Matt's El Rancho

Discussion in 'Around Austin' started by LonghornGirlie, Feb 1, 2000.

  1. cowanl

    cowanl First Time Poster

    It was great. Tex-Mex, Italian and Seafood all at one spot. We even went there for our wedding supper.
  2. Horn21

    Horn21 25+ Posts

    I went to Matt's for the first time after the aggy game. Thought I would bring this thread back to the top with my opinion. Holy overrated. We waited for 2 hours for food that I could have picked up in the frozen foods section of HEB.
  3. Faithsdad

    Faithsdad < 25 Posts

    I am a long time lurker to this site and I enjoy many of the posts on this board. However, I decided that I needed to post because of some of the animosity towards Matt's El Rancho. I decided a long time ago that I would never post. It is just not my thing. But since many of you have had such bad experiences at El Rancho I would like to say a few things. And let me say that I do not wish to offend anyone.

    I would like to begin by apologizing to any of you that have had a bad experience at Matt's El Rancho. All I can tell you is that the Martinez family tries their best to please everyone. We all know that is not possible. Everyone always loves "mom and pop" places but when they become successful then for some reason it is not the same. I would just like to point out that Matt's El Rancho is still a "mom and pop" place. Owned and operated by the Martinez family with love and pride. For those of you who have been around long enough you know that Matt's was a little unpretentious place on First St. that grew into #1 and #2. Of course the Four Seasons changed that and the new building opened in the mid-eighties. Same food and yes a different atmosphere but not that different as what always made Matt's was the family.

    As far as the food, the funny thing is they use fresh ingredients from fresh produce to quality meat to making their own corn and flour tortillas as well as the chips and taco shells. The fish is fresh and everything is still homade. Many long time customers know that Jimmy is still the cook. And of course you can look in the grill area and see the food being prepared.

    The service is a tricky issue. There are several top notch waiters who have been with the family for decades now. But, with a restaurant that size there is a need for so many waiters and bus persons that there is obviously going to be turnover. That is no excuse. The service should always be exemplary.

    The issue with the wait is a little different story. When you go to a place you usually have an idea if it will be busy or not. Most good restaurants require a wait. It is up to you whether you chose to wait or not. El Rancho seats over 500 people but yes, sometimes the wait can be up to 2 hours. I know that if I had to wait 2 hours to eat I probably wouldn't have a good experience either. But like I said, chosing to wait is your option.

    I am kind of embarrassed to post but as someone who married into the Martinez family I decided I should post a reply to so many of the negative comments on this board. I love this site and I love the University of Texas. The Martinez family is not the Evil Empire. I promise you. They are good people who try to sell good food and please their customers.

    I would like to conclude by saying that as much as the Martinez family tries to please everyone, they just can't. And everyone has their own opinion of what is good and what isn't. That's just life. But, having said that, just remember, Matt's El Rancho is not owned by some corporation or greedy jerks. It is still just a family owned Austin business that has been around for 52 years and counting. I realize someone will probably blast me for my post, but I really hope not. In the future, if anyone has a problem at El Rancho, be sure and ask to speak to a manager or even a family member. I promise they will do all they can to rectify any problem you may have. And if you have any really nasty replies please PM me. I would appreciate it. Thank you for taking time to read the post. Remember, there are a lot of good restaurants in town and I don't think there are many that don't care. I think everyone tries their best. Anyway, I wish everyone happy eating, wherever you chose to dine!
  4. ScoPro

    ScoPro 1,000+ Posts

    The Wife & I ate lunch at Matt's about a month ago for the first time in about 10 years. Thought it was very good food & the service was fine.

    My family used to eat at El Matt's down on East Avenue (now I-35). Sure do miss those puffy tacos.
  5. Skipper

    Skipper 100+ Posts

    El Matamoros ... now, there's a trip down memory lane. We used to stop off there back in the 50's coming through Austin on the way to San Antonio. Does anyone recall when El Mat closed and under what circumstances?

    TTUFIN 25+ Posts

    Matt's is decent at best, not bad, just decent. Head to the east side if you want some way better food. El Azteca, Nuevo Leon are a couple that come to mind. El Meson on Burleson is a bad *** place, very fresh, so fresh they cook it right in front of you. It is not really TexMex though, more towards interior Mexican I think.
  7. Texas97

    Texas97 500+ Posts

    i took my fiancee on our first date to nuevo leon 4 1/2 years ago to the old location. it was greatness. i used to go there with a friend of mine all the time. when they moved to the new location, he predicted that the quality would go down. his reasoning made sense: any time you get bigger, you have more food to make and it is hard to keep the quality up. same with service.

    that said, the new location definitely looks nicer. i have been a few times to the new location and the food is still pretty damn good.

