Saturday, June 23, 2012

El Alma

The corner of Dawson (South 5th) and Barton Springs has been a revolving door for restaurants for a number of years. Most recently, it was an outpost of El Chile, and it appeared to be doing well. Then, it seemed without warning, El Chile closed last June, but rebranded itself with a new executive chef, Alma Alcocer, formerly of Jeffrey's.  I attended a tasting they hosted, but haven't been able to get back for a full meal. This time, happy hour, and their half-price antojitos (appetizers) beckoned, so I still need to go for a main meal!

During daily happy hour, they've got specials on margaritas, sangria, and Lone Star beers. I was more than happy to sip on a sangria while waiting for my friend to arrive! The corn tortilla chips were nice and light, and the green sauce with tomatillo, avocado and lime was particularly tasty!
To snack on, I picked the emapanadas and the queso blanco y rojo. The corn masa empanandas are filled with mushrooms and cheese, and must have achiote paste in the masa to give them their orange color. The salsa was called picosa (different than the one that was with the chips), and it had a nice light, roasted flavor. The queso was really good! Great consistency (no crappy cheese by-products!), and nice bits of rajas (sauteed poblano pepper strips) and onions. It's served with tostados, or, yesterdays flour tortillas that are cut and fried. I love how thick they are, but several were very greasy. 
My friend had the ceviche clasico, prepared with black drum. She offered me a bite, which for some reason I turned down at the time. She loved it, and I missed out!

I have heard the duck rellenos are delicious, but they will have to wait until another time! Hopefully, El Alma has the right recipe for success at this corner spot.


  1. I'm so glad that I read your post! I love El Chile and had no idea that they had closed. Where I have I been? Oh well, I do live in SA:) Thanks for posting this. The food looks great and so does the sangria:)

    1. You are in SA, so we'll give you a free pass! ;) The other location on Manor (east of IH 35)is still open. I kinda think they expanded too fast (they had a downtown spot that closed when the South Austin one opened, and I think they may have had one in west Austin too...), and it just wasn't working for them. As far as I know, the El Chile people own El Alma.

      And at $3 for the sangria, well worth it! ;)