El Mirador (San Antonio, TX)

(Update: Well, in December 2018, the 50+ year run at El Mirador ended, with the restaurant closing as the land was redeveloped)

So, after a decent day of exploring the Riverwalk and downtown San Antonio, we decided that was a good time for dinner. And we were craving Mexican food. Well, San Antonio, particularly the Riverwalk, is probably one of the densest concentrations of Tex Mex places in existence, with at least a dozen Tex Mex places (mostly with some sort of “Cantina” motif) accessible either directly on the river, or a short staircase away. Well, we didn’t go to any of those places. Instead, we headed up to street level, and walked several blocks south to the edge of the King William District to El Mirador.

El Mirador is one of the elderly statesmen of San Antonio Mexican Places, having been there since 1967, when the owners built the place to be near the HemisFair ’68 World Fair a few blocks to the east, and it’s been doing steady business ever since. It’s also relatively popular with the locals—there’s even a room in the back called the “City Council Room”, since the San Antonio City Council has a tendency to hold informal lunchtime meetings there. In any case, El Mirador was a nice little destination for u to get a nice dinner away from the Riverwalk crowds.

The menu at El Mirador is basically “Modern Mex”, in which they are taking the standard Tex Mex dishes and redoing them with both more modern and more traditional ingredients. This ranges from fairly simple (lobster tacos, for example), to fairly traditional (potato enchiladas), to fairly elaborate (the Lomo de Puerco, a coriander-cumin crusted pork loin). They’ve also got a good selection of Tex Mex items as well, like the puffy tacos and enchiladas verdes that are fairly obligatory for San Antonio places. In any case, it’s a pretty good selection.

Looking over the menu, I decided to go for the above-mentioned Lomo de Puerco. Basically several slices of cumin- and cilantro-crusted roasted pork loin served up in a tangy tamarind sauce, I was quite pleased with the pork, it was tender, had a nice flavorful crust, and was very nicely complemented by the tamarind (which is a slightly less common sauce for Mexican places, in my experience, but one that works well). Quite delicious, actually. The sauce also worked well with the sides: a nice mound of chipotle mashed potatoes, and some vegggies. The veggies themselves were a little lackluster (basically steamed carrots, broccoli, and squash), but these did decently with the sauce. I’d get this dish again without much hesitation.

Carol instead opted for the Camarones Y Filet, a nice thick poblano-seasoned steak with a trio of large shrimp served up in a pepita-cilantro pesto cream sauce. The steak was nicely seasoned, and while slightly overcooked was quite juicy and flavorful. The shrimp, however, were perfectly cooked, and nicely complemented by the pesto cream sauce which had a really nice cilantro flavor.

The one thing I’ll fault El Mirador for is lackluster service. While our waitress was very friendly about helping us select dishes, she also had a tendency to disappear for rather long periods of time, stretching what should have been a fairly modest dinner into an hour and a half deal. Aside from that, El Mirador had some items that were good, and some that were actually great, and I wouldn’t mind coming back to give them another try at some point.

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