After some unanswered posts about Velvet Cantina (by myself and others) I thought it was about time I tried this place.
If you looking for standard Mexican fare, you are in the wrong joint.
Velvet cantina's menu is full of typical Mexican dishes with suprisingly refreshing twists in spices and ingredients (example: Gruyere Quesadilla with diced black forrest ham). There are also a number of typical American dishes reinvented with a bold latin style -- like the chimichurri cesear salad with totilla chips and Cotija cheese.
I enjoyed this place so much that I've actually been there twice in the past week (confession: I live 3 blocks away). I have been impressed by many things on the menu, some highlights are below. Best of all is the price - our bill was ~$100 for a group of 4 (including $40 in margaritas....).
Let's start with the basics - they make their own delicious tortilla chips and their salsa is full of freshly chopped vegtables and bursts with flavor.
Some dishes I really enjoyed:
Tortilla Crusted Chicken Strips- Juicy pieces of organic chicken fried with a crunchy tortilla crust. Served with two sauces. One was a thick smokey sauced filled with spice and complexity. Not sure exactly what was in it, but it was so good the I finished it off with the chips.
Chile Con Queso - Everyone at the table loved cheese, so ordering this was a no brainer. But unlike most of the chile con queso I have ever had this one lacked that Velveta-like gooiness . Its made with Cheddar and Jack and was thinner in texture and very flavorful.
Ceaser salad- I guess this really only qualifies as a Cesear because it is made with romaine, but it was my single favorite thing on the menu. The crunch come from torilla crisps instead of crutons, they use Cotija instead of parm and the dressing has a slow, but very spicy kick to it. Appetizer or main course, doesn't matter -- just order it.
Both Enchilladas are made with a "Jalepeno cream sauce" and "cilantro pesto". I agree that it sounds gimmicky, but the enchiladas I tasted (off of others' plates) were packed with bold flavors and a some real spice.
Steak tacos sound about as standard as you can get in a mexican restaurant, but the lime and recado rojo marinate really comes through.
Finally dessert. Everything sounds very unusual and appealing. Peanut butter Chocolate Tamales, Strawberry margarita mouse and S'more Nachos.
We were all so full we only had room for one: S'more Nachos. Fried torillas coated in cinnamon and sugar, covered in bitterweet chocolate and marshmallows. Arrives to the table flaming. 'Nuff said!
Only downside was the service seemed spotty at times. They have only been open for 2 months and the waiter told us business has been really picking up recently, so I was willing to chalk it to up to the newish staff still getting settled.
Here are the details:
3349 23rd (between Valencia and Mission)