Back the Philippines, Menchie enjoyed cooking the island nation’s traditional cuisine for her friends and family, imbuing her kitchen with the signature Filipino aroma of garlic and onions. After immigrating to Amarillo, Menchie still commands the wok in her eponymous restaurant, crafting authentic dishes the minute they’re ordered. Located in a former A&W drive-in, the dining room’s red-backed booths host diners as they enjoy plates of noodles mixed with chopped veggies or skewers of barbecued chicken. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, hot coals slowly roast a whole pig stuffed with lemongrass and onions as the pig quickly regrets its decision not to eat its lemongrass salad in the shade.
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.
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.
Garnering the Best Dinner for Sweethearts honor in the Amarillo Globe-News, Macaroni Joe’s recreates the culinary distinction and intimate ambience of a Tuscan villa while opening palates to steak and seafood plates with flavors from around the globe. Summon dinner starters such as a platter of shrimp crostini ($11), followed by lasagna enfolding a love letter of pepperoni, beef, italian sausage, and stamped with three kinds of cheese to forlorn stomachs ($13). Steaks can be outfitted with hearty condiments such as portobello and roasted pepper ragout or gorgonzola-lime-infused butter ($18+). The lunch staff pride themselves on making it look like they aren't telekinetically levitating artfully-arrayed plates such as the fresno chicken grilled with green chili pesto and mozzarella ($9). Palates feeling neglected since second breakfast receive prompt validation in the form of hearty salads with toppings such as grilled salmon with pumpkin seeds and citrus vinaigrette ($10).