My wife and I visited Gloria's, the new "Salvadorian/Tex-Mex" dining venue on Wednesday evening. For those unfamiliar, Gloria's is a small chain with several locations in the Metroplex area - we had previously dined at their Rockwall location with friends last year, and were impressed. Austin's new Gloria's is located in the former Oakville Grocery building adjacent to the Border's bookstore in The Domain.
First, I have to point out that this restaurant is beautiful - it's very spacious and airy, and the interior design and lighting are extremely tasteful. The appointments, fixtures and furniture are much more elegant than one would expect in a dining venue serving this type of cuisine.
We arrived at about 5:30 for an early dinner, and were seated immediately. The restaurant opened last week, and has apparently not advertised, so there were only a handful of diners and four or five people sitting at the bar when we arrived. A hostess greeted us as we walked in, and tried to seat us in a dark corner next to the entrance. I asked for another table, perhaps one next to a window with a bit more light, and she accommodated us. We also noted that there is an outdoor patio with a fine view of the street - it's likely that this al fresco seating will be very popular during the warmer months.
We were promptly served complimentary chips with salsa and their signature bowl of black bean dip. The chips were fresh and light (but a bit salty), the salsa was good (but mild) and the bean dip was a nice addition to the typical "chips 'n salsa" offering. We also asked for a side of guacamole, which came quickly - it was acceptable, just a bit too smooth and a bit bland for my tastes.
We each ordered a frozen margarita, and they were good, but just a tad "mixy"-tasting. The second margarita was much better than the first (but they always are, aren't they?).
The menu is divided into Tex-Mex", "SalvaTex" and Salvadorian dishes. On our previous visit to the Rockwall location, we had sampled somewhat typical Tex-Mex plates (enchiladas, tacos, etc.), which were very, very good, so on this night we tried the Salvadorian menu items: I ordered camarones al mojo de ajo, grilled shrimp sauteed in garlic, and my wife had Churrasco Tipico, a grilled sirloin served with chimichurri sauce, Argentine sausage and plaintains. Both of our dishes were accompanied by black beans and rice.
My plate was good, and my wife's was exceptional - the sirloin was prepared to perfection, very flavorful, and the chimichurri sauce was a nice accompaniment. Portions were slightly large, particularly my helping of "grilled vegetables", as they were described on the menu. They were actually steamed, and not grilled, but they were good, nonetheless, and I did not complain.
Other menu items that looked interesting were the grilled quail, fish tacos and the ceviche and papusas appetizers, which we'll likely try on future visits.
We finished our meal by sharing the flan, a generous slice which was about a 7 on a taste scale of 10 (my personal benchmark for flan is that served at Fonda San Miguel, simply the best in the world). The check for drinks, dinner and dessert totaled $57.43, for which we left a 20 percent tip.
In summary, Gloria's is an above-average casual dining experience. It's likely to become a very popular happy-hour venue, given the quality of the margaritas and the aforementioned outdoor patio. It certainly qualified for return visits by my wife and me.