In Part 1 a couple years ago we discussed absurdly priced foods at the Driskill, Pappasitos, Houston's, El Greco, Spiderhouse, Opal Divine's,The Tavern et al.
These places now almost seem quaint compared to Zandunga whose owners have apparently mistaken the East side of Austin for midtown Manhattan and their chef as the heir apparent to Jean George Vongerichten:
Mexican food is my lifeblood. It's been my daily bread for as long as I can remember and I typically eat a Mexican meal roughly 5 times a week.
I range broadly across the city to meet these needs and after two years of tutelage from my [former] sous chef Angel Castillo, the pride of Monterrey Mexico, I can make a reputable Mexican supper at my house if I don't feel like going out to eat.
So it was with great interest that I read about Zandunga, the new Mexican restaurant over on east 11th street.
Until I read their menu online.
TEN DOLLAR GUACAMOLE-get a grip on yourself Zandunga, this is Austin not Manhattan
SIXTEEN DOLLAR TILAPIA FILET-this is the cheapest fish on the market and is intensively farmed all over the globe. It's laughable to even see it on a menu of a restaurant pricing itself as "fine dining"
TWENTY DOLLAR PLATE OF CARNITAS-I don't doubt the team of menu writers were laughing themselves silly over this item
Unless you're sourcing your pork from Fudge Farms, putting it in the sous vide for 24 hours then smoking it over hardwoods imported from Argentina via donkey back-this pricing is plainly offensive.
This is Austin, where divine carnitas are available all over town for 5.99 a pound. I'd love to stack Zandungas carnitas up against La Hacienda but since I don't pull in 7 figures [their target clientele] I don't reckon I'll ever get to make that comparison.
One of my favorite Mexican meals of all time is Huevos Rancheros. They're simple, easy to prepare and ridiculously cheap to put on a menu.
Unless it's Zandunga where they're TEN DOLLARS.
FIVE DOLLARS AN EGG.
I do love the description though: Two over easy eggs in a rustic tomato onion salsa.
Rustic salsa-Urban pricing
I must give them their proper respect on their menu writing however.The flowery phrasing is really on point:
"A hint of Habanero infused tequila"
"Olive caper tomato ragout"
"Guava quince demi-glace"--- cause you know demi glace ain't demi glace unless it has guava in it
"Sherry Pork Reduction"- what in the world is that?
Here's the menu if you want a few more good laughs.
High dollar Mexican food has come to the East Side of Austin.
This is the sort of shameless behavior that has Austin being "heralded" as the new Dallas.
What other places around town have you noticed pushing the envelope on their pricing?