We still remember taking those first steps onto the playground, back in elementary school, after our parents finally let us get a pair of cheap light-up sneakers with velcro straps and some animated TV character on the side. We remember them because we just felt cool, as if we could walk into any room (or playground) with a confident swagger. It’s the same feeling we got the first time we walked into Comedor—a decidedly upscale modern Mexican restaurant in downtown Austin that will instantly transport you into a pair of light-up velcro sneakers.
It’s hard not to be taken aback by the space at Comedor, at least a little. It’s a giant glass box in the middle of downtown—from the outside, it looks like an Apple store built inside of an old industrial airplane hangar. Inside, there are long wooden tables and cozy booths that decorate a concrete dining room, with giant light fixtures overhead that look as if Alexander Calder had decided to design chandeliers instead of mobiles. Enormous garage doors open to an outdoor patio, wrapped on all sides by the tall brick walls of Austin’s growing downtown.
Much like every moderately nice restaurant these days, everything comes out in a series of small plates that are meant to be shared. And many of the dishes—like a light and refreshing tuna aguachile with watermelon—are outstanding. But occasionally, you also run across some dishes that don’t quite hit the mark, like an overly-bitter crudo or an over-engineered arugula salad. One of the best things to get at Comedor, however, are the rich and decadent bone marrow tacos. It’s not too often that you get to scrape heaping spoonfuls of savory marrow from the bones with a pecan gremolata onto warm corn tortillas. When you’re done, save the bones—if you’re feeling especially youthful, you can even order a shot of mezcal to drink via bone luge.
The cocktail menu is mostly made up of classics with distinct twists—with drinks like a gin, mezcal, tequila, and yellow chartreuse-based Comedor Martini—but there’s also beer, wine, and a multi-page menu of agave spirits. Start with some sotol or tequila, then make your way into the mezcals. Because, if you have to listen to one more friend tell you about how cheap and amazing the tacos were on their recent trip to Mexico City, why not at least accompany it with the good stuff?
There are a handful of great upscale Mexican restaurants in Austin—Fonda San Miguel, Suerte, and La Condesa, to name a few—but when you want to impress a date, or show off your new pair of light up velcro sneakers, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better spot than Comedor.
Dayboat Scallop Crudo
We’ve had a few different iterations of this dish that ranged from bright and tangy to bitter and spicy. Our most recent version came in a fermented turmeric broth that was a little bitter for our liking, but the habanero in it added a nice fruity kick to it all.
The arugula acts as a nice peppery base, and the bites that contain pieces of fermented melon are nicely balanced, with just a bit of sweetness. We would have liked to see just a bit more melon though, because the bites without melon left us wanting more.
This was an excellent blend of textures and flavors. The charred okra adds an earthy element to the slightly-tangy fermented tomatoes, while the corn and queso fresco add in just enough sugar and creaminess to bring the whole thing together.
This was one of our favorite bites of the night. The mole is earthy, slightly bitter, and a perfect contrast to the sweet, grilled carrots. And a few leaves of basil add some nice aromatics and make everything feel fresh and lively.
Bone Marrow Tacos
The signature dish at Comedor, and a play on buttered tortillas. Instead, here you get a few giant slabs of roasted bone marrow covered in pecan gremolata, over a bed of greens. It’s fatty and decadent, with just enough brightness coming in from the vegetables and the lime to make each bite damn near perfect. This should definitely be a part of your order.
This is about as good as it gets for martini lovers. It’s not super classic—instead incorporating a mix of gin, crema mezcal, and jalapeno tequila, with a bit of yellow chartreuse and blanc vermouth providing just a hint of sweetness. It’s lightly spicy, and very spirit-forward—be warned.