Don't take our word for it—listen to the critics. Read what restaurant reviewers from Dallas, Ft. Worth and out of town have to say about the far-from-ordinary fare found at Anamia's.
By Suzanne Marta, Dallas Morning News
HERE YOU ARE: Anamia's Tex-Mex Restaurant has a decidedly nonsuburban feel, with high ceilings and soft warm tones and wrought-iron chandelier lighting. It's hard to remember you're in Flower Mound – it could be in a quaint but touristy town, perhaps even in California wine country.
A small bar area is separated from the dining area with an open wooden grid of shelves that house decorative pottery pieces here and there. Brightly colored prints of country homes decorate the walls, and Mexican music is played at a level to add ambience rather than dominate the conversation. But high ceilings and polished concrete walls mean the restaurant tends to be on the loud side.
The patio is the perfect place to enjoy a cool margarita. Several flowerpots and terra cotta suns to add to the ambience, and ceiling fans fluff up a breeze.
A BIT OF HISTORY: The Flower Mound restaurant is one of three owned by Jay and Anna Maria Ortiz, who started the company a decade ago with a restaurant in Coppell. The family opened a Southlake location in 2001.
Menu items are named after family members, so it can take some time to navigate. While you browse, munch hot chips and the smooth, tomato-y salsa that comes with a mild kick. Waitstaff regularly replenishes it, so don't be shy.
THIS AND THAT: An appetizer platter serves at least four. Its chicken flautas were crispy, although the meat could have used a little more seasoning. Cheese quesadillas were nicely complemented by fresh guacamole. Nachos were carefully topped with beans and melted cheese.
Queso comes in three styles, two of which could be a meal if you wanted to go that route. We went for Kelli's version, a bowl of seasoned ground beef topped with an ice cream scoop of guacamole and the melted cheese sauce. We dipped chips deeply at first, to get tastes of everything before taking a fork to mix it all up – not so elegant but definitely tasty. The queso had creamy texture and hinted of onion.
Interesting choices include shrimp sautéed in garlic and lime juice, served with veggies and rice. Another summer favorite is grilled shrimp on a bed of romaine lettuce with slices of avocado and fresh pineapple.
Chicken with mushrooms is served sizzling on one of those fajita-style cast iron skillets. You can barely see the full breast of chicken buried deep within the mound of sautéed onions, tangy-hot poblano peppers and tender mushrooms. The flavors were bright and everything was fresh-tasting with a slight bite to it. The chicken was fork-tender and juicy, the savory seasonings blending nicely with the veggies. The dish comes with a small bowl of rice.
Maria's combination plate was reasonably priced, though a bit awkwardly served on two large platters to fit the guacamole chalupa, beef taco, soft cheese taco and cheese enchilada. Flavors were satisfying, though the dish seemed routine compared to the chicken.
The dessert list is limited, but don't let that stop you from trying the three scoops of housemade coconut ice cream, drizzled with coffee liqueur and served in an edible bowl. Creamy, delicate flan had a hint of vanilla.
Service was friendly and pleasant, and the only dillydallying between courses was by our request.
By Mike Peters, Dallas Morning News GuideLive
If you think of the phrase "same old" whenever you see the words "Tex-Mex," you need to discover Anamia's. After making a name for itself in Coppell and Flower Mound, the company opened a third restaurant at Southlake's most happening intersection, where another community of diners is tucking in for fare that rises above expectations.
While the popular Coppell location is squeezed into a line of shopping-center storefronts, the Southlake eatery feels expansive in its own Southwest-style building. That atmosphere makes an elegant transition inside, where sandstone walls form a natural cocoon accented with decorative iron.
Queso and salsa, the most basic of appetizers, seemed a little too basic: nothing chunky or funky in these bowls. The catsup-colored salsa was quite savory, with only the occasional pepper seed punctuating its smoothness. The guacamole junkie at my table declared that concoction to be "smooth and glorious." And "Crazy" nachos were satisfactorily extreme.
Fajitas sparkled, thanks to fresh ingredients and a nuance of hickory that permeates the meat. One of my companions ordered the "Fajita-Changa," in a fluffy monster of a tortilla that held up well with its beefy load, while another fellow diner sank her teeth into pollo con hongos, redolent with onions, mushrooms and poblano peppers.Anamia's strength shows in the entrees.
Camarones al mojo de ajo, shrimp sautéed in garlic and lime, struck poses on a beautiful platter with mushrooms, zucchini and carrot strips. Rice, served with virtually all entrees, took a page from the "simple and elegant" book – perfectly cooked, buttery and moist, and not spicy-brown or tarted up with the peas and carrots usually harbored in the stereotypical "Mexican rice."
