Menudo in Austin, Texas: Mariana’s Kitchen

5510 S IH 35 Frontage Rd #410
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 382-2105

Mariana’s Kitchen

The Highlights

Menudo in Austin | Mariana's Kitchen

  • Meat*: cooked almost near perfect
  • Hominy*: plenty of it
  • Broth*: tasty!
  • Toppings: all of ’em…cilantro, limes, onion, and jalapeño
  • Tortillas: they were all right, nothing memorable
  • Availability: any day of the week
  • Price: $7.59 for a bowl (one size only)

*Although the meat to hominy ratio was spot on, in general, the actual volume of it was less slightly disappointing. I ended up with lots of broth at the end. (Kind of like when you end up with a bowl of sugary milk after the cereal is gone.) But it was tasty broth!

At first, I have to say that I wasn’t sure about trying out this place. It’s right on the corner of I-35 and Stassney, overlooking the feeder (frontage) road. At $7.59, it was one of the pricier menudo bowls I’ve seen in town. But I was drawn to the fact that the restaurant was named after the owner herself. The front page of their website says, “Mariana brings over 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry and her love of cooking, along with traditional Mexican cooking that recreates flavors of her hometown of Villa Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi.”

However, it’s a convenient location, less than 2 miles from my house, and just on the other side of the highway from the 78744 zip code, where I do a lot of work in the community. In fact, the day I tried it for the first time, el amor de mi vida picked me up from the Dove Springs Recreation Center, where I’d attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for their new playscape.

Where I grew up, in South El Monte, CA, I was used to being in places where Mexican Americans were the majority. Having just come from Dove Springs, where a majority of the people there were mi gente, it was nice to walk into a restaurant — especially within close proximity of places like Trudy’s Tex-Mex, Twin Peaks, and Chili’s — where it was mostly familias.

But I digress. Back to the menudo.

The first time I tried menudo a couple of years ago, in El Monte, CA, at a place called La Familia, To tell you the truth, I did not like it at all. The meat was rubbery, weird looking, and funny tasting. And ironically, the name of this little hole in the wall restaurant, with only about a half dozen tables, translates to “The Family.” (And when I tried the menudo there again at the end of last year, I did like it!)

The second time I tried menudo was a Sunday evening at The White Horse in East Austin, during a live music set by Conjunto Los Pinkys. Someone had brought a crock pot of homemade menudo. It was pretty good. And I remembered that someone had told me that the homemade kind was the best. Long story short, by the time I tried menudo for the third time, at The Pozole‘s mom’s house, I was in love. (With the soup. And the man who encouraged my love for the soup.)

So after disappointing experiences at Tortilleria Rio Grande and El Tacorrido, Mariana’s Kitchen in South Austin restored my faith in the ability to get decent homestyle menudo at a restaurant.

4 out of 5 stars

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