Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cabana Grill Review

Over my holiday trip to Jax, I was invited to have lunch at the recently opened Cabana Grill located in Mandarin area near the Courtyard Shopping Center.
Run by the same corporation as Pollo Tropical, Cabana Grill originated in San Antonio, which attributes to their authentic Mexican flavors and festive atmosphere. Upon talking with the store owner, Munish, I was pleased to discover that Cabana Grill prides themselves in taking the time to prepare every meal fresh to order - this includes the soft corn tortillas, which you can see being made through the glass in the kitchen as you're placing an order at the counter. The menu consists of mid-priced tacos, nachos, salad bowls, and sides with specials like "the taco plate" (2 tacos + 2 sides for $6) and $1.50 margaritas everyday from 4-7pm.

To view their full menu, click HERE

One thing I was excited about is this extensive salsa bar, it contained every topping you could possibly think of - fresh cilantro, lemons and limes, various salsas (pictured below) and other goodies, although I must say I don't think the food required any additional flavors, I did utilize every flavor of salsa for my nachos.
The chicken tostadas were a mixture of grilled chicken, refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream all on a crispy corn tortilla. While the taste was good, I found that it didn't even compare to the quality and taste of the fajitas.
The street tacos are a staple of authentic Mexican cuisine, marinated steak served on soft housemade corn tortillas topped with a mixture of cilantro and diced onions and a fresh squeeze of lime. The steak was cooked well and was very flavorful thanks to the marinade, the herb onion mix made for a fresh take on your traditional taco but my inner American was missing the sour cream and beans.
Probably one of my favorite entrees was the shrimp bowl, which was recommended to me by one of the employees. Usually I am hesitant to order a shrimp dish at a restaurant because they tend to be rubbery and overcooked, however, as I took my first bite I was greeted by an explosion of spices and textures! The shrimp, were prepared tampico style, which means it was marinated in ancho and chipotle spices, then grilled to perfection with garlic, lime and cilantro - no rubbery bland shrimp here!
Usually when you eat at a Mexican place, you get the run of the mill refried beans and rice, Cabana offers 7 different sides to choose from, all are super flavorful and tempting, but my favorites were the refried pinto beans and Mexican style rice.
So those cheesy strings of goodness? That's the chicken quesadilla, which was HUGE! It took up the entire plate, I am not ashamed to admit we ate every last bit of it. I loved the fact that this quesadilla had pico de gallo and cheddar jack cheese, it gave it that much needed kick and prevented it from getting too mundane and heavy on the palette (and lets be honest, I will eat almost anything if it contains high amounts of melty cheese).
Below is probably one of the more popular specials, the Taco Plate. You choose two tacos (chicken, steak, shrimp, or veggies) and any two additional sides. We ordered one shrimp and one steak with the Mexican rice and charro beans. This was the dish that let the freshness of those made from scratch tortillas shine. They were soft and slightly chewy, acting as the perfect vessel to transport those fresh ingredients right into my mouth-NOM!
For this next and final entree I advise you to proceed with caution, because these cinnamon sugar coated pillows of deliciousness will probably change your life. Imagine a lighter churro cut into bite sized pieces and served with a dulce de leche dipping sauce (they serve it with honey too but don't even bother with that). I am not usually a huge dessert person but I kept eating these babies throughout the meal (life is short - order dessert first).

The Verdict:
I believe that Cabana Grill offers more variety, superior food, at a more affordable price than the majority of it's competitors. It's a family friendly establishment, but the outside patio also offers up the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a frozen margarita for the adults. Some of my favorites included the taco plate, shrimp tampico bowl, and the sopapillas for dessert (or for an entree - no judgement).

Cabana Grill on Urbanspoon

1 comment :

  1. Can't wait to try it!! I think I will get the shrimp bowl - my mouth was watering from the description.


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