Fed Man 55: Azul Tequila (53)

Mike Sutter’s Top 55 Austin Restaurants
No. 53: Azul Tequila
4211 S. Lamar Blvd., No. A2. 512-416-9667, www.azultequila.com.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 11 a.m. to midnight Friday. 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 08.19.12
Mariachis and cochinita pibil. These are what I like most about Azul Tequila. And avocado margaritas, tall and cool and creamy, the color of green that suggests health and happiness but hides its ability to wreck both of those.
Azul Tequila has to try harder, working as it does from a strip-mall space squeezed next to a Target and a place where they sell snakes as pets. But inside, it’s a cool blend of blue, saltillo red and antique orange, with framed color photos of Mexican doorways.
Azul can show you two doors, one marked “Interior,” the other marked “Tejano.” I’m less enthusiastic about the Tejano side, with enchiladas and fajitas done with the same level of competency as most any of the dozens of family cafes in Austin. A waitress — God love her — lets her eyebrows do the talking as I ask about a few of the Tejano dishes, gently steering me toward tender shreds of orange cochinita pibil and plantains ($12) and a chile relleno with aromatic ground beef and sweet almond cream sauce ($12) from the Interior side. Going even deeper into the heart of Mexico, a dish of goat with guajillo chiles ($13) gives cabrito a full, fresh voice without the stringy, gamey afflictions to which I’m more acclimated. It was a solid entry-level goat dish for my daughters, ready to try anything but just as fast to put it down. We ended up rolling tacos to stretch the revelation a little farther.
A dish that knows no bounds is pozole ($9), a stew of fat grains of hominy in a broth as brilliant orange as the sunset. It flows over pork backbones as thick with meat as a loin chop. With a plate of lettuce, radish, avocado and housemade torillas, it’s a full-meal soup available Friday through Sunday.
The restaurant critic in you will appreciate the food, but the soccer dad and part-time good-time guy in you will appreciate Azul’s full-immersion mariachi experience on the weekends, when the trumpets might be one table away while the guitars and singers are on the other side of the room. Live stereo fiesta.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
Mike Sutter’s Fed Man 55: Austin’s Best Restaurants