You guys know that restaurants are a thing for me. Since becoming a more experienced food blogger in the past few years, I’ve learned how to wine and dine myself. I go to frequent food tastings. Basically, I eat a lot. So when I tell you I have a new restaurant to add to my Austin Top 10, you should know that this is pretty serious stuff. Eldorado Café makes for some serious eats, y’all.
This new Mexican Comfort Food eatery is located in a strip mall on Anderson Lane, but it feels more like walking into your best friend’s house. If your best friend is a tried and true Austinite who can make a mean Mai Tai and drool-worthy carnitas.
Truly. I walked into Eldorado and one of the first things that happened was me being handed a slice of Mexican Pizza that the owners were taste-testing. I might have mumbled something about how good it looked. Next thing I know, “Here!” – and the tasty little Mexican Pizza slice is now in my possession. So we were off to a good start.
But, truth be told, I knew I would like owner Joanna before I even met her. She used the word “Yay” more than once in our email correspondence, and I was sold. After the tasting she titled an email with the word, “Awesomeness”, and I obviously knew from that point that she was just the best ever.
Joanna and her husband (fellow owner and head chef) Joel, longtime Austinites themselves, have created an atmosphere that embodies the goodness that Austin is made of. Kindness, for starters. Speaking with Joanna and Joel felt like chatting with long lost buddies. They were warm and funny and inviting and just the right amount of eccentric. My kind of humans. These two also know their way around the city, and have made friends with what seems like half of the ATX. In fact, Eldorado is up and running due to a slew of investors and backers in the area. On the ceiling you can note the name of many who helped make this foodie’s dream a reality. The restaurant itself seems to tell its own special tale of Austin living and loving.
The food has its own stories to tell as well. Each dish and drink came with an anecdote of how exactly it came to be. The Shiny Ribs, for instance. The name stems from the local band named, appropriately enough, the Shiny Ribs. Joanna and Joel both love said band and one member is even a backer of Eldorado. So the Shiny Ribs were lucky enough to have Shiny Ribs named after them. (Can we call the queso Christina’s Queso?! Pleaaaseeee?) The dish itself, inspired from many trips to visit Joanna’s step-dad in Hawaii, is slightly tangy and subtly sweet and a (non-vegetarians) food-blogger’s dream come true. Joel noted that, while it seems to be a trend to keep ribs sauce-free as of late, he decided that, in modeling the Chinese sparerib, he would keep the sauce. Can I just tell you how much I highly agree with this decision? Because, guys. The sauce is pure divinity.
And divine is the word I would use for most of the Eldorado menu, Divine, but more importantly, unique. Esme’s Magic, for example. This is an enchilada stuffed with mashed potatoes and topped with ancho chile sauce. Mashed potatoes is a common theme for stuffing things with at Eldorado. I would be lying if I told you I thought I would love this from the get-go. I don’t love mashed potatoes, okay? I’m weird, ALRIGHT?! But I should be using past tense here. I didn’t love mashed potatoes. But Eldorado, in all their magical potato stuffing powers, changed my mind and my life here. I was blown away by how ingeniously they used their tots. Turns out, mashed potatoes inside enchiladas is a mind-blowingly magical experience. Thank you for carb-seducing me out of my ignorance, Eldorado.
If I HAD to pick a favorite dish (like if somebody was tickling me and told me to pick or they would keep tickling me forever which is my worst nightmare) I’d probably go with the Carnitas Cubanos. This is Crispy Pork Roasted in a Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Mojo. It’s like it sounds, but somehow so much better. The pork is crispy on the outside but nearly melts in your mouth as you bite into it. Paired with one of their homemade corn or flour tortillas? It’s a mouth orgasm, guys.
I know this is getting long, but I would be remiss to not mention the queso in detail. While I don’t consider myself a queso snob, I do have an intense obsession with good queso. So much so that I usually know if I will or will not like a place based on my first taste of their melted cheesy goodness. And y’all, I absolutely adored Eldorado’s queso. It was creamy and smooth and mixed with just the right amount of veggies. Love from first bite. And until approximately my 150th bite because I basically licked that bowl clean. Oh, and if you want to spice up the chip you’re dipping, may I also recommend trying one of their FIVE amazing salsas? Avocado, salsa fresca, chileverde, salsa x, el scorpio. Yum, yum, yum, yum and more yum,
As I chatted and laughed with the owners and staff, sipped on tasty cocktails and indulged in dish after dish of bites that made me whisper-scream, “OH MY GOD.” about a million times, I realized I’d found something really, really special at Eldorado.
Joanna and Joel met at the late Electric Lounge, where they both bartended. They were just friends at the time, but met again years later. And now here they are. Owning a business and making people happy and full together. That is an Austin love story if I ever did hear one. I’m just feeling lucky that the rest of us get to be a part of that.