REVIEW – Pappasitos Cantina
I sometimes have to leave these fair shores for work purposes. Not something I particularly relish but once in a while there is a foodie highlight to these little sojourns. I’ll be honest with you, when I was last in the US and had to fly from Washington DC to Austin TX, for a mere 24 hours, before flying back to the UK I didn’t hold out much hope of a decent bite to eat.
I won’t bore you with the details but it would be fair to say all I was expecting was a crappy bar burger, a gassy beer, followed by bed and heartburn. So imagine my delight to be invited out by some locals I was due to meet the next day for a spot of the local grub…and what do they eat in Texas you might ask…well the correct answer is lots and lots and lots!
I was told to get a cab along Interstate 35 North and head for Pappasitos Cantina, a mammoth faux shack, packed with small tables, small chairs and very large Texans teetering on the latter whilst feasting on huge hunks of meat wrapped in tortillas on the former. And boy did it look good. Bring it on.
Now let me just put a bit of perspective around all of this. I have been to many parts of the US of A in my time. The West coast, the East coast, the bit in the middle that didn’t seem to have a coast, but this was my first visit to the South. A few observations if I may:
- They all drive pick up trucks
- They are all very, very friendly
- They do seem to like their food
Now before we get any comments around stereotypical views on our American, and in particular Texan cousins, let me stress I am not casting aspersions. I am basing my comments on scientific fact:
- There were 381 tortilla manufacturing establishments in the U.S. in 2007, 1/3 of them in Texas.
- Texas has 2 “Official Peppers”, the jalapeno and the chiltepin (both used in its Official Dish, Chilli).
- Total production of cattle and calves in Texas was 6.5 billion pounds in 2008…I don’t know how many actual cows that is, but it sure is a lot of hamburgers!
- Dr Pepper was invented in Waco, Texas in 1885…well you need something to go with all that burger!
I think we are on safe ground then when we say Texas is a state that likes its food.
Pappasitos didn’t disappoint on that front either. Our small group were shown to a tiny table smack bang in the middle of the packed restaurant, before you could utter the words “wouldn’t it be nice to delve into a massive bucket of tortilla chips” a massive bucket of tortilla chips arrived and we delved right in. Ice-cold glasses of the local brew ‘Shiner Bock’, swiftly followed by a couple more just to be on the safe side. Everything was going swimmingly until the menus arrived whereupon we were confronted with words, pictures and brightly coloured foodstuffs, the likes of which we had never encountered before.
Skewer of mesquite-grilled beef and chicken fajitas, bacon-wrapped shrimp and vegetables with pineapple pico de gallo anyone? No? OK, perhaps a spot of chipotle glaze salmon with jicama and red pepper and a masa crusted crab cake with guacamole, all served with cilantro rice and black beans? Thought not.
To calm the nerves and steel ourselves for the food onslaught we ordered margaritas (well, when in Rome and all that). I eventually ordered the Plato Del Mar which was a rather restrained brochette style shrimp with chicken and beef fajitas with guacamole and pico de gallo served the ubiquitous rice and black beans. Others went for steaks, one poor fool asked for a salad which was actually chicken fajitas with BBQ sauce, Mexican cheeses, tortilla chips, avocado, tomato and poblano honey-mustard in a crispy tortilla shell…oh yes and 14 leaves on the side, hence the salad. And you probably think I’m joking.
My main was delicious…hardly touched if I’m honest with you, but delicious none the less.
All in all a very nice place, fantastic service, great food the best margaritas in the deep South. Seriously, when abroad against your will, and just happen to be in Austin, I recommend you take a look. What more could you possibly ask for?