Last night I enjoyed a gut-busting meal and lots of smiles at one of my favorite restaurants in the area. Family-owned and operated by the Arias family since 1976 (hi, Juan, Gloria and Donil!), and known as Taco House back when I started going in 1999, Canatina Mexicana satisfies my soul! Why anyone would eat at a chain restaurant when the real deal is available, I do not know! You can keep your chains, your high-end eateries, your fancy microgreen-dusted entrees – Cantina Mexicana does it all for me.
How do I love thee Cantina Mexicana??? Let me count the ways: delicious but deceptively stiff margaritas, out-of-this-world homemade and authentic salsas and warm tortilla chips which land on your table immediately upon arrival, and don’t miss the guacamole – fresh and hand mashed on site. The spectacular staff is warm and friendly enough to make you feel as if you were friends back in Ol’ Mexico or that they’ve just been waiting for you-and-only-you to arrive, not to mention efficient, fast and eager to please. [When I mentioned on my 2nd visit back in 1999 that I was an enthusiastic return customer, they seemed amused that I could be so silly as to think that they didn’t of course remember me! And true to form, they’ve never forgotten.] If ever there was a place to be a regular, this is it.
And once you’re settled and stuffing yourself with chips and dips and tart tequila-ey goodness, please to delve into their true-to-culture menu. The Tacos al Carbon and fajitas are my loverly favorties! They have tender high quality chunks of steak, served sizzling and slathered with sauteed onions and peppers – and never left lonely without a full accompanyment of sides and garnishes! Also not to be missed are the chimichanga, sour cream enchilada, Pollo Chipotle, and chile relleno.
And judging by the group of Mexican men gathered at a table one night indulging in rounds of tequila shots, I’m betting that the tequila selections are quite good as well. Although I’ve never had the guts as a gringo to go that route, even though the Cantina Mexicana crew and I have grown close. They’ve dubbed my little Ava, “Avalita” and never miss the opportunity to chuck her on the chin, play games with her, give her hugs, or take her on a tour of the kitchen. It’s like family and if I could spend all of my time with them, laughing and eating I just might…if they tossed in those tequila shots and some guacamole.