Delicious Mexican food, morning, noon or night

09/12/2012 2:27 PM

03/06/2013 4:38 PM

Editor's note: Las Tias de Beto closed its doors in March 2013.

Tempting neighbors and passersby on Waco with his amazing, decadent, bready Mexican pastries just wasn’t enough for Juarez Bakery owner Manuel Fernandez. He had to go and open a sister restaurant next door, enticing diners with freshly prepared Mexican dishes.

Las Tias de Beto, which seats about 50, opened in mid-July offering a small menu of Mexican specialties. Owners will keep that menu and add more specialties in the next couple of weeks.

ON THE MENU: The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the mornings, it offers dishes such as breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros and chorizo and eggs. The lunch and dinner menu is populated with items such as enchiladas, tacos, chile rellenos, a torta and a carne asada dinner.

DON’T MISS DISHES: Though the offerings at Las Tias de Beto are still somewhat limited, what they do have is good and hints at more good things to come.

One of our favorite dishes — red sopes ($7.99) — isn’t common on local Mexican restaurant menus. It consists of two shells made from corn masa topped with either shredded or ground beef, plus lettuce, salsa and cheese. The shells were dense and wonderfully chewy, and, topped with shredded beef, the dish was an unusual and delicious Mexican treat. Also excellent were the rice and beans served on the side. It’s always disappointing when those key side items are an afterthought, but these — especially the flavorful refried beans — were delicious.

We also loved the simple tacos carne asada. They don’t come as a dinner but rather are served a la carte at $2.19 apiece, though diners can add a side of beans and rice for $2.99. The tacos feature flavorful bites of marinated carne asada — grilled steak — topped with chopped white onions and cilantro. A side of extra spicy green sauce comes on the side. Two tacos are enough for an average appetite, and three should satisfy a big appetite.

The carne asada also was a perfect filling for the torta ($5.99), which is available filled with a breaded beef steak called milanesa, ham or turkey. Served on chewy homemade bread and topped with guacamole, onion, lettuce and tomato, the sandwich fell apart easily but was worth the mess.

The only disappointment on the menu was the flautas. Though they clearly were homemade with flour tortillas that had been filled with shredded beef, rolled and deep fried — rather than the from-the-box “taquito” style flautas served at too many Mexican restaurants — they were way underseasoned and only partially helped by the sour cream and green chili sauce served on the side.

The complimentary chips the restaurant serves are fried in-house and were layered and unusually thick, and the salsa was chunky with fresh tomato and onion.

We also loved the tres leches cakes. They were individually served cupcake-sized and consisted of a moist, milky cake topped with chocolate, whipped cream and a cherry on top. The restaurant was out of its flan when we were there, but we look forward to trying it on another visit.

Our breakfast was very good, too, though it’s difficult to imagine eating all that spicy food regularly in the morning. The huevos rancheros, which were $6.99 served with a side of beans and rice, was made of a runny fried egg nestled in fresh corn tortillas and topped with sauteed onions and peppers. And a chorizo burrito ($4.99) was filled in the center with a marriage of scrambled eggs, crumbly and spicy Mexican sausage and a smear of refried beans. Both were delicious.

AMBIANCE: The dining room is small but nicely decorated with brightly colored walls, a row of half-booths, several tables decorated with flowers.

PRICE RANGE: Reasonable. Breakfast items range from $4.99 for a burrito to $6.99 for huevos rancheros, served with rice and beans. Lunch and dinner items range from $5.99 to $8.99.

SERVICE: On two visits, it’s taken our servers a little too long to get to us. But once they do, they are friendly and attentive.

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