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The Best Restaurants, Cafes, and Attractions of Latin Austin

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Iliana de la Vega is a Mexican-born chef who won worldwide acclaim for her restaurant and cooking school, El Naranjo, in Oaxaca, Mexico, which was featured in numerous newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times and Bon Appétit. In 2012, de la Vega reopened El Naranjo in Austin, and it has since been recognized as the best Mexican restaurant in the city. Before the brick-and-mortar restaurant, she owned El Naranjo Mobile and Catering, a successful food trailer that was called "the only real Mexican restaurant in Texas" by Texas Monthly. She recently started giving culinary tours to various regions of Mexico along with her daughter, Isabel Torrealba. Born in Mexico City,Torrealba is an anthropologist and freelance journalist who loves all things food, music, literature, and politics. The mother-daughter duo may live apart (de la Vega in Austin, Torrealba in New York City), but the two have their favorites in the Capital City for food, culture, and camaraderie. Here are their top spots to visit in Austin.

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Yapa Artisan Empanadas at Cedar Park Farmers' Market

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The owner, Polo Valdes, a native of Chile, makes 10 different types of empanadas. The must-try is, of course, the traditional Chilean empanada, El Conquistador. Stuffed with beef and onions that have been cooked with cumin and merkén (a spice made with smoked, dried chile pepper and coriander seeds), black olives, raisins. and a hardboiled egg, the result is a rich and well-balanced experience of flavors. You can find them every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cedar Park Farmers' Market as well as other locations throughout the Lone Star State.
A hybrid between Peruvian flavors and Cuban atmosphere, Isla has an amazing selection of bright ceviches and creative rum-centered cocktails. Though all wonderful, I am partial to the ceviche mixto, made with mahi mahi, crispy octopus, choclo (sweet corn), cancha (roasted corn kernels), sweet potato, yellow chile pepper, and leche de tigre (citrus marinade). I also suggest the arroz negro a lo macho (rice cooked in squid ink with a variety of seafood) and the lomo saltado (thinly sliced beef stir-fried with potatoes, onions, and soy sauce). Plus, their pisco sour is excellent.

Mexic-Arte Museum

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The small museum presents mainly Mexican art, as the name implies, but also Latin American art, both historic and contemporary. The permanent collection includes an incredible series of prints, of which the Taller de Gráfica Popular Collection (a visualization of the political landscape of Mexico in the 20th century) is particularly outstanding. For their temporary exhibitions, the museum brings artists from all over Latin America. Their shop is also worth a visit — a true testament to the value of Latin culture in Texas.

Mi Tradición

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Walking into Mi Tradición instantly transports you, if only for a brief but oh so wonderful second, to Mexico. As is traditional in a Mexican panadería (bread shop), you take a tray and a pair of tongs as you enter, and walk around the store picking the ones you wish to take home. The owners are originally from Puebla, Mexico, and started out selling a few types of bread, but they now also own the taco and torta (Mexican sandwich) eatery next door, where you can find amazing Mexican street-food staples like tacos al pastor, tlacoyos, and sopecitos.

Casa Colombia

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For those missing the simple-yet-comforting dishes that Grandma made back home, Casa Colombia is the place to go. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and their menu is a dream of traditional Colombian dishes with a couple of outliers from other Latin American countries. I strongly recommend you start with a couple of arepas (cornmeal patties), perhaps the one with chicharrón (pork rind) and the one with beef — but you can’t go wrong with a simple cheese one. As for mains, either go for the bandeja paisa, the tamal valluno, or the ropa vieja.

Tesoros Trading Company

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In Tesoros you can find an array of crafts, clothes, jewelry, and everything in between from various Latin American countries, although they also sell souvenirs from Africa and Asia. I especially love shopping there for Day of the Dead, as I can get the most beautiful papel picado (tissue paper banners) and full-size papier mâché skeletons to decorate my altar. Give yourself a good amount of time to dive into this eclectic shop — it’s a true Austin gem.

