I measure a good authentic Mexican restaurant by whether they have a good mole', serve horchata & tamarindo. It doesn't hurt if they make good cabrito too. I'm pretty indifferent to barbacoa, machacado, pazole & menudo ... so real Mexicans might differ in favorite restaurants.
IMHO, a GOOD mole' is one of the best sauces made -- a delicate balance that makes it impossible to guess that there's peanut & cocoa & you don't know there's any hot pepper in it til it warms your stomach a few seconds later ... but finding a truly good mole is rare. One place on Zarzamora makes a mole' that resembles Nestle's Quik on Chicken ... yuck!
But I realize that it's probably unreasonable to expect a home-made mole' sauce in a small restaurant in a strip center. Mole' takes a chef with good taste plenty of time to make ... most strip center mom & pop restaurants most probably all use some sort of mix. But even they COULD tweak a prefab mole' til it tastes right. So I don't think it's totally unfair to use mole' as a gauge of quality.
#1 Los Antojitos 435-7292 3330 Culebra (W of Memorial)
HOURS: M-Sa 0700-1500
I had the Tuesday special Flauta Plate & both my friend & I were immediately in love w/ this place. Monday's special is Mole', & Wednesday's special is Chile Relleno (according to one sign on the wall, the best in town) ... but I haven't tried either. Although we will certainly be back to try both.
About 10 tables, teensy parking lot. Small sign on the street is easy to miss. If you arrive at noon for lunch ... you'll stand to wait for a table. 11 to 1130 should get you a table though. Don't hog a big table if you are alone or a small group. Hard workin' waitress ... treat her right. This place recommended to me by my chiropractor & his wife who are both Mexican ... this is their favorite place. Also, he's diabetic & he says this place is easier on his diet.
#2 Rita's Fiesta Cafe 732-1537 612 Bandera @ Ashby (just E of Gen McMullen, next to the Rent-A-Center)
HOURS: M-Th 0630-1500, F-Sa 0530-1700, Su 0700-1500
Chicken Mole' lunch special plate (w/ rice, frijoles, tortillas, guacamole, & a touch of salad) on Wednesdays $4.99 ... better mole' than Evita's but it's uninspired. Good service & food, always hard to find parking, always busy.
Evita's 731-9224 341 St Cloud Rd @ Beverly (St Cloud is basically Gen McMullen after it goes N of Bandera)
HOURS: Tu-Sun 0630-1430
Chicken Mole' is Thursday's lunch special plate $4.49 (w/ rice, frijoles, tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, & a touch of salad).
Mole' is obviously from a mix or can. Good food & service, always busy
Don Pedro's 922-3511 1526 SW Military (1 mi E of IH-35)
HOURS: Breakfast 0700-1100, Lunch specials M-F 1100-1400, Happy Hour: M-Th 1500-1900 (Mx beers, Regular Margaritas & Pina Coladas $1.75)
Tuesday Lunch Special is Pollo en Mole' $4.79
. Big with the Sunday Brunch crowd ... opens at 0700 but get there before 0830 if you want a table right away. $7.99 Sunday Brunch is excellent ... including an entire hotline of Mexican specialties, including menudo, barbacoa, pastillas, gorditas. Also good for the American-raised kids who want cereal, waffles & bacon. The omelette (you pick what you want in it) w/ everything (including serranos) alone is a full meal for the average person. Great fresh fruits for dessert. Pretty generous parking. If you are taking Lutheran's from Minneapolis who might squick at hardcore Mexican food, take them here ... they'll get a touch of color and still be able to have waffles and an omelette w/o serranos. Live music by a keyboard player/singer after about 0800 or 0830 ... but don't expect much Mexican music.
Taqueria Mexico 922-1306 7167 Somerset Rd @ Briggs (1 mi W of IH-35S @ SW Military & 1 blk S of SW Military just W of Sam's)
HOURS: Breakfast 0600-1130, M-Th 0600-2200, F-Sa 0600-0100, Su 0700-2200
Has mole'on Monday (I haven't been there on Mondays yet), horchata & tamarindo. Always full at mealtimes, big with the butt-crack & tool-belt guys and lots more Mexicans than anglos here. Not as fancy as Don Pedro's & the food isn't as fancy. Very good parking, but nonetheless, often at mealtimes the parking lot is full. Margarita's are adequate, much more ethnic than Mama Margie's (a chain restaurant) or even Don Pedro's.
Janitzio's 657-7363 4404A Walzem @ Austin Hwy
It's been so long since I've been there that I can't even remember if I've tried their mole' but as I recall, it turns out some quality food.
For more TexMex:
La Margarita 227-7140 120 Produce Row in El Mercado S of the Riverwalk. www.LaMargarita.com Still my favorite place for cabrito; if there's better cabrito around, please let me know.
Beto's Comida Latina 930-9393 8142 Broadway has some very good food. But when they moved w/o putting a forwarding address on their old building, I deleted them from my PDA. Good TexMex in the 09 district (just N of downtown).
Ok ... just gotta include 1 more place ... not for the ethnicity of the food ... but for the assortment of TexMex ... that's ChaCho's (NOT Chacha's ... wasn't impressed by them).
366-2023 7870 Callaghan just a stone's throw W of the SW corner of IH-10
Probably the biggest assortment of fajita plates in town. Top Shelf Margaritas will kick your butt (I hear their generic margs are made w/ wine, not tequila) ... have a designated driver (it's also a place frequented by cops on break or ending their shifts ... not a smart place to drive out drunk). But, if you plan to choke or fall over w/ a heart attack ... it's also a nurse bar at 0730, 1630 & 2330.
To be fair ... ChaCha's (www.cha-chas.com - they have at least 2 in S.A.)
does advertise they serve 58 types of margaritas ... so if your liver is excessively healthy & you want to catch up to the rest of us, you might spend 1 hard night comparing all of them for us. Please report back here with your rating comparison of all 58.