Restaurant of the month: Manuel's (Downtown & the Arboretum) —
July 5, 2020

Restaurant of the month: Manuel’s (Downtown & the Arboretum)

By Rose Di Grazia

When I think of Manuel’s restaurant downtown and in the Arboretum I think back to the days of my early 20s. At the time I had moved from New York to Austin to attend college. Like most college students, I was going to school and working downtown. It was downtown where I discovered Manuel’s at first.

It was a winter day and I went in search of chicken caldo (Mexican soup). Little did I know at the time I had developed walking pneumonia. I will never forget how sweetly I was treated at this restaurant. I had just come in off the bus and was coughing my head off. I was seated in a cozy booth near the back of the restaurant. The waiter took my order. Since I was ill I ordered the hot spicy broth. I could feel it warming my throat as it went down. It was just what the doc ordered. Half-slouched in the booth, I appreciated the waiter who kept checking on me. I was coughing so much he could hear me across the room. It was Christmas Eve, and I was deathly sick. All I remember is the waiter bringing me a tablecloth to put around me because I was shivering. I ate the delicious broth and the waiter asked if there was someone he could call for me–he must have been a dad. I asked him to call a cab to take me to the hospital and he did. I will never forget how he gently put  his arms around me and helped me get into the cab to go to the hospital. I will also never forget  that Christmas in the hospital and the loving kindness of a waiter at Manuel’s restaurant downtown.

Although this is an old memory, Manuel’s still continues to thrive today. The restaurant  has a few locations. The one downtown (on Congress Avenue) is still going strong and I recently visited the one in the Arboretum. This one has a lovely patio and fountain flowing outside the front doors. If you want to dine outside come early because the patio fills up quickly every night. On this fall day I had the pleasure of dinning inside. The service here is excellent. I had the alambres for lunch. The dish included skewered grilled shrimp, vegetables and pineapple on a bed of rice. It was a perfect, healthy and tasty lunch. For dessert, I had the traditional flan.  Their flan was yummy and the perfect way to end a fabulous meal. The dessert had vanilla custard with a coconut-like crust with blackberries.

Manuel’s also offers a wonderful bar and happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. It is a great restaurant to bring a date or the family. Let’s not forget both restaurant locations offer Sunday brunch and live music for Austinites wanting to dine out for breakfast. To this day, Manuel’s restaurant is not only a great place to eat but also a place where they treat you just like family. For more information, visit

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