El Patio: Mexican Comfort Food Since 1954

Benjamin Gold

Just three blocks north of the UT campus and the “Drag” sits some of the best Mexican food in Austin. El Patio is the oldest restaurant that remains in its original building in the city of Austin. The establishment has been churning out tacos and chalupas since 1954, and is currently managed by third-generation owner Sled Allen. El Patio sticks to its original philosophy: serve only the freshest local ingredients alongside chips and tortillas from local vendors. Local legends like Ben Crenshaw have come to the corner of 30th and Guadalupe to enjoy some of the incredible, authentic Mexican food that El Patio has to offer.

Alongside the generous portions and fresh, made-to-order dishes, El Patio is known for its margaritas that are perfect for washing down some hand-rolled enchiladas. The combination of food and ambiance creates a homey atmosphere where one can truly enjoy Mexican comfort food at its best. 

Mouth-Watering Classics

The fresh, never frozen food at El Patio is as authentic a meal of Mexican food in the area. Starting a meal at El Patio, the server brings chips fresh out of the fryer with the house salsa. Perfectly salty and crispy, the chips set the meal off on the right foot. After snacking on the chips, I tried some of their homemade hard shell tacos, hand-rolled enchiladas, and crispy chalupas. They serve the Jerry’s Special tacos with mountainous portions of beef, queso, lettuce, and guacamole. These all come together for an explosion of flavor in each bite. Although my mammoth first bite fueled by excitement and hunger caused the taco to collapse, I enjoyed them very much.

The hand-rolled enchiladas came out on a scorching hot plate. They featured a healthy portion of rice and beans that sat alongside the cheese and salsa verde covered enchiladas. The acidity of the salsa verde cut through the heaviness of the melty cheese that blanketed the enchiladas. This made for a surprisingly light enchilada that left me wanting more.

Lastly, I tried the Chalupa Supreme, which they serve open-faced like the crispy shell tacos with a liberal amount of beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole. The chalupa was light and tasty as the fresh vegetables came together with the beans and cheese to make a bite packed with textures and flavors. The incredibly generous portions of fresh, homemade food alongside the unique atmosphere come together to create a true Austin Texas vibe.

Wrapping Up

El Patio is the place to go for authentic, homemade Mexican cuisine that takes you back to your Abuela’s house. For devoted fans like myself, El Patio even has merchandise! They have partnered with local apparel brand Howler Brothers to create some awesome T-shirts and hats. Throughout my five-plus years in Austin, I have yet to find a restaurant that conjures the same levels of comfort I felt during and after an authentic Mexican meal at El Patio. As evident in its near seventy-year history, El Patio is a true Austin staple. It embodies the spirit of this beautiful city and proudly sticks to the traditions that made it a local legend.