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Amarillo, TX


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It's been a while since I've been (forced to go) to Amarillo. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find that the dining options have expanded beyond every fast food/chain restaurant known to man or the tourist trap "Big Texan" with the free (if you eat it in less than an hour) 72 oz steak.

Zen 721 is a very nice local restaurant in a downtown area that is in the process of being revitalized. The menu has a heavy Asian influence and the setting is very stylish and sleek (especially for Amarillo). Two of us enjoyed seafood dishes - a coconut sea bass and a seared tuna. The fish was slightly overdone, but since this is beef country, I wasn't expecting perfection. Fresh vegetable accompaniments and flavorful sauces complemented the entree. My other colleague enjoyed a stuffed quail special - and the bite I had was delicious. It's been a few weeks, so I don't remember all the details, but the service was very pleasant, the wine and scotch lists were above passable, and the overall experience was very enjoyable. Perhaps a bit more $$ than one would expect to spend in that part of the country - roughly $120 for 3 of us with a shared app and dessert, 2 glasses of wine, and a scotch. Worth a trip if your travels take you to the Texas Panhandle.

El Tejavan (just off I-40) was an excellent, authentic Mexican dining experience. The carne adovado was tasty, spicy, and tender and the hot, fresh, homemade tortillas were delicious. They say everything is made from scratch and it tasted like that was true. Sort of your typical Mexican restaurant interior, a pretty fountain in the middle of the restaurant (anybody remember the old Casa Maria up on the hill behind Landmark Mall...where Bennigan's is now?!) and several separate dining areas around the edges of the room. VERY reasonably priced - nothing more than $10 if I recall correctly. Also worth a trip!

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