4327 S 1st St #101
Austin, TX 78745
- Meat: mix of smooth cut with lots of the honeycomb cut, although some pieces seemed overcooked and soggy
- Hominy: great ratio to meat (1:1)
- Broth: tasty!
- Toppings: cilantro, limes, onion, and jalapeño were all available, however the cilantro portion was rather skimpy; upon request for more cilantro, it was mostly stems
- Tortillas: nothing memorable
- Availability: any day of the week
- Price: $8.99 for a bowl (one size only)
I’d only been to Casa Maria once before, about ten years ago, and all I could remember about the place was that the interior had been recreated to look like a quaint Mexican village. Nothing appeared to have changed since then, with arches every which way and fake roofs jutting out of walls.
But I’d been told this place might have some of the best menudo in town, and at $8.99 a bowl — one of the priciest in town — I was willing to take a chance.
Most of the patrons were Mexican and/or Mexican-American, and mariachi music played in the background. I felt right at home, as that was the type of traditional music I’d grown up with (no conjunto or norteño for this Los Angeles girl).
My partner in menudo, The Pozole, and I patiently waited for our orders. We didn’t feel like paying an extra $3.99 for the chips and salsa, which were included with entrees (apparently menudo was not a meal all its own). We sipped on our coffee and philosophized about life, and we pondered the questionable ethics of not offering complimentary chips and salsa.
All in all, the menudo had a good flavor, and when there is a good ratio (approximately 1:1) of hominy to meat, which there was, I’m generally enjoy it. The cuts of meat (good mix of honeycomb and smooth) were also well balanced in Casa Maria’s menudo, although some pieces seemed a bit soggy and perhaps overcooked. However, I’d rather have that than slightly undercooked and rubbery.
I’d have given the experience 3.5 stars, but there is one thing that pushed it to a solid 4, and that was the adjoining bakery. Because if you’re going to have menudo for breakfast, there is nothing more perfect than following it with fresh baked piece of pan dulce afterward.
If you’re going for an overall menudo experience in South Austin, Casa Maria will be one of your best bets, however, the quality of the menudo at Mariana’s Kitchen wins by at least half a point.