1501 East 6th St.
Austin, TX 78702
Dan and Rachel Davila had a dream some twenty years ago. They wanted to do a high-quality TEX-MEX restaurant. Their aim was to bring the best and freshest ingredients together to create memorable tex-mex cuisine. The result was Nuevo Leon.
For 18 years, in their little restaurant on E. 7th St, they persevered and by all common measures of success, they realized their dream. They built a fiercely loyal clientele, pioneered some very creative new dishes, and became a fixture in the E. Austin food scene.
When Dan died in 1995, Rachel thought of selling. But her children talked her out of it. Her youngest son Kevin took over the reins and continued the tradition.
Where do you start here? How about with the salsa? It is amazing. A blend of carefully selected tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, and more and the result is one of the best salsas in central Texas. Not bitter, as many are, but sweet and light, with a very satisfying flavor.
The beef fajitas are excellent. Tender, marinated bits of steak with a seared, char broiled flavor that’s just outstanding. And the cheese enchiladas are also a treat. The chili con carne sauce is savory, and the enchiladas are tender and redolent with a mild queso.
In fact, cheese goes a long way at Nuevo Leon. One of the most popular dishes is the #5 combination plate which features a cheese enchilada, chilli con queso, and rice and beans or arroz con frijoles.
Another innovative standout, something that keeps the regulars coming back, is the Old Fashioned tacos. They use two shells for each taco, which creates a crunchy yet substantive effect, and the meat is grilled giving it an almost smoky flavor. My taste buds sensors went out of control when I first tried these tacos. Outstanding!
Want another recommendation? How about the Shrimp Saltillo, named after Austin’s sister city in Mexico. You get five grilled shrimp, smothered in chef Freddy Gonzales’s secret sauce, surrounded by a cheese enchilada and cheese and bean flautas. Freddy won’t fess up as to what’s in his awesome mojo, and were I him, I probably wouldn’t either. But trust me, this dish rocks the house.
Nuevo Leon, as I mentioned earlier, has fiercely loyal patrons. When the restaurant moved to its new location on E. 6th st. about 15 months ago, there was a lag of 38 days between the closing of the old place and the opening of the new one. Customers, so desperate to get their fix of Old Fashioned tacos, started calling Rachel at home wanting to know when the opening would occur. Nuevo Leon opened, without any advertising, after having been closed down for a 1 ½ months, to a packed house. Been that way ever since. I’m Rob Balon.