El Chile Cafe y Cantina - Austin,Texas
El Chile Café y Cantina, 1809 Manor Rd, just east of I-35 and UT, is quickly building a reputation as an Eastside eating favorite. Easy to find but limited in parking (check around back before you park on the street), El Chile has attracted a steady following and regular neighborhood cliental in the short time it has been open. Mr. Food has again decided to sacrifice his small orange body, dedicated to finding the truth and discover if all the talk and hype about El Chile is really true.
I arrived at El Chile around 6:30pm on a Friday night, joined by Mother-in-law-Food (Mrs. Food’s mom) and the Lizard (Mrs. Food’s best friend) only to encounter a large crowd of folks, gathered loosely around the restaurant entrance drinking beers and multi colored margaritas. We added our name to the seating list and a server immediately took our drink order. We had asked for any seating, indoor or outside on the patio, and we were quickly rewarded with a nice table inside near to the bar. It seems that the waiting crowd all wanted to sit on the patio. Personally, I think those people are crazy. With the temp running around 95 degrees and the humidity close to 90%, I would much rather sit in an A/C wonderland than Austin’s outdoor summer sauna!
We placed our orders and settled into what I think are some of best chips and salsa served in Austin. The salsa is made up of dark roasted jalapeños, garlic and I think lime juice… just fantastic. Not hot in taste but full of a great smoky flavor, I could eat this stuff all day long. At this time I ordered a second drink, with Mrs. Food busy in other places, I decided to get just a little crazy.
For the main course we ordered three different items. Momma Food decided to try the Pollo a la Poblana con Hongos - $10.95 (seared chicken breast w/ poblanos, rajas, mushrooms and crema). This plate also came with white rice and a small guacamole salad. Lizard ordered the Enchiladas Verdes - $9.95 (two chicken enchiladas topped w/ tomatillo sauce, jack cheese and crema). The enchiladas are made with El Chile’s homemade tortillas which may be just as addicting as the salsa. Previous experience has taught me never to order a Steak in a Mexican restaurant (always way over cooked) and knowing this and against my better judgment I decided to order the Arrachera - $12.95 (sirloin steak topped w/ melted Chihuahua cheese, poblano, rajas and grilled onions). My plate also came with a small cup of charra beans and guacamole salad.
All three entrees turned out to be real winners. My steak was like butter, by far the best steak I have ever ordered at a Mexican restaurant, it just melted in my mouth. Both Momma Food and the Lizard finished every bite on their respective plates and they both proclaimed their love for the food and a serious desire to come back and try many other items from El Chile’s menu. I didn’t see a dessert menu which was ok, I was so totally full after all the chips/salsa and steak, I didn’t need to put any more food in my body. The total bill came to just under $70 for 5 top shelf drinks, all the chips / salsa one could eat and three super tasty main courses.
Mr. Food gives El Chile Café y Cantina two spoons up. Great food! Coming from Texas, I don’t like spending a lot of cash on Mexican food but El Chile is a nice treat and very reasonable for the food offered. The service and friendly tattooed-covered wait staff give El Chile that cool, casual Austin feeling that people dig so much. The only problem for El Chile is the parking, so again check around back first before deciding to park on the street or check the overflow parking lot just across the street and to the right, about a half block from the restaurant.
El Chile Café Y Cantina
1809 Manor Rd
512 457 9900
Mon – Sat 11am – 10pm
Sun – 11am – 9pm
Brunch Sat – Sun 11am – 3pm
Happy Hr Mon – Fri 4 – 7pm