A Mexican Food Oasis From Taco Truck Sisters — Veracruz Fonda & Bar Opens in Mueller
Reyna and Maritza Vazquez Give Roots to Veracruz All-Natural
Story and photos by Taylor Tobin
The Mueller neighborhood feels, in many ways, like it’s specifically designed for laid-back weekend afternoons. It has charming parks, an excellent farmers market, plenty of spots to grab a cup of coffee (or a morning pint of Guinness for those early Premier League matches).
And now, Mueller is home to Veracruz Fonda & Bar, a brand new full-service restaurant from the sisters behind the beloved fleet of Veracruz All-Natural taco trucks.
The restaurant is heavily inspired by the mother of owners Reyna and Maritza Vazquez. She owned a restaurant in Veracruz, Mexico called Fonda. Drawing from the flavors of Veracruz and the recipes taught to them by their mother, the sisters built a menu that pays homage to their culinary heritage.
A Sneak Peek Into the Next Big Thing in Mueller
Its grand opening event ultimately turned out to be more of a soft opening. This gave the staff a chance to work out some service kinks and gave the kitchen the chance to test out dishes before settling on a final menu.
The restaurant is located in a very convenient spot on Aldrich Street, right around the corner from the Mueller Alamo Drafthouse and other bars and restaurants.
There’s no dedicated parking for Veracruz Fonda & Bar and street parking in Mueller can be a bit tricky to find. However, the area has numerous parking garages, including one sharing a block with the restaurant.
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Upon stepping into the dining room, you’ll first notice the impressive amount of natural light that floods the space. Floor-to-ceiling windows line the walls. In combination with the high ceilings, the entire interior has a bright, invigorating airiness.
The dining room has an industrial vibe, thanks to exposed ceiling beams and pipes and the concrete floor. But there’s plenty of blonde wood, rattan-trimmed chairs, and live plants to soften the aesthetic.
The expansive, neutral gallery walls provide ample opportunities for the Veracruz team to add personal touches. A cheerful collage of semi-inflated balloons in sherbet hues of pink, orange, blue and green is directly in front of the seating area. Large murals of the owners’ mother adorn the walls and the restaurant menus as well.
Digging Into the Coastal Mexican Fare
Veracruz Fonda & Bar is designed as an all-day eatery. Morning visitors who prefer a light start to the day can peruse the list of freshly-pressed juices, blended smoothies, and refreshing agua frescas.
The Vazquez sisters partnered with the coffee experts at Desnudo in East Austin to build their coffee menu. The cinnamon-laced horchata with a shot of perfectly-roasted espresso is highly recommended.
Given that Veracruz is a coastal region of Mexico, the shrimp ceviche is a fitting appetizer to begin a meal. The dish offers a brilliant balance of flavors. The shrimp’s natural sweetness interacts seamlessly with the acidity of the lime juice. The subtle jalapeño heat of the pico de gallo, the extra burst of vibrance from the red bell pepper, and the creamy texture of the avocado add layers of flavor.
Fresh totopos are served alongside the dish. The earthy corn flavor, the well-calibrated saltiness, and the crunchy burst of texture made these chips the perfect canvas for the ceviche.
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Mexican Tapas Are the Star of the Show
The antojitos Veracruzanos section of the menu stands out as the highlight of the Veracruz Fonda dining experience. This assortment of small plates conjures a Mexican spin on Spanish tapas. Specialties from Veracruz are featured prominently throughout.
Take your first step with picadas — Veracruzano open-faced tacos with fresh corn tortillas, onions, queso fresco, and avocado. During peak brunch time, order a picada with an over-easy egg and mole Veracruzano (a regionally-specific mole in several dishes, including the large-format enchiladas mole).
Slice into the perfectly-cooked egg and allow the oozing yolk to meld with the nutty, umani-laden mole, which carries a subtle smokiness throughout. The first bite, comprised of the fresh tortilla, rich egg yolk, flavorful mole, and cooling avocado is the best taste of the day.
Another menu item to try is the panucho de cochinita. It is a house-made corn tortilla with a savory refried beans spread, loaded with lime-marinated roasted pork. The cochinita is wonderfully savory and has a slight tang. This is amplified by both the onion habanero lime escabeche and the fiery habanero salsa that accompanies it.
A sprinkle of fresh cilantro leaves and sliced avocado counterbalance the heat and acidity of the dish, making it thoroughly satisfying. The dish is hearty enough to produce leftovers.
Ordering a taco at Veracruz Fonda is a must. The barbacoa version is an excellent choice. Slow-braised cow’s head is served on Veracruz’s famous corn tortillas and topped with onion, cilantro, shredded cabbage, and peppery radish.
The barbacoa has a luxurious texture that melts on the tongue. The intense beefy flavor builds a solid foundation for the fresh vegetable add-ons and the spicy salsa rojo served alongside.
Don’t Forget About Drinks
Veracruz Fonda also offers a full bar menu with beer, wine, and cocktails. Tequila, unsurprisingly, is a major player on this cocktail list. The Muellerita is a signature Veracruz Fonda drink. It is made with blanco tequila, a version of Curaçao, a Caribbean liqueur flavored with orange, and Hoja Santa. Hoja Santa is a Mexican herb also known as “pepperleaf”. The Muellerita also contains tamarind, lime, Chamoy, and a savory sesame-seed rim. Chamoy is a semi-savory Mexican sauce made with dried fruit and chili powder.
The Muellerita is not a traditional margarita and doesn’t deliver the same zingy brightness. However, the multi-dimensional flavor profile, with the fragrant Hoja Santa, the sweet heat of the Chamoy, the delicate tartness of the tamarind, and the nutty sesame seeds, makes this cocktail a pleasure.
As with any soft opening, the Veracruz Fonda launch revealed some growing pains. But the servers, hosts, and managers showed genuine enthusiasm and dedication, indicating that an already-high level of hospitality will continue to grow.
If you’ve ever enjoyed one of Veracruz All-Natural’s crowd-favorite tacos, make a point of visiting this impressive new spot. Even if you’re a total Veracruz newbie, a stop at Veracruz Fonda for a cocktail and an antojito flight is a great way to acquaint yourself with this flavorful culinary empire.