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Statesman Wonders if ATX Cocina’s “Modern Mexican” Cuisine Is Necessary

Krua Urban Thai delivers mixed experiences to the Chronicle

Tacos from ATX Cocina
Tacos from ATX Cocina
Bethany Ross Photography
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

Statesman critic Matthew Odam had a great deal of faith in Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso’s ability to concept a restaurant –– until he went to downtown Mexican spot ATX Cocina. While he notes the build of the restaurant is “undeniably modern,” he’s unsure of its goal to “elevate” Mexican cuisine when it is already done so well in the city.

Odam starts by praising the masa, which he reports is imported from standout company Masienda, though its use as a final product gets mixed results:

The corn also makes for pliant but sturdy tortillas that squeeze gooey oxtail quesadillas tingly with pickled jalapeños and marinated cabbage, a perfect bar snack ($12). But the corn isn’t magic. It couldn’t save queso fundido ($11), as rubbery as a dessert of fig panna cotta ($8), or a dry and ragged sope ($14) that cupped cochinita pibil and overly salted beans fortunately cut with the acidic lash of pickled onions.

He was also disappointed by the “dry” duck carnitas “swimming in a pool of grease” and shrimp and short ribs that were “fine but in no way revelatory.” While he appreciated the heft of the “tender” pork chop, he thought it wasn’t worth the price.

Similarly, Odam was unimpressed by the restaurant’s $100 margarita (that isn’t a typo):

[T]he appearance of the silly drink and a bunch of agave spirits made with diffusers undercuts the seriousness of a mezcal list that also includes standouts like El Jolgorio and Mezcal Vago.

Overall, Odam concluded:“something seems a bit off.” Nevertheless, he gave the restaurant a seven out of ten rating.

Chronicle’s Jessi Cape sampled Krua Urban Thai in both the takeout and eat-in capacities, and had two startlingly different experiences from the South Lamar restaurant.

In her takeout excursion, Cape was neutral about the chicken and shrimp dumplings and the lump crab with rice, and she noted the dishes could probably be found elsewhere for less money. She did enjoy the lemongrass soup, calling it the “cleanest, most gentle version” she’d had. However, the gang dang curry came with pineapple, a nontraditional ingredient that Cape was allergic to (and obviously did not appreciate).

A lunch outing (during which she informed the restaurant of the previous situation and they apologized with a gift card) was more successful. Cape delighted in the “delightfully crispy” cheese rolls appetizer, and found forgiveness in the pad se ew:

Plentiful, with an ideal amount of heat and a well-balanced brown sauce, all of the ingredients – broccoli, egg, bell peppers, jalapeños, onions, grape tomatoes, and large pieces of aromatic fresh basil – were cooked perfectly. Every bite had me nodding my head, very pleased I returned.

ON THE BLOGS: Foodie is the New Forty found it hard to choose a favorite at downtown food hall Fareground, and So Much Life Blog appreciated L’Oca d’Oro’s daily happy hour.

ATX Cocina

110 San Antonio Street, , TX 78701 (512) 263-2322 Visit Website

Krua Urban Thai

2024 South Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78704 (512) 296-2458 Visit Website