If there is one thing I like better than food, it is food and beer at the same time. There are a lot of great places in Austin to get good food, or good beer. Unfortunately, the list of places with both is not as long as I would like. It's certainly not inherent in the institution: Casino El Camino has proven that bar food doesn't have to be mediocre. Unfortunately, there is no taco-equivalent of Casino El Camino; and Cuatro's really doesn't fill that niche.
I call Cuatro's a bar with a few reservations. They bill themselves as a bar and grill, and they have high chairs, a kid's menu (with crayons) and a full menu. However, while bar and grill is accurate, they're really geared towards the bar crowd: it's in west campus, it has a decent beer line-up, it has many, many TVs ( all tuned to sports, of course ); also, it just 'feels' like a bar. .
The space is large with a lot of open air seating overlooking 24th St. I found it a bit garage-like, but still nice. Unfortunately, the tacos were mostly not. I had the taco combination plate which consisted of two tacos, rice and beans for $7. The chipotle chicken tacos were bland, dry and stringy. They tasted like they were cooked, bare, and then had a small amount of 'chipotle' sauce lightly drizzled on top. The just led to a kind of unmanageable 'soggy' taco. Equally unimpressive was the picadillo taco, which, while not exactly 'bad', was just very forgettable.
They did do a few things right though. At the waitress' suggestion, my dining partner ordered two Kona tacos (pulled pork with pineapple, topped with cilantro and onions). They were actually pretty good, kind of like a pulled pork version of Al Pastor. The pineapple added a great sweetness that really rounded out the dish. If I had ordered those, rather than my drab, listless tacos, I would have been much happier. Also worth noting is the Chips and Queso 'Especial' (queso, ground beef, pico, guacamole), which pairs great with almost any beer. I would order it again, for sure.
As a taco establishment, Cuatro's is mediocre at best. However, I can see myself returning to enjoy a beer and queso in the future.
Cuatro's - 2 stars - The Commish
1004 24th St.
Austin, TX 78705