Queso the Mondays: Curra’s Grill, Magnolia Cafe, Guero’s, Fresa’s

currasprint

Curra’s Grill. 614 E. Oltorf St. 512-444-0012, currasgrill.com. (small, $6.99)

I was excited to try the Kelly’s Queso, made with white processed cheese, but apparently that menu item no longer exists at the South Austin staple. That meant classic yellow queso. It was thick and came with a garnish of mushy ground beef that had the consistency of potted meat, a dollop of bright green guacamole and a smattering of pico with a slice of jalapeno. Highlight: warm chips.

 

magnoliaprint

Magnolia Cafe. 1920 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-445-0000, magnoliacafeaustin.com. ($8.95)

You can’t see it, but underneath that yellow film likes a big ol pile of black beans. Stir it all up with the salty yellow corn and you’ll see why it’s called Mag Mud. The beans provide a dusky flavor and hue to this popular dish. The pico was abundant, full of onion flavor and had a little sting to it. Sliced avocado is a little harder to integrate that guacamole, but I appreciate the simplicity of that presentation.

 

guerosprint

Guero’s Taco Bar. 1412 S. Congress Ave. 512-447-7688, gueros.com. (small, $5.89).

It was about the time we pulled up a bar stool at Guero’s that I started realizing that I may be on a fool’s errand trying to find the best queso in Austin. I guess they picked the right guy. While you find variations on the theme, what you get more often that not is processed yellow cheese with pico de gallo. That was the case here, but even old reliable here had its problem. There was only a pinch of pico, wilted and drained of life, that disappeared into the yellow goo once separated from its entrapment in film.

 

fresasprint

Fresa’s. 1703 S. First St. 512-992-2946; 915 N. Lamar Blvd. 512-428-5077, fresaschicken.com. ($7)

Now we’re talking. I guess all quesos aren’t made the same. Of course, we’ll probably never know exactly what goes into the queso here because chef Rene Ortiz isn’t likely to share his recipe. I do know there is a great depth of flavor to this queso that apparently uses white cheddar and Jack cheese in its mix. The melt is runny, but not too runny, allowing it to easily coat a chip and still have little drippage. The chips are fairly thin, have delicate crackle to them and fried to a clean finish. I also think there are some roasted peppers involved in this mild queso that is flecked with herbs and finished with a shower of soft queso blanco for texture and added creaminess.

Salt Lick BBQ opens trailer at Moontower Saloon

Venerable Central Texas barbecue restaurant Salt Lick has gotten into the food trailer business. The Driftwood restaurant has opened a trailer at the Moontower Saloon (10212 Manchaca Rd.) in deep South Austin. The truck serves a chopped beef sandwich ($11), sausage sandwich ($8), pulled pork sandwich ($11) and sloppy nachos ($12). The idea for the trailer started in 2015 when Salt Lick and Moontower teamed for a flood benefit for the Hays County Food Bank.

Related: Central Texas’ Best Barbecue from the 2016 Austin360 Dining Guide

Nachos and sandwiches from the Salt Lick trailer at Moontower Saloon.
Nachos and sandwiches from the Salt Lick trailer at Moontower Saloon.

Super Bowl bites: Get a taste of New England and Georgia at Austin restaurants

Super Bowl 51 descends on one of the country’s best food cities (Houston) this weekend. In honor of the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, I’ve put together a list of Austin restaurants where you can get a taste of the two team’s regions. The following dishes nod to the foodways of Georgia and New England.

From shrimp to fried chicken and grits, Fixre covers a lot of food beloved in Georgia. (Contributed by Fixe)

From shrimp to fried chicken and grits, Fixre covers a lot of food beloved in Georgia. (Contributed by Fixe)

Flavors of Georgia

Black eyed peas and cornbread at Country Boyz Fixins

Black eyed peas, fried okra and pork ribs at Hoover’s Cooking

Boiled peanuts with buttermilk and honey mustard at Olamaie

Black eyed peas, sweet corn and corn bread at Southern Hospitality

Crab and parmesan grits at Perla’s

Fried chicken at Gus’s, Hoover’s, Lucy’s, Fixe, Country Boyz Fixins and Southern Hospitality

Grits (herbavore, carnivore and pescavore) at Fixe

Milk-braised pork butt at Salty Sow

Pulled pork at Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue, Brown’s BBQ

Pork shoulder with pinto beans, and pork roast with peanuts at Fixe

Braised rabbit at Hudson’s on the Bend

Rabbit and dumplings at Contigo

Shrimp and crab toast at Fixe

Clam Chowda bowl at Salt Traders coastal Cooking in Round Rock Texas on Wednesday, December 28, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Clam Chowda bowl at Salt Traders coastal Cooking in Round Rock Texas on Wednesday, December 28, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Flavors of New England

Baked shells and cheese with lobster at Perla’s

Chilled lobster at Central Standard

Clam chowder at Clark’sSalt Traders Coastal Cooking,

East Coast oysters at Central Standard, Clark’s, Monger’s, Parkside, Perla’s

Fish and chips at Salt Traders Coastal Cooking

Linguine with clams at Clark’s, Salt Trader’s Coastal Cooking,

Lobster bisque at Perla’s

Lobster rolls at Clark’s,  Dock & Roll, Garbo’s, Mongers and Perla’s

Seafood chowder at Mongers