At some point, one of your foodie friends has probably told you that your favorite local Mexican restaurant isn’t serving “real, authentic Mexican food.”
Technically, that’s true, but local Mexican restaurants are serving an authentic kind of food – it’s just called Tex-Mex.
As the name indicates, Tex-Mex has roots that can be traced back to when Texas was a part of Mexico. Back in the 18th century, Spanish-Mexican people living in Texas developed a rustic cuisine that featured local chiles, stews and tortillas – the modern-day signifiers of Tex-Mex. Most local Tex-Mex places today also offer crispy tacos and burritos, which are more historically associated with California.
One of the newest local restaurants crushing Tex-Mex right now is Andale Mexican Restaurant. Co-owner Arnold Audelo told us he regularly ate Mexican food at home while growing up in South Carolina but decided to go a different route when opening Andale.
“In the South, most everybody cooks Tex-Mex,” Audelo noted. “It’s the middle ground between authentic Mexican, and like your Mighty Taco or Taco Bell.”
Audelo’s family moved up here 7 years ago and his father opened the El Ranchito restaurant in Clarence shortly after. Based somewhat on El Ranchito, Andale offers all of your favorite local Tex-Mex options: burritos, quesadillas, fajitas and tacos. The menu is mostly organized based on the type of protein you want: chicken, steak, seafood or pork.
Where the restaurant looks to truly distinguish itself is in its weekly specials. Past specials have included camarones poblanos (grilled shrimp and mushrooms in a creamy poblano sauce) and baja tacos (shrimp, lettuce, pico de gallo, cheese and chipotle mayo on a tortilla).
Having family roots that trace to Mexico’s Pacific coast, Audelo said he hopes to use weekly specials to do a deeper dive on Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines.
“I think there’s a lot of dishes that we can make and that we haven’t made, but that I’ve seen at a lot of restaurants in the area,” he said. “We can probably bring them to light so people can check them out; like sopes, gorditas or empanadas. The things that you don’t typically see at most Tex-Mex places – we can start bringing those out here and people can get to try them. We’ll see what they like and don’t like.”
At the time of our interview, the restaurant did not have its liquor license, but Audelo said plans to offer draft beer and a full bar that features cocktails focused on tequila and mezcal, in addition to the usual soft drink options.
The Andale co-owner said when El Ranchito opened there were only a dozen or so Tex-Mex restaurants in the Buffalo area, and now there’s more than double that number. He added that local tastes for the cuisine are definitely getting more sophisticated.
“People are starting to eat at different places, compare all their different options and they start to experience different flavors and different plates,” he said. “In the South, there’s (a Tex-Mex place) on every corner. So, we welcome the competition. It just makes everything better.”
9416 Transit Road, East Amherst, NY 14051
Hours: Daily 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.