The intersection of 620 and 71 in Lakeway has become a destination for those seeking new food experiences but without the hassle of heading downtown. There you can find a Whole Foods, Tony C’s, Gumbo’s and many other culinary destinations. But just a few miles north on 620 in the heart of Lakeway, in a two story business and shopping center, you will find Santa Catarina, an authentic interior Mexican restaurant that not enough people know about.
Located in the Lakeway Plaza shopping area, nestled among a cigar shop and church, is Santa Catarina. As you walk in you will notice that the restaurant is relatively small and cozy with a few dozen tables and a bar along half of the back wall. It’s not too small however; you won’t be feel crowded in. As you are led to your table you will notice the Mexican art and tools on the wall. The decoration has a modern rustic feel that makes you feel like you are briefly visiting a foreign land.
The menu is quite large. There are easily more dishes to choose from than there are tables. It features six types of enchiladas, fourteen house specialties, fajitas, tacos, etc. Of course you have tortilla chips and salsa to munch on while you contemplate but I have a few suggestions.
The guacamole is simple and bright. It’s a ton of avacados seasoned generously with cilantro, jalapeno, onion and tomato. They don’t use any fillers and they certainly don’t skimp on the serving size.
If you enjoy fajitas (and serious, who doesn’t?) try the Mayitas. They are a Yukatan style fajita featuring shrimp or chicken that has been marinated in achiote and then grilled. Like the regular fajitas it is served with fresh corn or flour tortillas and all the sides. The achiote gives the meat a thick sauce with just a little kick. I ordered the shrimp and it was phenomenal. Everyone at the table kept wanting “just one more bite”.
The Nopalitos Y Camaron is a simple salad with one uncommon ingredient, nopalitos (baby cactus). The nopalitos add a tang to the salad and along with grilled shrimp it is a great way to eat light without walking away hungry.
Santa Catarina’s Sopa Taraxca is another absolute must try. It is a tortilla soup that is thicker than any other I have ever tried. It is hearty, delicious and very filling.
Santa Catarina is by far one of the best authentic Mexican restaurants I have been to. But every time I go there are, at most, five other parties there when the dining room can hold three or four times that. Do yourself a favor and check out Santa Catarina as soon as possible.