Wednesday, July 11, 2012

La Palapa @ E Hwy 290

La Palapa “Mexican” Restaurant and Cantina is a place close to work with good parking and normally not crowded during lunch. We have been going to lunch there on and off for many years due to the convenience of the location. However, today it was put to the test under Austin Lunch Review blog.

We arrived there around 11:45am and we were surprised that we were sited on the back room of the restaurant. This is technically the “cantina” side which at these hours of the day is empty. It is never a good sign when you go to a satellite location of the restaurant because it is always a recipe for bad service. Chips and salsa arrived to our table as we were taking our places so we started with the right foot. Chips are one of those elements on a lunch that are not always good. However, la Palapa delivered good chips with their usual salsa which in my consideration is not the best one due to their consistency and flavor. It is too liquid or diluted with lack of texture.
Our order consisted of beef burritos with queso salsa on the top, migas with fajitas and chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa. For me, a real Mexican restaurant should excel on basic plates such as enchiladas. It is not the first time I have the enchiladas here so I was not surprised to get a Tex-Mex style plate rather than a Mexican one. In the case of the burrito, it was rated as good value for the cost and the migas with fajitas was rated also mid-scale due to the meat been a little hard and dry. In summary, food is on a mid-scale compared with other options around the area. However, the price is a little lower so when you balance the taste, value, cost equation, it is a viable option.

Chicken Enciladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Beef Burrito with Queso Salsa

Unfortunately at the end, our server disappeared and it took a lot longer than average to get our check. It took about 15 minutes waiting for someone to even get close to our area. Finally, the fact that we were sitting on a satellite area of the restaurant had the effect that was expected. Finally, the check arrived and we were surprised with an automatic 15% tip already included after having to wait a long time to be able to get out. I have to admit that I am not a good “tipper” and to have 15% added for a slow service was not a good way to close. Also, it is important to note that this place do not includes any “neutralizer” (ice cream) that can be added or a location close by where to get it. Fortunately today, we had an ice cream social at work so this item was taken care of.
In summary (we are still working on a formal rating), food is mid-scale for a Tex-Mex restaurant. I will not consider it a Mexican restaurant. Service was fair with the big surprise of getting an automatic 15% tip even after waiting 15 minutes to get the check. The decoration is nice and colorful and the place has a good parking space with easy access to it. We’ll probably give it another chance on a future opportunity to at least measure the consistency at different days. Even though at this moment, it cannot be categorized a place that Austin Lunch Review will consider certified as a “top place”.


  1. From Orlando which had the migas with fajitas:
    Overall impressions:

    Last time:
    - Perfectly Austin Eatery! 4.9/5.7(EDQ (Eng. Dining Quotient) IP protected formula)
    This time:
    - Slightly above average Mexican Restaurant. 3.8/5.7

  2. Food good, service bad, parking lot nice (lots of space), but maybe this a function of the food or service?? For food, a 6.9 out of 10.2, for service (at least today), a 1.7 out of 11.325.


Total Pageviews