a sweaty production


El Mercado - 1302 South 1st Street 2.9/5

 It had been a while since the boys had stopped by El Mercado on South 1st Street. In the late '90s Steve lived a couple houses down from there and was a frequent visitor. It was the tail end of the lunching hour and it wasn't very crowded so the boys grabbed a table. They ordered up some enchiladas and got busy on the chips.


 The chips were muy excelente! A nice and thin chip, more white than yellow. The only improvement could have been if they were still hot but it was the end of lunch and they were quite fresh and tasty. The theme for today is texture and the thin chips have a great crispy texture that doesn't overpower the salsa. The salsa was a fairly chunky, fresh, chipotle salsa. Steve really liked it a lot while Rusty enjoyed it but could have done without the big cilantro leaves in it. It was pretty mild salsa with a bit of initial heat but no linger. Safe for your spice averse amigos. Unfortunately the smallish salsa bowl was never refilled so the boys were left with three-quarters of a bowl of chips with no salsa.

 Rusty ordered the chicken verde enchiladas while Steve stuck with the beef enchiladas. The refried beans were tasty with a nice coarse texture and a rich onion flavor. The rice was nice and fresh with a flavor Rusty really liked but a little on the bland side for Steve. Both of the guys felt like their enchiladas were skimpy on the sauce, especially Rusty's verde sauce. Rusty liked his chicken enchiladas but was disappointed they didn't have more sauce. The verde sauce had a good savory flavor and the sour cream sauce was rich and creamy. Steve's beef enchiladas had a good flavored chili con carne sauce but he, too, would have appreciated a more generous serving of the sauce. The beef filling had a nice, savory spiciness and a good texture save perhaps the cheese. Steve is not a fan of velveeta and prefers cheddar and/or real white cheeses. The cheese on his beef enchiladas had a bit of an off-putting processed cheese texture. This may be a Tex-Mex-ism, as Tex-Mex cuisine is typically heavy on cheeses.

 In the end a nice lesson on ratios. The chips-to-salsa ratio was way too high. Steve and Rusty could have gone through two more bowls of salsa with the chips left in the basket. The sauce-to-enchilada ratio was way too low as the boys were left with half of their enchiladas left with none of the tasty sauce to "complete" them. At $7.75 for the lunch special and $2.25 for a tea it's a pretty good deal if you are in the neighborhood. This also happens to likely be the only Mexican food restaurant in Austin where you will see a live Journey tribute band playing.-¡!-

Steve SweatEl Mercado