Andales Tex-Mex Cantina, one of the newest tenants in the KingsPointe Village at 61st and Yale, has been open only a little over three months, but word about the little cantina is spreading.
Manager Joshua Snead said, "Making all of the meals from scratch is what makes us special."
"Our recipes are family recipes passed down from generation to generation. We keep them proprietary. They are really, really good," he said, though he refused to reveal the family name.
So, how good are they?
A few friends and I dined there recently to see exactly how special these secret recipes are. Walking in, we found the dining room very clean, comfortable and stylish, but we were disappointed that ordering was done at a counter, not tableside.
The trouble with counter ordering is the pressure placed on customers to order from a menu that might be new to them or for returning customers who might want to take time to consult the menu for a new item to try. We pulled over to the side a few times to let other customers proceed ahead of us until we decided.
The menu has some traditional favorites and a few items that were new to us. Starters include such options as Loco Nachos, Nachos, Quesadillas, Ultimate Queso, Queso, Guacamole and Taquitos.
We unanimously went with the Loco Nachos. These nachos came as individual tortilla chips piled with beans, shredded chicken, beef and cheese. The loaded chips outlined an oval plate on the outside edge with sour cream, jalapenos and pico de gallo arranged in the center.
For our main courses, we looked at selections from the following categories: Andales Fiesta Dinners, Bikini Menu, Andales Dinners, Kids Menu, A La Carte and Dessert.
Snead said Bikini Menu items are very popular because "customers will receive healthy choices with a full flavor." He said no oil is used in cooking the vegetables or in the rice preparation for items on this menu, some of which include Fajita Chicken Wrap, Fajita Salad, Taco Salad, Tortilla Soup, Skinny Dinner, Veggie Quesadillas and Veggie Fajitas.
We did not have skinny on the mind this evening, so we each ordered from the Andales Dinners. One person in my party ordered Carnitas ($8.99), another the Southwest Enchiladas ($8.49) and I ordered the Embuelto ($7.99) and a Tamale ($3.49) from the A La Carte menu.
Our meals arrived not too long after we ordered them, and we were ready to dive in. My friend who ordered the Carnitas (slow-cooked pork, seared and served with lettuce, pico de gallo and lime) enjoyed them, but said they were on the dry side. My other friend enjoyed the Southwest Enchiladas. This dish came as layered enchiladas, stacked with beans, beef, cheese and onions topped with chili con carne and a fried egg.
My Embuelto was a flour tortilla filled with seasoned beef (shredded chicken is also an option), Monterrey jack cheese and then deep-fried.
It resembled a puff pastry filled with beef and cheese. It was quite different and very good in flavor and texture. The tamale was decent, but dry. Cutting into it, the cornmeal fell off each bite, exposing the cylindrical meat by itself. (I discovered later that the tamale is the one item not made in-house. They are made in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area because, as Snead explained, "it is more efficient that way right now.")
These dinners came with our choice of Traditional Rice or Lite Rice and Refried Beans or Borracho Beans (a traditional bean soup). The Traditional Rice is loose grains of rice, lightly seasoned. The Refried Beans are very traditional in look and flavor, and the Borracho Beans were the better of the bean choices--rich, flavorful and filling.
Soon after this dining experience, I stopped by Andales for a to-go order, which included a Puff Taco ($3.99), a bowl of Tortilla Soup ($6.99), a Peanut Butter and Jelly Burrito ($3.99), and Flan ($3.49). I was impressed by the tastiness of this selection and with the care taken in putting the order together. Not only was I given ample complementary chips and salsa, but also all the little toppings for the soup (Monterrey jack cheese, avocado and tortilla strips) were each in separate containers to add to the soup at home.
The Puff Taco came as two fried corn tortillas filled with beef (or chicken) and topped with lettuce, tomato and cheese. These were very different but attractive to the eye and very good in taste. The soup was a spicy chicken-based soup with lots of shredded chicken. It was a very loose soup and bold with flavor.
Andales Tex-Mex Cantina
61st & Yale, KingsPointe Shopping Center
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