|2330 W. North Loop Blvd.
Austin, TX 78756
Fonda San Miguel, one of Austin’s most original restaurants, and the collaboration of Tom Gilliland and Miguel Ravago, has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Most marriages of that tenure usually go through a few rough patches or begin to gradually lose their luster. But the unremitting love affair between the Austin dining public and Fonda for all these years has been a sight to behold. And it shows no signs whatsoever of diminishing.
Our dinner there the other evening was another vintage Fonda San Miguel experience. The place was packed, but each table had its own sense of space and intimacy. Lots of energy in the room that fairly bubbled with happy foodies.
We began with the classic Chile Con Queso. Now this bears no resemblance to the Tex-Mex versions many of us are used to. They use white cheddar typical to Chihuahua which is obviously much more dense. Hard to get tortilla chips into this one. So use one of their handmade corn tortillas. What sensational flavor. The Quesadillas are aromatic and delicate. The order consists of one each of chile poblano, chicken and mushrooms. And order the corn tortillas (de mais). What a beautiful texture.
Another strong recommendation is the Sopecitos de la Casa. Sopecitos are little corn masa wafers (with potato added) filled with: Salpicon Pescado, which consists of sautéed fish, peppers and onions; Camaron Adobado, shrimp with an adobado made from ancho chiles, and Nopalitos, which are slices of prickly pears, minus the prickles of course! And I just love the Pork Tacos al Pastor (with a chile ancho marinade). Hugely popular in Mexico, al Pastor is a style of cooking where the meat, usually pork, is rotated on a roaster not unlike that of the Greek gyro.
And the Sopa de Tortilla, the ethereal Tortilla Soup, is an original menu item at the restaurant. Easy to see why. The flavor sensation is immediate and compelling.
The entrees are endlessly intriguing. They span the gamut of Mexican regional influences all, of course, refined by the deft touch of Chef Miguel. Let’s start with the Camarones en Chipotle. The shrimp is sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. Chipotle and heavy cream are added and the result is a sensational flavor. Equally delicious are the Camarones en Salsa Verde. The spicy tomatillo sauce is the perfect complement for the succulent gulf shrimp. Love the balance of this dish. And you haven’t lived until you’ve tried Miguel’s Chuleta de Cerdo, a pork chop that is rotisserie broiled and then grilled to absolute tender perfection. The vegetables, potatoes, and spinach salad simply enhance the marvelous flavors of this dish. And steak lovers will find themselves hopeless infatuated with the Ribeye Caballero. This is robust yet tender cut served with a Chile de Arbol Chimichurri and its one of the best chimichurris I have ever tasted.
Tom Gilliland actually lived with Miguel Ravago’s grandmother for a time in Phoenix while they were in school together. He liked her food so much that he threatened never to leave. Lucky for us that he did, hooked up with Miguel, and gave Austin this marvelous and lasting gift, Fonda San Miguel. On North Loop off Burnet.