Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, April 13, 2005
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Do yourself a favor and go for Kassandra’s shrimp fajitas — lots of flavor and heft. (Photo by Vishal Malhotra)
Kassandra’s Mexican Kitchen
Jalapeño poppers
$6.25
Pechuga poblana
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Burned

Kassandra’s does Tex-Mex well — but without zip.

By CHRISTOPHER WYNN

A few things stand out at Kassandra’s Mexican Kitchen. First, the staffers sport some bitchin’ navy t-shirts with Kassandra’s cool logo spread across the chest. Hey, even strip-center eateries need to show a little pride. Second, a large mural dominating one of the walls depicts what appears to be a rustic landscape in, uh, Italy. (My guests and I merely presumed the space was formerly home to an Italian restaurant, but a casual inquiry revealed that a Chinese kitchen used to be here. A server later assured us that the mural is indeed a classic evocation of old Mexico. Hmm, OK.) Lastly, some of the food, though it is dressed up like Tex-Mex, is missing a key ingredient — heat.
Zesty is probably the last word you’d use to describe the chips and salsa. Alongside some no-better-than-store-bought chips arrived a watery, chunky tomato salsa and a cold, pureed tomatillo dip. The salsa isn’t worth mentioning; at least the dip was vibrant green and had a pleasant, garden-fresh flavor. Be as messy as you like — each table is covered in what may very well be a clear vinyl shower curtain.
The appetizer was a minor step up. Stuffed with gobs of cheddar and Jack cheese, the jalapeño poppers were unexceptional yet satisfying. Heavily breaded and deep-fried, they nicely complemented the rich homemade ranch dressing; their chewy, doughy yin living in harmony with the dressing’s creamy, sweet yang. But you needn’t bother keeping water nearby to drench any spice-fires — there was nothing remotely poppin’ about these poppers.
A couple of entrées proved that, while unable to provide heat, Kassandra’s can still whip up some tasty eats. Case in point: the fajitas. For a nominal mark-up, the kitchen turns regular shrimp fajitas into a sampler plate that includes chicken and steak. The chicken was tender and peppery, the steak a tad dry and too chewy, but the shrimp were perfect. Huge, buttery, and sparkling with red pepper seasoning, these bad boys sang while wrapped with sautéed onions and peppers in Kassandra’s melt-in-your-mouth homemade tortillas.
The other winning entrée was the pechuga poblana — grilled chicken breast topped with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and melted mozzarella cheese. The chicken was thick and juicy, and the fresh veggies and cheese had formed a tasty blanket of crunch on top. The dish came with moderately fluffy rice and a side salad drizzled with Italian dressing. (A nod to the geographically confused mural?)
Kassandra’s apparently does a mean lunch business, thanks mostly to its Keller Parkway location. They’re also open for breakfast, serving the old standbys — huevos rancheros, migas, and taquitos in various combinations of ingredients.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, Kassandra’s does everything — except serve alcohol. The good news is that since the restaurant’s offerings are on the less-spicy side, you might not miss cooling off with a margarita. On the other hand, a BYOT policy is recommended — bring your own Tabasco.


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