The Story Behind The Austin Cantina

January 8, 2009 2:38 PM

R.I.P. Vito's, Austin Cantina

Posted by Nancy Leson

"I'm sure you've heard by now, but Ballard's Austin Cantina has closed. I'm really sorry, because it was such a fantastic place for authentic, home-cooked Tex-Mex. Everything was cooked with such care, and the owner/chef really wanted his customers to enjoy their dining experience. Alas, they appear to be a victim of the financial situation. I'm just glad we stopped off for dinner in December during a snowy walk home!"

Jefe's been surprisingly upfront about his financial woes all along, as I pointed out on this recent post, and he describes the particulars regarding the closure on his blog. I wish him well and am sorry I missed my chance to have one last taste of these memorable fixins


P'Toxy's Photo Stream

they made the best chocolate cake i've ever had and a delicious vegetarian casserole.
i'll miss you austin cantina. we hope your next endeavor brings success! 

Ballard bars, restaurants trying to adapt in bad economy

By Liz Sternberg Sunday, December 21, 2008

People may not dining out as much in Ballard but they seem to still be flocking to the bars. While restaurant business is down, happy hours, specials and promotions are on the rise.

At large in Ballard with Peggy Sturdivant

Austin Cantina: A tough spot

I want Austin Cantina on 24th NW to survive, but then I'm a sucker for people who decide to pursue a dream by daylight.

Are there any businesses not suffering downturns right now? Try being a new restaurant. Try being a new restaurant next to a construction site with the sidewalk on the block closed to pedestrians for months. Try being a new restaurant kitty corner to a multiyear construction project. In this "location, location, location " it seems more like three strikes you're out until the construction delay is over.

Austin Cantina is between a rock and a hard place in mind, for quite a while to come. He launched special deals in November, a combination of Happy Hour prices and kids eat free to draw attention to his currently obscured location.

What do you need to know? The garlic shrimp appetizer (aka Camarones Mojo de Ajo) is my favorite light meal. Their chili doesn't have any beans (just meat!) but there are vegetarian items. I'm a pushover for their chipotle onion rings but my daughter likes the chili dusted calamari. They serve Ballard roasted Caffe Appassionato at $1.95 a cup and it's delicious.


Yelp (Charlie D.)

Do you like chicken fried steak(CFS)? Do you like green chiles? And do you also like chipotle mashed potatoes? Well if you answered yes to all three questions then you're going to love the CFS covered w/green chiles and served with chipotle mashed potatoes at the Austin Cantina!! Because that plate was phenomenal!! The CFS was fried to perfection and was perfectly cooked. And the chipotle mashed potatoes were spicy enough even for me. So those two combination's made that the BEST CFS I have ever had in the Pacific Northwest.

Cooking Techniques: Dicing an Onion

By Patricia on October 17, 2008

A month or so ago, we went out for dessert to Austin Cantina, a local Tex-Mex place. We've always liked Austin. Their banana pudding can't be beat and we really like their chicken fried steak as well. They use Thundering Hooves grass-fed beef, so you know that the beef is top quality.

Austin Cantina - Local foods with friendly service

By Patricia Eddy
October 7th, 2008

I’ve written about Austin Cantina before. They are a little Ballard establishment where the food is good and the service is always even better. One of the reasons I enjoy going there, is that I can be assured of getting grass fed beef and local, organic pork in a lot of their dishes. I recently asked the owner, Jefe, to tell me a little bit about his restaurant and why he makes the choice to use local ingredients.


NW Source

When someone invites you into his kitchen, you expect him to know what he's doing, and Austin Cantina owner and chef Jefe Birkner does. He and his crew serve up a proper Tex-Mex feast, from the chunky salsa that accompanies the premeal tortilla chips to the meringue-topped banana pudding that you must save room to enjoy. Everything is freaking superlative:



Seattle Metropolitan Magazine

Seattle Weekly (Jonathan Kauffman)