Northwest Neighborhood Treasures, Near and Far

Five new reviews of family-friendly ethnic cafes and east coast-style pizza parlors

Las Colinas
Las Colinas (Photo By John Anderson)

Las Colinas

8127 Mesa Dr., 794-8128

Monday-Friday, 11am-2pm; 5:30-9pm

Las Colinas is a small, cheerfully decorated restaurant tucked into the corner of a strip center, north of the intersection at Mesa Drive and Spicewood Springs Road. The 14-year-old eatery is the kind of place where neighborhood diners eat regularly, greeting each other across the dining room, and you're liable to find a short wait for a table in the early evening hours on any weeknight. Siblings Steve and Amy Lopez purchased Las Colinas about three years ago and continue to serve flavorful, Norteño-influenced Tex-Mex fare to their loyal clientele.

The menu here features daily lunch specials for $5.95 and dinner specials in the range of $7.25 to $8.50. There are traditional Tex-Mex combo platters as well as entrée specials and a kid's menu priced for picky diners under 12. A small selection of beer and wine rounds out the menu. The chile relleno ($8.25) platter that inspired the original phone call is made with two egg-battered Anaheim peppers stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and slathered with the tangy house tomatillo sauce. (Ground beef or sautéed chicken can replace the cheese for an extra $1.25.) Though my personal preference runs to poblano peppers, if you're partial to rellenos made with the milder Anaheims more frequently used in northern Mexico and West Texas, the Las Colinas version is indeed one to savor.

Another dish we found appealing that evening was the Las Colinas Chili ($4.75), which is not a bowl of chili at all but tasty chile con queso with a generous helping of savory pinto beans and well-seasoned ground beef served with chips as an appetizer. The perfect sweet ending to the meal is a buñuelo with ice cream ($3.79), where a thin, crisp flour tortilla shell is fried in the shape of a cup, dusted with cinnamon sugar and filled with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce and pecans. The taste sensations are warm, cold, crunchy, and smooth in every bite and the serving is ample enough to share with friends or family around the table. If you're a fan of good Norteño-style Tex-Mex, Las Colinas is definitely worth a visit!

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