The atmosphere of a family restaurant is often emulated—but rarely successfully replicated—by many chain restaurants. They can’t be faulted for trying, however. There is truly nothing like walking into a restaurant where a family is working together to share their favorite recipes and traditions of hospitality, hoping to create a sacred gathering space for diners.
There is authenticity in long-beloved dishes that have been steeped in tradition and years of family discussion of how they could be improved. There is pride in the ability of staff to anticipate what a table full of diners might need in order to enjoy their meal—even just a tiny bit more. There is joy to be found in creating an environment where diners will be nourished and leave with happy memories of their visit. All of this creates a certain atmospheric alchemy that training, data-driven dining room design, and focus group-tested menu options simply cannot replicate.
Places that feel like home, wherever home might originally be, need all of those elements to satisfy hungry prodigals returning to the place we once knew so well, and to make us feel welcomed home by a loving and joyful celebration. Diners will experience a taste of home cooking and experience the familial joy of Latin cuisine at Flamingo’s Latin Bar & Grill.
Located on Amarillo Boulevard in a building that locals will recognize as a former Taco Villa, Flamingo’s offers dishes which originated from the many regions of Mexico and beyond. Flamingo’s plans to update its menu, soon, to offer dishes from even more regions.
One multicultural fusion dish, and one that diners should be sure to order for their table, is the califias asada fries. Trust me. They are crinkle cut fries layered with cheeses, onions, pico de gallo, asada, crema, guacamole, mojo sauce … and magic, perhaps? I am not usually a diner who gets overly excited about fries, but these I will dream about until I go back and have them again.
Puerto Rican mofongo is another menu standout. A mountain of mashed green plantains mixed with zesty garlic and salty, savory chicharron, mofongo represents the many cultural influences of the island territory.
Plantains make another delicious base for the Honduran tajadas. In this dish, the plantains are cut into steak-fry-sized strips, fried to perfection, and served cradling the diner’s choice of protein. On the side, you’ll get a fresh cabbage salad that is crunchy, crispy and tangy—exactly the right pairing for the carb-heavy plantains. The sauce served on the side is a cousin to ranch, but sweeter, more savory, and possibly even more craveable.
Cuban mojo sauce is made from sour orange juice and garlic, along with other various spices, and featured in several dishes on Flamingo’s menu. Try it with fibrous cassava fries, made of yucca root rounds that are perfectly prepared and lightly salted.
Flamingo’s also offers a full bar, with a reliably delectable tangy-sweet classic margarita, but they offer margaritas in other flavors that are rarer, like prickly pear and jalapeňo. My Brazilian lemonade was shared round the table when it first arrived, a creamy, white rum-based blended drink, dotted with fresh lime zest and served in a glass with a half-sugared rim. It was so well-liked, my tablemates ordered one after trying mine. The sour, sweet and cream flavors blend in perfect harmony.
Diners will recognize the owner when he walks through the swinging doors that lead to the kitchen to make his table rounds. He may be bussing a table here, filling a drink there, watering one of the gorgeous plants in the dining room, and checking in with patrons about their meals, but you can’t miss him—he is the one beaming with pride for what he, and his family, are creating.
Flamingo’s Latin Bar & Grill
701 Amarillo Blvd. East
Open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dinner served Tuesday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 5-10 p.m.