Table for Two

Mexican with an urban twist

Posted

The Cabana

1034 W. Beech St., Long Beach

(516) 889-1345

Casual and laid-back, the Cabana is a place to chill out and enjoy Tex-Mex style cuisine, drinks of all kinds, live music, and weather permitting, plenty of outside dining. A portion of the patio becomes enclosed and heated for the colder months. Owners, Bob and Tracey Johnson, have tweaked the happenings to match the season, clientele and hour. Chef Margaret -- talented, timely and consistent -- has added a sophisticated twist to many of the traditional Mexican favorites.

We arrived during Happy Hour to find a lively crowd and a musician who played to its tone. As dinnertime approached, the singer shifted into more mellow tunes. Weekends usually feature both solo musicians and bands ... sometimes reggae. Servers are attentive and accessible.

 Appetizers, soups and salads are $6 to& 15. Sandwiches and wraps, served with fries or salad, are $13 to $15. Specialty Tacos -- two huge ones with rice and beans -- are $12 to $19. South of the Border traditionals (burritos, flautas, etc.) and entrees, are $7 to $23. Desserts are $7 and $8. Kids, 10 and under, get an entrée, small drink and a cupcake to decorate for $7. The Cabana Brunch is $23.95 for three hours of unlimited drinks and an entrée.

 You’ll start with multi-colored chips and a duo of dips. We enjoyed a Pina Colada and Strawberry Margarita, both frozen. Beef Empanadas -- two enormous turnovers -- were filled with flaked beef and chorizo, served with greens and chipotle aioli. Puffy Tacos (two, either steak, chicken or shrimp) included a soft flour tortilla inside a crunchy corn tortilla, with cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo. We were wowed by Super Salmon Tacos – cubed blackened salmon, cheeses and house sauce on open flour tortillas. Cabana Tuna Wrap was filled with seared raw tuna, spring mix, avocado, fried chili-onions and wasabi mayo – really delicious.

Entrée-wise, Chicken and/or Shrimp (we had the combo) was topped with pico, avocado, and cheeses, all with a spicy kick, served with rice and beans. Sautéed Sea Scallops on a bed of spinach with rice and corn relish was remarkably tasty.

 For dessert, think ice cream. Each we tried had plenty. Churros were topped with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Black Velvet Saucers were chocolate cookies filled with ice cream and sprinkles. Fried Ice Cream with all the trimmings was coated with corn flakes.

 Right now, still on summer hours, the Cabana is open seven days a week ... the kitchen from noon to 10 p.m., serving lunch and dinner, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday until 3 p.m. In November, they will close on Mondays. Call for exact hours. Take-out is available, and delivery will resume during the colder months. The Cabana has been at the same location since the summer of 2005. They take reservations for parties of six or more.

Recommendations:

■ Frozen Strawberry Margarita

■ Frozen Pina Colada

■ Beef Empanadas

■ Puffy Skirt Steak Tacos

■ Super Salmon Tacos

■ Cabana Tuna Wrap

■ Chicken & Shrimp Avocado

■ Sautéed Sea Scallops

■ Black Velvet Saucers

■ Churros with Vanilla Ice Cream

■ Fried Ice Cream