El Naranjo

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Chef Iliana de la Vega brought the pre-Hispanic flavors of her hometown state, Oaxaca, Mexico, to Austin. Everything at El Naranjo is made from scratch, from the corn tortillas (made with heirloom corn varieties from Mexico) to the bread and ice cream. De la Vega is famous for her outstanding moles, and the menu includes the rich and complex mole negro, made with over 30 different ingredients — including chocolate — and the amarillo, a lighter, vibrant mole made with herbs, chiles, and vegetables. El Naranjo defies the notion of Mexican cuisine as just street fare and tacos.

Veracruz All Natural

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Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, two sisters from Veracruz, Mexico, became famous for their migas taco (crunchy tortilla strips scrambled with eggs, topped with pico de gallo and avocado, served over a flour tortilla). Also worth noting are the fish tacos and the incredible selection of aguas frescas. The original trailer is located on East Cesar Chavez, but they have two other locations now.

La Michoacana Meat Market

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If you are looking for a traditional Mexican market, this is the place to go in Austin. Here you’ll find everything you could possibly be missing from Mexico, from meats and breads to produce and dried goods. They carry an incredible selection of rare Mexican brands that you will not be able to find anywhere else, especially kitchen and beauty products. Look for La Michoacana Markets throughout Austin, as there are several locations.

Sabor a Honduras

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The pupusas (thick, rich corn patties traditional in Central American countries) at this Southeast Austin trailer are incredibly delicious, particularly the chicharrón with cheese. The pollo con tajadas is one of their specialties and an absolute must: crispy fried chicken covered in a creamy sauce, served with fried plantains and pickled onions.

Milonga Room

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For a night out, Milonga Room is a basement-turned-1920s-themed-speakeasy at the Buenos Aires Café. You’ll find classic Argentine drinks at the bar, like a house hesperidina (an Argentine aperitif made from orange peels), amaros, and fernets. This is a reservation- and password-only bar, so plan ahead. If you get hungry, you can also snack on some empanadas. Look for special events, like tango nights, on their Facebook page.

Café Bustelo® at SXSW®

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¡Austin! Disfruta un cafecito con nosotros. Hang out with Café Bustelo® at SXSW® March 16 to 18 in the heart of downtown Austin. They're bringing the cafecito you love direct to you, fans and friends. Find Cafe Bustelo by the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake for a few days of music, coffee samples, a photo booth, games and more. Don’t miss all the great events the festival has to offer. And when you need a break, Café Bustelo will be at there for all of your cafecito needs. For more information, follow Cafe Bustelo on and Twitter. Join the conversation with #BusteloExperience. ¡Nos vemos en SXSW!
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Yapa Artisan Empanadas at Cedar Park Farmers' Market

The owner, Polo Valdes, a native of Chile, makes 10 different types of empanadas. The must-try is, of course, the traditional Chilean empanada, El Conquistador. Stuffed with beef and onions that have been cooked with cumin and merkén (a spice made with smoked, dried chile pepper and coriander seeds), black olives, raisins. and a hardboiled egg, the result is a rich and well-balanced experience of flavors. You can find them every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cedar Park Farmers' Market as well as other locations throughout the Lone Star State.

Isla

A hybrid between Peruvian flavors and Cuban atmosphere, Isla has an amazing selection of bright ceviches and creative rum-centered cocktails. Though all wonderful, I am partial to the ceviche mixto, made with mahi mahi, crispy octopus, choclo (sweet corn), cancha (roasted corn kernels), sweet potato, yellow chile pepper, and leche de tigre (citrus marinade). I also suggest the arroz negro a lo macho (rice cooked in squid ink with a variety of seafood) and the lomo saltado (thinly sliced beef stir-fried with potatoes, onions, and soy sauce). Plus, their pisco sour is excellent.

Mexic-Arte Museum

The small museum presents mainly Mexican art, as the name implies, but also Latin American art, both historic and contemporary. The permanent collection includes an incredible series of prints, of which the Taller de Gráfica Popular Collection (a visualization of the political landscape of Mexico in the 20th century) is particularly outstanding. For their temporary exhibitions, the museum brings artists from all over Latin America. Their shop is also worth a visit — a true testament to the value of Latin culture in Texas.

