Maybe it’s not their fault.
Maybe Avenida Cantina’s chef had a vision that the future of quesadillas is to make them without cheese. Maybe they saw a documentary about how spicy food kills coral reefs and thought they'd do their part by leaving heat entirely out of everything on Avenida Cantina’s menu.
But at a certain point, you run out of excuses. Especially if you’re someone like me who grew up in Texas. And that point came at Avenida Cantina when I discovered that my “enchilada” was sitting atop a hidden lagoon of what we could only assume (and hope) to be watery sour cream.
Also inexcusable: the rest of the bad food, the terrible service, and the fact that any innocent person who eats here could possibly walk away with the notion that this is what a real Tex-Mex place is supposed to look, taste, or feel like.
At a real Tex-Mex place, tortillas are soft, fluffy vehicles for taco nirvana. At Avenida Cantina, tortillas are dry, except for the spots where they’re wet, presumably because someone tried the flick-it-with-water-then-nuke-it trick. Or because they dropped them in the sink. At a real Tex-Mex place, the refried beans should taste like fat, salt, and glory. At Avenida Cantina, they look like a poop emoji and taste much less cute. At a real Tex-Mex place, the margaritas are strong and tart and you don’t even realize that you’ve had two of them before your food arrives. At Avenida Cantina, you have to take shots of what is essentially sweetened tequila, just so you don’t have to taste it anymore.
And at a real Tex-Mex place, you feel good. Actually, you feel great. It smells like heaven, you’re shoving salty chips and spicy salsa into your mouth before you even sit down in your chair, and the person bringing your food is excited to be your spirit guide into the pleasure zone. At Avenida Cantina, you don’t just feel uncomfortable - you feel trapped. Trapped in a room with a giant Texas flag on the wall and people who can't get your order right.
But what's most inexcusable is that Avenida Cantina is trying to convince you that this is real Tex-Mex. And that would give you one more reason to never want to come to Texas. And that would be a huge mistake. Because Texas is a great state. And Tex-Mex is our greatest triumph. Well, Tex-Mex and Willie Nelson.
Innocently ignorant people think that queso is a block of velveeta melted to a dippable consistency. This is wrong. Queso should have flavor and spice, and should not be something a stoned person could make in their dorm room. Avenida Cantina's has neither of the former qualities, but is very much the latter.
No, putting "fresh" in the name does not mean you can charge me $10 for a child-size portion of guacamole.
Something we learned at Avenida Cantina: eating a wet tortilla, no matter what's inside, is one of the worst things you can do to your mouth. Don't put your mouth through this.
Imagine an empty plate. Now imagine it covered in sour cream. Now imagine lukewarm tortillas rolled up with cold grated cheese on top of that sour cream. Now imagine lukewarm tortillas rolled up with cold grated cheese on top of that sour cream, with a bucket of brown meat (?) sauce dumped over the entire thing and a flood of sour cream cheese sauce on top of that, with a side of watered-down black beans and congealed rice. Welcome to Avenida Cantina.