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El Cantinero ("The Barkeep") is one of the few remaining restaurants in town slinging authentic Tex-Mex food, a cuisine developed mainly during the mid-20th century by Mexican immigrants to Texas, who found a dearth of ingredients they were familiar with, and made substitutions. One of the cuisine"s greatest inventions, the fajitas at the restaurant are a sizzling heap of smoky steak strips entangled with onions and peppers, served with condiments like pico de gallo and guacamole to make do-it-yourself tacos with flour tortillas. The combo platter is another of El Cantinero"s glories, but it"s the discount pitchers of frozen margaritas that have kept this place thronged for 20 years. Sit in the sky-lit terrace on the second floor.
I love this place. The outdoor dining patio on the second floor in the rear of the restaurant is great. The food is delicious and the prices are very reasonable. Good margaritas too. A great, fun, festive atmosphere. Nice convenient downtown location.
Compare these carefully constructed nachos -- invented by Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya near Eagle Pass, Texas, in 1943 -- with the anarchistic frat-house rendition. In today's Grub Street, blogger par excel... More »
This week in the Voice, Robert Sietsema finds an unchanging temple to Tex-Mex in El Cantinero. Sarah DiGregorio is impressed by pan-Indian Tamarind Tribeca, despite its broad range of cuisines. Sam S... More »
Chile con carne was first introduced to the American public at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair: a bowl of highly spiced beef in a rich red sauce laced with onions and cumin. From that point on, there was no stopping it, and soon chile parlors had... More »
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