Austin Tex-mex Essentials
This list is pretty strictly classics, as I haven't lived in Austin in quite some time. However, I grew up there and was pretty much fed queso from the bottle, so take my suggestions as you will.
- •Trudy'sA campus-area staple and local chain. Probably where I would send someone to experience quintessential Austin Tex-Mex. Everything's cheesy, beany, and topped with avocado. I've heard they have a pretty strong marg.
- •Chuy'sI didn't go to Chuy's much growing up because the line was usually out the door at any given time, at most of the locations. For good reason---there's nothing on the menu I wouldn't order! They opened a Lubbock location and I credit it for my intact sanity here. Although that fragile bit of sanity threatens to crack when Lubbockites make a pile of nachos out of the queso bar materials.
- •Matt's El RanchoCome for the Bob Armstrong (queso with guacamole and ground beef), stay for the fajitas.
- •Maudie'sPossibly the farthest from actual Mexican food from most things on this list, but a staple nonetheless. Amazing salsa. Classic beans, enchiladas, and chips (yes, chip quality makes a difference).
- •Taqueria Arandas (any)I actually can't remember if I've been here, but it's an Austin classic. Challenge: hit up every number (they're all labeled "#2," etc.). Probably the closest to authentic Mexican on this list.
- •Serrano'sThis may be more of a chain than most of these other spots, but dammit if it isn't the Tex-mex by which I judge all others. Can't pass up the fajitas and warm, floury tortillas.
- •Güero'sSeated in a historic building on bustling SoCo, this "taco bar" leans more toward traditional Tex-mex than trendy taqueria. Probably because it was around waaayyy before tacos were trendy---even in Austin. Salsa and queso are the standouts here.
- •Nuevo LeónA true East Side essential (before the East Side became a hipster haven), your best bet here is anything saucy, like enchiladas. Good, cheesy, hearty fare.