Mi Tradición

Walking into Mi Tradición instantly transports you, if only for a brief but oh so wonderful second, to Mexico. As is traditional in a Mexican panadería (bread shop), you take a tray and a pair of tongs as you enter, and walk around the store picking the ones you wish to take home. The owners are originally from Puebla, Mexico, and started out selling a few types of bread, but they now also own the taco and torta (Mexican sandwich) eatery next door, where you can find amazing Mexican street-food staples like tacos al pastor, tlacoyos, and sopecitos.

Casa Colombia

For those missing the simple-yet-comforting dishes that Grandma made back home, Casa Colombia is the place to go. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and their menu is a dream of traditional Colombian dishes with a couple of outliers from other Latin American countries. I strongly recommend you start with a couple of arepas (cornmeal patties), perhaps the one with chicharrón (pork rind) and the one with beef — but you can’t go wrong with a simple cheese one. As for mains, either go for the bandeja paisa, the tamal valluno, or the ropa vieja.

Tesoros Trading Company

In Tesoros you can find an array of crafts, clothes, jewelry, and everything in between from various Latin American countries, although they also sell souvenirs from Africa and Asia. I especially love shopping there for Day of the Dead, as I can get the most beautiful papel picado (tissue paper banners) and full-size papier mâché skeletons to decorate my altar. Give yourself a good amount of time to dive into this eclectic shop — it’s a true Austin gem.

El Naranjo

Chef Iliana de la Vega brought the pre-Hispanic flavors of her hometown state, Oaxaca, Mexico, to Austin. Everything at El Naranjo is made from scratch, from the corn tortillas (made with heirloom corn varieties from Mexico) to the bread and ice cream. De la Vega is famous for her outstanding moles, and the menu includes the rich and complex mole negro, made with over 30 different ingredients — including chocolate — and the amarillo, a lighter, vibrant mole made with herbs, chiles, and vegetables. El Naranjo defies the notion of Mexican cuisine as just street fare and tacos.

Veracruz All Natural

Reyna and Maritza Vazquez, two sisters from Veracruz, Mexico, became famous for their migas taco (crunchy tortilla strips scrambled with eggs, topped with pico de gallo and avocado, served over a flour tortilla). Also worth noting are the fish tacos and the incredible selection of aguas frescas. The original trailer is located on East Cesar Chavez, but they have two other locations now.

La Michoacana Meat Market

If you are looking for a traditional Mexican market, this is the place to go in Austin. Here you’ll find everything you could possibly be missing from Mexico, from meats and breads to produce and dried goods. They carry an incredible selection of rare Mexican brands that you will not be able to find anywhere else, especially kitchen and beauty products. Look for La Michoacana Markets throughout Austin, as there are several locations.

Sabor a Honduras

The pupusas (thick, rich corn patties traditional in Central American countries) at this Southeast Austin trailer are incredibly delicious, particularly the chicharrón with cheese. The pollo con tajadas is one of their specialties and an absolute must: crispy fried chicken covered in a creamy sauce, served with fried plantains and pickled onions.

Milonga Room

For a night out, Milonga Room is a basement-turned-1920s-themed-speakeasy at the Buenos Aires Café. You’ll find classic Argentine drinks at the bar, like a house hesperidina (an Argentine aperitif made from orange peels), amaros, and fernets. This is a reservation- and password-only bar, so plan ahead. If you get hungry, you can also snack on some empanadas. Look for special events, like tango nights, on their Facebook page.

Café Bustelo® at SXSW®

¡Austin! Disfruta un cafecito con nosotros. Hang out with Café Bustelo® at SXSW® March 16 to 18 in the heart of downtown Austin. They're bringing the cafecito you love direct to you, fans and friends. Find Cafe Bustelo by the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake for a few days of music, coffee samples, a photo booth, games and more. Don’t miss all the great events the festival has to offer. And when you need a break, Café Bustelo will be at there for all of your cafecito needs. For more information, follow Cafe Bustelo on and Twitter. Join the conversation with #BusteloExperience. ¡Nos vemos en SXSW!

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