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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Sun–Mon 11:00am–10:00pm
Wed–Thu 11:00am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:00am–11:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, live music, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted


South Lamar
2613 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 462-9333
Matt’s El Rancho
Knock-out Mexican martinis at this epicenter of Tex-Mex history

The Mexican martini is an art form, but there are few bars in town that pour one that’s this well balanced, this pleasantly limey, this easy to drink (and get drunk on). And there are even fewer that will make it “smoky”—that is, with spectacular Del Maguey mezcal. And it’s hard to get much more classic, old-school Austin than Matt’s El Rancho, the consummate Tex-Mex hangout. Happy hour lasts for three hours every weekday afternoon, and half of the loyal clientele seems to have been swinging by since former pro boxer Matt Martínez opened the place in 1952. Aside from the families and the golden oldies, you’re also likely to run into local politicians, community figures, and Austin legends filling the enormous space.

Don’t miss the “Bob Armstrong Dip” (order a “Small Bob” or a “Large Bob”), a well-executed queso decked out with spiced ground beef and guacamole. Tortilla soup isn’t bad, but not one of the better versions in town; chile relleno is best with the full option package (pecans, raisins, and onions, which, as insiders know, you can request on just about anything). Tamales drowning in brown enchilada sauce are classic, as are enchiladas. They’ve got that good ol’ chili gravy and that good ol’ yella’ cheese. In short, this isn’t the most thrilling Tex-Mex. But it is an exemplar.

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