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Brazos embraces Charlottesville’s need for affordable, delicious Tex-Mex

Tantalizing tacos with a side of good service, a fun atmosphere and low prices

<p>Their Austin style tacos have taken Charlottesville by storm, developing a cult following that I needed to experience for myself.</p>

Their Austin style tacos have taken Charlottesville by storm, developing a cult following that I needed to experience for myself.

After a long day of midterms, I needed some comfort food, and luckily Brazos was able to hit the spot. Their Austin style tacos have taken Charlottesville by storm, developing a cult following that I needed to experience for myself. The relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, and it is not far from Grounds in the Barracks Road Shopping Center, making Brazos my new go-to for Tex-Mex on a budget.

Brazos is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m Sunday.

Brazos first opened in IX Art Park near Downtown Charlottesville, serving patrons their signature Texas-inspired tacos. The success of their original location warranted the opening of another in the Barracks Road Shopping Center, which made their food accessible to a larger community. The Barracks location was first a 60-day popup in 2015, but when owner Peter Griesar saw its booming success, he opened the permanent establishment. The popularity of Brazos has not slowed down since, as the vibrancy and low prices continue to draw in new crowds.

When my roommate and I arrived at Brazos, the wood-paneled facade clearly differentiated the restaurant from the other establishments on Barracks Road, and the interior design of the restaurant made its eclectic character even more apparent. Upon entry, patrons are met with decorative hues of orange and teal. An art deco mural adorns the back wall, lit up by hanging wicker lights, and various trinkets dotted the bar. Happy chatter filled the restaurant and produced a bright ambiance, and the close quarters in which we sat with other groups brought a family-style vibe to the room.

My roommate and I are self-proclaimed queso aficionados, so we started with the classic chips and queso, which came with a special Brazos flair. The chefs spritz the chips with lime and dust them with salt to elevate the dish past a basic starter, all for only $8.

As per the recommendation of our waitress, we also got the brussels sprouts. We received a heaping basket of beautifully crispy Brussels sprouts tossed in salt and citrus for only $8. While delicious, we did end up having to take a box for this starter — the “shareable” portion was a little too much for the two of us.

Next, we ordered an assortment of three tacos — Carnitas, For The Win and the Chimichurri Steak and Potatoes. The menu description for the Carnitas pretty much summed it up as a “no brainer,” and it certainly delivered on that description. The pork was buttery, soft and flavorful, and the pickled red onion brought color and a tang that was complemented by the creamy avocado.

The chorizo and guisada — a slow simmered beef doused in brown gravy — in the FTW taco packed a flavorful punch with a hint of heat, which was offset by the avocado and cheese. 

Our last taco, the Chimichurri Steak and Potatoes, featured mashed potatoes enveloped in tortilla — a concept that intrigued me. The acidic and bright chimichurri sauce — a salsa of minced parsley and lemon — was well-balanced by the mashed potatoes, but I would have preferred some more variation in texture, as everything was very soft in this taco. 

As a whole, I would recommend all three tacos — but be sure to have napkins at the ready because they are not a neat eat. No taco was priced higher than $6, which is a fantastic price for such well-curated bites.

Brazos also has a few “bigger plates,” so we decided to try the Quesabirria platter, which was three grilled corn tortilla tacos filled with brisket, jack cheese, diced onions and cilantro. This plate was the cure to my midterm blues. 

When digging into the Quesabirria, the crunch of the grilled corn tortillas was immediately followed by one of the best cheese pulls I’ve seen. The brisket was juicy and rich, its flavor further enhanced when drenched in the beef consommé — a clarified beef sauce. At $14 for three tacos, it’s priced reasonably and was my favorite dish of the night.

If you aren’t completely stuffed after dinner, definitely grab some of their churros for dessert. The churros were hot from the oven and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Their crunch was ASMR-worthy, and I do believe I could drink the dulce de leche that accompanied it. They are well worth the $7.

I thoroughly enjoyed my outing to Brazos. The restaurant is the perfect spot to grab a cheap but scrumptious bite with your friends. The relaxed atmosphere means that you can show up after a workout or use it as a date night spot — an ideal duality, in my opinion.


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