Instead of my usual post regarding a restaurant, I will be submitting this letter to Benitos (not physically - stamps are expensive).
I was recently a diner at your establishment and I wanted to recount and discuss my experience. I believe some constructive criticism could be useful in making your restaurant everything we all dream of.
You, as the neighborhood Mexican restaurant on Magnolia has a purpose, nay, a duty to the people of the near southside in Fort Worth. A duty to be the best it can be, to provide Mexican food to the people, and to serve chips without charging for them. Benito, this duty is yours and yours alone. Unless you fail, in which case another Mexican restaurant will join your area and attempt to out duty you.
Remembering the concept from my childhood - that disappointment hurt worse than any harsh words, I have decided to avoid the harsh words. But I am disappointed. Not because you failed miserably, but because I believe you did not live up to my expectations.
I have two fundamental complaints, but cry not, for I have four compliments. I will start with the complaints, so that you can get mad at me and let your anger prevent you from absorbing the compliments.
First, don't charge for chips. It's like charging for the greasy fingers you have after eating at Carshon's. You just expect the chips at a Mexican restaurant. And when you bring out a delicious bowl of pico and salsa (see below) without chips, you're just a dirty tease. You don't want a reputation as a tease do you? Also, if you're going to charge for chips, they shouldn't be soggy. I used to work in a Mexican restaurant and I know this can happen inadvertently, but if you're going to make me (well, my friend) pay for chips, you should inspect them for crispiness, and you should probably gold plate them and feed them to us. Or just don't charge.
Secondly, if you're going to put a sauce on enchiladas that looks like cat diarrhea (see the Tacos Palenque review) it should have flavor. I'm not saying the sauce tasted bad, I'm saying it had no taste. I guess it was a good thing that it didn't taste as good as it looked. I know this may sound crude, but I want to help because this is a place that I entered with high hopes. The enchiladas weren't bad, they were just...meh.
Ok, let the hurt subside. I know it aches your heart. But hold your head up high Benito. there were many positive aspects of our dining experience.
First, as I mentioned above, the pico was wonderful. It was full of chunky bites of everything, with a perfect combination of flavors. I bet its great with chips... But seriously, the pico is Legen...wait for it...dary. This is easily the best pico I've had in Fort Worth.
Second, the salsa was also amazing. It had a wonderful spice that was hot enough for spice lovers to enjoy. Wonderful flavor and the color of it was very appealing. These first two compliments may be why I was so disappointed with the lack of free chips...you tease.
Third, the beans and rice were perfect. There are probably better beans and rice around, but they certainly fill the bill here and are great. They were warm and nicely flavored. Definitely an important aspect to get right. Good job on that Benito.
Fourth, the location, ambiance, decor, and overall neighborhoody feel was perfect. This is the type of restaurant I would like to call my regular Mexican restaurant. Except for the chips. And the sauce on the enchiladas. Fort Worth could use a dozen more restaurants with your feel, all across the city and with different types of food. The ambiance is great, the service was terrific and the attitude just felt right. A patio would be cool, but lets not get ahead of ourselves - free chips should be the priority.
So, as I have stated, your restaurant has been on my list of places I must eat at and I really enjoyed most of the experience. But to be honest, we both know you can do better. And the chips thing really bothered me. And so did the sauce. But those are small things that can be easily fixed.
I will come back for sure. But we'll have to start over. We'll have to rebuild the trust I falsely assumed we had. I will order beef enchiladas with queso or chili sauce and I will still complain about the lack of chips. But I will be back. With enough time, we can heal.
I know this stings, and I imagine you wont be posting my letter up in your restaurant, but lets make limonada out of these limes and use this little experience as a building tool to make Benito's all it can be. I look forward to seeing you soon...although I will understand if the feeling is not mutual.