Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Adventures in Way Out West Austin – Natural Springs Garden and Santa Catarina June 1, 2011

West Austin has turned into quite the destination in recent years.  I remember when a trip out to Highway 620, meant dinner at Hudson’s on the Bend or drinks at the Oasis.  I have been following a neat blog, Way Out West Austin, and have been amazed at all of the interesting restaurants, bakeries and food related fun stuff going on in the Lakeway/Steiner Ranch environs.  Having chatted with the blog author, Laura at several recent events, we decided to have lunch at Santa Catarina, a Mexican restaurant evocative of my favorite in town interior restaurant, Fonda San Miguel.

But first, Laura wanted me to see an interesting farm, just off of 620 near Hudson Bend Middle School on 15202 Kinsey Court.  Recently, she allowed me to poach her blog post about it, as a guest post here: http://wp.me/po5VL-VR

The interesting thing about this West Austin farm, Natural Springs Garden, is that nearly the entire operation is in giant raised stone beds.  And it would have to be, because the entire area is caliche.  They don’t look like the raised beds we traditionally see, but the farmed area is surrounded by stone walls.  Even the greenhouse utilizes raised beds.

Farming in West Austin

Greenhouse

 Natural Springs Garden operates a Saturday farm stand, which is great news for our West Austin neighbors.

We made our way down 620 to our dining destination, Santa Catarina, which is in a strip center at 1310 RR 620 S, Suite A4. 

Santa Catarina
Having heard that Santa Catarina was a collaboration of folks with both Fonda San Miguel and Manuel’s backgrounds, I was excited to try the food.  But first, a margarita.  There were lots of flavors to choose from, cucumber, prickly pear.  Here is a pomegranate margarita.
 

Pomegranate Margarita

 
We started with the Queso Fundido with Venison Chorizo.  It was rich with flavor and the cheese was just as stretchy as it should be, making us utilize our knives to take our portions.  The corn tortilla that came with it were divine.
 
Queso
As much as I was dying to try some of the heavier fare, I knew I’d regret eating that much, and opted for the Campechana, Poached shrimp, Drum, Tomatoes, Onions, Cilantro, Jalapenos, in Salsa Valentina.  (We later learned that Salsa Valentina is a Mexican staple, akin to ketchup).  It came garnished with at least half an avocado, which made me very happy.  This was as delicious as it looks.
 

The recently remodeled space was a comfortable mix of booths and tables.  The walkway in front of the restaurant has been turned into patio dining, with a nice touch of curtains on either side of the space, to define the space and give it the feel of a stand alone restaurant.  Nice touch, and it works.
 

Lively Interior

Al fresco dining
I enjoyed my meal at Santa Catarina, and will be back, again and again to try more of the menu.
 
It was a fun afternoon in way out West Austin, and I will be back soon to explore some more.
 
 

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