Monday, January 17, 2011

Casa Chapala Review

We had never heard of Casa Chapala, until a Groupon deal was offered. $30 worth of Mexican fare for $15 was what we purchased through Groupon. We didn't know when we were going to use it, but then along came Saturday...cold, rainy and gloomy. You have to love spicy Mexican food on days like that!

Casa Chapala is owned by the Barragon Cortez Family and was established in 1987. We really didn't have any expectations of the restaurant since we had never been there before, although one of James' colleagues had told him good things about the restaurant.

There are two locations and we visited the one on W. Anderson Lane in North Austin. It is kind of tucked into a corner of a strip mall. The outside of the building is pictured above.

Our waiter Abel (who by the way you should absolutely request...he was awesome! Super knowledgeable, attentive, and helpful) sat us at our booth, as per our request. The menus were supplied in these huge leather binders that James is modeling for you.

One of the coolest things about Casa Chapala is that your server actually makes your salsa at your table according to your taste preferences. James and I have visited a ton of Mexican food establishments and this is the first place I had ever visited with this practice. I love super spicy salsa, so with James agreement (sometimes spicy stuff doesn't agree with him) and Abel's recommendation, we went with super spicy. He mixed pureed tomato with about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic/salt/pepper mixture and a heaping tablespoon of some kind of fried, crumbled pepper pieces together to make a beautifully spicy concoction. This wasn't your typical burn-your-mouth spicy salsa though, it was almost a smoky flavored salsa. Different than what we were used to, but we both still really enjoyed it.

For his meal James picked the Enchiladas Astlan which were described as:

"These enchiladas are stacked, rather than rolled. The first layer is topped with black beans and pico de gallo, then layered with your choice of meat, green salsa and topped with melted cheese and a dollop of sour cream."

For his choice of meat he picked shredded beef, the other two choices were spicy chicken or ground beef. He also had his choice of refried, Charro or black beans of which he chose Charro. His meal is pictured at the top of the food picture and he LOVED it! He thought the flavor and texture was awesome and also enjoyed the beans and rice.

I chose chicken fajitas for one. Usually these would be served on a hot plate, but because I don't eat vegetables (usually these are served with green and red bell peppers, onions and mushrooms) the cooks put my chicken on a regular plate so it wouldn't burn. I opted for black beans. My fajitas were very good and nicely flavored. Nothing really different about them from other places, except they thankfully weren't swimming in oil or butter. The only downside to me meal were the black beans. While nicely flavored, they were not whole beans instead it was almost like a soup. I would have preferred whole beans, but it wasn't enough to make me not enjoy my meal. Next time we go back, and we will be going back, I think I am going to try the cabrito (for you non-Spanish speaking people that means goat!)

And then came dessert. We had several choices but opted for the very traditional sopapillas. These were just plain delicious!

As you might be able to tell from the background of some of the pictures, the decor was very traditional Mexican fare...brightly painted walls adorned with dresses, blankets, hats, and metal wall hangings. Even the waiters and waitresses wore "traditional" Mexican clothes which definitely added to the feel of the restaurant.

Casa Chapala is a little more expensive than what we are used to in our small town, but it was definitely worth it. Our meal total was $34.72 with tax, but after our Groupon deal we paid $4.87 at the restaurant (we had already paid $15 to Groupon). This total did not include a tip, which I am not going to share because I am an over-tipper, but I will say that Abel did an excellent job and deserved the entire tip!

We can't wait to visit Casa Chapala again and hope to see our local friends there!

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