The guacamole at unpretentious El Mesón is the best in Austin—avocado scooped from the shell, lightly mashed, and mixed with chopped onion, tomato, and jalapeño and ample quantities of lime juice; it’s eat-by-the-spoonful good. At El Chile, a repurposed bungalow, the cooks do a nice job with a chunky mound of impeccably fresh avocado topped with the usual fixings (tomato, cilantro, onion), all well spritzed with lime juice. Light and brightly flavored, with visible pieces of creamy avocado, Fonda San Miguel ’s guacamole (with tomato and onion) is as classy as its Spanish Colonial setting.
You get special treatment when you order a guacamole salad appetizer at ultra-Southwestern Blue Mesa. Watch while tableside servers prepare the best version in Big D, mashing avocado with chopped tomato and onion, minced cilantro, and a few squeezes of lime—chunky and divine. As lovely as the setting is cool, Taco Diner ’s guacamole tastes better than most others because it is made with sweet, just-mashed Haas avocados, which are mixed with a scant bit of tomatillo sauce, a scattering of cilantro, and hints of lime and salt.
At L&J Café, whose walls are all but papered with celebrity photos and clippings from food magazines, the minimalist guac is chunky, absolutely fresh, and made with Haas avocados (just the way it’s supposed to be), plus tomatoes and a little salt and garlic.
Served in a petite molcajete, the guacamole at festive Benito’s spoils avocado lovers for all others. You are presented with mashed, cilantro-flecked avocado, which you then mix to your taste with doses of lime, salt, and crunchy pico de gallo.
Tableside preparation of guacamole is catching on in Houston. The common thread: The avocado is real, freshly mashed, and flavored just the way you want it—but be prepared to pay more. Dark and clubby El Tiempo probably started the customizing trend, and it has the best version in town: with your choice of cilantro and finely diced jalapeños, tomatoes, onions, and—the kicker—raw garlic. Playful Cadillac Bar also scoops whole avocados tableside, but with chunkier add-ins, like cubes of the mandatory onion and tomato, plus roasted jalapeño. As for made-in-the-kitchen guacamole, you’ll find the best—a pure avocado version (no fillers) that consistently tastes nutty and fresh—at bare-bones Don Carlos Cantina, although there’s never enough of it on the entrée plates. No mystery goo at whimsically decorated Irma’s either, where the guacamole is thick with pieces of avocado, minced white onion, leafy cilantro, and jalapeño (beware—it’s spicy).
If you can endure the glacial service, hacienda-style Rosita’s #2 makes a refreshing guacamole; served with warm, puffy chips, it’s laced with tomato chunks and just enough chopped serrano to get your attention.
Homey, family-run La Calesa, a converted house with quirky service and splashy colors, does a splendid guacamole; lightly mashed, with the flavor of sweet, ripe avocado dominating the blend of tomato and red onion, it’s the best in town. Almost like a thick salsa—more puréed than chunky—the guacamole served in Guajillo’s minimally decorated but convivial dining rooms has ample lime juice plus a garden’s worth of cilantro, red onion, and tomato; the flavor of avocado comes through loud and clear. The freshness of La Fonda ’s guacamole—nice, visible pieces of avocado blended with lime juice, salt, and not much else—makes it one of the city’s better versions; have it with a round of cerveza on the patio, with its tropical greenery and tiled fountain. At Mi Tierra, where the rooms are so riotously decorated that it’s like being inside a Christmas tree, avocado is mashed by hand and seasoned with a bit of lime juice and tomato—add pico de gallo to bring it to your definition of guacamole perfection.
See the Directorio for directions to any of these restaurants.