There is a vanishing breed of Tex Mex restaurants in Austin Texas. To wit: Small mom and pops with middle aged waitresses, made from scratch tortillas, free chips and salsa and bottomless cups of coffee.
This style of restaurant is being shouldered out of the way by new fangled modernistic “Mexican” cafes that charge for chips and salsa, employ a fleet of young nymphs as waitresses, buy their tortillas from factories and charge 3 bucks per cup for their coffee.
I reckon there’s one born every minute.
There’s nothing new on the menu for a dedicated Mexican food diner at La Reyna. The south first street Queen merely offers pointed takes on all the quintessential offerings.
La Reyna’s carne guisada taco is a classic. A quarter pound of beef tips, meltingly tender and swimming in a gravy rich with onion and cumin.
That’s it. Nothing more is wanted or needed.
A good quality corn tortilla is served singly and that is it’s only drawback as the gravy makes quick work of it’s ability to restrain the torrent of flavor. I finish the taco with a fork using the foil wrapper as a crude plate of sorts.
I’m on the run so I can’t comment on the service but in the past my favorite waitress Mary always makes one feel like a favored relative who’s managed to stop by after a long absence. You’ll know her by her liberal use of mascara and eye shadow.
Competition is fierce these days for Austin restaurant goers’ Tex Mex money. At 37 years of operation La Reyna has had a recent face lift of her interior to better fend off the competition.
A mural of singing frogs resides on an outside wall, there’s a free happy hour snack buffet and a bigger nicer bar with a fancy teevee has been moved to a prominent position inside.
None of this matters of course. La Reyna makes her primary statement with a strong kitchen staff turning out top flight renditions of Austin Tex Mex classics.
1816 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
About the Stars:
4 **** Extraordinary, life changing
3 *** Excellent
2 * Very good
1 * Good
0 * Mediocre
Quality, price, service and ambiance are all taken into account when rating.