Whenever I'm fortunate to be in Austin, and soon after I arrive, I hunt down a meal at one Mexcian or another -- Chuy's, Torchy's, La Condesa or Fonda San Miguel, to name only a small sample. Small because there's so much good Mexican food in Austin (good food in general, actually). But when I depart for home, for Washington, I always say, "at least we have Oyamel." That's because Oyamel comes as close to the real thing as anything we have in DC and possibly the Mid-Atlantic. Dinner tonight was another example of Oyamel getting it done.
A friend and I had dinner plans. After last night's incredible feast at "Chefs for Equality" my preference was something small and light. But since we share Austin as a passion it seemed only right to go to Oyamel. The drive across town in rush hour was a bitch matched only by the challenge to find parking, but once parked, once inside the restaurant, once in a booth, and with a Margarita in hand, all the stress slipped away. We were in an Austin kind of vibe. Of course we pigged out on salsa and chips and then the tableside guacamole -- extra spicy -- and a first course of ceviche. That was followed by black bean soup, grilled diver scallops, crisp pork belly tacos, chicken with green sauce and, one of my personal faves, the gazpacho salad. "This is so good," he said with each course. "I had no idea you could eat like this in Washington."
Along the way manager Michael Iglesias brought us a couple of tiny cocktails (really, in the prettiest little glasses) that he explained were Oaxaca Sours from their special "Day Of The Dead" menu, (and note, that "Day" is November 1). Floating in the foam on the top were tiny grasshoppers, which my friend crunched into with satisfaction. Call me a wimp. I just haven't gone there yet.
I don't know how we had room for dessert, but we managed to find that centimeter of our stomachs that still had breathing room. It helped a lot that both desserts, Dulche de Leche and Flan, were relatively light and freshed by fruit.
In reviewing my photos, all shot with the iPhone 4s, I was reminded of a woman who stopped me on the street one day. She said she is a regular reader of this blog, "but I miss your photos with the other camera." Well, I do, too, but it's tough to carry around the Canon, which I call "the big boy" for a reason. Still, the iPhone 4s flash never does justice to food. Please allow for what these photos lack. The food looked as beautiful as it tasted.
I did wear my Old Gringo's to dinner, but I didn't need to. Oyamel transported me to Austin (and Mexico) regardless, as it does with every meal.
NOTE: Other Mex I like - Bandolero in Georgetown (ask to sit by the window, where it's quieter and brighter); in Del Ray there are two, Los Tios Grill and Taqueria el Poblano; and recently at Rosa Mexicano near the Harman Center I had some very good guacamole and margaritas.