Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kassandra's Mexican Kitchen, Mexican, Keller-TX

Last visit: June 2013

Rating: Buy

May 2013 update: They've remodeled since we last visited in 2012. As well they have a new menu with countless items on it. We're not a fan of big menus, but the food is still the same, and very good!

November 2011 update: There seems to be two kinds of Mexican restaurants: Destination places with a full bar (Anamia's, El Paseo, Abuelo's, Mi Pueblo, Miguelito's etc...) and homespun family cafe places, with usually (not always) no alcohol. Kassandra's fits the latter mold to a "T". In this sub-category, Kassandra's is becoming our favorite family diner styled Mexican in NE Tarrant county. Otherwise, the review below continues to hold serve.

Original review

Roughly four years ago, the Mrs. RJG and I visited Kassandra's one Sunday for lunch, enjoyed it immensely, and.... inexplicably never went back. I cannot put my finger on any one reason why. It had been suggested from time to time. "How 'bout Kassandra's?" either of us would ask."Maybe next time". Finally one recent evening I put my foot down, and said "We're going to Kassandra's". "OK". No explanation what our hesitation was, especially considering how good it is - as we found out again.

Kassandra's is a typical hole-in-the-wall you find in worn out suburban strip centers from the 1980s and before. The kind that breeds the non-denominational start-up churches and a handful of other small businesses. For any dedicated RJG follower, this is where you have to look to find the gems.

Once you walk in, it feels like an old diner somewhere in small town West Texas. It's a family restaurant, where the lighting is a bit too bright and the whole brood is there, screaming babies and all. Not the place for a romantic dinner, but that would be obvious from the parking lot. Kassandra's is best for lunch, but if you do have dinner in mind, it's BYOB - and that's always a good thing!

The ritual:

Chips - Oh, these are good. Taste like real corn. Crispy. You could eat these without salsa and be satisfied.

Salsa - The sauce they bring is a tomato, onion and cilantro mix. Something the RJG is very familiar with from our days living in Colorado where 80% of the restaurants serve this kind of salsa. We haven't seen much of it in Texas, so it's kind of a treat.

Hot salsa - We never settle for the table sauce unless it's very spicy. So we asked for the "hotter one". Oh... oh.... oh... this is ridiculously good. Spicy and very tasty. I've never tasted one quite like it, but somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind (between Gilligan's Island and The Love Boat) there was a recollection. And we come to find out it's a mix of Japanese hot peppers and jalapenos. That's it! There's an incredible dish at a restaurant in Manitou Springs, Colorado ("The Loop") called the "Burrito from Hell" that has a similar mix. We could just stop at the chips and salsa and be happy.

The enchiladas are offered with a number of sauces, so we tried three of them:

Green - this was recommended, but it's.... too green if that makes sense. It's a tomatillo and cilantro mix and it ended up tasting minty. Unique for sure, but not for us.

New Mexico - To us, New Mexico means a spicy green chili concoction. But they mean tomatoes, red peppers, cinnamon and chocolate. Again, very unique, but.. a... no this wasn't a hit either.

Chile sauce - Standard Tex-Mex, but Kassandra's does it (cue Wendy's) waaaay better.

We tried Cheese, Chicken and Beef.

The cheese enchilada was a bit boring and wasn't hot enough, so the cheese had already started to harden. It got stuck with the New Mexico sauce - so it was a total loss.

The ground beef had a unique seasoning and could be eaten alone and still be wonderful. Excellent.

The chicken was the real hit - charbroiled and seasoned BEFORE entering the tortilla. So even the green sauce couldn't overpower the contents. Not chicken-y at all. Super.

So you know what we're thinking for next time? That's right - chicken tacos! And ground beef tacos too...

Rice and beans - The Mexican rice was perfectly cooked and tasty. The beans were light and smooth, with a great taste. Both come up aces.

With all the references to New Mexico and Colorado, I have to think the family has some history from that area - or at least maybe West Texas, given the feel of the cafe itself.

A great find, and recommended to all of the RJG Nation!

Kassandra's can be found at the NW corner of Keller Parkway and Pate Orr Rd. behind the Taco Casa.

Kassandra's Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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