So much going on these days! That means it’s time to celebrate, of course. We officially kicked off the merry-making with a Sunday Brunch at Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill; the one on the hill, not the original location (on 6th Street downtown), nor the newest central Texas place over in Avery Ranch. The “Grill on the Hill” has always been a special place for us. It’s where Paula Jo was surprised with a new car; and
I was tortured the favor was returned some years later. Anniversaries and birthdays, we’ve celebrated them often there. Our first fine dining experience once we moved back to Texas for the last time was, in fact, at Z’Tejas.
Okay, so we’re biased. We’re like that. Which led us to put Z’Tejas at the top of our list when we were looking to hold our daughter’s engagement brunch.
Short story: We’re glad we thought of Z’Tejas. They were accommodating on the reservation, to begin with. We were expecting twenty folks, ranging in age from just over 1 to, well, I won’t tell on Granny. Several teenagers. A bunch of hungry adults. And a few like me, who are still approaching maturity gently. I’ll tell you, lots of places in the same price range and ambience wouldn’t even consider a reservation for us. Either they don’t take reservations at all, or they won’t for large groups.
We began to collect at the restaurant at about 11 A.M. and our table was already positioned and laid out. Within minutes we had the appetizers on order and the drinks were flowing. Several servings of the Tejas Trio (chips, fresh guacamole, chile con queso with chorizo and salsa picante) were consumed, as well as a couple of Bottomless Baskets of Chips with Three Salsas and some Grilled Shrimp & Guacamole Tostada Bites. The Brunch menu features four smaller-sized mixed drinks ideal for that meal: Two Bloody Mary variations (vodka, tequila), a Mimosa and a Screwdriver. These drinks are nicely priced at four bucks each.
Not too many salads were ordered by the Clan. One Jerk Chicken Salad and a Parmesan Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad made an appearance; briefly, as nearly as I could tell. They were so good that they had almost no staying power.
The Brunch selections are quite varied, and several were consumed. Cajun Ham Omelette (eggs, grilled Cajun ham, cayenne honey mustard, jack cheese, tomatoes, home-fried potatoes on the side), Chicken & Potato Hash (with roasted corn and poblano peppers, red onions, topped with two fried eggs and chipotle Hollandaise), Barbacoa Beef Breakfast Enchiladas (with green chile sauce!), Breakfast Quesadillas (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, Jack cheese, potatoes, salsa fresca, topped with tomatillo and chipotle sour cream) and Breakfast Enchiladas (stacked style with chicken, cheese red chile sauce, topped with two fried eggs) all came, were duly praised and then buried. Into various happy tummies.
A couple folks who just wanted to be different had the big burgers that Z’Tejas is known for. With a mound of fries these were filling meals. I also saw Chicken-Fried Chicken slide by, a pasta dish or two, and a couple of others I can’t remember. Hard to be part-time photographer, Master of Ceremonies and recorder! Oh, and I had my favorite, the Chicken-Fried Ribeye. They take a big hunk of the tastiest steak you can cut from a cow that died happy, then they hand-tenderize, coat and fry to perfection. They always serve with two sides, mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies (in this case, lots of squash and like that).
The only knocks noted was a general tendency to slower service than we’d had in the past, and one appetizer order simply disappeared into the ether(net). The service wasn’t that slow, however; just in comparison to previous visits. However, it’s tough to expect lightning-fast responses when the kitchen’s at max load on the Sunday before Christmas. We were busy chatting and sharing, taking photos and more. We weren’t bored. The missing appetizer? We likely didn’t need those calories on top of everything else. The Universe was saving us from ourselves. (And no, we weren’t charged for it.) As for the tab: drive-away price was just over $16 per person.
I noticed that once the entrées were served everybody sat close, leaned forward and said very little. A third of an hour later everybody was leaning back, rubbing their midriffs and smiling at the ceiling. Still not a lot of talking at that point! Then the chatter turned to the matter at hand, namely, Jessica’s engagement to Kai. I could write another whole post on the rest of the event, but they’ve got a rule:
What happens at Z’Tejas stays at Z’Tejas. At least once the drinks and meals are consumed and the dishes cleared away…
Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill (Arboretum Location), 9400 Arboretum Blvd., Austin, TX 78759. Phone 512.346.3506. Southwestern, Mexican and Tex-Mex fare, moderately priced and chef-prepared, in a pleasant atmosphere with a great view of the edge of the Hill Country. Open seven days a week, lunch and dinner. Brunch menu, Saturday and Sunday 10 A.M. t0 3 P.M. Outside seating available, conditions permitting. Gluten-free friendly. Happy Hour, 4-7 P.M., Monday through Friday. Online reservations available. Reservations are strongly suggested for large parties; please call for options.
Enjoy the (Grill on the Hill) Heat!
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