In efforts to support my local economy, I dined at Austin Cantina tonight literally a few blocks from my house. The Austin inspired restaurant promises to bring the taste of the Southwest and Mexico to Seattle. After reading in several blogs the impending closure of the restaurant I finally made the 4 block trek. As much as I really wanted to like the place I found myself reaching for the salt to flavor the lackluster food. Ironically the last time I had dined at that location was at Dandelion the oh so wonderful organic restaurant with the Peugot salt and pepper shakers that my dining companion at the time was very smitten with.
It’s a charming space, warm and cheery even during the Seattle freeze. My dining companion and I happened to strike up a conversation at first with our gracious server but after receiving our meals they neglected to fill my water glass that was empty pretty early into the meal ; I had pho earlier today, needless to say, I was pretty thirsty. We both ordered a combination enchilada plate- mole chicken and brown sugar roasted pork. I applaud their commitment to local ingredients, the sustainable and healthy cooking, however the flavor of the food needs some work.
The chips and guacamole we ordered was average, chips were most likely store bought unlike the lovely hot and fresh ones at La Oxcarta and the guacamole was a bit bland- I thought Southwestern food had a kick, fire- spice? I just bonded with the salt shaker. Next, the rice was dry and tasteless- I added some of the chipotle salsa but really it didn’t help. Beans, room temperature and blah. Meat was actually pretty decent, however the actual enchiladas were dry. Granted I can do without the ones at family Mexican dripping grease from too much cheese, but seriously they needed some kind of sauce and again spice.
Would I be crushed if they don’t make it, sadly no, I like local businesses and don’t want to see one fail, unfortunately this one needs to revamp their food to make it a place I would return to. I just felt like it was lacking the zsa za zu. I want my Southwest/Tex Mex to have spice, fire and interesting flavor. Hopefully in its place will be a great neighborhood eatery with affordable, delicious food. For now, I’ll have to trek to Cactus for good Tex Mex. Or really cross my fingers that La Oxarta has an open spot.