  8. TEXAS1026

    TEXAS1026 100+ Posts

    Not even the best mexican food on South Lamar. Casa Garcia's beats down Matt's with an extension cord.
  9. Faithsdad

    Faithsdad < 25 Posts

    Out of respect for my wife and before she tells me to do so, the original post has been deleted. If by chance you stumbled across the post before I made this change then I would like to point out that the statements made were in no way representative of the Martinez family, El Rancho employees, or the loyal patrons who eat there. I apologize for the lack of class. As a man I do not do well with the term "beat down." As a big man (of course I could be about 5'7") I tend to be a bully sometimes. It is Monday and everyone should understand being a little grumpy on a Monday morning. Anyway, see the 12/1/04 post for any background info. We all know what opinions are like and everybody has one. And most importantly we are all entitled to them. Thank you and have a nice day.
  10. TomTerrific

    TomTerrific 500+ Posts

    Obviously all of these are opinions and highly subjective....which is how it should be.

    No need to take anything personally or get upset...everyone likes something different.

    As for me....Matt's El Rancho was just OK last time I was there...and alot of it had to do with the poor service.

  11. Faithsdad

    Faithsdad < 25 Posts

    Which is exactly what I have said in both posts and in another post on another thread. I apologized for getting upset and also deleted my original post (from 3/21). Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I think most people who read my first post understand that I am just defending family. I would assume that you would do the same, eh? I read the posts on this board and I enjoy them quite a bit although I am primarily concerned with the football forum. However, I do check this thread. I find it amusing that people feel the need to post such mean things about a restaurant. But, I also understand that success breeds contempt. Much like the University of Texas does for students, alums, or fans of other universities. That is life. No one is taking anything personal.
    I would also like to point out that as far as opinions or anything else, I can tell you as a fact that the Martinez family are good people and probably don't deserve certain comments. But then again, deserving has nothing to do with it now does it? If people like El Rancho, great; if not, don't go. Hopefully people reading this thread will choose to go or give it another try. Business is better than ever and life is good. Like I mentioned in the earlier thread, if you do go and you have a problem, let a manager know. Poor service is never a good thing. In any restaurant, if something is wrong, let someone know. Not necessarily a waiter, but a manager so that they will be aware. Or I guess just get on Hornfans and blast the place. It's just not every business owner or associate reads that but at least they can take useful information from customers to make their business better. Anyway, I have great respect for people's opinions and many of the owner's of the restaurants mentioned on this four page thread are friends of the Martinez family and overall I would say there is great respect for pretty much all restaurants within that community because everyone knows what hard work it is. Like I said before, happy eating wherever you choose to dine. It's all good to someone.
  12. Texas007

    Texas007 1,000+ Posts

    A fine job defending your family. I haven't been to Matt's in years. I live in Houston now, and only get back to Austin for football games. I always enjoyed my food there. I have generally received fine service. Like you said there is really no need to blast the place with such venom of some of ther folks here. Seems that for posters on this site if anything becomes a commercial success then it suddenly sucks. That goes for restaurants, bands, cars, etc.

    Matt's is fine. It is sucessful and I wish them luck.
  13. Faithsdad

    Faithsdad < 25 Posts


    Thank you so much. Sometimes it is the little things that can make or break a person's day and I just want to say thanks, you made my day. I usually see a new post on this thread and expect the worst but I can definately say that today I was pleasantly surprised. The only reason I check in the first place is because I know it's here. I get on Hornfans to read about sports but I know this thread is here so I can't help but check. Anyway, thank you again, I really appreciate it. [​IMG]
  14. Texas007

    Texas007 1,000+ Posts

    well I was in Austin this past weekend and thougt I would go by Matt's and check it out since it had been so long. I had fine service and perfectly fine food. It was pretty much exactly as I remember it. Was it THE best food I have ever eaten? No. But that wasn't my expectation when I went in there. Probably wasn't the very best texmex I have ever eaten either, but it was good food served promply in a nice atmosphere. I think you people giving it all this grief ought to realize the place it what it is, and that is pretty decent texmex served by a family owned place that has had a ton of success who is doing what they can to keep up with demand. It is better than a whole lot of places I have eaten texmex in Austin and othe places. Again it is worse than a lot too, but I don't expect it to be the best I have ever eaten either. Hell I go to Hofbrau Steakhouse, but I do not ***** about it after that fact because it is not as good as Peter Luger's. It is what it is. Eat there or don't, but keep expectations realistic. especially you guys claiming freaking Chuy's to be some kind of great ftexmex. Geez. I love Chuy's, but it is no better or worse than Matt's. It is different, but it isn't something approaching a religious experinence by any means.
  15. twid

    twid 25+ Posts

    i'll just say that i've been going to matt's since i was a kid, and i still love it. there may be better places, but i still love me some bob armstrong dip.
  16. ScoPro

    ScoPro 1,000+ Posts

    Ate at Guero's for the first time with a party of 6 about a month ago. I fail to see what all the raving is here about that place and on other threads. We ordered 4 different entrees & shared - I can categorically say that none of them were very good. The house 'rita was mediocre too. Won't go back there.
  17. Texas007

    Texas007 1,000+ Posts

    I too would put Gueros food in the mediocre category. I bet half the places in this thread would get labeled mediore if they weren't located in a **** hole building that somehow allegedly give the place character. I had one of drunk time at Guero's after a football game a few years back. My wife took it upon herself to take me and two buddies to the game. She offered to drive. We left Houston and cracked the beer as soon as we got in the car. We all had flasks for the game. We go to Gueros after the game, and even drunk the food was mediocre. My two buddies got into a food fight. One threw sour cream and hit the other dude in the face. We started yelling gaycial and my wife makes us leave. At least she bought us more beer for the way home. good time, but food isn't great.
  18. Faithsdad

