What I had: Chips and Salsa with three salsas: red, green, and I am assuming a mole. Strawberry Margarita frozen. Fajitas al Guajillo beef fajitas with raisins, peanuts, sun dried tomatoes, grilled onions, and poblano peppers with guacamole, sour cream, cheese on top of corn and flour tortillas.
Like I have said before you can judge a Mexican food restaurant on three things: salsa, margaritas, and fajitas. If you want to throw in two more you could add enchiladas and chile rellenos. Those are five items that I like to try at every Mexican food place I visit. So If I am not eating one of those things you probably caught me on an off day.
Polvos delivers the goods with the choice of salsas. They have a multitude of salsas to add on top of all your favorite interior mexican food or just to dip tortilla chips into. The salsa bar itself contains the red, green, and mole variety and the rest can be ordered off the menu. As much as I love green salsa I have to give the win to the red salsa at Polvos. It has the perfect heat, texture, and consistency. In fact it has my favorite ingredient, cilantro, in abundance. Big leaves of cilantro give this glorious red salsa that big punch I look for in a hot sauce. The green is solid, not noteworthy. The mole salsa, well, I don't really know how to put it. It has a burnt tar-like flavor. That sounds bad, but it isn't necessarily a bad flavor. I wouldn't call the salsa bad I would just say it is really, really different from your standard salsa. I usually get a bowl of it and have about 5 bites throughout my meal and after each bite I try to quantify the flavor and never can place it. Overall they offer a large selection of salsas with a few quality choices.
We enjoyed dining on Polvos' large patio. The ceiling is strung up with lights and the margaritas, michelada, and beer where flowing. However, that flow of alcohol tends to make patio dining rather boisterious. Especially so during the week of SXSW. This was our "relaxing" meal after enjoying the madness and street cart food of SXSW. Polvos environment makes it a great place to take out-of-towners, a big group, or to have a celebration meal. The place even works when you are dog tired and just want a margarita and some good ole comfort food (IE: Mexican food). It may not be the most authentic Mexican enviroment, but it is definitely the Americanized version that many of us find exciting and fun.
Although it wasn't the best I have had, the margarita hit the spot. The wife was craving a margarita so she ordered her standby, the strawberry margarita. I had a few sips and was satisfied. Beyond that there isn't much to say about it. It was a standard, frozen margarita that quenched my thirst for some sweet tequila.
I've dined at Polvos 3 times. Twice I have had the Fajitas Al Guajillo. The 2nd time I honestly don't remember what I had because I was missing the fajitas. They are that good. Claire claims they are the best she has ever had. The more I thought about it the less I wanted to argue that point. The more of them I ate the less I could argue that point. They are not your run of the mill Tex-Mex fajitas. They are simply glorious.
They are more of an interior take on the classic Tex-Mex dish. The inclusion of the peanuts, raisins, and guajillo peppers is what makes this dish so incredible. Put it on flour, put it on corn, or just put it on a fork and I will still call them the best fajita's in Austin. Call me crazy but I would consider placing this on my last meal list. Not that I have a list for last meal considerations but I am pretty sure this would be on it. The meat is tender and juicy, the onions and peppers are caramelized perfectly for a bit of sweetness, and to top it all of Polvos makes a little Asian fusion love with the addition of dried peppers and peanuts to create a kung pao style fajita. To be honest regular fajitas just don't stand a chance against the monolith of flavors and the layers of texture that these fajitas offer. I challenge you to bring me a more satisfying late night, dog tired after SXSW, walked 400 miles in 4 days..meal.
The best part about it is that the serving size is huge. We each had two fajitas and took home enough meat and filling to create 3 more wonderful fajitas for lunch the next day. The pricing was on spot at about 10 dollars for the entree in fact it might be a little on the cheap side for the amount of food served. The service was and has been mediocre, the margarita was mediocre. However, the fajitas make me want to dance. I don't dance, ever.
After 3 trips I doubt I will ever order anything other than the Guajillo Al Fajitas on returning visits to Polvos.
Based purely on the fajitas I would give Polvos a 15/10. They were that good. Sadly, being a critic I have to bump them a bit for the average service and drinks. Granted they are always busy, so service won't be super fast, but when eating spicy salsa I need water refills more frequently than every 10 minutes. So........
But...a bonus .5 for being open later than 11 on a Saturday night on SXSW weekend. So.......
Plus a .25 for making me drool while thinking about the fajitas right now...Total Score =