El Alma Cafe y Cantina
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"It"s fun, flavorful Mexican food that is very approachable. It's a casual, authentic representation of the food I grew up eating." - Chef Alma
The only ding I would give them is their host staff and reservation response during F1 weekend. We were caught in traffic, and contacted them to let them know. The person on the phone said we were okay.
When we arrived, they were dealing with a party of six whose reservation was not in the system, though the guests showed confirmation emails. So we were told to wait, which was fine. However, when we were finally able to check in, they said we were 6 minutes after the cutoff and they had released our table!
Obviously this didn’t go over well; they had three people at the podium working on the missing reservation, and nobody checking in the other reservations. After I made a significant stink, they seated us anyway.
After that, the service and food was outstanding!
Food was so tasty and well prepared! Service was good. A bit loud, and not enough rest rooms for the demand, so always have to wait.
Incredible food and great service!! The drinks were awesome. I have been by this place a million times but this was the first time I ate here. I will be back soon.
Excellent service, great food! Gourmet Mexican food!
Best margaritas and ceviche in town! Chef Alma knows her stuff!
Popular place, great vibe, great venue. But, truth is the food has been fairly mediocre and inconsistent last few times. Margaritas can be really great. On this trip, they were inconsistent from one to the next - not sure how that happens. Service varies from perfect to dismissive depending on who happens to be helping throughout the evening. Always an enjoyable evening but more for the company and venue than the food.
Our first visit was awesome! Yummy lunch!
Such attentive hostess/manager and staff too! Thanks so!
We loved the food here-- our group ordered a variety of different flavors of margaritas, plus several types of tacos and their enfrijoladas. All the food we ordered was delicious, especially the duck tacos and the enfrijoladas. I would definitely visit again if I go back to Austin.
Excellent food. Rushed service.
Great location for dinner before a show at Long Center
Enjoyable date experience. We made a reservation for 9:45 PM on a Friday. Our table was ready for us when we arrived but we opted to wait 10 minutes for a table on the rooftop. By the time we received a drink at the bar we were shown to our table; overall, a pleasant and painless experience. The duck enchiladas and duck-stuffed chile relleno were amazing.
Food was wonderful! Hostess (Shelby) was super friendly. Service was awesome. DEFINITELY will be going back.
Great place for brunch or a HH! Nice natural lit restaurant with a great upstairs patio
One of the best real Mexican restaurants in Austin. The food is creative, beautifully presented and truly delicious. My only complaint is that the noise level makes it difficult to converse—and hear—so I’ve solved that by coming early, like at 5pm.
They did not have a Restaurant Week menu although we asked for one. They said that it had finished after only one week.
Good food and drinks
I've been coming to El Alma for years and it's consistently great. I introduced a friend to El Alma this week for lunch. She was thrilled to see Queso Fundido on the menu. It did not disappoint. We also had a taco each. She enjoyed her duck taco very much. I appreciate that they take reservations. If it was quieter, it would be perfect. Since it's not, we try to go at an off time.
Best. Mexican. Food. In. Texas. Seriously good food. Great staff. We reserved on OpenTable and our prime table was waiting for us when we arrived. The waitperson was excellent. But the food, oh the food. We had five different things off the menu and each was spectacular. My only complaint was that the drink prices were a bit high. Other than that, awesome place!
This is a great place for a special outing, as food was delicious, portions were great and service was excellent. The drink prices are bit hefty for what you get, so if you come maybe hold off on the drinks and grab somewhere after a little cheaper.
Food was very good, but I felt our waiter was a bit absent. He barely checked in after we got our food , and never asked if we wanted another cocktail, which was delicious by the way. One of the girls asked for hot sauce for her eggs. The waiter “pointed” to the sauce already on the table for chips, which she used, then 5 minutes later they brought a different sauce out, which she did not use , but they charged her $2 for it. Also , they bring a card swiper around to you to pay and the least amount of tip you can add is 20%, which I don’t mind paying , but only if I am getting good service. If I’m not given another option, then I
feel the service should warrant that .
Great food, usually served in timely manner, but the place is very noisy. Ask for a table by the window so as to hear your guests. Cocktails are interesting, excellent seafood dishes (crab and shrimp stuffed pepper superb! Very informal dress code and a wonderful happy hour.
Dinner with family on Saturday night. We had reservations and were seated immediately at a great table in front of windows. Service and food were great - enjoyed by all.
