Is the best Tex Mex chef in Austin a white guy from Brownsville Texas? After a plate of roasted chicken enchiladas at Jack Allen’s Kitchen last week we’re inclined to think so.

Chef Jack Gilmore is an alumnus of the Z’ Tejas family but we’re not holding that against him. After all a man’s got to feed his family.

We’ve watched a multitude of businesses come and go in the uber modern structure in Oak Hill that Jack Allen’s Kitchen calls home. Formerly savvy restaurateur Jean Pierre Piaget came and went in right at two years. His Y Bar put out good food for the first year then the cream of his staff quit en masse and his joint went from hero to zero. Last we heard he was running a taco cart in South America. Maybe he rode his big red motorcycle down there.

He was followed by a succession of would-be, themed restaurants, each one more ridiculous and short lived than the last.

We ate a pitiful little brunch at one of the stream of businesses years ago. It’s rare that food is so bad that we actually contemplate getting in a fist fight in the back of the house but sorry eggs benedict can bring on all sorts of emotions.

While we’re not big fans of driving to the suburbs to eat, we’ve found ourselves out in Oak Hill several times during Chef Gilmore’s tenure.

Here’s why:

Perfect guacamole. Made per order. Sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and served with hot, freshly fried totopos. We were good and drunk when we ordered it [see below] or the price tag would’ve scared the Hell out of us. Making mental note to not pound tequila prior to ordering in restaurants.

Strong margaritas. Made with fresh lime and good tequila. We could drink these all day and all night, [see above].

Green chile pork queso. One of the best versions in town. Pure Tex Mex queso with hunks of roasted carnitas bathed in the cheese and spiked with green chiles.

Chips and salsa. Roasted tomatoes and chiles. Ask for it hot. Served with fresh fried totopos.

Pastries that taste just like they came from the kitchen of Maida Heatter, there is no higher praise from a Southerner. Whoever their pastry chef is is taking homestyle desserts and killing it on a high level.

We could write all night about this kitchen.

The recent enchilada special was a monument to Tex Mex. Perfectly roasted chicken wrapped in tortillas and broiled under a heavy layer of good cheese, it was one of the best Tejano platters we’ve had in town in a long time.

This series has meant re-visiting a lot of our favorite restaurants in Austin. Some have been good, some dismal and some outstanding.

We would venture to say that out of all of them Chef Gilmore is the only one in town with a big sous vide machine in the kitchen.

Apparently he’s using it to good effect as his brigade is putting out some of the best food in town right now.

7720 Hwy 71 W

Austin, TX


(512) 852-8558

Mon-Thu 11am – 10 pm

Fri-Sat 11 am – 11 pm

Sun 11 am – 10 pm

More Tex Mex from my kitchen

and from some of the best Tex Mex cooks in Austin

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