Monday, December 19, 2011

Casa Chapala

I'm not sure if it has anything to do with my Hispanic roots, but I live with a never ending craving for delicious Mexican food. And most of the time that void can't be filled with the run of the mill Tex-Mex that can be found around Austin. So during one of my recent rants about not finding good Mexican dishes in town, someone suggested I visit Casa Chapala. I had never been, so I decided to pay them a visit on Sunday.
3010 Anderson Lane, Austin
Photo: foursquare

We visited the original location on Anderson Lane, and as soon as we entered the place, I felt right at home. This is the kind of place I enjoyed eating at back in the Rio Grande Valley. On our way to Casa Chapala we placed a call to see what time breakfast cut off time was, the lady on the other end told my girlfriend 2:00 pm. It was 1:30, we were good. We arrived and were quickly seated, no wait! A server took our drink order and in no time another guy arrived to prepare a small batch of salsa in a molcajete according to our personal heat preference. We chose mild. The salsa was wonderful, with the warm tortilla chips. When our waiter arrived we asked to see a breakfast menu. He adviced us that breakfast cut off time was 1:00 pm, we told him we called in. He said he would check. After a few minutes he arrived with the breakfast menu and told us we could still have our breakfast. YESSS! After browsing through the menu for a few minutes, we were ready to order. I decided on the Asada and Eggs, which is carne asada and two eggs cooked to your liking. My girlfriend chose the Chilaquiles Rojos, diced bell pepper, onion, and crispy fried tortilla chips scrambled with egg and topped with salsa. Both were served with rice and our choice of either refried, charro, or black beans. My asada plate also came with my choice of corn or flour tortillas. I'm a flour tortilla fan. While we waited, we decided to have an appetizer: shrimp and mango ceviche. Oh yeah!

table side salsa

Shrimp and Mango Ceviche

After a few minutes our waiter arrived with the ceviche. It wasn't exactly what we were expecting but it was still very good. It was full of small salad sized shrimp, but they went really light on the mango. So much that that don't think I had more than two bites with a taste of it. Anyway, the true test would be the actual plates. When they finally arrived, I couldn't believe my eyes. These plates were served just like back home, nice big plates of deliciousness. My Asada and eggs were amazing! Plenty of well seasoned meat topped with scrambled eggs. The meat was thinly sliced and cooked to perfection. It was moist and melted in my mouth, no toughness at all. The rice and beans were great as well. My girlfriends Chilaquiles were pretty good too. The chips were crispy, as they should be. Her only complaint was that they weren't really full of flavor and seemed to be missing any seasoning. But after using the salt and pepper shakers on our table, they were good to go. 

Asada and Eggs

Chilaquiles Rojos

I have to say that Casa Chapala is officially my new favorite Mexican restaurant in town. As a matter of fact we are going back tonight to have dinner. If authentic Mexican food is what you are craving, look no further than Casa Chapala. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Austin Java

I'm a fan of Austin Java. I've lived in Austin a little over two years now, and have only been there a handful of times, but I've never been disappointed with their quality and service. They have a few locations across town, and they serve breakfast all day! So when Sunday came around and I was craving an awesome omelette, only one place came to mind.

1608 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Photo: Citysearch
We decided to hit the Barton Springs location. I like this location due to the fact that you actually get waited on instead of ordering at a counter. Call me lazy but I hate to get up to refill my own drinks. Another plus is you can park in the garage in the back and have your parking validated by your server. We got there and after a short wait we were seated and ready to grub! We looked through the menu while we were waiting so we ordered right away. We started off by ordering some chips and queso as an appetizer. I decided on The Hippie Hollow omelette, which is filled with spinach, tomatoes, mushroom, onions, and red bell peppers. Awesome, but I requested no mushrooms. My girlfriend chose the Spinach and Artichoke Eggs Benedict, which is two poached eggs over and english muffin topped with spinach artichoke dip and hollandaise sauce. Nice! All breakfast dishes are served with your choice of wheat toast and jam, English muffin, taters, black beans, or a cup of fresh fruit. I decided on black beans, the girlfriend decided on the taters.

Chips and Queso
Our chips and queso arrived and we commenced to chow down. Their version is made with white cheese and was super tasty. My only complaint was that it was not as warm as I would've liked, but I soon forgot about that as we sat there and killed the bowl clean. A little later our plates arrived. The waitress asked my girfirend to cut into her eggs to make sure they weren't runny, since she had asked for them to be cooked hard. Still runny. She apologized and took her plate and said she would take care of it right away. My omelette looked perfect, and just like I imagined it. My girlfriend's plate returned, eggs fully cooked, and we began to grub. My omelette had the perfect amount of sauteed veggies and the eggs were cooked just right. My black beans came topped with melted cheese, a definite plus. My girlfriend's eggs benedict were super good as well and complimented the homemade taters.

The Hippie Hollow Omelette

Spinach and Artichoke Eggs Benedict

Overall, Austin Java is a winner in my book. Great food, quality ingredients, and excellent service always makes for an awesome Brunch experience!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blue Oak Grill

2500 Hoppe Trail, Round Rock

This weeked I decided to visit Round Rock to see what kind of brunch spot I could find. Up until now, I pretty much stayed in the Austin area, so I decided it was time to leave my brunching comfort zone. I settled on a spot I'd read about and driven past a few times:  Blue Oak Grill.

My girlfriend and I arrived at The Blue Oak Grill at around 12:30 Sunday afternoon, and immediately sensed trouble. The parking lot was pretty much empty! I figured the rain and cold weather was keeping people indoors, so we decided to stay. I should've followed my gut instinct. We were seated and our waiter quickly took our drink orders and brought out a plate of honey cornbread. Yum! They were nice and warm and topped with honey, I figured we were about to have an excellent brunch. I was wrong. The brunch menu was small, but had a few things that looked good. My girlfriend and I both decided on a plate called The Cowboy Up. It consisted of crumbled sausage and bacon grilled with onions, bell peppers and mushrooms, topped with three fried eggs and cheese with a side of hashbrowns. We waited and filled up on more honey cornbread.

Honey Cornbread

The Cowboy Up

Our plates arrived and we realized our plates were missing cheese. My girlfriend and I were sure the menu said WITH CHEESE, but weren't positive as our menus were no longer on the table. When our waiter came around to check on us, we asked and he replied "No, but I can get you all some". Then he came back with two tiny caps of cheese. We asked for more. Then just for our own peace of mind logged on to our phones to double check the menu. The Cowboy Up did indeed come with cheese. We didn't mention it, but big points off for not getting the order right and for the waiter not knowing the menu. The food, was decent, but nothing to get excited about. We both agreed that this was a dish we could have ordered at Denny's or IHop for half the price.

Overall, a pretty dissapointing brunch experiece. I will definitely not be returning, and next time I will definitely follow my gut.
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Hey guys, do you know of an awesome brunch spot I should check out in Austin? Let me know here or write on my Facebook wall. Thanks!

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