served and enjoyed throughout the six regions of the country. According to Wikipedia, some of the specialties of each region include:

Papalote Tacos

Papalote Tacos

  • Yucatán – sweetness and achiote seasoning
  • Oaxaca – tamales and moles
  • Western Mexico – meat dishes like goat birria (goat in spicy tomato sauce)
  • Central Mexico – barbacoa, pozole, menudo and carnitas
  • Southeastern Mexico – spice and Caribbean influence
  • Coastal States – Seafood is commonly prepared in states that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico
Polvos salsa bar

Polvos salsa bar

These days, not too many new Tex-Mex restaurants are coming on the scene. For years, Austin was dominated by restaurants serving Tex-Mex fusion. Back in the early 90′s, some of the only places to enjoy interior Mexican dishes other than Fonda San Miguel was  Curra’sLas Palomas, Manuel’s, Polvos, and Azul Tequila.

Tostadas and Apps at El Naranjo

Tostadas and Apps at El Naranjo

Lately, the Mexican food scene is Austin is starting to noticeably change. Restaurants serving traditional and regional food are sprouting up in every part of town. Over the past couple years, Mexican restaurants serving interior cuisine include La CondesaGarridos, El Naranjo, Papalote, Sago, La Sombra, Takoba, Zandunga, Zocalo, and more.

Ceviche at La Condesa

Ceviche at La Condesa

Now for our Tasty Tuesday’s question, what are some of your favorite “interior” Mexican restaurants and dishes in town?

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  • http://twitter.com/ladyaia Susan Welker, AIA

    After Fonda San Miguel; a more affordable favorite is Azul Tequila!

  • Carla

    I am a huge fan of the Carne Asada dinner at Fonda, but it is expensive. I've loved everything I've had at Azul Tequila, Curra's, Garridos, La Condesa and Polvos. The grilled chicken flautas at Manuel's are amazing, too. Pork Carnita tacos at Takoba rock and the others I need to try!

  • jodibart

    I'll have to add these dishes to the list. I don't think I've tried any of these. Thanks, Carla!

  • jodibart

    I tried it for the first time a couple weeks ago and was amazed by the extensive menu.

  • marcoskirsch

    I don't really think of Polvos or Curra's as Interior Mexican food. They are ok, though.
    I haven't been to Azul Tequila in years, because it's far, but I remember it was good. I was at La Condesa once and was pleasantly surprised.
    But as a general rule, I go to Mexico for Mexican food.

  • http://twitter.com/ladyaia Susan Welker, AIA

    After Fonda San Miguel; a more affordable favorite is Azul Tequila!

  • Carla

    I am a huge fan of the Carne Asada dinner at Fonda, but it is expensive. I've loved everything I've had at Azul Tequila, Curra's, Garridos, La Condesa and Polvos. The grilled chicken flautas at Manuel's are amazing, too. Pork Carnita tacos at Takoba rock and the others I need to try!

  • jodibart

    I'll have to add these dishes to the list. I don't think I've tried any of these. Thanks, Carla!

  • jodibart

    I tried it for the first time a couple weeks ago and was amazed by the extensive menu.

  • http://Marcos.Kirsch.com.mx/ Marcos

    Azul Tequila is ok, but I don’t go much because it’s too far for me. I don’t really think Curra’s and Polvos as “interior” Mexican food.

    As a general rule, I go to Mexico for Mexican food.

  • marcoskirsch

    I don't really think of Polvos or Curra's as Interior Mexican food. They are ok, though.
    I haven't been to Azul Tequila in years, because it's far, but I remember it was good. I was at La Condesa once and was pleasantly surprised.
    But as a general rule, I go to Mexico for Mexican food.

  • jodibart

    Since you are from Mexico, I trust your judgement! Have you tried any of these other places? Just curious of you think any of the new spots pass muster ;-)

  • Ben

    You missed El Meson on Burleson. It is the “Poor Man's Fonda San Miguel” as one of the reviewers on Yelp put it.

    See: http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-meson-austin

    The food is delicious and much more modestly priced than any of the uppity places mentioned above. :-P

  • Ben

    You missed El Meson on Burleson. It is the “Poor Man's Fonda San Miguel” as one of the reviewers on Yelp put it.

    See: http://www.yelp.com/biz/el-meson-austin

    The food is delicious and much more modestly priced than any of the uppity places mentioned above. :-P

  • Moni

    I am from Mexico and have lived in Austin for almost 10 years. My all time favorite “interior Mexican” food is from Manuel's. Best mole in Austin, tortilla soup and flautas! Also, super fresh seafood and meats. I love their healthy options and really portray what high-end cuisine is like in Mexico! The portions are fair & price isn't ridiculous like la condesa. Takoba is also a fav for their pork tacos!

  • jodibart

    Great suggestion. I'll add it to my list of places to try.

  • jodibart

    Thanks for commenting and sharing those suggestions, Moni. My friend Brad introduced me to the Tortilla soup and it's my go-to now when I'm in the mood for something warm and comforting. It's definitely different than other tortilla soups around town.

  • jodibart

    Great suggestion. I'll add it to my list of places to try.

  • jodibart

    Thanks for commenting and sharing those suggestions, Moni. My friend Brad introduced me to the Tortilla soup and it's my go-to now when I'm in the mood for something warm and comforting. It's definitely different than other tortilla soups around town.

  • nellie

    el meson opened up a 2nd spot on south lamar, next to the horseshoe. open for dinner, unlike the one on burleson. the chilorio is phenomenal…

  • ClaudiaA

    Sazon on S. Lamar is awsome Jodi. El Meson on S. Lamar is good too but only when Marisela is in the kitchen. They are all her recipes. I am so homesick right now, where the Austin-Mexico City direct flight when you need it?

  • ClaudiaA

    Sazon on S. Lamar is awsome Jodi. El Meson on S. Lamar is good too but only when Marisela is in the kitchen. They are all her recipes. I am so homesick right now, where the Austin-Mexico City direct flight when you need it?

  • Peter Wang

    Just wanted to chime in here, since Azul Tequila is so close to my office, and there are several comments about it. (Azul and Papalote are owned by the same folks.)

    This week, Papalote served me the single most delicious Al Pastor taco I have ever tasted. They are now my favorite taco place in town. Their tacos with napolito already put them at the top of my chart, but the Pastor this week launched them into first place. (I was on a conference call while eating lunch and was raving about this taco to everyone on the call.)

  • Peter Wang

    Just wanted to chime in here, since Azul Tequila is so close to my office, and there are several comments about it. (Azul and Papalote are owned by the same folks.)

    This week, Papalote served me the single most delicious Al Pastor taco I have ever tasted. They are now my favorite taco place in town. Their tacos with napolito already put them at the top of my chart, but the Pastor this week launched them into first place. (I was on a conference call while eating lunch and was raving about this taco to everyone on the call.)

  • Peter Wang

    Just wanted to chime in here, since Azul Tequila is so close to my office, and there are several comments about it. (Azul and Papalote are owned by the same folks.)

    This week, Papalote served me the single most delicious Al Pastor taco I have ever tasted. They are now my favorite taco place in town. Their tacos with napolito already put them at the top of my chart, but the Pastor this week launched them into first place. (I was on a conference call while eating lunch and was raving about this taco to everyone on the call.)