Tuesday, March 3, 2009

FOOD CZAR REVIEW #44: CYCLONE ANAYA'S MEXICAN KITCHEN

It's official. My lovely wife the Rock Star and I do not get a chance to visit with her sister the Wild Thing nearly often enough to suit our tastes. A striking beauty with shoulder-length gray hair, the Wild Thing is a true Texas gal who does what she wants whenever she wants to do it. Her Southern charm and winning smile belie the fact that she has truly lived life, and has proudly earned every last one of her gray hairs. The fact that she was a movie star (OK, she made an appearance or two in front of the cameras once upon a time in a past life) just makes for yet another of the wonderful stories she can relate to astonished guests. Suffice it to say that my wife and I can't get enough of her company, so when their mother The Momma summoned us to brunch at Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen one recent Sunday, we were very pleased to note her car parked out front of The Momma's house, indicating her presence within. Very soon, the four of us rather jauntily set off for a leisurely Sunday brunch.

If you are looking for a typical Tex-Mex interior with serapes, sombreros, and Elvis paintings on black velvet hung on the walls, be prepared for a shock. Cyclone Anaya's decor is Dante's Post Industrial Inferno with an oversized bar dominating the entrance, sculptures abounding, and light sculptures, recessed lights, and purple lights illuminating each of the dining areas. These dining areas are not separate, but the booths, tables, and banquettes are artfully arranged to create intimate nooks balanced by a larger room. We were seated at once and turned our attentions to both the brunch and regular menus. Cyclone Anayas follows the practice of having both menus available at brunchtime, and we availed ourselves accordingly, selecting the bottomless poinsettias from the brunch menu (well, the ladies did....I stuck with cervezas), and our repasts from the regular menu.

We started with guacamole and queso, along with the restaurant's excellent chips and salsa. These days, the trend leans toward salsa with bite, and I'm happy to report that Anayas complies. Guacamole is fresh and chunky, The Momma approving heartily, as she is our resident avocado expert. Queso is very thick and a bit stringy, but the cheese dip was robust and filling. Since our entire party consisted of Texas natives who love all things Tex and Mex, we stuck with a varied selection of basics. I wish I could report on the success of The Wild Thing's quesadillas, an appealing round of tortilla stuffed with Mexican cheese and chicken and served with sour cream, pico de gallo, and more of that fabulous guacamole, but she was carefully guarding her plate with knife and fork and I dared not poach. I was more successful in trying my bride's Enchiladas Suizas, with roasted chicken, sour cream, rajas con crema, and white Mexican cheese both astride and inside, resulting in a cheesy, creamy delight which made the roast chicken shine. The Momma stuck with classic beef and cheese enchiladas topped with chili con carne and onions, and I believe that the use of Angus beef in this dish turned it into one of the most exciting sleepers on the menu. For myself, I selected the gourmet Enchiladas Anayas, one each of beef and chicken fajita, filled with cheese, onions and mushrooms, and topped with melted cheese and chili ancho sauce, an unusual combination that worked quite well, as the mushrooms and ancho sauce really brought out the char on the meat. Mexican rice proved light and refreshing, charro beans soupy and smoky, and refried beans creamy and flavorful. We chose to bypass dessert for another round of drinks, and lingered over conversation well into the afternoon.

Service was quite amiable, although we did have to flag down our waiter just a tad more than we would have liked. Website is www.cycloneanaya.com, where you can learn about the names colorful origins. The ebullient general manager stopped by for an extended and thoroughly delightful stay at our table, confirming that Cyclone Anaya was named for a star of Mexican wrestling and that his career was ended by an injury suffered at the hands of none other than the great Andre the Giant. Fascinating stuff indeed.

Overall, we had a wild time with The Wild Thing and the always-formidable Momma, and we'll definitely be back for brunch or dinner at Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen. Explore your wild side soon, and remember:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

4 comments:

Kendrick said...

wow, I looked up this place a while back for some new Mexican Food. I know I should have went there. Its on the list for next time though.

Food Czar said...

Thanks, Kendrick. Don't forget the bottomless mimosas and poinsettias at brunch!

Marci said...

we *love* that place. Think we went in the second night they were open and were really impressed....great queso...and the desserts (especially the flan!!) were so good. some of the dishes we tried weren't that wonderful, but some were right on mark. Next time you go, ask for Alvin as your waiter - he's a mind reader. :)

Food Czar said...

Marci, my relatives The Momma and The Wild Thing live nearby, so I'm sure you'll run into us if you go again. Thanks for posting!