We went for a bachelorette party and the service and atmosphere where amazing! Everyone enjoyed their food and drinks. The staff even gave the bride free desert! I would highly recommend this place! We had a blast!
I really love this place! Brunch is the best and that patio view! Gorgeous!
Food was fantastic. We’ve been wanting to try for a while, well worth the wait. Not stroller friendly but they did accommodate. definitely set a reservation so you can be inside, patio is first come first serve. Small place so it fills up quick. Would definitely go again
Was so looking forward to dining here. Parking was a challenge. The noise level was deafening. The food was just OK. Overall. A big disappointment.
Great experience! We’re a family of 9 celebrating a belated birthday. Service went off without a glitch which isn’t always easy for such a large group. Our server was super attentive, pleasant & made sure we got everything we needed.
All of the food was very bland. The pork in my taco was dry and chewy. The spiced cauliflower was overcooked and definitely NOT spiced. Margarita tasted like lime Gatorade. Our waitress was nice but the hostess was rude. A very unpleasant experience!
Love it! Our favorite Mexican restaurant in Austin!
Pro: Wonderful food, good service, good value.
Con: Very noisy, this really detracts from our evening.
I was pleased to see that we could make a reservation for brunch in short notice. The food was delicious, abundant, and innovative. The restaurant did look a little run down (inside and outside), though, and so did the servers' appearance. Our server was wearing a white shirt with stains on it. Overall, that subtracted from our experience. But the quality of the food is excellent.
We were seated right away and our server was high energy and attentive. The food was great and expedient, as per usual!
I just love this restaurant..Food is fabulous, wait person was lovely. We were able to get in and out in a timely manner to catch our show at the Long Center. Thanks folks.
Came here for a date night. The food was excellent, and service was great as well. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough!
Horrible experience. Will never return. We were sat in a very noisy environment and our server was rude from the beginning. Server acted as if our presence was inconvenient to him. Additionally, parking here is a nightmare.
Came over once to ask what we wanted. When we told him an app to start with, he left and didn’t return for about 10 mins. When he came back we ordered drinks but said we needed more time for food. He came back roughly 30 mins later and asked if we wanted the check. At which point, I was thoroughly confused as we hadn’t even ordered lunch yet. We then reluctantly ordered food, despite the fact that we had already been in the restaurant for 40 mins. After further evaluating the horrible service we had received, I flagged down the server and asked him to cancel food and bring check.
Server brought out check, I handed him the card and he returned with a tablet. Did not say a word to us after that and disappeared. Never said thanks for the tip or any other basic pleasantries.
Our previous experiences have been great at El Alma (3 other visits) but not this time. Generally, the food is good (not great), drinks are solid and service is usually timely. To be honest, this server likely needs to be fired. The experience was bad enough, that we will likely never return. If you employ wait staff that treat customers poorly, you will lose other customers too.
There is enough good Mexican food in Austin. No need to be treated like garbage in order to eat good food. I recommend checking out Fonda San Miguel. Much better food/service and similar pricing.
Always delicious and welcoming. Great service, great food. We took a friend who had never been before and she was wowed. Awesome as always.
The drinks and food were excellent and despite knowing they had a table reservation for our table right after us, we never felt rushed or hurried! If I lived closer I would make this place a regular weekly spot.
Such a cool restaurant! The upstairs outdoor patio was gorgeous and the food was magnificent! Highly recommend!
Extremely loud. Terrible acoustics. Could barely have a conversation. Food and service were good tho.
I had made an OpenTable reservation for a party of 4. Our group changed to 8 people and I called the restaurant and spoke to Shelby who assured me that after checking with her manager that they would be able to accommodate pushing 2 tables of 4 together and honor our reservation for 8 people. When we arrived at the restaurant, they did not have any record that we had changed our reservation to 8 and Shelby had not made any notes for the staff. After some confusion and a small wait, Naomie was able to seat us outside on the patio. The restaurant has great ambiance, we liked our food and the cocktail menu was abundandant. Our waiter was terrible. He really projected that he did not want to be there and it was a super inconvenience that he would have to lift a finger to do anything. Drinks took forever to get from downstairs to upstairs and we had to ask multiple times where things were. He never checked in on us for anything, and we about had to hold up a flag to get his attention if we needed anything. Restaurant had been highly recommended by many Austin friends, so I was disappointed in the extremely poor service that evening. Super cool place, and I would go again, but I would expect 110% better service.
El Alma Cafe y Cantina is rated 4.5 stars by 586 OpenTable diners.