Very first look: Austin Cantina
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.
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.
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.
5809 24th Ave. NW