Margaritas, frozen and on-the-rocks, got raves around our table, though a sunset-colored version flavored with mango was exciting to look at but a bore to imbibe.
A Sunday visit, timed for brunch, was an opportunity to sample chilaquiles, lighty scrambled buttery eggs with sautéed tortilla strips, poblano peppers, onions and a cover of melted cheese. A request for a mimosa befuddled the wait staff, but we settled for a Bloody Mary, which turned out to be an ideal complement for this brunch.
While the dinner crowd on our earlier visit was mostly couples, Sunday brought many families with small children, who seemed to enjoy the food and the big-beat background music. Who needs Mickey D's after all?
Two South-of-the-Border specialties stood out: pollo Cancun, a grilled chicken breast marinated in achiote pepper for an invigorating flavor and robust red color, and ensalada Ixtapa, sporting grilled jumbo shrimp and pineapple on a bed of fresh Romaine, sliced avocado and bacon, all drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing.
More traditional plates, featuring different combos of taco-enchilada-burrito-chalupa, are ID'd by lunch-special numbers at midday and the first names of longtime restaurant friends at dinner. The "Javier," with two spinach-and-chicken enchiladas slathered with sour-cream sauce, looked great; the fellow at the next table who ordered it ate every bite and then polished the plate with a spare tortilla.
Dessert choices include a fine, silky flan that finishes a simple but elegant dining experience very nicely.
By William Burdette, Fort Worth Weekly
"We're not trying to do anything different," Jay Ortiz said about the third location of his Anamia's restaurants. "All three restaurants look the same. Same menu, same concept."
While Ortiz has stuck to a formula for his three restaurants (so named for the combination of wife, Ana, and daughter Mia), the outcome is anything but formulaic. At least not yet. However, Ortiz is riding the crest of a trend toward classy Tex-Mex places, and others are sure to (if there is any taste left in the neon corporate dining wasteland of North Texas) do away with the sombreros, cacti, and those gawd-awful chili-pepper Christmas lights.
"The thing is, like Don Pablo's or any of the other chains, they're so festive," he said. "I want to stay away from that. I want it a little bit upscale. I want to stay away from the Christmas lights, the piñatas, the real cheerful stuff. I want to go some place where it's warm, and you don't have all that. That's such a stereotype of Mexican restaurants: sombreros and that stuff. If you go into any restaurant in Mexico City, you won't see that. You'll see what you see in my restaurant."
And what we saw was what one can only hope is the new look of Tex-Mex: rich, warm colors; subdued fabrics, creative lighting, and tasteful décor. When considering Anamia's alongside places such as Mi Cocina (which seems to be expanding its empire) and Moctezuma's (the Ayala family's fourth, finest place), the Ortiz family might have some competition when it comes to deciding where to take the out-of-town guests for local flavor. And if the four-month-old Southlake Anamia's is any indication, it should be quite a tough decision.
All other things being equal (and they often are in Tex-Mex), if I'm paying and someone else is driving, we'll be going to Anamia's. The prices are extremely reasonable. And the 'ritas are stout. My dining partner, who occasionally tends bar at a local culinary landmark, schooled me in the finer points of what must be the national drink of Texas.
"When you are talking about margaritas, there are three things to consider: kick, cost, and taste," he said.
"Passes my test."
That's an endorsement. As we worked on our drinks and sampled the guacamole, the place passed the next standard of Tex-Mex competency. I ordered the Cha-cha (don't let the name deter you) and my dining companion had the shrimp fajitas.
My platter consisted of a spinach-and-chicken enchilada, a cheese enchilada, and a puffy taco, which turned out to be more like a little taco salad. It was tasty, and I liked the twist on the presentation, but it would have been better with a dollop of sour cream or guacamole. The rest of my meal—rice, beans, enchiladas, and chips and salsa—rivaled that of any Tex-Mex place in town, but I was jealous of my companion's shrimp fajitas, which were exemplary.
The shrimp were in that perfect window of doneness—cooked through but not rubbery. We were both a little peeved about the tails being left on the shrimp in an entrée that was clearly designed to be wrapped in a tortilla, as this necessitated more patience, finger dexterity, and self-control than one wants to exhibit when one is about to go to town on a rolled-up goodie.
But Anamia's is not alone in this offense. (Seriously, chefs, presentation is one thing, but must I pick off the tails of my shrimp even when they appear in pasta, on pizza, or in a fajita?) So, we decided to let it go.
Not to mention, we were really pleased by the selection of vegetables that accompanied the fajitas. Squash, zucchini, and mushrooms graced the usual onions and peppers, all of which were bathed in that wonderful fajita marinade run-off.
As we picked at the last of the veggies on the fajita platter, and the extremely competent servers took away the scraps of Tex-Mex shrapnel that littered the table, we sat back and contemplated what was missing from our meal.
