With above average food, a wide and popular selection of margaritas (including the infamous Purple Margarita), and five separate locations (see maps below, all uniquely different, Baby A's, like Chuy's, consistently makes every Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in Austin list. But, also like Chuy's, it's not without its drawbacks.
The menu here is actually pretty good (and comprehensive). The queso and salsa are both above average. The tortilla soup, known as the Famous Baby A's Soup, is indeed popular and tasty. Personally, I'm partial to Jerry's Burrito (and depending upon the maturity of your dining companions, ordering it can be good for a snicker or two). The shrimp fajitas are also a favorite dish.
Baby A's success and longevity isn't owing exclusively to its food, however. Some of the locations are popular drinking destinations on their own. Happy hour runs weekdays from 2pm - 7pm. All told, there are 13 different margaritas: Banana, Blue, Cantaloupe, Coconut, Mango, Peach, Lime/Regular, Pineapple, Pink Passion, Prickly Pear, Purple, Strawberry, and Sangria.
The famous Purple Margarita. Those are excluded from the happy hour pricing, and customers are limited to no more than two. That would be because the secret sauce is rumored to be everclear.
Baby A's - LocationsIt's been noted that each new Baby Acapulco location is a little nicer than the one before it. That would be more accurate if locations #2 and #3 were reversed.
Location #1 @ S Lakeshore DR is actually off E RIVERSIDE DR and shares a strip mall space with a gas station. How can I say this delicately? This is not one of Austin's more prestigious neighborhoods.
Location #2 @ Barton Springs RD is probably the best overall location if you want that nice laid back South Austin experience. There is patio seating, although not a tremendous deal of seating either inside or out. But, located right next to Zilker Park and sharing the neighborhood with other popular Austin restarants such as Chuy's and Shady Grove, this is always a safe bet for a good meal in a good environment.
Location #3, the I-35 location near 51st Street is actually my favorite Baby Acapulco restaurant, even as it sometimes rates high on the seedy scale. Of course, that's probably why it is my favorite. There's definitely something Authentic Austin about this location, but more of in that broken toy sort of way. And on Friday and Saturday nights, it's known to get even more authentic.
Location #4, also off I-35, near the suburb city of Pflugerville, is the only site that could be considered "new construction." The restaurant is still in Austin, but just barely. This I-35 corridor from north Austin through Pflugerville and into Round Rock has exploded with new retail growth over the last five years.
In many ways, this is the nicest, cleanest looking Baby Acapulco (see photo at the top of this page), but be forewarned: there's something horribly wrong with the acoustics in the main dining room. There's nothing on the walls or the floor to absorb sound, and the whole curved nature of the dome ceiling adds to the problem so that you literally have to shout to have a conversation at your own table.
Finally, the 5th Location, in Northwest Austin at Stonelake BLVD (near that confusing, jumbled mess where Capital of Texas Highway (360), Mo-Pac (Loop 1), and US-183 all kind of intersect) has a more tropical look and feel to it. That's because the previous tenant was Bahama Breeze, a Caribbean-themed chain owned by Darden Restaurants.
This location also has more of a corporate clientele feel than the others - it bumps up against two 9-story office buildings and shares the neighborhood with a number of hotels.
Baby Acapulco - Maps
#1 @ E. RIVERSIDE1705 S. Lakeshore BLVD
Austin Texas 78741
#2 @ BARTON SPRINGS RD1628 Barton Springs RD
Austin Texas 78704
#3 @ N I-35 (Near 51st ST)5610 N I-35
Austin Texas 78751
#4 @ N I-35 (@ HOWARD LN, Near Pflugerville)13609 N I-35
Austin Texas 78753
#5 @ STONELAKE BLVD9505-B Stonelake BLVD
Austin Texas 78759
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Courtesy of the R.A.T. Austin Restaurant Guide