Making waves

Austin Tex-Mex favorite makes a splash with new seafood restaurant

Austin Tex-Mex favorite makes a splash with new seafood restaurant

Trudy's Del Mar
It's an ocean of flavors at the new Trudy's Del Mar. Photo by Jane Yun

With the notion that there are plenty of other fish in the sea (and a whole lot of Mexican martinis), one Austin Tex-Mex institution is moving into a long-loved brunch spot with a new concept that’s sure to hook seafood lovers.

The Trudy’s restaurant group — known for its array of enchiladas, queso, tacos, fajitas, and stiff cocktails — will open its newest concept, Trudy’s Del Mar, in the space that previously housed South Congress Cafe, the elevated diner spot that opened in 2003 to much acclaim.

Trudy’s Del Mar will open for business at the revitalized spot, at 1600 S. Congress Ave., on Wednesday, December 29.

The Trudy’s group, which has always owned and operated South Congress Cafe, recently closed the restaurant to remodel the space in preparation for the Trudy’s Del Mar opening, with Trudy’s CEO Dan Smith noting the café concept “was greatly in need of a facelift.”

To that end, the company has decked the restaurant in sea-inspired design elements, including nautical textures, shell-shaped tiles, a wave mural, and mosaic tiles featuring tiny seashells and textures of the ocean. South Congress Cafe’s iconic aqua-colored steel front doors will remain, though as the entrance to the new Trudy’s Del Mar patio.

The Trudy’s Del Mar kitchen will be led by Julian Rodarte, an award-winning 30 Under 30 chef who’s graced the limelight on Food Network and the Travel Channel, and is the owner of acclaimed Dallas eatery Beto & Son.

Rodarte, who also oversees the culinary operations at Trudy’s South and North Star restaurant locations, has crafted a Trudy’s Del Mar menu of unique seafood offerings, which were inspired by traditional recipes often found on the Mexican coast.

Menu highlights include the Daily Catch Veracruzana, seared fish topped with a Veracruz sauce; peppercorn-crusted New York strip topped with a Garrison Brothers rajas cream and served with roasted potatoes and sauteed veggies; seared tuna garnished with grilled pineapple pico; surf and turf fajitas made with fajita steak, lobster, fajita peppers, and onions, and served with cilantro-lime rice and beans; and a seasonal selection of crudo and ceviche. The menu also features tacos, botanas, soups, salads, queso, and guacamoles (it is a Trudy’s restaurant, after all).

But with the aim of also delivering the “special qualities” and menu items that made South Congress Cafe so endearing — including its excellent brunch and handcrafted cocktails — Trudy’s Del Mar will feature fan-favorite brunch specials from the café, including sweet potato beignets and carrot cake French toast, as well as such menu items as a breakfast Benton BLT, carnitas hash, migas, and crab cakes. A late-night menu will also be offered.

Of course, the Trudy’s brand — which has been feeding Austin since 1977 — is well-known and universally loved for its cocktails, and the new restaurant will not disappoint in that regard, with the bar serving up desirably delicious sips like a smoky mezcal margarita, a house-made infused Bloody Mary, red and white wines, top-shelf liquors, select domestic beers, and yes, Trudy’s legendary Mexican martinis.

“We have always wanted to open a unique Tex-Mex seafood concept and knew we had to find the perfect location to introduce it,” Smith says. “We thought it was the perfect place and time to bring the best of both worlds to this location, as Trudy’s Del Mar will offer Mexican-inspired seafood dishes while honoring South Congress Cafe’s tremendous brunch and classic specialties in a beautiful ambiance. Bringing this new concept to life has been such an amazing endeavor for the company as we explore this culinary world of seafood with new, exciting dishes that we can’t wait to share with the city of Austin.”

Check out Trudy’s on social media at @trudystexmex for updates about the new eatery.