|13420 Galleria Circle, Ste. #A128
Bee Cave, TX 78738
606 Trinity St.
Austin, TX 78701
10001 Stonelake Blvd.
Austin, TX 78759
REVIEW – Downtown Location
When the Iron Cactus first opened its store in the Hill Country Galleria at the intersection of Highway 71 and 620 near Lakeway, there was a collective sigh of relief from the local dining community. This was the first upscale casual, owner-operated restaurant in the area. There are more restaurants here now, but the Iron Cactus still sets the standard for cool dining with their Tequilla Grill concept.
What I’ve always admired about the Iron Cactus is that there is authenticity to go along with the cachet. The ingredients are fiercely fresh and the flavors prove it. The Lobster Tacos are a good example. Take some home-made flour tortillas and stuff them with sautéed lobster along with Monterrey jack cheese and a killer red pepper coulis. The result is terrific flavor! The Gulf Coast Crab Cakes are another favorite. What lights this version up is the liberal accent of fresh Serrano peppers: a little bit of heat but an abundant amount of taste. And the Chile Con Queso is redolent of old Mexico. The mix of white cheeses, New Mexican green chiles, and fire roasted jalapenos makes this the perfect accompaniment for a fresh corn tortilla or a basket of chips, The Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is also indicative of the primal flavors at work here. The plump shrimp are bathed in cilantro, citrus juices and peppers. You may have trouble going back to the more conventional presentations of Shrimp Cocktail after trying this version.
The dishes from the Tequilla Grill are fun to look at and even more fun to eat. Try colorful and tasty! The Carne Asada con Adobo is a good place to begin. This is beautiful sirloin marinated in adobo and served over roasted chile strips or “rajas”. This is a serious taste forward dish. The Ancho Chile Rubbed Pork Tenderloin is a blast. The pork is marinated and served over a chipotle demi-glace sauce. The flavors that resonate from each bite are reluctantly given up only to anticipate another. It’s that good. And we must mention the Camarones a la Parrilla. The shrimp are done in the Diablo style stuffed with cheese and jalapenos and wrapped in bacon. But I think it’s the presentation on a sizzling platter with a tempting lime butter sauce that really elevates this one. What a dish!
There are an abundance of delectable enchiladas on the menu at the Iron Cactus as well. One of my favorites is the New Mexican styled Stacked Pork Enchiladas. The key to this dish is the use of pork carnitas. They’re stacked on red corn tortillas and layered with green chiles, rajas, and Monterrey Jack cheese. This is a flavor rush par excellence. Vegetarians will love the Spinach Artichoke and Grilled Portabello mushroom enchiladas. This dish is irresistible. The corn tortillas are filled with white cheese, spinach, artichokes, and mushrooms. The tangy verde sauce atop this dish seals it for me.
Iron Cactus has a rousing bar scene and a weekend brunch that features some very interesting dishes. The service is above average (that’s saying a lot for Austin) and the ambiance is comfortable. All in all, it’s been a welcome addition to Hill Country dining.