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Katie Davis



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Juan’ce and Only Juan’ce

Thursday, June 10, 2010 @ 09:06 AM

frontofrestuarant Well it’s official…we are Midwesterners again; and after one very long day of packing a truck and two vehicles, 17 plus hours of driving with two cats over two days, and unpacking the truck at our new home, we have arrived back home in Indiana!  That being said, we still have our work cut out for us as far as unpacking, home renovations, and the other unforeseen things that come with owning a home arise.  Still, even with all we have left to do, we are getting settled, and just in time for another installment of PCC. 

Although we are thrilled to be back up north and are loving the surroundings and the friendliness of everyone, there are certain things we are going to miss about the south.  One thing that I know was both a blessing (and curse) when living in Dallas was when deciding on a place to eat there was a never ending amount of options when it comes to restaurants…especially Mexican cuisine.  To be honest, most of the time we would just fly by the seat of our pants and give a new place a try or if we were just in the mood for chips & salsa and margaritas, we had a few local favorites we frequented.  However, a lot of the best hole in the wall places we ended up finding were discovered due to our love of all things Food Network, Travel Channel, and pop culture cuisine.  In Fact, I have already featured two lovely locales we found, Mariano’s and Hula Hut.  Both of those locations were definite hits in my book and I was so glad we were able to learn of their existence.  This next spot was visited the same weekend as Hula Hut during our whirlwind culinary tour of Austin…an extremely popular local breakfast spot called Juan in a Million.   

Opened in 1981, they have been widely known around town as serving authentic Mexican food and is still family owned and operated; and we first heard of this famed breakfast diner on an episode of Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” and later saw it featured as number 53 on Travel Channel’s “Chowdown Countdown (100 Tastiest Places to Chowdown).”  What caught our eye about this place was the seriousness of their now infamous “Don Juan” – El Taco Grande.  Although it seems like your basic breakfast taco with potato, egg, bacon, and cheese on a tortilla, what sets it apart is its sheer size!  This thing is massive and when we first saw it, Adam Richman was attempting to put down 7 of them!  Here is the video clip to prove it…


I guess it’s needless to say that they look pretty insane, huh?  I mean I could hardly imagine putting down 1, much less 7!  However, although I would never think of entering the challenge, from watching that episode they looked pretty darn tasty.  So when we knew we were planning a trip to Austin, we asked our friends Dario and Jaclyn if we might add Juan in a Million to the “must visit” list.  They were totally happy to oblige and warned us that especially on the weekends their will be a wait, due to its local popularity.  So we all ventured out that Saturday morning to wait in line to take on these behemoth tacos…which at the time sounded like the perfect remedy for the late night out before. 😉

047 Lucky for us the wait was not outrageous and it was a beautiful day outside, so I was happy to take in some of the sunshine.  Being fairly late morning when we got there, I was definitely one “starvin’ marvin,” so I was happy when after we were seated they presented us with a heaping basket of chips and salsa.  That first basket definitely did not last long, as we all had a bit of a need for some food.  They were not my most favorite chips ever, but I was hungry so they did the trick. 

049The inside is fairly small and they really pack ‘em in for sure…so much so that it would be easy enough to have a conversation with the table next to you, if you catch my drift.  But it’s cool…Juan’s is the type of place that has that authentic charm, which I enjoyed; and oddly enough, after looking at that video clip again, we were seated at that exact same table as Adam Richman from “Man v. Food”…so that’s cool! 

When it came time to order (menu), none of us really needed to think twice…we all knew we were headed in the direction of the “Don Juan.”  Also, the Carne Guisada taco caught my eye, largely due to it being an item I had never tried, so I went ahead an ordered both. ;)  However, I must have eaten my weight in chips before they even showed up, largely due to their salsa that, although super spicy, still had a very nice flavor I couldn’t seem to get enough of.  But, luckily before I could eat 45 baskets of chips by myself, this was placed before me…

050053 Yep, that crazy pile of meat, potato and cheese is one taco!  Honestly, it is pretty humorous once they set it down too…to think that THIS is only ONE taco.  Now I was not about to try and pick this whole thing up and take a bite, and luckily they provide you with extra fresh tortillas so you can portion out multiple tacos if you wish.  I chose just to tackle it with a fork and eat the innards by them self.  Again, when they set this down in front of me my mouth was definitely watering.  I thought this combination not only sounded great, but look at it…it’s going to taste wonderful, right?  Unfortunately, I was sort of disappointed.  While I would not describe it as “I can’t eat this” awful or anything, I could not really describe it as anything, because it tasted like just that…NOTHING!  And as mouth watering as this dish looks, it had zero flavor in my opinion, and was a really dry (my guess is from all the potato).  My husband (Adam) unfortunately felt the same way, which I know he was disappointed about because he as so looking forward to this place in particular.  I suppose I could have ladled on the salsa, but I want my taco to have a describable flavor all on its own, and this just didn’t; and the Carne Guisada was really just beef stew on a tortilla.  Although tasty, it was nothing terribly unique.  So in all honesty, I did not leave all that full, because I really am not one to stuff myself with something that I don’t enjoy. :(  (I figure if I’m going to indulge, it better be worth it!) 

Still, I was able to enjoy looking around following our meal and was able to find some mementos from “Man v. Food’s” visit…

059 060 This wall represents all the record holders in several different categories for the “Don Juan” challenge.  I’m pretty sure the current record holder overall is 8 1/2 tacos…wow!

061 Although I was disappointed with the meal, I still enjoyed the experience.  It is always fun to be in a buzzing atmosphere; and when you have great company with you it makes it even better.  Still, at the end of the day, I have to give an honest review.

SIGNATURE DISH: Yes…I would say they are pretty widely known for their breakfast tacos, most specifically the “Don Juan.”  This major taco seems to be the most popular dish to order, and with it being featured so often on television, it has become even more widely known.  Also, their taco eating competitions have become ever more popular among celebrities and locals alike.  In the end, it appears that the popularity of this one item alone will keep growing.

TASTE: As I said, I was not overly impressed with the taste at all.  In fact, I (and Adam) was quite disappointed. :(  This would be one of those cases when the dish was completely deceiving; and I will continue to be baffled by how delicious this taco looked and how little flavor it had.  I mean…I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was just so bland that I would have given anything for a little flavor, which is hard to believe given it’s ingredients.  So, sorry Juan…your famous taco is definitely NOT One in a Million!

AMBIANCE: This is one area that I enjoyed.  I’ll admit it was nothing out of the ordinary, but it had the charm of a family owned place.  It was small and quaint, yet buzzing with people that made it fun and energetic. 

PRICE: The price was great.  That big ass taco only cost a whopping $3.60, so even though I did not enjoy the taste, I did not feel overly upset that we spent to much on it.  The only thing to consider is if you want a soft drink there, you do have to pay each time as they only have cans, so that can add up.

SERVICE:  I was impressed that although they get really packed, were seated within about 15 minutes.  However, past getting seated, I was not overly impressed.  Our waitress was not very friendly and got a bit impatient when it took us a minute to order.  She also did not seem to like that we were ordering more than one beverage.  I mean…the nerve of us. ;)  Anyway, our food was delivered pretty quick, which I was thankful for, but outside of that I did not think we were treated with the utmost southern hospitality. 

Although I’m glad to say I have tried the infamous “Don Juan”, I’m sorry to say that I have to give Juan in a Million 2 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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