Sunday, June 27, 2010

Benito's and a stroll along Magnolia Avenue

We hadn't been to Benito's Mexican Restaurant on Magnolia in a while, so last night after doing a little shopping we decided to go there for dinner. Benito's is a family owned restaurant with good food -- it's not  nouveau anything -- it's dependable and consistently good Tex-Mex. The portions are large and it is inexpensive. I always order the same thing, the pork taco plate, because they use whole pieces of pork (not shredded), and I like their green chili sauce. The pork tacos are excellent.

We almost went to Cat City Grill which I need to do, but they were very busy, and the Saturday night attire looked a little nicer than the shorts and flip-flops we were wearing. It was busy, which is good, as was Yucatan (I may not like it, but I am glad they are busy) and Lili's. Ellerbe's parking lot was about half full.

Which brings me close to the point. But one other thought first.

Magnolia Avenue is a good place to dine. It has locally owned restaurants which have on-site, local chefs. But also the city, along with organizations like Near Southside, has worked to make Magnolia more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Last night after dinner we strolled east from Benito's almost to Jennings and back, and even though it had been 100 that day, it was pretty comfortable and a very enjoyable walk.

The point (I try to have one).

Magnolia Avenue is almost at that critical mass point in development that comes when there are enough businesses to provide dining, entertainment and shopping options -- which in turn draws more people and more business. It's not there yet. But it's better than it has ever been. It still needs some Saturday night shopping spots, a dessert/ice cream/coffee shop or two, and more live entertainment.  Unlike the South 7th development which was built to hit critical mass immediately, Magnolia is developing more slowly, more organically, and in my view, in a more aesthetically pleasing way. The building reconstruction alone is worth seeing. Magnolia has always been my favorite street in Fort Worth and with just a little more activity it could be a major Fort Worth destination on its own.

Last night, there weren't people out walking, or bicycling, or sitting on the benches. But before long, maybe in the next few years, I think we will see that change.

FortWorthology: Southside Bicycle Improvments

Fort Worth South


Post Script -- As a member of St Mary of the Assumption on Magnolia, I am happy to say that our facility is improving and we are not far away from restoring all of the 100 year old stained glass windows.


Lynn said...

I like Benito's. Brother Sushi and I ate there one rainy night when we *thought* we had reservations at Nonna Tata's. (You have a phone that takes messages, and you don't check your messages?)

Yucatan was tasty, overpriced, and loud. I would go back if somebody else were paying and the weather cool enough for dining outside.

Should I put Lili's on my list?

@ your bride: wouldn't it be great to have a yarn shop open really late to serve knitsomniacs, so as not to interfere with Linda's nice shop on Jennings?

Southside Rambling Man said...

For folks who care about such things, it's worth noting they don't do chips and hot sauce at Benitos, but I agree the food is good. I got their tamales for Christmas one year: large and tasty, although my hispanic brother-in-law sniffed at them (too much masa for his taste).

The interesting thing about West Mag is that the buildings represent a century of commercial architecture. Most is very serviceable and range from really ugly contemporary (the old drug rehab) to some almost-ugly older buildings and, of course, some gems. I like the building Yucatan is in, but also the new medical facilities across the street.

It's worth remembering that neighborhood was one of Fort Worth's first suburbs.

Francis Shivone said...

Lynn -- Nonna's gets some criticism for this sort of thing, or at least it did. Lili's is great little place for a more private dining experience. Mid-range price.

Rambler -- Are you referring to Fairmount as the first suburbs of Fort Worth?

Benito's has chips and salsa for $2. The taco plate is only $7 which is more than you can eat after the soup. I ordered the chips but didn't eat many.

Becca said...

I agree. Magnolia is one of my favs as well. Better than SO 7. Which I like as well, but you put it nicely Magnolia seems must more organic in it's growth.

I would like to add that for those who enjoy a cocktail the Usual cannot be beat. It's non smoking and the drinks are totally worth it. I've seen the bartenders make up a drink for you on the spot.

Francis Shivone said...

Becca -- Thanks, I can't comment on the cocktail places these days.

I used to love a Gin & tonic or five in the summer. After the third, all things were in there proper order. Pero no mas.

I still can't adjust to a bar with no smoking. Thanks for passing on the Usual suggestion.

Rambler, Southside Boy said...

Broadway Baptist was founded in 1882, which means that area was probably developing about then. Fairmount dates to the 1890s (actually platted in the 80s) and Ryan Place in 1911. I know that Travis Ave. Baptist Church was founded on Berry St. in 1912, so develop had gotten that far by then.

I think the northside may date from then, as well. The stockyards opened in 1889, Swift and Armour after the turn of the century. I can't find clear history on the northside's development, but I'll bet it was more or less the same as that of the southside.

What's now Arlington Heights was the site of attempted upper class development in the 1890s (a couple of the mansions remain from that era), but it didn't really take off until the army built Camp Bowie and left the roads and utilities behind.

So, yes, Fairmount was an early suburb. And, of course, the birthplace of Mrs. Baird's Bread. :-)

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks Rambler, great information. It helps.

John said...

I am a big fan of Benito's and try to eat lunch there once a month or so. Part of the charm is that you have to explicitly order chips and salsa. But the real gem is the pico. Depending on how it was made that day, it can be nicely spicy or completely inedible (for me) due to the heat. And for lunch, it's always the #1 lunch (enchiladas).

Lili's is so popular (the burger and gorganzola cheese fries are good) that you have to be there BEFORE 11:30 to get a seat for lunch w/o having to wait (and I hate waiting).

Yucatan is OK for lunch and they seem to attract a lot of beautiful people.

Ellerbe's is great when you want to have something finer for lunch - food and atmosphere are great for a business lunch.

Another nice place is King Tut - love the lamb schwarma.

I've been to Cat City a couple times for business dinners and it's really good but the bar seems to skimp on the drinks.

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks John, good comments.

The pico at Benitos is good. It was hot on our visit. And I like hot pico. I need to go to Lili's for lunch and try that burger.

John said...

Quick update: another dinner at Cat City Grill last night. The escargot was fantastic! Filet was great too.