El Naranjo Brings New Happy Hour to Austin

Plus, James Beard Award-Winning Chef Iliana de la Vega Launches December Menu + a Three Kings Cake for King’s Day

El Naranjo, Austin’s celebrated authentic Mexican restaurant helmed by 2022 James Beard Award-winning Chef Iliana de la Vega and her partner Ernesto Torrealba, expands their offerings with the launch of their much-anticipated Happy Hour, perfect for celebrating the season with a toast and an authentic Mexican bite. 

Plus, seasonal December menu additions, featuring a Ponche flavored tequila-based cocktail and Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Cake) will be offered at select brunch services beginning 2024. The restaurant will also offer a special gift card promo through the end of 2023. Complete details are below. 

Happy Hour
Starting this month, El Naranjo’s weekday Happy Hour will run Tuesday through Friday from 5:00-6:30 p.m., offering guests $5 off appetizers, 25% off signature cocktails, and 20% off wine and beer by the glass. Additionally, the restaurant’s December specials celebrate the holiday season and are inspired by the vibrant flavors of Mexico. Among the highlights is a ponche flavored tequila-based cocktail and savory lamb with dried chiles and cocoa. Further menu details are below. 

Says Chef Iliana de la Vega, “We are so excited to launch our highly anticipated Happy Hour in time for this festive season. We’re excited for our guests to treat themselves to a drink and an appetizer at a lower price point, all while enjoying El Naranjo’s cozy atmosphere and some really fun menu items.”

Three Kings Day
This year to celebrate Dia de Reyes and Three Kings Day from January 5-6, 2024,  El Naranjo will offer individual sized Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Cake) at select brunches. These sweet breads are formed into a ring and flavored with orange blossom, decorated with dried apricots, figs, candied oranges, pecans, and sugar. The cake also has a plastic baby Jesus hidden inside. Traditionally, whoever finds the figurine must take it to church on February 2, Día de la Candelaria or Candlemas Day, and invite people to join them in celebration. 


December Specials

Cocktail of the Month

Reposado Tequila Cocktail

A tequila-based cocktail with notes of Christmas ponche – jamaica, guava, piloncillo, canela, and raisins


Appetizer of the Month

Aguachile negro de camarón

A medley of shrimp, cucumber, red onion, toasted dried chillies, and lime juice

Main Course of the Month

Chuletas de cordero en Costra de Chiles y Cacao

Lamb Chops, dried chiles and cocoa nib crust, asparagus, with orange puree and potatoes

See also  15 Best Steakhouses in Austin

Dessert of the Month

Almond, Apple, & Honey Cake

Light almond, apple and honey sponge served with a yogurt foam 

Rosca de Reyes (Three Kings Cake)

Individual sized sweet breads formed into a ring, flavored with orange blossom, and decorated with dried apricots, fig, candied oranges, pecans, and sugar. 

*Available for brunch on January 7, and 14. 

Gift Cards

This holiday season, El Naranjo will have a special gift card promotion in the restaurant. For every $100 gift card purchased, El Naranjo will add $20 to the gift card. 

El Naranjo Complete press kit HERE

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About El Naranjo

In 1997 Iliana de la Vega and Ernesto Torrealba opened El Naranjo, a restaurant specializing in Oaxacan cuisine. Ernesto was a trained architect and initially lacked professional experience in the kitchen but jumped in, and, as he says, “became her best student.” At first, there were many trials and tribulations but by May 2003, their food was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine with the caption, “The Soul of Mexico: bold flavors, romantic places, and rich traditions.” The restaurant flourished until 2006, when the community experienced a period of political unrest, causing Iliana and Ernesto to sell their restaurant and move to the United States.  

Not long after their arrival to Austin, Ernesto began planning the El Naranjo trailer as a first step to learn about the Austin market and its culinary scene. Meanwhile, Iliana was offered a position as a cuisine specialist and chef instructor at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America San Antonio where she hosted the first cooking classes dedicated to Mexican Cuisine. She is frequently asked to make national appearances to chime in on various aspects of Latin American cooking and to help people understand Mexican food beyond tacos and Tex-Mex. 

About Chef Iliana de la Vega

Iliana de la Vega is an award-winning Mexican-born chef and owner of El Naranjo, a traditional Mexican restaurant in the heart of Austin, Texas. Chef de la Vega and her husband Ernesto Torrealba first opened El Naranjo as a restaurant and cooking school in 1997 in Oaxaca, Mexico; the restaurant received worldwide acclaim and was lauded as “the soul of Mexico” on the cover of Bon Appetit and at The New York Times Dining Section, among other notable publications. El Naranjo in Austin has been recognized as the best Mexican restaurant in the region, and it has been named among the top 10 restaurants in the city. 

Chef de la Vega served as the Mexican/Latin Cuisines Specialist for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) from 2007 to 2012. In 2014, she was awarded the Ohtli Award in recognition of her work in furthering Mexican gastronomy in the United States and the 2014 Hispanic Female Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Chef de la Vega was also named a semifinalist in the 2019 and 2020 James Beard Awards for Best Chef: Southwest. In 2022, she became the first-ever winner of the Best Chef: Texas category in the James Beard Awards. 

See also  27 Best Restaurants in Austin

As a restaurateur and consultant, Chef de la Vega creates menus and oversees training in the U.S. and abroad for hotels, restaurants and universities, such as Stanford University and UMASS. Additionally, she and her daughter Isabel, anthropologist and journalist, lead culinary trips to various regions of Mexico, including Oaxaca, Mexico City, Michoacán and Mérida through their gastronomic tour company Mexican Culinary Traditions


Sara Schiffer

Proof PR

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