An Evening at Benji's Cantina

A new Mexican inspired hangout in Downtown Austin
Matt Braley

West 6th street. For an old-timer like myself (I've been in Austin for nearly 18 years) the entire area has lots of great memories: Gatemouth Brown at Antone's with my buddy Noah, Sue Foley, also at Antone's with Dave and Alex. Social Distortion, the Misfits, and Clutch all at Liberty Lunch (RIP). And after great shows like that we would grab a bite at places like Best Wurst, and Katz's (RIP). But things change. Liberty Lunch is gone, and so is Katz's. Change is inevitable and not always a bad thing. For instance, one of the newer arrivals to 6th street is Benji's Cantina, a Tex-Mex and Mexican inspired gem that has popped up recently. The place was recommended to us by good friend Paula, and when Paula suggests a place it is bound to be good. Here's a quick rundown of what we had:

To start, we opted for the guacamole. Guacamole so fresh it's made at your table. The avocados were mashed just the way I like them. Creamy but still plenty of texture, and the tomatoes, jalapeno, and cilantro were just right with a little fresh squeezed lime juice. Table side guacamole service.....I need this at my house.

My lovely wife opted for the fish tacos. A piece of lightly fried redfish with tomatoes, cilantro, and topped off with fresh crema (Mexican style sour cream) and a little green sauce. Like much of what is served a Benji's, the tortillas are made fresh, which went perfectly with an absolutely stellar piece of fish. It was tender, flaky, and not even slightly dry. I'd order this again in a heartbeat.

I decided on Pork Adobodo. I'm not even sure where to start with this. We were told that this dish was one that they worked on for weeks to perfect. Quite frankly it shows. The flavor of the Adobo sauce was deep, rich and just a little sweet. The pork was cooked perfectly. Honestly I don't remember the last time I had pork this good. I ordered mine with corn tortillas. These were some of the best I've had in a long time. Seriously. I've had tortillas made right in front of me in Monterrey, Mexico and these tortillas rivaled any of the tortillas I have ever had there. This one is a must order when you go.

The atmosphere of Benji's is pleasant and upscale. The service is as you would expect at a restaurant of that caliber- helpful, courteous, and attentive. Another thing that impressed me was that both the General Manager and one of the owners were walking the floor and did not hesitate to stop and chat and make sure that things were going as they should. It's that kind of attention that helps to ensure that a restaurant will succeed.

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We had a great evening and look forward to trying the fantastic fajitas on our next visit!