Bandera is a “tight knit group of restaurants united under a banner of casual sophistication and quality service,” part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group (they also own Houston’s, Gulfstream and many more restaurants). I’ve never been to Bandera, but I’ve been to Houston’s many times (mainly for work), and it’s basically pricey comfort American food served in a bougie setting. Figured Bandera would be somewhere along those lines, and you know what..I was right.
The five of us (myself, Eugenia, Linh-Nam, Lanny, Tracy) came here last Friday after doing some more moving. I basically live about two blocks away from Bandera now, so we thought that it would be convenient. However, I didn’t realize how upscale the place would look – dark and chic ambiance, live jazz band, cougars lurking. I felt extremely under-dressed with my sweater, jeans and flip flops. But for all the possible pretentiousness, I was pleasantly surprised at the solid comforting food that the restaurant provided, however expensive it may be:
Nice shoestring fries, very reminiscent of the ones served at Father’s Office.
Everyone I know that’s been to Bandera has told me to get this, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Among the better French dips I’ve had in recent years. The slaw was a pleasant surprise (didn’t taste much peanut though).
Apparently we got the last order of this for the night. Good, but nothing special.
Another good, but not great dessert. Note that these desserts were ordered as entrees.
A very big burger that was cut in thirds. Eugenia ordered it rare, which unfortunately displayed a slight stringy texture for the patty. Not bad though.
Didn’t try the chicken, but stole a bit of the ribs. Another good, but not great dish. The cornbread with jalapeno was interesting though.
You can tell that “good, but not great” is a common theme with the dishes served at Bandera. Nothing noteworthy, but they were pretty good still, and certainly solid. Said quality is surprisingly for a chain. Actually, the French dip is better than solid, but I’ve had enough of the other dishes to determine that it’s probably the only dish I would get on repeat trips. And the grade is for everything I tried (the French dip is probably a B, maybe even B+). But I can definitely see myself coming here more often though (it is two blocks away after all).
Chris Hei grade: B-
11700 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025