¡Salud! Manor Road staple, El Chile, is rolling out new menu items in time for summer fun. You’ll enjoy the festive patio, a fun happy hour spot for sipping margaritas and visiting with friends.
El Chile’s First Bites
As a seasoned Tex-Mex aficionado, I know it all starts with chips and salsa. While the classic roasted tomato and chile salsa is good, I appreciate the originality of El Chile’s silky-textured habanero and carrot salsa. Each salsa is served with thin, crispy tortilla chips as an easy start to any meal.
Our waiter recommended San Antonio gorditas, and we opted for the barbacoa version. They come with refried beans, queso fresco, and a bit of guacamole. While traditional gorditas are often a little greasy, these aren’t. This barbacoa is juicy and tender, and the dish is actually substantial enough to make a full meal.
We paired the gorditas with the prickly pear margarita and the La Guapa margarita, a delightfully tangy burst of flavor with pineapple-habanero infused tequila, St. Germain liqueur, and fresh lime juice, with chile salt on the rim.
We then ordered the new queso verde, a thick queso with slivers of nopalitos, onions, and pico de gallo. Nopalitos are an interesting addition to queso, though if anything I would have liked a few more. The queso verde is a little salty, thicker than normal dipping queso, but not the texture of a queso fundido, either. It is served with my favorite kind of chips, the thicker, stone ground type.
El Chile’s Main Affair
After the rich appetizers, I wanted to switch it up to something lighter. I ordered an a la carte crispy shrimp taco and the El Chile taco salad with tortilla crusted black drum. The crispy shrimp tacos are tasty, with a light cornmeal batter. The construction is simple, with pico de gallo, lettuce, and avocado. Shrimp can be tricky to cook right, but El Chile masters the process.
Try the El Chile taco salad with black drum if you have a chance. While I usually order some cheesy, gooey dish at a Tex-Mex place, I was so glad I tried the salad. With a bit of shredded carrots, jicama, diced avocado, cheese, and grilled corn, it has a balanced combo of flavors and textures. The black drum stood out, though. The tortilla-based batter makes for a crunchy coating, and El Chile cooks the mild, flaky fish inside to perfection. Our waiter brought ancho orange vinaigrette and poblano ranch dressing, and both were good. I would order this dish again.
El Chile’s Sweet Somethings
Honestly, I was so full by this point, but duty called. I had to see whether the Mexican chocolate pie stood the test of time since The Austinot’s last visit. I am happy to report it is still rich and creamy. The hint of chile is almost too subtle, but the flavors mesh well and the vanilla ice cream is light and fresh. And that expert raspberry drizzle would make Tom Haverford proud!
I enjoyed revisiting El Chile, as it had been a while. The patio is a chill spot, and the margaritas are solid. The seafood dishes I tried were excellent, and the gorditas were practically a meal in their own right. The desserts are appropriately decadent. One thing we found ourselves looking for was some heat. So if you like your Tex-Mex spicy, you should ask your server which dishes to order.
Plan to spend some time here. This is not a turn ’em and burn ’em restaurant, so be prepared to go with the flow and enjoy some conversation with your crew. El Chile has happy hour from 3-6 p.m., seven days a week, and brunch on the weekends.
1809 Manor Road – Website
–>Keep reading: “Guide to Manor Road’s Best Bars and Restaurants”
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite El Chile dish or margarita?
Disclosure: El Chile invited me to try some of the new menu items for the purposes of this review, at no cost. All opinions are my own.