Friday, October 4, 2013

El Naranjo

El Naranjo is a restaurant & bar in Austin, TX dedicated to serving delicious traditional Mexican food.  With savory salsas and moles, well-seasoned food, and great concern for finding a pleasing balance of flavors, El Naranjo draws from the many rich traditions of Mexican cooking. The food has a strong culinary resemblance to the owners' former internationally acclaimed restaurant in Oaxaca, and we had to check it out during our visit to Austin.

After walking to the Congress Bridge to see the infamous bats fly out for their evening feeding, we walked to a different area of Austin that seemed more California-chic with several restaurants operating in renovated houses.

The night was warm for this time in October, and seemed perfect for margaritas.  El Naranjo has a plethora of various tequilas to choose from and so we just asked the server for a middle range recommendation.  The margaritas were simple and clean with lots of lime flavor.  We took our time looking over the menu and inquired about the daily fresh fish offerings.  As we waited for our appetizers, we were presented with their form of "chips and salsa" - a sampling of salsas with fresh bread and tortilla chips.  There was a green tomatillo salsa, a spicy salsa with Hatch and Serano chiles, and a smokey roasted pepper salsa.  Also provided was a sweet citrusy butter.

"Chips and Salsa"
Next, we shared Ceviche which was made from flash lime marinated yellowtail served with a fresh herbs and serrano chile sauce.  The fish was sliced in large pieces and presented more sashimi style as opposed to a chopped up ceviche that I am used to.  The fish was fresh, but the flavors were a little too basic and monotone.

We also shared a warm dish of Rajas con Crema. This dish was a fun cheesy dip made with Chile Poblano and onion slices cooked in Mexican cream and panela cheese, served with fresh corn tortillas.  It was very decadent and fun to make little tacos.  The tortillas were amazing and the best I've ever eaten.  

For my main dish, I chose a fresh fish preparation of the Golden Tile Fish served in a tomato and coconut based sauce with plantains and white rice.  This dish was much more Caribbean inspired than traditional Mexican, but it was lovely nonetheless.  The fish was surprisingly tender, buttery, and flaky all at the same time.  The white chunks of meat soaked up the velvety sauce well.  I could have done without the plantains though, as they were undercooked.  Keith ordered the Mole Poblano with Berkshire Marbled Pork Chop. This classic sauce was prepared with an array of dried chiles, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, bread, tortillas, canela, and a hint of chocolate and aromatics.  He substituted plain rice for their green rice - which was just an addition of cream, chiles, and herbs.  He really enjoyed the rice and used extra tortillas to soak up the complex mole.

We enjoyed our meal and left too stuffed to try any desserts.  The service was knowledgeable and efficient.  The ambience was different, as we were in separate rooms within a house, but accessibility seemed easy and the food was both unique and authentic.

Total Rating: 4.15
Food: 4.5, Price: 3.5, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4.5

What I ate:
Ceviche
flash lime marinated yellowtail served with a fresh herbs and serrano chile sauce

Rajas con crema
Chile Poblano and onion slices cooked in Mexican cream and panela cheese,
served with fresh corn tortillas

Pescado
fresh Golden Tile Fish served in a tomato and coconut based sauce
with plantains and white rice

Plus Keith ate:
Mole Poblano with Berkshire Marbled Pork Chop
prepared with an array of dried chiles, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, 
bread, tortillas, canela, and a hint of chocolate and aromatics served with green rice

El Naranjo on Urbanspoon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pin It button on image hover