Very first look: Austin Cantina

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Queso Fundido

Although they don’t officially open until tomorrow, we enjoyed a lovely dinner tonight at Austin Cantina, in Ballard. We were walking by the other day when one of the workers inside motioned us over and conspiratorily told us that they’d be open tonight before their Grand Opening tomorrow. Always excited about trying new restaurants, we decided to go.

The restaurant has a warm and open feel to it. We were seated quickly at one of the ten or twelve tables and the service was warm and friendly, if not completely polished yet. We started off with the Queso Fundido appetizer. Although I had expected this to be a bit spicier, it was creamy with most excellent chorizo. I might have liked it better accompanied by chips rather than tortillas, but the tortillas were fresh and hot. The owner Jefe Birkner was alternately working in the kitchen and visiting with customers.

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Chicken Fried Steak

Our entrees were very good. My fiance’s chicken fried steak was amazing. The coating was light and crispy and the “Washington Grass Fed Beef” from Thundering Hooves was tender and flavorful. The chipotle mashed potatoes were creamy with a subtle heat and the corn, while possibly very slightly undercooked, was served with yummy chile lime butter. My entree was chicken mole tacos with rice and beans. I think the beans could have been cooked an extra minute or two, but they were a great combination of sweet, sour, and spicy. The mole was interesting. It was very light, a little sweet, and richer than I expected from looking at it.

We debated dessert, but were about to refuse it when our server told us that the manager wanted to offer us a banana pudding. Well, when the manager offers you dessert, you accept. As you can see, we were enjoying it. The pudding was dense, the vanilla wafers soft and creamy. It was topped with perfect meringue, which according to Jefe, isn’t truly Austin style (that would be whipped cream), but meshed perfectly with the pudding.

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Banana Pudding

Overall, we had a lovely dinner. I can’t say everything was perfect, but for the night before the opening night, I’d give the restaurant a hearty recommendation. I’m looking forward to going back. We’re very excited about the chili with “No beans. No distractions” and the Pollo la Plancha.

Unfortunately, I can’t find their hours listed online (I’ll post them in the comments as soon as I get them), but they are open for dinner starting tomorrow. I encourage you to go.

Austin Cantina
5809 24th Ave. NW
Ballard

6 Comments so far

  1. Patricia Jane (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

    Just an update, their hours are as follows:
    Thursday-Saturday
    5:30-Midnight

    Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday
    5:30-10:30pm


  2. dw (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 9:07 am

    Chicken fried steak? In Seattle? By a Texan?

    I know where the next seattle.mb meetup will be.


  3. Patricia Jane (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 11:07 am

    It was truly fabulous chicken fried steak. The best I’ve ever had.


  4. John Eddy (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    “I know where the next seattle.mb meetup will be.”

    It’s not too far out for the bus riders? =)


  5. Glenn (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

    After reading your article and reviewing your posted comments, my wife and I from The Villages, Florida, are certainly looking forward to a most delightful meal at the Austin Cantina when we are out in the Seattle/Tacoma area in March 2008.


  6. John Eddy (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

    Hey, Glenn, I recommend checking out the Pacific NW forum of http://www.chowhound.com for lots of good dining ideas up here.



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