If you are looking for traditional Mexican Fare, look no further and head on down to the corner of Elm and Lancaster Blvd. to Don Sal Cocina & Cantina. Once inside, the aroma of authentic Mexican cuisine reminiscent of Mexico truly makes you feel like you have been transformed to a new country. The beautiful high-backed booths will give you a sense of privacy while still being able to people watch. The giant fish tank is breathtakingly beautiful, the restaurant is lit up with beautiful fixtures and the kitchen is open, so you can watch your food being prepared. There are two outdoor patios to dine, drink and party with your family and friends and some nights there is live music. This fun and casual scene is what we found last week while enjoying lunch with my companion and friends— Jackie and Alan.

As soon as we sat down, we were given menus, chips, salsa and a warm bean dip then asked for our drink order—two iced teas, one water and of course a beer for my companion. Too bad it was lunch time as I would have loved to have had one of their delicious strawberry margaritas I have enjoyed in the past!

We decided, or actually I decided to start with the tableside guacamole and flautas as our appetizers, followed up with a two-item combination, crab enchiladas and churros for dessert. The reason I mentioned that I decided is because I asked them to review the restaurant with me and I usually do all the ordering and then we eat family style—sharing everything. Sometimes that works well and other times someone likes a particular entrée and really doesn’t want to share which is exactly what happened at this lunch! I wanted the crab enchilada all to myself and Alan wanted the chile relleno all to himself. But we still managed to enjoy everything equally anyway and it just added a little comedy to our lunch.

While we were talking and enjoying the fresh chips, salsa with a little kick and the delicious bean dip, out came the chef with a tray of avocados, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro and lime. As he was scooping out the avocado, he asked us which of the ingredients we wanted to add. We chose everything and asked for the onions and jalapenos on the side for the two who weren’t going back to work!  What a beautiful and colorful presentation and the flavor was out of this world. The avocados were so fresh—freshest I’ve seen in a while. This was a real treat and a nice complement to our meal. We kept it on the table, using it for dipping the flautas, chips—actually just about everything was dipped in that yummy guacamole. Not a drop was left by the end of our meal.

The shredded beef flautas came to the table looking scrumptious, with a mound of guacamole and a side of mystery sauce. The flour shells were cooked perfectly and the meat was plentiful—and I do mean plentiful. We called the sauce mystery sauce because it had a very subtle ranchero taste by itself, but once the flauta was introduced to the sauce it came alive with flavor—accenting the taste of the beef.

The combination plate was one of the great ones—chicken enchilada and chile relleno served with salad, rice and beans. You have your corn tortilla stuffed with seasoned shredded chicken and cheese rolled up, baked and covered with rich enchilada sauce, and a nice size roasted poblano chile stuffed with loads of cheese, battered with an airy egg coating and fried until crispy then covered with melted cheese and rich sauce over it. This is Alan’s go to meal and he only wished he didn’t have to share it four ways as he was hoping to enjoy it all to himself.   

I would have to say the crab enchiladas were definitely the hit of the day—an amazing, flavorful, delightful dish like heaven on earth! I think simply fabulous would explain this dish perfectly. Jackie had never experienced it and didn’t know what to expect as it was bursting with pink crab meat. A mouthful of crab, cheese and a heavenly tomatillo sauce is what we got, bite after delicious bite—having us wanting more and then it was gone. We couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was—and let me tell you, it was amazing. When we were done, the server cleared the table and brought the strawberry filled churros out, cut in six pieces on top of a swirl of chocolate, a mound of vanilla ice cream, dollops of whipped cream and a strawberry. These authentic churros had our taste buds going loco! This magical creation was a thing of not only beauty but quite tasty, too!

Don Sal Cocina & Cantina will have you coming back time and time again as everything-and I mean everything was fresh, delicious and satisfying. The food we enjoyed was just a very small sampling of a menu with quite a bit of variety from appetizers, soups, salads to seafood, traditional Mexican fare, steak, egg plates and dessert. They offer lunch, dinner, full cocktail bar, beer, wine, Taco Tuesday, Latin Nights with DJ, live band and drink specials till 1AM and Mariachi Sunday Brunch complete with bottomless mimosas from 10AM-3PM. Located at 706 W. Lancaster Blvd in Lancaster, (661) 941-2301. Open Mon.-Wed. 11AM-9PM—Thu. 11AM-10PM—Fri.11AM-1AM, Sat. 11AM-12AM and Sun. 10AM-9PM Check out the entire menu www.donsalcocinacantina.com. Bon Appetit!

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