Austin: Polvo’s enchiladas

The first time I went to Polvo’s, in 1999, I wasn’t impressed. I ate meat then, and I am sure I had some sort of chili con carne cheese enchilada dish, but I remember thinking that the tortilla chips sucked, the sponge-painted walls sucked (I hate sponge-painted walls, but they’re a much worse offense in an Italian restaurant), the wait sucked, and the food was kind of bland.

Though I still agree with that initial assessment, I now love Polvo’s. Yeah, it’s a paradox.

When I came back to Austin in 2006 as a vegetarian, I discovered the cheese enchiladas with poblano cream sauce, and I was converted. I also realized that the availability of three distinct salsas was pretty cool (I like the dark, smoky one). I also determined that, with proper planning, getting a spot on the crowded patio after work or on a Sunday morning was worth waiting for, especially once I figured out that they have vegetarian rice and beans, and several different acceptable breakfast taco fillings. This past September, a bunch of us spent a lovely, long morning there before heading to ACL, and everyone – vegans to omnis – was happy. The margaritas ain’t bad, either.

So let’s talk about this vegetarian rice. To be honest, I don’t know if I believe them. But they advertise vegeterian rice, and every time I ask the waiter about the contents of the beans and rice, they tell me they’re vegetarian. I like the refried black beans at Curra’s better than the whole beans with tomatoes (ew) served up at Polvo’s, but the rice at Curra’s? No thanks. The rice at Polvo’s, on the other hand, is what one expects alongside enchiladas: it’s yellow, it’s sticky, it’s richly flavored! Yes!

Unfortunately, their guacamole, while served in ridiculously huge helpings alongside chopped cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, and green peppers, is rather bland. Maybe it’s because it’s straight-up avocado, I don’t know – but I expect my guacamole to have a depth of flavor. It needs chili powder, cumin, lime juice, garlic, onions, and salt – yes, salt! Even El Chico slices the avocados right in front of you and tosses them with the requisite secondary ingredients in a fake mocajete.

Today at Polvo’s, I ordered the poblana enchiladas with “tamatillo” (physalis ixocarpa – is this different from “tomatillo,” physalis philadelphica?) sauce. They also have some other vegan sauces, such as verde, roja, and chipotle, and a choice of grilled vegetable filling. The menu, I noticed, advertises two potentially vegan tamales, too: vegetable and bean. They also serve huge burritos. These enchiladas were pretty damn tasty – and moist, like enchiladas are supposed to be (unlike at some other places that will remain nameless). There was so much that even I, consummate enchilada devourer that I am, could barely eat half of what was presented.

Thanks for lunch, Mike!

“Small” guacamole salad, salsas.

Poblana enchiladas with tamatillo sauce.

Enchilada plate, with vegan black beans and rice.

With added guacamole.

Cross posted from The Vegan Tree House.

3 thoughts on “Austin: Polvo’s enchiladas

  1. I love Polvos too. I think it is great that you can get mixed vegetables on almost anything instead of meat and their salsa bar is dope! I like the tangy red one. Mmmm. Tangy.

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