There was no turn-and-burn vibe. "We're family-owned and -operated," Ortiz said. "We're not a chain. It's just me and my wife and my daughter." That explains the reasonable prices and comfortable, yet elegant, atmosphere.
Still, there was something else missing. Ah, there were no screaming rug-rats weaving through tables. "You can bring a date and say, 'This is a nice Mexican restaurant,'" Ortiz said. "You don't have to go to a five-star continental [restaurant]; you can go to Anamia's and get that atmosphere. But at the same time, you can bring your kids and yet get good food."
OK, so kids are welcome, but the few we saw were particularly well-behaved. Was that it, or was there still something a little off for a Tex-Mex place?
That's it; there was no shrill, annoying, faux-authentic music. "I play good, good music," Ortiz said. "It doesn't have to be the mariachi stuff." Not that there's anything wrong with the mariachi stuff, but does every Tex-Mex meal have to be a fiesta? Ortiz seems to think not. I'm inclined to agree. When it comes to doing Tex-Mex right, perhaps a little less is more.
If that's the case, then Anamia's has less stuff to get in the way of a good Tex-Mex meal, and more class than any place that side of I-35W.
By C. Heath Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
THE CUISINE: Suburban Tex-Mex
THE AMBIENCE: With exposed ductwork, decorative wrought iron and elaborately carved pictures frames around paint-by-numbers village scenes, the restaurant presents a warm, dark atmosphere amid traditional Mexican design and striking art deco.
THE CROWD: At 6:30 p.m. on a Friday, it was packed, with a 15-minute wait, but an hour's wait is not unusual. The dining area is compact, but everyone seems comfortable.
THE SPECIALS: There are 11 lunch specials available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. They are mostly Tex-Mex standards, such as enchiladas, tacos and tortilla soup. There is also a lunch fajita.
THE HITS: The menu features an impressive assortment of appetizers, soups, salads, specialities and dinner plates. The specialities dominate, but we were intrigued by the dinners and the house favorite, pollo con hongos.
The sizzling vegetable fajitas, a specialty, was an agreeable version of the Southwestern favorite. The vegetables—potatoes, green peppers, tomatoes, onion, zucchini and carrots--were seasoned, grilled and piled high beside chunky guacamole (with a hint of lime), Spanish rice and peppery refrieds. The Gabriella (half of the dinner plates are named for family members) comes with two chicken enchiladas topped with a generous blend of sauteed carrot strings, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, green pepper slices, scallions and celery chips. The vegetables were fresh and crisp.
THE MISSES: Some portions of specialties were not overwhelming.
THE SERVICE: Prompt, courtous, accomodating.
By Tyra Damm, Dallas Morning News
It's warm inside this Tex-Mex haven. Warm amber light fixtures, spicy food, warm and friendly service. And plenty of beer and margaritas to cool you down.
This is the second Anamia's; the first is a popular spot in Coppell. The menu is repeated with great success at this new, more elegant location.
The wait was long on the Thursday night we visited, with families and couples lining up for dinner. After 25 minutes, the hostess offered us a table at the bar. We really wanted to see the pretty dining room, though; a manager graciously found us a booth on the quieter side of the restaurant.
Large paintings, splashed with vibrant color, line one wall. Music is piped into the dining room, but it's not so noisy that you can't hear your companions. Televisions are relegated to the bar, so dinner conversation is not distracted. Only the dinerlike laminated menus seem out of place.
Over the past year in Coppell, we've sampled most of the menu's basic Tex-Mex—unfailingly fresh enchiladas, tacos, chalupas and burritos. But the fancier Flower Mound digs encouraged us to order specialties.
We started with queso con hongos, a filling appetizer with melted Jack cheese, strips of spicy, dark green poblano peppers, earthy-tasting sliced mushrooms and bits of green onion. Spoon up the mixture into a warm flour tortilla and add some spicy red salsa if you like. The outcome is a bit greasy but so good.
Poblano a la parilla is a beautiful plate of varied textures and flavors. A roasted poblano pepper is filled with generous strips of smoky fajita chicken and melted Jack cheese. The dinner also includes fluffy rice, beans and slaw. The crunchy, sweet slaw was wonderful: thinly sliced cabbage, zucchini, carrots, poblano peppers and cilantro in a tangy citrus dressing. The cup of beans was better than ordinary, too, thick with onions and bits of pork.
Gabriella is also beautifully presented. A sauteed medley of sliced carrots, celery, zucchini, poblanos and mushrooms is artfully heaped on two enchiladas—your choice of cheese or chicken. We tried one of each. The shredded chicken was a better match with the veggies. Refried beans and Spanish rice come on the side.
