They were friendly about it but when they said it was time to go they meant it.

The list of bars and restaurants I’ve been kicked out of is a short one but El Azteca is on it.

It’s been a good long while and the particulars are hazy but they involve a few shots of tequila, a stormy tempered Cuban spitfire and an impromptu dance party in one of the dining rooms at the Tex Mex landmark established in 1963. I reckoned the heat would die down after a couple years and I then ventured back for an excellent pair of thin, bloody rib steaks, good refried beans and more tequila, all enjoyed under the watchful gaze of Abraham Lincoln.

I’d love to know the story behind President Lincoln’s portrait hanging in a Tex Mex restaurant in East Austin.

Back in the 1970’s owner Jorge Guerra, a Monterrey Mexico native, was an early responder to the then nascent vegetarian scene’s cry for food to be served them in restaurants.

Had he and other restaurateurs ignored those cries Austin would certainly be a far different city today.

The vegetarians were happy then and are happy now to rub elbows with folks busy scarfing down flautas stuffed with baby goat and the aforementioned rib steaks [ my favorite item on the menu ].

El Azteca is a sentimental favorite of lots of eaters in Austin. It’s not knock down drag out good Tex Mex but it’s a fine place to break bread for an evening and the Guerra family will treat you well even if you get a mite saucy on their strong margaritas.

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