Cabana Grill is no longer in business.
A taste of Mexico
A new star is on the horizon in the San Jose, Mandarin area. Cabana Grill, created by well-known Texas based Taco Cabana, is now open in Mandarin. With more than 30 years’ experience serving fresh, handmade Mexican cuisine, it is pretty evident walking in the door Cabana Grill is not a typical fast casual restaurant.
With the open kitchen and tortilla making station, flame and stove top grill, indoor seating as well as two patios, the space evokes the feel of a genuine Mexican cantina complete with patio lighting. Weather permitting, the entire dining area can be opened into one large eating area. Additionally, the colors and art work are reminiscent of Mexico and street life is depicted in the artwork displayed throughout the restaurant. It doesn’t hurt that there is a well-designed drive through lane with large, easy to read, well illuminated menu boards.
Let’s talk food. The salsas are made from scratch daily; all vegetables are chopped, roasted and blended during the day to ensure the freshest taste and quality possible. An array of tasty salsas are available to please every palate, from the mildest to the wildest. Two of the specialty salsas I found hard to resist. One was a pineapple salsa, which complimented the many shrimp dish offerings. The other was a fire roasted roma tomato and jalapeno hand chopped salsa that was so zesty it had me going back for more. Flour tortillas are pressed by hand and the diner can see the entire operation as they are put into the machine rolled out and grilled right before your eyes.
We started with the quesadillas (chicken, steak, and shrimp, with cheddar and jack cheese and Pico de Gallo served with a side of sour cream). There are two sizes available with the small starting at $4.99. We found the small quesadilla is large enough for two people to share as an appetizer. These were done well and generously stuffed with cheese and meat.
Next we moved on to the tacos. Both the chicken at $2.59 and steak at $2.69 are well flavored and marinated, then grilled over the open flame. Unfortunately the diner is charged 25¢ for each premium topping, including guacamole, grilled onions and peppers, cheddar & jack cheese, and asadero cheese. The fresh made tortillas made the tacos one of our favorites. We also tried the Street Tacos (order of 3 for $4.99). This is basically a smaller version of the regular taco. These marinated steak bites are served with lime wedges that enhance the flavor of the marinade. For variety we tried Mexican Potatoes (diced, golden potatoes sautéed with onions, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and jalapenos and sprinkled with shredded creamy asadero cheese). The Mexican potatoes were so good, we all wanted more. Definitely don’t miss them. We finished up with the sopapillas. Sopapillas are a traditional Mexican dessert of light, airy pastries dusted with cinnamon and sugar. These are served with honey or Dulce de Leche dip on the side. A lot of restaurants use their flour tortillas to make sopapillas easily and cheaply. But true sopapillas have pockets of air in them from being left to rise, much like a bread. They are then rolled out, cut, and fried. The sopapillas at Cabana Grill are the real deal. There are two sizes are available: small, 5 pieces for $1.29 and one dipping sauce, or the large, 10 pieces with 2 dipping sauces for $1.99. For the 70¢ price difference, the large makes so much sense for sharing and getting an additional sauce. The beverages of note are authentic bottled Mexican Fanta and Mexican Coke made with real cane sugar, and margaritas made with fresh squeezed lime juice. It’s worth noting Cabana Grill hosts a $5.00 Happy Hour Fiesta paired with an order of nachos for $3.50.
Overall our expectations were exceeded at Cabana Grill. We loved the focus on very fresh high quality of food, and the festive well thought out environment.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a new restaurant or try new menu items at a restaurant. This meal is usually comped as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.