Bienvenidos Mexican Restaurant
By MIKE PETERS / The Dallas Morning News
The folks at Benavides want you to know three things: They've moved into an expansive new location on the Interstate 35 feeder near Belt Line. They are not affiliated with other area restaurants with similar names. And they went to all this trouble for both Lancaster regulars and outlying foodies in search of a new dining destination. ("It's worth the trip," sings the menu cover).
The new space is airy and warmly colored, with roomy booths that easily embrace six diners. There's an inviting bar and rooms for banquets and other events – or the ubiquitous karaoke, where you can sing all of the words to Marty Robbins' "El Paso" if you must. No one was so moved on either of our visits, and we were content to focus on the food with a little background norteño.
Since "cantina" is part of the name, you know that alcohol is available. Our "margarita-rocks-salt-large, please" was the first hint of the delight to come. The house "Benaritas" arrived in tall frosted mugs, holding 20 ounces of cheer laced with plenty of fresh lime ($6.75).
The appetizer selection, like the rest of the menu, is broad: Our indecisive but hungry crowd opted for the Sombrero Platter, with Texas toothpicks (strips of sweet onion and peppers battered and deep-fried), fried mushrooms that were very fresh and piping hot, shrimp taquitos, a zesty dollop of guacamole and jalapeños loaded with cream cheese. The tab for the whole boatload: $9.99.
On another visit, we sampled the ceviche ($7.29) for openers. It's a fresh, savory rendition of the puckerish fish-and-shrimp cocktail, served prettily in a skillet-shaped dish. There's a hint of sweetness in the sauce that made us sit back for a moment, but it's an interesting twist on the usual all-citrus bite, and it grows on you.
Other appetizers include a flautas platter ($6.29), cheese sticks ($4.99), hot chicken wings ($5.69), stuffed armadillo eggs (a.k.a. jalapeños: $5.89) and new-to-the-menu Mexican shrimp cocktail ($10.95/$5.95).
Many newcomers on the menu are seafood dishes. Camarones a la Tampiquena, a regional preparation of shrimp sautéed with a spicy cascabel chile sauce ($10.99), was the best one we tried. The shrimps, cooked in their shells for better flavor, had a nice bite but weren't oppressively hot. (The cascabel pepper is also known as cascavel, guajillo and mirasol).
Other new dishes: tilapia in garlic sauce ($10.99), crab enchiladas (Veracruz style, $10.29) and fish soup ($7.99, $4.99 for a cup).
Shrimp and steak Ixtapa was an OK combination plate ($10.49), but the kitchen gets better results with the same ingredients with its fajita combo ($12.99 for one, $22.99 for two). A new tres fajita combination, also $12.99 for one, includes chicken, shrimp and baby-back ribs.
We also sampled a plate of sour-cream chicken enchiladas ($7.49), a savory treat under the tart-edged sauce. And tequila-lime chicken ($8.99) was savory and fine, though the tequila didn't really penetrate the sauce. Rice and beans were well-executed sides for several entrees. House-made tortillas were fresh and respectable, and the complimentary chips on the table were perfectly crisp.
Among several desserts, the flan de cafe ($4.49) is the standout; creamy and coffee-laced, it's a generous serving that invites the two-spoon treatment and sighs of contentment.
Published in The Dallas Morning News: 06.19.03
Duncanville Chamber of Commerce - 2006 Mance Zachary (Chairman of the Board) The Chairman's Corner
"I am penning this note before our January 19th Business After-hours at Bienvenidos Restaurant in Lancaster, but I know a couple things are certain. First of all, I am certain that this event will be highly successful, because it's in a great location, and Vivian Chastain does outstanding work, so the evening will be fun. The most important reason, I know it will be a successful event, is because our Networkers Chairperson, Karen Haines, likes to celebrate, have fun, and doesn't do anything halfway."
Lancaster Chamber of Commerce - April 2006 Chamber of Commerce News
"Catering will be done by the always popular Bienvenidos restaurant."