But according to owner Julieta Rodriguez, Curra’s had to earn the trust of local customers in the beginning. The restaurant’s location at 614 E. Oltorf St. was occupied by Austin mainstay Guero’s prior to Curra’s opening in 1995, and Rodriguez’s mother—one of the business’s original owners—had to convince people who entered Curra’s to stay once they realized the location had changed hands.“They’d try to walk out. But my mom said, ‘Well, try it. If you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it,’” Rodriguez said.
With a menu featuring interior Mexican cuisine, Curra’s menu was different from what many customers were used to, Rodriguez said—but many of them liked it. Dishes such as conchinita pibil, a traditional Yucatan dish made with marinated pork and plantains, remain popular today. Michoacan-style carnitas, marinated in Coca-Cola, milk and orange juice, is also a top seller.
Curra’s Grill’s signature menu item, however, comes from behind the bar: the Avocado Margarita. When Rodriguez’s brother, Marco, developed it, he raised some eyebrows—even his sister was skeptical—but the creamy, frozen cocktail was an instant classic. People often come to Curra’s just to try the Avocado Margarita, Rodriguez said, including people who travel to Austin from other states and countries for South by Southwest Conference & Festivals and other large events.
“Other restaurants try to do it, but it’s not the same,” she said. “They don’t have the whole recipe.”
Out of many years of business, 2020 and 2021 have been some of the most difficult, but Rodriguez said a focus on family and work ethic has carried Curra’s through. She and her brother work six days a week, and Rodriguez even served tables herself for a time. With support from loyal customers and donations from the local cooler company Yeti, Curra’s managed to keep all its employees on staff.
Now, Curra’s is preparing to grow, with a new location in Hyde Park targeting an opening date of June 1. It is not the first time the restaurant has tried an expansion—two additional locations on Burnet Road and Parmer Lane closed after the 2008 recession. But Rodriguez is confident the new space, which formerly housed Mother’s Cafe at 4215 Duval St., will be a success.
“I think the sun is coming out for everybody,” she said. “Fingers crossed!”