Restaurant Review: Studewood Cantine

Today we review yet another restaurant with a nondescript exterior. If you don’t already know the location, you may never guess that there is a hidden Mexican restaurant at the corner of Studewood and 11th. It has almost no visible signage on the building’s exterior, making it easy to miss. There are not many parking spots on the main property, but don’t worry, there is a separate lot across 11 1/2 Street that is reserved for customers. Occasionally the lot also doubles as an outdoor event space for the restaurant as well as local vendors such as for their Cinco De Mayo celebration earlier this month. Up the stairs and through the doors of the towering brick building you will find a spacious restaurant and sports bar with a unique mix of lighting styles, and a variety of good options on the menu.

Experience & Ambience

Studewood Cantine is open from 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM most days for lunch through dinner, although the lunch hours never seem to be especially crowded. During times when a Houston team has a game you can expect to see a larger crowd turn out to watch the game on one of the numerous screens mounted on the walls of the restaurant. The interior has a nice open atmosphere to it which is populated by natural wood toned tables and chairs, cushy blue booths, and a number of potted plants that add a pop of green to the space. There are a few options for seating including the central bar as well as an outdoor patio for nice days. Oftentimes, colorful decorations and lights hang from the walls or ceiling, marking the latest holiday and adding a colorful flare to the decor. During the busier times of the day, a host will meet you at the door to seat your party, although during a slower lunch hour customers are often welcome to choose any available table for their seat. The wait staff will shortly arrive at your table bringing menus and a pitcher of water for the table. While you deliberate on what to order, complimentary chips and salsas will also be brought out as an appetizer. Your chips will notably arrive with two dippable options to pair with, a creamy green sauce as well as a warm red salsa (which is always a plus in my book). Neither option is overly spicy while still being pleasantly flavorful, so you may struggle not to fill up on chips before your food arrives!

Prices & Rating

This is certainly a more upscale Mexican restaurant, with the average price of a meal sitting well over $15. Taking into account tip and the potential for ordering drinks, you can generally expect to pay between $20 and $30 per person. While some options like the dinner plate or the fajitas come with a hefty portion of food and could be split between two people, one thing that you won’t find there is a $10 enchilada plate. Drinks average about $12 dollars each although during happy hours (2:00-6:30 everyday, all day Thursday) you can get a better deal. If you are a fan of margaritas, they are also half price on Mondays and I would say the frozens are definitely above average. In general, both the food and drinks are quality products, although I find the pricing is rather high for what you get. In terms of flavor, the food is on a higher level than your run of the mill Mexican restaurant, albeit more expensive. The quality of the food is most noticeable with the fajita style beef dishes, which stand out above the rest. I find the price tag is more reasonable for these options than some of the other items on the menu. That being said, the food all around is well seasoned and prepared. This would be a great location to split some appetizers and grab a couple drinks with friends while tuning into a local sports game. I would grant Studewood Cantine my recommendation with the caveat that the food is certainly much more expensive than the average Mexican restaurant, and depending on the dish ordered, it can seem unnecessarily so.

What To Order?

This is the dish that I would recommend the most, with the meat selection including chicken, beef, shrimp, pork tenderloin, or their extra special filet mignon fajitas. Each option comes grilled over smoky mesquite wood and is served with classic fajita fixings: sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, Tecate Mexican butter, rice, charro beans, and your choice of handmade flour or corn tortillas.

Lety’s Tamale Dinner
One option that is a bit different everywhere you go is tamales. Their large in-house tamales come filled with either pulled pork or smoked brisket that is slightly spicy and quite flavorful, although somewhat dry as they are intended to pair with a chili con carne sauce and queso. As with most Mexican dishes, they are served with rice and beans.

Street Tacos
This plate comes with three street tacos, making it one of the more substantial choices, served on corn tortillas that are made to order and topped with diced onion, cilantro, and lime. Just try to choose from the delectably cooked carne asada, mojo chicken, pulled pork, or smoked brisket! It is worth noting that there is a $2-$3 upcharge for the later two options, which of course still come with the standard rice and beans on the side.

Their enchiladas come in a few different varieties that are all wrapped in their handmade corn tortillas. The classic cheese with chile con carne sauce checks all the boxes for what a cheese enchilada should be. The Verde option is also quite good, filled with pulled chicken, cheese, and tomatillo asado. Another option that I am always excited to see on a menu is Mole chicken enchiladas, which like tamales can be quite different depending on where you get them. While I haven’t tried the Mole version myself, I am interested in returning to see how their version holds up.

The Dinner Plate
A great option for those of us that like to try a little bit of everything is the dinner plate, which comes with a crispy beef taco, cheese enchilada, a tamale, rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. With this meal, not only do you receive a large portion of food, you also get to experience a solid range of all the restaurant has to offer.

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