Friday, April 17, 2015

Miguel's Mex Tex Cafe--a new Abilene favorite

Miguel's has been one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings that I can ever remember for our fair burg of Abilene. Citizens have been watching the remodel and additional building on to the old Famous Dave's Barbecue location for over a year. It opened for business five days ago and has been packed ever since. The husband and I went last night. We got there at 5:30pm and the parking lot was almost full. Once we got our names on the list, we were told it was a 45 minute wait. Larger parties I'm sure had a significantly longer wait. We went to sit in the bar since it was open seating and you could order dinner in there if you wanted. As is happened, we struck up a conversation with a man who had been there every night since they opened and eaten in the bar every time. He gave us some tips on what was good and raved about how great the service had been. The bar was hopping with people.
Cool fixtures and art
The atmosphere at Miguel's is very colorful and I loved the blown glass light fixtures and the tile. This a place that cares about the details. The owners have made a HUGE investment in this restaurant. Abuelo's (formerly the fanciest Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurant in town) is in trouble.

The chef is the same gentleman that used to own Bonterra Blu in Clyde. A former favorite before they closed. When I heard that news, I was suffused with happiness because as I have mentioned on this blog before there isn't (wasn't) any truly outstanding Mexican or Tex-Mex in Abilene and Chef Trueblood has the talent to change that.

One of several dining areas
Once we were seated, we were brought chips and three kinds of salsa/dip. There was the traditional freshly made tomato salsa, which was a bit too citrus-y for my taste, an avocado-pineapple salsa, and a creamy black olive dip that was my absolute favorite. My husband thought it too salty. The photo below is out of perspective. The tortilla chips were light and crispy.

Chips and dips
The menu is big. Brunch is served on the weekends. That is a future must try. Dinner was a difficult decision but I went with some classics; a San Antonio style puffy beef taco, a spinach/portabello/avocado enchilada, and a white cheese chili relleno. For sides, bacon and cheddar refried beans and Mexican fried rice. There was also a little bit of steamed cornbread which was really sweet. The relleno was the best I have ever eaten outside of New Mexico. Not oily at all and the pepper had a kick to it. The enchilada was delicious. I actually become too full to eat the puffy taco which had a fry bread shell and another crispy blue corn shell. I had to give it to my husband. The sides were super tasty. I enjoyed the fried egg twist on the rice. The beans were super flavorful. It is so disappointing at other places when I can tell they came out of a can or when the cook doesn't add enough seasoning.  No problem with that at Miguel's.

Classic combo--enchilada, chili relleno, puffy taco
My husband decided on one of the specialties of the house, the #14 which was carne asada steak and bacon wrapped and turf Tex-Mex style. For a few minutes, we were told they were out of steak but it turned out that wasn't the case. The shrimp were fresh and delicious. The steak was topped with cheese and a cilantro pesto. He wasn't asked how he wanted his steak cooked and in the end he didn't finish it because he wasn't fond of the toppings and the steak was a bit overdone. However, he raved about the shrimp, beans and rice. He also got a side order of the corn on the cob which was topped with chipotle crema and some spices. He wasn't a fan but it looked pretty yummy to me. I didn't taste it because it is impossible to eat corn on the cob with any grace in a public setting, much less corn with a cream sauce on it.

I was stuffed but he wanted dessert when he heard they had  fried bread pudding on the menu.
  It was topped with vanilla bean ice cream. I managed a couple of bites, superb. 

Fried Bread Pudding
Service was outstanding. One of the owners came by our table, as did one of the managers. Our server, Leslie, was excellent.

Now for the skinny on cost. Our bill was almost $60.00 not counting tip. That being said, it was worth it. They have only been open for less than a week and the quality was awesome and the staff very well trained. However, it isn't going to be a cheap meal when you eat at Miguel's. The entrees start at $7 (one classic item and rice/beans) and go up from there. I highly recommend trying it as portions were generous, even if you have to wait a while. There are very few places in town I would bother to wait 45 minutes for a seat but this is one of them.

A word about seasoning. Nothing we ate was particularly spicy but it was spiced. If you are a person who prefers food to be simply seasoned, like how my husband likes his steak without any extra toppings, this probably won't be your place.

Update 8/9/2015

I have been back several times and MOST of those occasions were still a good experience but my visit this past weekend demonstrated some of the issues that others have encountered such as inconsistent service and skimpy portions for the price charged; i.e. only six medium-sized shrimp in my shrimp fajitas at a cost of $17 with less than generous amounts of toppings and sides. One of my companions hated the salmon tacos, said they tasted "off". Still happy with most other entrees I've tried and the appetizers and desserts have all been excellent. 

3001 S. Danville Dr.
Abilene TX 79605

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