Wednesday, May 17, 2006

El Chilito - Me Encanta Migas

Upon every return to Austin, I traditionally head straight from the airport to one of my favorite eating establishments. It’s like the initial lighting of the Olympic Fire for my stomach, thus announcing an extended period of multicultural celebration (American barbeque and Mexican) and illustrious indulgence. This trip’s restaurant of choice was El Chilito, a laid back taco shack, owned and operated by the same culinary greats who brought us El Chile Café y Cantina, one of Austin’s premier Mexican fusion restaurants. Now I don’t use this description too often, but El Chilito is adorable. With a glass-enclosed kitchen, dirt paved parking lot and spacious eating deck (furnished with brightly colored tables, chairs and blankets for the colder seasons), it just doesn’t get much better than this.

Oh wait, it does get better because the food here is amazing. Jeff and Kristine, the executive chefs, fuse together Interior Mexican, Tex-Mex and Fine Dining (they both got their bones cooking at one of Austin’s five star restaurants, Jeffery’s) to create a perfect mix of traditional and forward thinking cuisine. For those who don’t know, my favorite meal is migas, a Tex-Mex dish that consists of scrambled eggs, mixed with crispy tortilla strips, green bell peppers, onions and melted cheese. They are served with beans, rice and fresh tortillas. This is the dish I live for and dream about constantly when I am away from Austin, and not only does El Chilito make them, they make some of the best in the city.

Usually I would order a large plate of migas, but it being lunch-time I also wanted to have a few of their famous Yucatan-braised-pork tacos. Without hesitation, I ordered three migas tacos and two pork tacos. Even I knew this was over indulgence, but I didn’t care. Although the eggs are made to order, the tacos came relatively quickly. Accompany my five, perfectly wrapped foil babies, were a matching number of salsa servings. El Chilito makes their own, award winning (Austin Hot Sauce Fest 2004) salsa, which is a delectably simple mix of smoked tomatoes, jalapenos and spices. As I carefully peeled back the wrapping on my first migas taco, I was greeted with the smell of culinary perfection, and upon my first bite the taste of heaven. Wrapped in a flour tortilla, the migas both crunched and melted, as they were delicately shoveled into my mouth. After devouring my first taco, I moved onto the pork taco, which was a nice compliment to breakfast flavors I had just consumed. Served simply on two corn tortillas, the meat in this no frills taco is shredded and cooked till it falls apart. Sweet, spicy and beyond tender I recommend this dish to anyone who loves meat.

It only took about fifteen minutes to eat all five tacos and drink all of that salsa, but I just couldn’t hold back. I pushed my stomach to the edge and let’s just say that almost twenty-four hours later, I’m still not hungry. But when I come to Austin, being hungry is just a small detail, because there are too many tacos, too many ribs and too many restaurants, and no matter how hard I try, just not enough time to eat it all.

El Chilito is located at 2219 Manor Rd in Austin, TX.

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