Sunday, July 16, 2006

Margaritas and Mole

Saturday night I headed to Manuels downtown. I absolutely love Mexican food and EVERYONE tells me the food there is great, so I had to find out for myself.

There was a 45 minute wait, so we planted ourselves at the bar to sample “Austin’s Best Margaritas.” I order a frozen one with salt. It arrived frozen, but sans salt. Ok, I’m not going to hold anything against them yet. I mean, it’s a great atmosphere, nice hardwood floors, great lighting and the governor seated just down the way.

A couple of cocktails later, our table is finally ready. The hostess leads us to a tiny table wedged between toddlers and raging drunks. Um, no thanks. Can we get a different table please? Sure. Another 20 minute wait.

Finally we are seated in an adult friendly location and dive right into the menu. We order Chile con Queso as the appetizer. I couldn’t wait to dunk my chips into some creamy, melted cheese. The starter arrived, and much to my surprise it was more like Queso Flameado than anything resembling melted cheese. Not to worry though - cheese is cheese and I devoured every delicious bite.

Entrees soon followed. I had Enchiladas de Mole which Wine Spectator touts as the “Best Mole in Austin”. I’ve had lots of mole in my day – both homemade and restaurant made. I was really disappointed. They garnished the dish with sesame seeds which completely overpowered the other delicate flavors of the sauce.

The waiter stopped by our table twice – once to take our order and once to drop off the bill. His tip reflected the caliber of service accordingly.

I’m sure there is market for this type of restaurant in Austin. But I like to keep it real. Give me a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant where the people barely speak English, the salsa is spicy and the cheese drips off my chips, and I’ll be a happy, happy chica.


Tony said...

dont know much about Mex food... so this was mainly Spainish to me... but i hear what you are saying about service, we had a similar experiance in Tootsies over here, so wrote flame mail to head office, with £40 vouchers by return post!

C said...

Um, I might sound really naive (and somewhat Canadian, lol) here, but what kind of Mole are you talking about?

Allison said...

Mole (pronounced Mole-ay) is a sauce used in Mexican cooking. It can be sweet or spicy. It generally is made from a chocolate base, but also contains ingredients such as ground nuts, chiles and various herbs and spices.

Homesick Texan said...

I've eaten at Manuel's, and I also found it lacking. When there are so many excellent place in the Austin area, I don't know how it stays in business.