looking for something?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

REVIEW: Grizzelda's, Austin

Walking into Grizzelda’s feels like walking into an oasis amongst the quickly changing east Austin landscape. Palm fronds dot the walls as a green bar lights up the restaurant providing a pop of color reminiscent of an island resort’s pool bar. Wicker basket lights hang from the ceiling and mismatched tables feel like you’re in someone’s chicly designed home not one of Austin’s hottest restaurants.

Near other popular spots like Jacoby’s and Pitchfork Pretty, Grizzelda’s is nestled near a small strip center. It’s neon sign beckoning millennials.

It’s Taco Tuesday but the restaurant isn’t overly crowded. You can actually hear the person across the high top table speaking – something rare in Austin’s burgeoning restaurant scene.

Our server greets us by asking if we would like a drink, my companion asks which he would prefer: the Grizz Mizz (signature house rocks margarita) or the Fro-mo (house frozen margarita). Instead of telling us his preference he tells us about the secret menu where you can get a half and half featuring both of their star margs. We both are intrigued so we order.

While waiting on our drinks the chips and salsa show at the table. Biting into the thick chip provides a crunch that only the freshest of chips can give. A light dusting of coarse salt provides nice flavoring without being overpowering. The maroon-colored salsa is thick and inviting. When the salsa hits your tongue it provides instant heat but is followed with a more mellowed smokey hint. The flavor left in your mouth makes you reach for more.

Our server chats to us about the Taco Tuesday special, $5 for one taco or $12 for three tacos, which features a pork cheek Carnitas taco with red chile salsa, onions, cilantro and a soft corn tortilla.

After ordering some house queso we drink our margaritas, taking in the strength of the tequila and the different textures mixed together. While the frozen margarita half is incredibly strong, the on the rocks version at the bottom has a smoothness to it.

The queso arrives as we order our tacos as well as a sweet potato dish. Grizzelda’s queso reminds me of some of the first queso I ever tried in Texas. Not a lot of heat but it warms your insides like the hearty-goodness it is. The dip passes the drip test (no evident spots on the table or our clothes) but it could have a bit more flavor; in order to add a little heat we combined the salsa and queso in one bowl.

Our tacos arrived shortly after along with the aforementioned sweet potato dish - camote rositizado – with its slices of sweet potato, Mexican brown sugar, and diced pecans. We both immediately dug into this dish because our server promised us it tasted like Thanksgiving.

And boy did it. The sprinkle of sugar provided a nice addition to the sweet potatoes but there was a hint from serrano peppers that made the aftertaste spicy. The potatoes were cooked extremely well, firm on the outside soft on the inside.

The tacos are served on one of those hipster, stainless steel taco holders that remind me of the Whataburger logo stretched out. They were small but mighty as they packed a spice punch. The meat was tender and both my companion and I liked the traditional onion and cilantro toppings. The only critique from both of us was our wish for the tortillas to have been fresher.

The restroom featured beveled subway tile and a wallpaper ceiling that looks like the “Modern Mexico” exhibit posters at the Harry Ransom Center. A light fixture above the sink looks like gnarled tree branches with exposed pink light bulbs. It is clean but a little bit of a downgrade in design from the incredibly chic décor that lives outside the restroom’s walls.

Dessert came in the form of a Mexican Chocolate Popsicle from Odd Pop. When the Popsicle hit my taste buds I instantly tasted the cinnamon but it was followed by immense happiness over the creaminess of the ice pop. It was basically an ice cream bar (think Dove or Häagen Daz) without the melting.

Grizzelda’s food is simple and good, their wait-staff are wonderful and you get to enjoy it all in a restaurant that looks like it was created by a set designer of a film set in Cuba during the 1920s.

No comments:

Post a Comment