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El Alma is the culmination of two great friends—a restaurateur and chef—bringing to life a fresh and flavorful approach to Mexican flavors in a cozy neighborhood restaurant.

Bolivian-born Carlos Rivero, grew up in San Antonio where his passion for the food and service industry was first influenced by his grandfather’s tortilla factory. In later years, he further sharpened his skills as he worked his way from waiter to general manager at Jeffrey’s, a fine dining restaurant in Austin. His first restaurant, El Chile Café y Cantina grew out of a combination of all these influences and was soon followed by baby-brother taco bar, El Chilito and classic burger joint, FlatTop Burger Shop.

Originally from Mexico City, Chef Alma Alcocer came to Austin in 1989 by way of Le Cordon Blue culinary academy in Paris. Alcocer later worked at nationally-recognized fine dining restaurant, Jeffrey’s where she eventually worked her way from sous chef to executive chef. In more recent years, her experience at Jeffrey’s led her to leadership and consulting roles in a handful of Austin’s top restaurants.

Rivero, one of Alcocer’s biggest fans had long wanted to find a way to collaborate with the talented chef’s unique abilities. In 2011, he asked her to join his team to help revitalize the menu of El Chile. It soon became evident to both Rivero and Alcocer that a restaurant of her own was the next logical step. The two hatched a plan to create a concept that would blend her classical training with her Mexico City roots for a homespun take on authentic Mexican dishes.

In it’s location on Barton Springs Road within a funky multi-tiered structure built into a limestone hillside, the restaurant bar’s staircase is set against a rock wall adorned with tropical plants and a waterfall and leads up to an expansive outdoor patio. The patio itself may be the best reason to visit El Alma, but the food takes that honor.

Here, Alcocer cooks with a passion and inviting hospitality as if you were in her own home serving a variety of dishes that reflect her own style as well as the evolving palates of Austin diners. Bright white-washed walls accented by colorful local art bring a refreshing vibrancy to the atmosphere. From the bar, guests can enjoy specialty margaritas such as Chilanga, tequila with sangrita, cucumber mojitos, and a fresh twist on the Michelada.

El Alma’s bold and flavorful food, fresh and friendly atmosphere, and laid-back neighborhood feel have given truth to the idea that when you combine two like-minded friends with a mission to bring good food to the Austin dining scene, you’re sure to win a loyal following.


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