The Simple Pleasures of La Reyna

La Reyna. South First Street. Austin Texas

La Reyna. South First Street. Austin Texas

Austin, Texas looked a lot different back in 1974 when La Reyna began her residency on what would eventually become “the Tex-Mex Mile” on South First Street.

Under 300,000 people called the Capitol city home back then, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was in the local drive-in theaters [of which there were plenty] and Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr helmed the state’s affairs.

Meanwhile, La Reyna began putting out some of the finest Tex-Mex Austin has ever seen.

When I was living in South Austin I used to go to La Reyna on Wednesday night for live music [once a beefy Mexican cat on trumpet told me that his music was a reaction to the Beatles who’d profoundly affected him] but it was always the food that kept me coming back.

I love the fresh flour tortillas hot with blister marks off the comal.

I love Mary with her crazy eyeshadow and mascara.If you’re lucky she’ll be your waitress.

I love the bright yellow queso, thin with green chiles and little tidbits of tomatoes.

I love that you can a’ la carte a pork chop for under 2 bucks.

I love the Mexican Plate lunch special. It’s the ultimate combo with a crispy,mildly seasoned taco, a tamale smothered in molten cheese, a ground beef enchilada in a gravy heavy on the cumin and of course rice and beans.

Like any joint of good repute you’re barely seated when a smiling Mexican girl brings you your complementary appetizer of chips and salsa. Moments later you’ll have your vintage Coke tumbler choked full of chipped ice and filled to the brim with filtered water brought out.

Then the hard part; figuring out what to order off the queen’s three pages of deliciousness.

36 years on, La Reyna is undergoing a facelift. A local artist is painting singing frogs on the patio while inside the furniture is being shifted around a bit.

A happy hour taco bar promotion is in place as well, a bit of keeping up with the joneses in our modern Austin.

Looks like the queen ain’t going anywhere anytime soon as she shifts gears during her fourth decade.


1816 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 447-1280


About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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