By Larissa Aimee Cruz
Over winter break, I caught an episode of “Eats Street” on t.v. that introduced me to an exquisite Mexican restaurant here in Austin. Beginning as a food truck, this restaurant has earned quite a reputation of serving authentic Mexican cuisine that is not easy to find. Not only is it genuine, superior Mexican food, but it is beautifully prepared and served; the experience of eating there captivates all the senses, not just taste buds. The restaurant itself is elegantly and modernly designed making “El Naranjo” the perfect upscale Mexican restaurant that is not too high class.
As an appetizer we ordered the “Queso Fundido” which is Melted Oaxacan Cheese and mushrooms. As soon as I took a bite, I knew it was real Oaxacan cheese. It took me back to when I first tried Oaxacan cheese on a road trip with my grandparents and ate nearly the whole thing. Oaxacan cheese is like string cheese in the fact that it can be pulled apart BUT it is no way even comparable to string cheese, as it would mercilessly put it to shame.
Since I just had surgery last week, I couldn’t order anything to spicy or difficult to chew so I ordered “Bacalao de Veracruz” (I can’t remember the exact name to be honest). I am not a big fan of fish, but this was definitely worth trying. It tasted just like any fish entree I may order at Veracruz, it felt as though they had brought it here from Mexico itself! The fish came with a side of rice and let me tell you, it was the best rice I think I have ever eaten. I didn’t think too much of it when I first saw it since it looked like plain white rice, but when I took a real bite, oh my goodness. The rice was the epitome of “fluffy & soft”. And although it was simple, it still maintained delectable flavors.
My dad ordered some mole, which is a extremely traditional dish in Mexico that is not easy to find here in the U.S. and only a select few gifted chefs can really pull it off. I am pleased to announce that according to dad (the expert on Mole), “El Naranjo” is more than competent in creating this famous dish. My mother ordered chilles rellenos and omg, what a dish! I had the fortunate opportunity to try a bite and hands down, was my favorite. It was bursting with flavor and was accompanied by an extraordinary sauce.
Finally, for dessert we had a Xoconoztle tart with some homemade ice cream. For those that have never heard of this before, Xoconoztle is a fruit from the cactus. This was one of the most unique desserts I have tried and without a doubt, blows all other fruit tarts out of the water. I would have a million more if I couldn’t get fat! The tart crust was amazing and the creme was delectable. This combination with the fruit made this dessert beyond enticing. It was simply divine. Not mention the ice cream was quite the treat too.
Without a doubt I would come here again and again. And the fact that they are constantly updating their menus and have different menus for lunch and dinner makes it that much more exciting. So be on the lookout and head over to Rainey Street, because “El Naranjo” is definitely worth it!