Juan in a Million: Open 7 days a week 7am-3pm, 2300 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78702
When I walk into Juan in a Million, I am reminded of what a great city Austin has become. I’ve been visiting or living in Austin since about 1994, and I forget sometimes how much it has grown but still maintained its laid back and friendly identity. Inside the restaurant, once you moved past the small crowd at the register, a waiter or waitress will greet you with a smile at the hostess station, which is set up right beneath an entrance hall covered with photos of the owner laughing and shaking hands with locals and well-known figures. Something like Van Morrison might be playing on the radio, people are speaking in Spanish and English, and bells are being rung for orders up. When you are seated, you are likely to be sitting beside, as Ben and I were, some business men, a couple speaking Spanish, young groups with tattoos and piercings, young hipsters, and a guy with a Spurs t-shirt. Even though we were seated close to people, because of the constant hum of conversation, music, and movement, I felt the anonymity, in a positive way, of a big city. People were laughing and talking and not caring at all what Ben and I said or didn’t say. Despite all the activity, it still feels like a very relaxed place. Outside on the patio (Juan in a Million has indoor and outdoor seating) families were laughing and sipping on Dos Equis, and inside one man contentedly ate his migas while reading the paper.
Juan in a Million is one of my favorite Mexican food restaurants in Austin because of the above reasons and because it has been around since before East Austin became trendy: it opened in 1980. Plus, the food is good, your pretty standard good Tex-Mex. I ordered the migas with shredded cheese. Ben got the daily special for $7.25 that came with tea, two enchiladas (choice of cheese, beef, or chicken), and beans and rice. We were both so hungry by the time we got there that there was not much talking. Plus, it’s dang good Tex-Mex. The waitress forgot our queso and never remembered it. She was quick to get the rest of our food out and she was very nice. Our total bill came to $18.81.