Category Archives: Tex-Mex

A Kerbey Lane Café Christmas

This Christmas, I wasn’t able to spend the holiday with my parents, since a) the truck is rattling in a scary way and b) still being new to Austin means the job hunt continues onward (if you just said “What? You mean Shoestring Austin isn’t paying your bills?! How can I help?” you should get in touch regarding our sponsorship and advertising opportunities!). Anyway, this means that the Husbot and I were on our own for the holidays, and not feeling up for making the usual enormous Christmas Feast. As such, we started clicking around online in search of some places that would be open today, December 25, the day of Baby Jesus’ supposed birth.

Kerbey Lane Café, Northwest location (photo via kerbeylanecafe.com)

We found the Kerbey Lane Café, an Austin favorite that has apparently been voted “Best Breakfast” every year since 2005. Nice! Although we haven’t yet taken advantage of their crazy early-bird breakfast special (for a mere $3.45 between 4 and 7 AM, daily), we like the thought of a resto that’s open 24-7 and has a slightly more upscale ambiance than (our admittedly cheesy fave) Denny’s. Inspired by the fact that their Northwest location was open today, we set out in the Truckasaurus to taste the Kerbey Lane Café’s wares.

The Husbot ordered their Cobb Salad, which he’d been salivating over since he noticed it on the web version of the menu. I dithered for a while, trying to decide what would be best, kind of wanting to order a Cobb Salad of my own, or maybe one of their Cobb Sandwiches (basically, a Cobb Salad on bread), but hating that feeling of “copying” a fellow diner. (I like to at least be able to trade a bite or two with my dining companions, to get a better idea about what the rest of the menu is like.) Ultimately, I went with the Chicken Enchiladas Verde, and we also tried the Bloody Mary (he) and Kerbey Kosmo (me) from the drinks menu.

I enjoyed my Kosmo, which was a local twist on the typical Cosmo made with Tito’s Vodka and pomegranate liquor. I had a sip of the Husbot’s Bloody Mary, which was a real kick in the teeth with its spiciness. He thought it was tasty, as he enjoys a good Caesar (or Mary in a pinch).

Annoyingly, when the food arrived I was all the more disappointed in my selection. Should’ve had that Cobb Sandwich! I had a few bites of the Husbot’s big salad, with bleu cheesiness, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, chicken and romaine lettuce galore, and was totally jealous. My enchiladas were okay, but nothing like the spicy authentic Mexican dishes I’ve gotten used to eating here in Austin. I can’t really put my finger on anything I would say was bad about them, but they just weren’t as face-meltingly hot as I like them to be. On the plus side, however, I had room for dessert, which was what I had really wanted to order since we walked in!

Checking out the dessert menu, I noticed they listed cheesecake, and said to inquire with the waiter about daily specials. I asked what the cheesecake of the day was, and our waiter told me it was a peanut-butter and chocolate concoction. Yum! I ordered a slice and offered a few bites to the Husbot, who thought it was “too rich.” (He admits he has lost his taste for desserts since a particularly sweet-toothed ex-girlfriend ruined him with too many breakfast sweets.) I thought it was delicious, although I will also admit to enjoying the pleasures of a straight-up plain cheesecake, which I would be curious to compare it to in the future.

All in all, I would have to say that the Kerbey Lane Café (Northwest location) was a decent spot for lunch, and I’d be interested in giving them another try. The waiter also noted that different locations have different menus, so I’m wondering if perhaps there are other items I might enjoy more than the enchiladas in the future.

ADDRESS: 13435 Highway 183 N. (Northwest location; see website for other locations)
PHONE: (512) 258-7757
ONLINE: kerbeylanecafe.com

The Screaming Goat

The first local restaurant the Husbot and I tried in Austin was The Screaming Goat, as we passed it by on our totally random, self-guided driving tour of downtown. The place looked nice from the outside, located in a little house on 10th Street just off Lamar Boulevard, and naturally the name intrigued us. Stomachs grumbling, we decided to give it a whirl.

screaminggoat

Photo via Sifting Through Austin

Entering the restaurant, there’s a tiny counter with the equally tiny menu. Choose from tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, tortas or flautas, and then pick your filling: ground beef, chicken, pastor, adobo chicken, steak, carne asada, bean and cheese, veggie or tilapia. We both went for the steak burritos, and the Husbot ordered two Budweisers (they were on special, and apparently the restaurant only serves the day’s beer specials?). The guy who was taking our order asked if he wanted to keep one on ice, and was amused when Husbot replied that he was going to pound them.

We picked out a table with our drinks and sat down, and our food was served up in about five minutes. During our short wait, we decided that the little house in which the restaurant was located would make an ideal home, with its sweet hardwood floors and adobe airplane bathrooms (the Husbot reported that he was so close to the automatic paper towel dispenser that it kept spitting out paper towels as he, um, completed the transaction), and wondered if we could find something similar for cheap on our apartment search.

I had ordered the verde salsa on the side, which was rated three peppers in heat, while the Husbot picked the mere two-pepper green tomatillo. He questioned whether mine might burn me two times, but it turns out the verde isn’t quite as hot as the warnings imply.

After snarfing down our burritos, the verdict was that the food was fairly inexpensive, pretty tasty, but not quite as spicy as we’d imagined it might be here in the land of Tex-Mex delights. Husbot complained “Not enough meat! Too much rice!” but ultimately agreed that the food was delicious, despite the fact that their hot sauce was a mere 5.8 out of 10 on the hotness scale. “If you’re gonna call it ‘extra hot,’ it’d better still be burning me when we leave,” he advised.

Overall, The Screaming Goat is a good bet if you’re in the neighborhood, a nice alternative to chain taco joints, and according to Austin360 we should’ve tried their beef flautas, which are the tastiest things on the menu and only cost 75 cents on Sundays and Tuesdays.

Supplemental Parking Review: Parking is available behind the restaurant. Warning signs are posted, noting that your car may be damaged, as the lot is tiny and hard to maneuver into or out of—particularly with a behemoth rear-wheel drive truck like ours.