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.
  1. Trudy's
    A 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.
  2. Chuy's
    I 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.
  3. Matt's El Rancho
    Come for the Bob Armstrong (queso with guacamole and ground beef), stay for the fajitas.
  4. Maudie's
    Possibly 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).
  5. 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.
  6. Serrano's
    This 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.
  7. Güero's
    Seated 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.
  8. Nuevo León
    A 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.