    Faithsdad < 25 Posts

    That's cool. I think that Texas007's assessment of El Rancho is perfectly fair and I think that expectations have a lot to do with things. It is after all, a restaurant. Nothing more. I am biased and think it is a great place. Plus, Matt was one bad dude. Seriously, some of the stories about him are amazing. I had a lot of respect for him as a man.
    But it is still a restaurant. Some of the things that have bothered me on this thread have to do with complaints on the wait, which goes back to expectations. Certain places you know there will be a wait and that is how it is. Funny thing is, many regular customers that come in two or three times a week and just love El Rancho even get upset over the wait on weekends. I hear stories that there are customers who will yell at a hostess and tell them who they are and they know the family and to call (my mother-in-law). Funny that people really do act that way. But I know the family and employees do what the can to satisfy everyone.
    The other thing is the frozen food stuff. While everyone has different tastes, the one thing I can tell you is that the food at El Rancho is fresh. They make everything there. The chips, the tortillas, the shells, the guacamole, the salsa, everything. The meat and fish are fresh. And some of the best things on the menu are not necessarily the common items. The salmon is great as are the frog legs and the steaks are pretty tasty. All the fish items are really good. Of course not everyone likes fish. Not everyone likes anything.
    However, with respect to this thread, I think the point has been made and I really do appreciate the kind and realistic words. I do pass stuff along to my mother-in-law and they are constantly striving for perfection. Can't do it, but they don't believe that so they keep trying. They have really good managers in place and they are all doing their best. It is really nice to read this thread and not see the venomous posts and mean comments.
    Texas007, thanks for visiting while in town, hope you can make it back sometime. ScoPro thanks for going back in December, hopefully you can make it down again as well. And thanks to twid, because it's customers like you that keep the business what it is. Anyway, thank you very much and I think I can go back to lurking now.[​IMG]
  19. MaximumBarnes

    MaximumBarnes 100+ Posts

    The cowboy-style chicken fried steak is pretty much my favorite meal. If it came with a guacamole salad automatically, it would be perfect. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
  20. Boozehound

    Boozehound 250+ Posts

    Matt's Potatoes mixed with beef fajitas = a good meal, and a good leftover meal the next day.

    No hate here for Matt's - it's all about what you order. There's no reason to hate on a place unless you're talking about something on the level of Chilis. [​IMG]
  21. Hpslugga

    Hpslugga 2,500+ Posts

    Matt's rules all.
  22. OT Special

    OT Special 25+ Posts

    I miss the way the margaritas used to taste at Matt's.
  23. springbranchhorn

    springbranchhorn < 25 Posts

    It is still the first mexican food place I choose in Austin.

    Passed through there about 1:00 duirng the week. Food good and margaritas great. Did the job
  24. UberHorn

    UberHorn 25+ Posts

    wow this really is the thread that won't die. well, i figured i'd throw in my 2 cents since everybody else has. this thread is so long i might have posted already but i can't remember. anyway, personally i'm not a fan of matt's at all. there are quite a few places i'd eat mexican before matt's.

    1. La Palapa
    2. Texican Cafe
    3. Curras
    4. Guerro's
    5. Abuelo's
    6. Juan in a Million
    7. Polvo's
    8. Little Mexico
    9. Seis Meses
    10. Hula Hut/Chuy's
    11. Maudies

    I will say this though, I would choose Matt's over Casa Garcia any day. Casa Garcia = [​IMG]

    That's what makes Austin so great, there are so many Mexican restaraunts to choose from!
  25. Texas007

    Texas007 1,000+ Posts

    Well we went to Matts the other Saturday before the game, and again it was perfectly fine. I fail to see the problem some of you have. Margaritas were good, food was good, and people were freindly. I eat there now almost out of spite for this thread [​IMG]. I probably like a few other places better, but I still enjoy Matt's. It holds a lot of memories for me and my wife from when we were in school. It isn't the absolute best Tex Mex around, but it'll do for sure.
  26. OrangeBlooded

    OrangeBlooded 500+ Posts

  27. Texas007

    Texas007 1,000+ Posts

  28. OrangeBlooded

    OrangeBlooded 500+ Posts

    i've eaten all over east austin and find it average at best. i think a pre-req is to have govt cheese in your restauraunt.
  29. scottsins

    scottsins 1,000+ Posts

    put me in the "what's the hype about Guerro's about?" category. also, the above post with long lists of restaurants better than matt's includes several that are not even Tex-Mex restaurants, and don't belong in the comparison. examples would be curra's and hula hut, which i love. they're totally different cuisine. I certainly hope you don't think that they're all "mexican food". if so, than you're misinformed.
  30. Ramathorn

    Ramathorn 1,000+ Posts

    Guero's is ok, as is Matt's. But, there are better places in town.

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