Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beyond the cheese enchilada ...

The last time I went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, La Botana, there was a new special on the board - Quesadilla Nopalitos. It is a quesadilla stuffed with sauteed cactus strips, black beans and other goodies; and it is delicious. The specials always are. And that got me to thinking of a prime strategy vegetarians can use for good restaurant eating: Going off the menu.

Now, La Botana has a fine vegetarian section on its regular menu, with a lot of variety. I might never have ventured to try the specials until one day as I was ordering, the waiter asked whether I was vegetarian. It turned out that he was vegetarian, too. He particularly recommended the burrito caliente - stuffed with pinto beans, sauteed onions, and diced, fried potatoes, and covered with a chipotle-cream sauce. So I tried it, and was hooked on it, and on La Botana's other specials.

For a while, the vegetarian enchiladas de mole nearly edged burrito caliente out as my favorite: Cheese enchiladas on a bed of rice and pinto beans, topped with mole sauce and spicy onions. (If you decide to try that one, be sure to be clear about what you want - there's a similarly named dish on the regular menu that includes chicken.) In fact, I've ordered it so often that I haven't yet tried the veggie chimichanga....

La Botana's creative chef keeps dreaming up new specials; not all are vegetarian but many are. And the best part is, once you find a favorite they will make it for you, even after it no longer appears on the special board. La Botana is at 1547 Hanes Mall Blvd. in Winston-Salem, near the Wynnsong 12 movie theater.

In future posts, I'll talk about other restaurants with specials to make a vegetarian's heart beat a bit faster. Meanwhile, let me know if you know of any restaurants that have really special specials.


At 9/19/2006 5:15 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Being vegetarian myself I often have to be creative when dining out with friends or colleagues which in most cases means going off the menu. Sometimes salads and pasta just won't cut it. One popular example is places where they offer a Reuben sandwich and there is another dish on the menu with sauteed mushrooms. ASk the cook to substitute the mushrooms for the pastrami and boom! Veggie reuben! (Just disregard the weird looks the server will give you...you get used to it.)

At 9/20/2006 10:36 AM, Blogger Andy said...

BTW, West End Cafe has a great veggie reuben ON THE MENU!

At 10/14/2006 1:20 PM, Blogger Amy said...

We recently tried La Botana after reading your recommendation and both my husband (meat eater) and I (veggie) thought it was great. The waiters were very accomodating in making vegetarian friendly changes to my entree. Even though they were busy, the staff couldn't have been friendlier.

We haven't tried it yet, but the new Irish pub on Trade Street - Finnegan's Wake - has several vegetarian entrees on the menu.

At 2/15/2008 3:10 PM, Blogger Jimmy said...

My wife and I love La Botana. Definitely order from the specials menu! The owner said they may change the menu to do away with their standard stuff you see in all other "Mexican" restaurants and just serve their authentic home-style dishes. I for one sincerely hope that happens!


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