Z one and only: Z’Tejas

Rating: four starsPrice: special occasion
Review October 1, 2006
Discriminating omnivores craving a distinctive Austin flavor should begin at the end of the restaurant listings

Z’Tejas is an Austin original dating back to 1989, and few restaurants will win over your palette and your debit card as easily.

The West Sixth Street location is the original one, and nestled beneath ancient oak trees on Austin’s most famous stretch of pavement, it offers seating inside or on the patio. The mood is casual but you can dress it up or rock the flip flops, though call for a reservation either way.

If it’s a drinking night, go with the Sixth Street Margarita ($5.75). Light and not too limey, it goes down easy. The Grilled Shrimp & Guacamole Tostada Bites ($8.95) are excellent starters, the dash of chipotle sauce a perfect complement to the pesto-grilled shrimp. For the main course, the Crispy Salmon ($16.95) is an affordable alternative to the steak-chicken-pork triad. Pan-roasted and topped with crab avocado salad, the mid-sized salmon filet gets its zest from the roasted tomatillo sauce. For the more meat-and-potatoes crowd, the Stuffed Pork Tenderloin ($13.95) is a smash hit. Three medallions stuffed with chorizo sausage, cheese, onion, and poblanos are drizzled in a subtle roasted garlic cream sauce that rounds out the stuffing and sharpens the pork flavor. While the sauteéd green beans offer little more than the solace that you’re eating something healthy, the stratospheric mashed potatoes more than compensate. For dessert, try one of the signature cobblers ($5.95) – apple blueberry if available – served with French vanilla ice cream and topped with brown sugar. One order will suffice for two spoons.