Monday, January 11, 2016

#BrokeandHungryATX: Fonda San Miguel

Ah, a New Year and thus a new idea was formed. Shana(@Literarygrrrl) and Myself thought it would be fun to visit restaurants during their happy hours and see what you could get for a certain amount.  We chose 45.00 for two people, and happy hour for the drink and appetizer specials, we wanted to see if you could get full and be satisfied with your drinks for under that amount.

We may later branch out to non happy hours and see what we can do. Of the 45 dollars, 5 is set aside as the minimum tip, so we eat and drink on 40 bucks. Shana picked the place this time, based on some of her customers at her job suggesting it.  It is called Fonda San Miguel I couldn't find anything on its history or story so I will be mostly sticking to thoughts and feelings on this one.

It is on a small corner, we even missed the first entrance and had to go down a side road. The Happy Hour was on Tuesday from 5 on I think, I don't know if that is everyday or just Tuesday, the website says the bar and cocktail opens at 5 pm. When we arrived they had complimentary valet parking but we parked ourselves and while it was not a big parking lot we found a close space, once inside we were asked if we wanted happy hour or dining. We chose happy hour which allows you to choose where you sit.

The dining room looked nice but pretty empty at the time we went, a little after 5 pm. For happy hour you could sit at any table near the door or in the bar area or the bar itself. The decor was fun and had lots of things and paintings and drawings to catch your eye and some stuff to make you look twice as you missed small details. There was a birdcage with a bird in it nearby. While it was not very busy when we arrived it picked up pretty well, I think as people got out of work?  Not fully sure but it seemed an unusual amount of the people there knew each other, not sure if they are all regulars that see each other a lot there or just a weird night when they all showed up.

We looked over the menu and made our choices, the house margaritas were 5 bucks we were told but I think they came out to 4.95 instead. All appetizers were half off,  which is good as even the appetizers were 10 to 13 dollars at regular price. We each got a house margarita and then the queso and chicken quesdilla, which came with 3 of them. The queso was pretty big and had lots of stuff in it. It was the thick, thick kind that you almost had to cut with a knife.

I have to admit a bias here, I prefer Tex-Mex over all: Jardin Corona, Serrano's, La Fiesta to places like this. So this was not my favorite place and as a start I am glad Shana liked it more than me. The chicken quesadilla were pretty good if a bit small but the queso was not of the type I enjoy, I prefer queso you can scoop with a chip, some spices are fine but I am a simple man and prefer cheese, maybe some meat, everything else on the side. So overall the food was okay for me. I wouldn't pay the full price but if you enjoy more authentic Mexican food, this may be your place but without the half off, it could get expensive so be careful and plan.

We each ordered a house margarita which while it was fairly strong, it was bland. That may not matter to some people but I want to mention it, if you are looking for any flavor at all, avoid this but strong enough at 4.95 to be worth it if you were drinking to get buzzed only and not to try new things or drink things that taste good.  It was a normal size, we both did it frozen so I am not sure if on the rocks are worse or better, still for the price it was fine, just bland.

The waiter was fine, a bit aloof, Shana felt him a bit snooty, but everything we ordered was right and brought quickly. Not much checking up on us, I don't know if that is normal and they try to leave you alone as much as possible or just something they do for the "cheap" folks that eat at happy hours.

The decor was fun, and full of crazy things and pictures. Some walls were painted in random patterns and colors, other times you could see plants or cats in the wall paint. It was all low light and subtle in the lighting. Not a bad place, the lighting keeps it quiet and intimate but the art and walls give it a feel of fun and keep you awake and alert to off set the lighting.

So overall, what was my final thought?

Not bad, if you enjoy true Mexican food, or just like going to upper middle class places where you can see and be seen then this is for you. I won't lie, not my type of place but good for them for finding the niche and filling it. The drink was strong enough if not overall flavorful but that matters less to some people then just getting drunk or buzzed. The chicken was good but not the greatest but I prefered it over the queso.

Though we had 40.00 to spend, we spent 23.50 on the food and just used the 5.00 tip as the tip. So overall we spent 28.50 on our first outing. Two "dishes" and one drink a piece not including the water and chips that they bring. Not a bad start money wise.

But get a second opinion and different thoughts from Shana: Literarygrrrl goes broke and hungry

I love watching Happy Hour

2330 W North Loop Blvd
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 459-4121

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