Wine Dine and Play: Benji’s Cantina

Benji’s Cantina

Austin, Texas, USA
Damn Good Tex-Mex
Dined in March 2015



My week of touring Austin was better than I could have imagined, seeing some wonderful sights the city had to offer as well as dining at some fantastic spots. I told my girlfriend who had lived in Austin for nine years that I was looking for a good place to have a later lunch that was traditional Tex-Mex, the real deal. So after touring Mount Bonnell and the Brigadier General John C. L. Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum (fantastic by the way, add this to your list) it was now time for some Tex-Mex at Benji’s Cantina, and I was not disappointed. Great location surrounded by other good restaurants to include Bess Bistro.


Scroll down to read the main review


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Star ratings chart:

5 stars
Extraordinary  
4 stars
Outstanding  
3 stars
Exceeded expectations     
2 stars
Above average                          
1 star
Average
No star rating
Basic, poor, or appalling 

Review basics:

Overall Star rating by Wine, Dine, & Play:
3 of 5
Quality of food:
7 of 10
Presentation:
8 of 10
Wine selections by region:


Scroll below the main review section to see the tasting notes of the wines chosen.


5 of 10
Old world: 
France
A). Loire: (Sancerre, & Saumur, Vouvray, & Chinon). 
B). Other: Champagne, Lirac,  Languedoc-Roussillon, Côtes de Provence,
Spain:, Ribera del Duero, & La Rioja
Italy: Veneto, Toscana
New World: 
Argentina: Mendoza, San Juan, & La Rioja, Patagonia, Uco Valley, & Northwestern 
New Zealand
A). Marlborough: (Wairau Valley, Awetere Valley, Waihopi Valley)
    California: Sonoma, Napa
Washington State: Columbia Valley
Texas: Texas High Plains,

   “Explore the restaurant wine list

Customer service:
6 of 10
Ambiance:
7 of 10
Corkage fee’s:
American Restaurant standard is $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual
Dress code:
Casual, or Conservative attire
Reservations:
Not Required, But Recommended 
Make reservation through opentable.com, or by contacting the restaurant directly. See contact info below the review section
Walk-in:
Accepted
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. Hire a Babysitter. See Alinea Baby Gate, god I love Alinea.
Cuisine style:
Contemporary, Modern, Lounge, American, Tex-Mex, Seafood, Mexican, & Vegetarian
Music styles:
Hispanic inside, and Hip Hop on the patio
Experiences:
Place for foodies, Business parties, Hot spot, Great bar, Great outdoor dining, Good for special occasions, Beautiful décor, Rustic, Trendsetting, Tourist grabber, and a Neighborhood gem.
Gratuities:
Industry standard is 18-20% added to parties of 6 or more
Payments:
Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Public lot, or Street Parking
Transport options:
Bus, taxi, limousine, personal vehicle, and walking
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Medium
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant, and nonsmoking patio
Patio:
Yes

Food price per person 
(Excluding tax & gratuity)


Price chart:
$£€¥ -               Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          Under 75.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 

**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant connoisseur’s**

My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$45.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$
£29.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£
€41.00
European Union (EUR)
$59.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$$
$62.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$$
¥276.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥¥
  

To get up to date currency rates:




Scroll down below the main review to see cost of wines and tasting notes.




From restaurants home page:

Benji’s Cantina offers a fresh, innovative approach to Tex-Mex. An ingenious mix of seafood and Mexican influences dominates the menu. With the house specialty fajitas,we use the best traditional recipes, sourcing the highest quality ingredients available. Our guests can also expect perfectly blended margaritas, an extensive tequila and mescal selection and innovative cocktails. Whether its happy hour after work or your next special occasion, Benji’s has you covered. The downstairs bar and lounge face the bustling street scene, which makes a picture perfect first impression, with community tables that provide ample seating. Located in the lively West 6th street district, Benji’s can also be utilized for private functions and can hold up to 170 people for seated dinner and up to 300 in a cocktail reception style setting.


Main review:

Real Tex-Mex, I had been waiting for so long to try it, and now I was finally here to give it a whirl so to speak. I was a very nice spring day in Austin and after doing some touring, I came across Benji’s Cantina, and sat on their patio to enjoy the nice breeze and temperatures. As in most normal Mexican restaurants the starter included some chips with salsa. Homemade corn tortilla’s and very nice and slight spiced salsa had me either from hunger or just from the sweet taste devouring the entire basket, and requesting seconds as I looked over the menu.

From their appetizer selections it was very hard to choose. Of course they had a Queso dip, guacamole, and more salsa selections, but two things caught my eye, and those being the Japanese Shishito Peppers and the Ceviche del Dia, or Ceviche of the day. The server recommended the Ceviche which for this day was a flounder, with blood orange, ginger, with corn and red onions. Extremely wonderful flavor and great way to start. 

It was mid afternoon and my girlfriend and were planning a dinner, so I didn’t want to eat that much, but the server again sold me on a nice size entree. They had a variety of soups, sandwiches and Especials De LA Casa, and I was nearly sold on the Carne Tacos de Res, until the server said fajitas. Now typically I’m not a really big fajita fan, but had expressed to the server earlier that I wanted the best and most authentic the restaurant had to offer. So with that, under the Fajita Section was a special selection of mix fajitas that had beef, pork sausage, and quail. When you think of fajita you think of basic beef, chicken, and shrimp, but the meat on this plate was much better and higher in quality, and the quail was mouthwateringly good.


The presentation of the dish was in a large black square container with handles on either side and the restaurant logo animal engraved into it. The inside bottom was where charcoals were kept to keep the meat and vegetables sizzling throughout the meal, and be warned not to touch the outside of the container without burning yourself.  The top of the container along the edges had Austin, Texas engraved into it.

The meat was so tender, homemade corn tortillas were provided along with the usual accompaniments of cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Of course I added some guacamole as I love avocado. 



This Restaurant reminds me of:

This was a fantastic experience in Austin Tex Mex, the atmosphere, service, and food stood out for. Most of the meals during my trip to Austin were excellent, but this one will be remembered as being in the top group of favorites. The experience reminds me of two other restaurants in the past that I visited called the Harvest Moon Cafe in Sonoma, California, and Tapas 218 in Canton, Ohio

Other Austin favorites:
Home Slice Pizza
Güero's Taco Bar 
Perla’s Seafood and Oyster Bar

Visit other Austin Restaurants at OpenTable.com 



Other trending story’s on Wine, Dine, and Play:
Oak Steakhouse, Charleston, South Carolina
Zink Restaurant + Bar, Centennial, Colorado



Restaurant address:
716 W. 6th St.
Austin, TX 78703






Neighborhood:
Downtown

Cross streets:
West Ave & Rio Grande Street 

GPS Coordinates

Latitude: 30.274908
Longetude: -97.760495


Contact Information: 

Maître d, Reservations:
+1 512 476 TACO (7226)
Restaurant Website:
Email:
Online Reservations :
Social Media:


Facebook Link                
Pinterest



Hours:

Lunch: 
Mon-Sat: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm 

Dinner:

Monday
4:00–11:00 pm
Tuesday
4:00–11:00 pm
Wednesday
4:00–11:00 pm
Thursday
4:00–11:00 pm
Friday
4:00–12:00 am
Saturday
4:00–12:00 am
Sunday
Brunch 10:30 - 3:00 
  
Standard Time (GMT -6:00)








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Review by:
Chef Sean Overpeck (CFE)






Chef Sean cooks for soldiers in Afghanistan, 2012:









"Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well."






TTFN
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