Other dinners feature countless combinations of Tex-Mex favorites, such as the Denny-Ray ($6.25) with a chicken enchilada, cheese enchilada and soft cheese taco and Teresa with a bean chalupa, chili con queso tostada and guacamole tostada. Prices are even cheaper at lunch, with 11 specials available weekdays.
The pillowy sopapillas here are too good to pass up. You can order three for $2, but we had room for just one, so they charged us 75 cents. Other desserts include coconut ice cream with Kahlua) and flan.
By Tyra Damm, Dallas Morning News GuideLive
Local fans may be upset that their secret is out, but it's not fair to hide Anamia's tasty Tex-Mex from the rest of us.
The strip-center restaurant attracts crowds day and night, and is especially popular with families. The waitstaff cheerfully pushes tables together to accomodate large parties, and diners often wait just inside the door or outside on the sidewalk for a table. The payoff for their patience is excellent, fairly-priced Tex-Mex.
We usually shy from appetizers at Tex-Mex restaurants, instead devouring chips and hot sauce. While Anamia's hot sauce is wonderful and deceptively spicy, the appetizer menu is worth trying, too.
Queso flameado is heated and mixed expertly at the table. The dish is a mild blend of white cheese, chorizo (Mexican sausage) and pico de gallo served with chewy flour tortillas. We also sampled spinach quesadillas, a simple and flavorful combination of chopped spinach and Monterey Jack cheese between grilled tortillas.
Anamia's prepares wonderful basic entrees and offers a few surprises, as well. We prefer the simpler dishes, but nothing disappointed.
An unusual dish is Jerry's Chicken, a huge grilled chicken breast topped with sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese and chives. The sour cream topping was a little overwhelming but was tempered with the accompanying pico de gallo and guacamole.
Anamia's offers chicken, beef and vegetable fajitas. We tried the chicken and beef combination and were pleased by the sizzling plate and the restaurant's resistance to cookie-cutter fajita dinners. The fork-tender meats were served in large slices, not the thin strips found in most Tex-Mex restaurants. And in addition to peppers and onions, the plate included grilled potatoes.
The dinners and lunch specials offer endless combinations of the basics. The Mexican dinner includes a cheese enchilada filled with onions, a beef taco with well-seasoned ground beef and fresh lettuce and tomato, and a meaty tamale. The dinner is served with standard refried beans and rice thick with stewed tomatoes. The Carlito substitutes a soft and delicious sour cream chicken enchilada for the Mexican dinner's tamale.
The lunch specials, served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., include 11 combinations. No. 10 is a satisfying and filling plate with a delicate yet hearty puffed taco, a soft cheese taco and a cheese enchilada. We also enjoyed No. 5, a cheese enchilada, beef taco and rice and beans.
Children aren't an afterthought at Anamia's. The child's plate includes rice and beans and a choice of a beef taco, tamale, quesadilla, puffed taco, burrito, enchilada or soft cheese taco.
The dessert menu includes coconut ice cream, flan and sopapillas. We were too full to finish our dinner plates, but the smell of sopapillas was irresistible. No one was sorry when we received the plate of three fried triangles of dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
Service on both visits was gracious and swift. Water and tea were promptly refilled, and yet it never felt as if waiters were hovering.
Families flock to the restaurant, and at night the noise level gets high. But even those without children will feel welcome in the simple dining room, painted black and white with a stripe of bold pink. A couple of televisions in the corners keep sports fans happy. And everyone who loves the simplicity of Tex-Mex should leave happy as well.
Sorry, Coppell. Your secret is revealed.
AOL City Guide, Flower Mound
Compared to other more salsa-soaked Dallas suburbs as Plano and Garland, Flower Mound has historically suffered from a relative Tex-Mex deficit. But as deeply tragic as that might be, residents do have options, and Anamia's is generally regarded as one of the best. Standard cross-border offerings like beef fajitas and soft flour tacos are solidly executed, the salsa of residence is quite distinctive if only by virtue of inordinate levels of spice, and the combo plates are amply-portioned enough to feed two adults from the same trough. Those on the lookout for the unorthodox won't be disappointed, either; the menu is speckled with such inspired irregularities as grilled shrimp served atop Romaine lettuce, to which slices of avocado and pineapple have been added in what appears to have been a sudden spate of ingenious afterthought. —Barrett Brown
Yahoo Travel, Southlake
Modern decor and fast-paced service set this restaurant above the plethora of Tex-Mex choices found throughout the Metroplex. The menu consists of standard Tex-Mex choices—enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos, flautas and tamales. If you are dining for lunch, the specials here are a great choice and very affordable. Specialties include the handmade tamale dinner and the shrimp sauteed in lime sauce served over a bed of rice with just the right amount of spice. Complete your meal with one of the delicious sopaipillas and you will walk away satisfied.
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