Austin Grill & Tequila Bar – Tex-Mex With a Tequila Twist
We have been frequenting then South Austin Grill for over 20 years. It has always been a go to place for a good margarita and good Tex-Mex cuisine. After three months of extensive renovation last winter, the Austin Grill reopened this April. Like many established businesses they decided to try their hand at “rebranding”. As a result, they created the Austin Grill and Tequila Bar here in Old Town Alexandria. While we realize it has been over 6 months since the reopening, we wanted to wait and see how things all panned out before doing a dining out feature.
Featuring a completely new interior design blending a “touch of Mexico with a bit of Texas style and Austin attitude”, the restaurant decor has dark wood tones and dramatic lighting including two striking chandeliers made of tequila bottles dubbed “monuments to tequila”. One hangs in the main bar and the other above the stairs going to the 2nd level. The massive set of longhorn “horns” that hung in the main bar area for years made the cut during the redecorating and reside above the serving area of the kitchen. With the addition of high tops on the main floor and family style tables and a large flat screen television on the 2nd level (a great place to watch sports as a group) and cowhide upholstered chairs, the restaurant has taken on an attractive new face.
The menu changed exponentially as well. With dramatically expanded offerings of Tex-Mex inspired cuisine and 100 Tequila selections, the long-time Alexandria favorite still offers a variety of heritage menu items including Fajitas, Baby Back Ribs and signature Austin Wings. They now offer fresh house made Guacamole made tableside. This gives guests the opportunity to have their guac as mild or as spicy as they want. We ordered the small portion at $7.50 and it was more than enough for two people. In fact, I took some leftovers home. Phiana was our server and she did a great job!
Like most tex-mex restaurants, complimentary chips and salsa are delivered to the table when you are seated. It may be my imagination but the chips and salsa that we had weren’t the same as they were “back in the day”. The chips weren’t warm and the salsa tasted different. They were both good, however, and hit the spot while we sipped our margaritas.
Lani: With all of the new items on the menu that I had to choose from, I stuck with something tried and true and ordered the spicy beef tacos. Served with some of the best Mexican style rice I have had in a long time and refried beans – and the usual sour cream, and pico de gallo – they met all expectations and I consider them a good deal at $9.50.
Bob: I am a fajitas kind of guy so I tried their skirt steak and grilled shrimp combo at $18.50. Although the steak and shrimp were fine, I was not that excited about the combination as a fajita. I have had the chicken fajita here before and I found that to be more to my fancy. Sizzling hot, the chicken was tender and tasty. Combined with the sizzling onions and peppers, Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses, guacamole, sour cream and shredded lettuce, it all made for a nice meal. The beans and rice were large portions and tasty as well. Although the skirt steak and grilled shrimp were very good by themselves, I was just not that impressed with the combination as a fajita…probably a mental thing on my part.
The new menu seems to have a much larger selection than the previous one. The main courses range from Texas Fried Chicken, Dinner Bell Brisket, their famous Ribs, Grilled Salmon, Tequila Lime Sirloin, True Grits & Shrimp, S.O.T.B Mac & Cheese and South Padre Jambalaya. The brisket is slow cooked and very tender and is “cooked today and gone today”.
There are 6 different enchiladas to choose from, nine different tacos and three burritos. The biggest change comes in the choices under burgers and sandwiches. They now offer a steak sandwich, pulled pork BBQ, Austin chicken sandwich, brisket burger, regular hamburger, tumbleweed burger and the house specialty, the hangover burger.
There are some tasty sounding desserts on the menu but we just didn’t have room. The “non-fried” fried ice cream caught Lani’s eye – vanilla ice cream rolled in crunchy cinnamon sugar crust drizzled with honey, whipped cream and cherries sounds pretty damn good. Next time….
One of the transformations from the old Grill is the addition of the hundred plus tequilas and the myriad of drinks they are concocting with them – all too numerous to describe in this space. Guess you will have to go in and check them out for yourselves. We are very happy that the margaritas on the rocks with salt are as tasty as always!
Happy hour is a great deal at the Austin Grill. House margaritas are only $5.95 while sangria comes in at $5.00 and Tex-Mex draft beers are $5.45. While happy hour drinks are available throughout the restaurant, they offer food specials at the bar only all for only $5.00. Consisting of quesadilla, catfish fritters, taco-of-the-day, chili con queso and natchos. Happy hour runs from 3 pm until 7 pm both upstairs and down at the bar.
If you haven’t been to Austin Grill and Tequila in a while, treat yourself to the experience.
801 King Street
Old Town Alexandria
Written by: Bob Tagert & Lani Gering