I’m starting a new thread about El Mirador after a recent dinner there. Like most Texans, I’ve been a big fan of this restaurant for years, though I don’t get there as often as I used to. It had probably been a year and a half since my last visit.
Some things have changed. They’ve opened up extra indoor seating, which is nice. They’ve changed the kind of chips they serve, which is less nice. They used to serve delicious house-made tortilla chips. Light, thin, and yet still greasy, these chips were absolutely perfect. It was hard not to eat multiple baskets of them. Unfortunately, the chips have been subject to cost-cutting. The three of us, at dinner, received one small bowl of thick, stale store-bought chips. To get additional baskets, you’d have to pay an additional $1.50. I’d have gladly paid at least $1.50 for a generous (not small) bowl of the old ones. The new ones aren’t worth it.
For dinner I had the camarones diablos, which come with a kind of Mexican cole slaw of shredded red and green cabbage sautéed with bacon. This shrimp dish has been a favorite dish for years, and it's still good. It tasted like the cabbage wasn’t sautéed in the bacon this time, which lessened the flavor impact, but this side was still enjoyable. The camarones plate also comes with frijoles a la charra, I believe. They were fine. El Mirador's corn tortillas, which I had on the side, were still wonderful. Their vegetarian flour tortillas have great texture, but aren't as good as their corn ones.
Someone else in our party ordered the pork tenderloin, which tasted great with its sweet yet spicy dark sauce. The pork dish came with chipotle potatoes and sautéed squash, and it was a big hit. The third person in our group ordered the seafood enchiladas, which came with Mexican rice and the same sautéed squash. They were not outstanding, according to this diner, but certainly not bad. [I’ve never liked most versions of seafood enchiladas myself: It’s just seafood in cream sauce, encased in tortillas.] We all shared a good plate of mixed appetizers—lobster tacos, beef-tenderloin nachos, shrimp nachos, and guacamole—and a decent tres leches cake.
The only duds that evening were the melon margarita, which was neon-green and tasted like a Slurpee. No melons were pureed to make that margarita. I exchanged it for the regular one, which was fine. The other bad dish was the flan, which was textbook—no more, no less—except for the fact that someone had burnt it on top rather than caramelizing it properly. It made the entire dessert taste bitter. I would have sent it back, but one member of our party just cut off the top and ate it anyway.
On my visit I saw two parties of tourists (with their guidebooks on the table) order fajitas all around. With flour tortillas. At El Mirador?!? Now, I’m sure their fajitas are decent, but their standard Tex-Mex breakfast and dinner options, other than caldos, chiles rellenos. and maybe cabrito, are neither as good as other versions in town nor as interesting as other options on EM's own menu. Someone should tell visitors to order from the “dinner specialties” or “caldos” section of the menu. So I thought we could do it here.
Have any other ‘hounds had good dinners at El Mirador lately? What would you recommend as their very best dishes?