The cousin tag team of Livia Woodburn and Lizzie Smith embraces fresh ingredients and creative cooking to deliver breakfast, lunch, and baked goods. Myriad cupcake experiments stand out against the mundane—like a rebellious teenager who wears a suit—to fulfill special requests and cater parties. It might be said that Livia’s parallel career as a graphic designer acts as the secret ingredient that gives each cupcake its inventive, artistic flair. The friendly café invites early-morning or afternoon diners to feast upon hearty eats crafted from locally acquired ingredients and accompanied by house-made pickles, olives, and dressings. Lizzie, the lead chef behind many of Pan-Handlers Café’s dishes, cut her teeth as a cook during familial dinner routines and several cooking courses, and the cuisine enthusiast earned her degree in biology from Lewis & Clark College, which is inexplicably not where Lewis and Clark went to college.
Purveyors of classic American eats, the cooks at The Burger Bar grill half-pound specialty burgers and deep-fry all-beef hotdogs. Diners can clasp fingers around burgers served with spicy barbecue sauce, fresh jalapenos, and sautéed mushrooms or savor crispy deep-fried hotdogs smothered in house-made relish and chili.
Nu-Castle Diner is a purveyor of classic American breakfast and lunch cuisine, serving hearty portions of pancakes and swirling cinnamon buns made fresh daily. Heaping bowls of oatmeal ($2.25) and freshly baked biscuits with gravy ($2.69) hush the arias of early-rising stomachs, while lunch parties can latch onto philly cheesesteak sandwiches served with fries or tots ($6.99). Notoriously tender roast beef arrives flanked by mashed potatoes, tossed salad, and iced tea ($7.25). Once offspring have scarfed grilled-cheese sandwiches or junior burger kids' menu meals ($3.59–$4.59), a parade of house-made cakes and pies rewards mouths for meals well chewed ($2.25/slice).
La Frontera has filled its menu with classic Mexican dishes, such as a family recipe for beef picadillo, since its founding in 1985. Huevos rancheros and chorizo burritos grace the breakfast menu, and flautas join traditional and soft nachos at lunchtime. Carne guisada, tostadas, and tacos crown dinner plates alongside rice, beans, and salad, and paletas (Mexican popsicles) in flavors such as watermelon and coconut join buñuelos for dessert. La Frontera also serves American dishes, such as cheeseburgers and cheese fries, amid the dining room's inlaid ceramic tile and Coca-Cola ephemera, such as vintage bottles, cans, tins, and free-floating carbonation bubbles.
Despite the adage that warns against messing with Texas, Jaime and Alicia Santillan had no problem giving Tex-Mex cuisine the cold shoulder when they opened Los Braceros Mexican Bar & Grill. The couple amassed dishes from their home country into a menu that has since won praise from Amarillo Magazine for its unflagging devotion to authentic Mexican food.
When he’s not strolling around the dining room, making sure customers are enjoying their food and wearing matching socks, Jaime supervises his kitchen staff as they prep plenty of tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and seafood entrees. The restaurant's grill often sizzles with the signature parrillada platter: your choice of three meats, from lamb chops to chicken, served with sides of rice, beans, and guacamole. It also roasts more obscure south-of-the-border meals, such as codorniz, a 2- to 6-ounce marinated quail, and Mexican-style ribs.
The restaurant, which is housed in a restored Route 66 building, stocks an impressive supply of tequila to augment its spicy eats. Patrons can sip on fiery samples or order beer from the full bar, which provides seating for live musical shows on Fridays and Saturdays.
La Fiesta Grande's chefs populate a colossal menu with authentic south-of-the-border dishes, earning their eatery the third-place spot in CityVoter's Best Mexican Restaurant 2009. Beef, chicken, or shrimp conductors direct the steaming fajita skillet's sizzling ballad, soothing appetites and inspiring star-crossed veggies, guacamole, and pico de gallo to fall in love with teeth (beef or chicken, $10.99; beef and chicken, $11.99; shrimp, $14.99; trio platter, $13.99). Diners can sic seafaring chompers on the baja crispy fish tacos' triumvirate of tortilla-breaded ocean dwellers, reigning over swells of house-made baja sauce ($10.99). Meanwhile, a dollop of sour cream as fluffy as a pillow stuffed with cumulus clouds tops the spinach enchilada platter's cheesy trio of vitamin-packed cylinders ($8.99).