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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon 10:30am–2:30pm
Tue–Thu 10:30am–10:00pm
Fri 10:30am–11:00pm
Sat 9:00am–11:00pm
Sun 9:00am–10:00pm

Features Outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Not accepted

South Lamar
2038 S. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
(512) 442-4441

Southeast Austin
5808 Burleson Rd.
Austin, TX
(512) 416-0749
Mon–Fri 6:30am–2:30pm
Sat 7:00am–2:00pm
El Mesón
A reliable little taquería grows into a respectable lunch and dinner joint

Our favorite little stop on the way home from the airport has popped up in a larger incarnation on a growing restaurant row. The authentic taquería farther east is definitely a dive, if a cute and clean one; the more formal restaurant is pleasant and airy, with cathedral ceilings and exposed beams, limestone walls and windows overlooking a section of South Lamar not exactly renowned for people-watching.

And just like at the original shack, the Mexican food here has no substantial “Tex” to speak of. Addictive chile con queso is more like a queso fundido, with white cheese and ample spice; tlacoyos of fluffy masa are served with a delightfully tart tomatillo sauce. Consistency wavers, but never dips beneath enjoyable; chiles rellenos have been ideal and they’ve been bland, but saved by the great sauce. Tacos, especially rich and tender barbacoa, are great with the house salsas (including an unusual, creamy orange jalapeño), al pastor is served with chunks of its pineapple marinade, if you like that style.

Guacamole is outstanding, creamy and limey and priced below inferior guacs in town; homemade corn and flour tortillas are soft and sturdy and smell like heaven, but tend to be underfried as chips. Nicely balanced margaritas and Mexican martinis are good at the otherwise bland bar. Breakfast isn’t this kitchen’s best work, but then, whose is it?

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