Cantina Bravo–Bethany, OK

Cantina Bravo
7000 N.W. 23rd St.
Bethany, OK
(405) 470-8394
Cantina Bravo

Cantina Bravo

Based on some of the reviews I had seen for this restaurant I had the idea that it might be something very special. It had been called a “New Mexican” restaurant by some (food from New Mexico), but I did not see any indication that this was the case. The food was described in terms that whether or not it was true New Mexico style, it was one of the best Mexican restaurants in Oklahoma City (this is subjective, but I did not think it really fell in this category either).

Focusing on the positive, though, is the fact that there is a large selection of authentic Mexican dishes. At one time this would have been a big deal for Oklahoma City, but thankfully there are now a number of restaurants which serve this style of food.

My initial visit was on a Friday night, and I think this is not the time when you get the best service. They have a bar, and it seemed that several of the employees were spending a great deal of time making margaritas and other drinks (probably at the expense of serving tables). There was a large party in the back with several tables pushed together, and I know this was not a normal circumstance even on the weekend. While the restaurant’s popularity makes a statement about the food, I would say I found quite a few drawbacks in coming here at one of their busiest times.


Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

They start out with the usual chips and salsa. Both were better than at some restaurants, but the salsa was the first indication to me that this was not “New Mexican” food. The salsa had a moderate spice level, and was more characteristic of traditional Mexican flavors than of those from New Mexico (actually I would say it was fairly typical of the salsas in Oklahoma–not truly authentic but fairly good).

I did not have a particular reaction to the chips, either positive or negative.

They also have a spicy salsa available on request. I thought it was too spicy, though, full of seeds, and did not have a particularly good flavor (the regular salsa was actually better).

The waitress said they have queso dip but it costs extra.

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano

It was a real treat to have Mole Poblano available on the menu, and naturally I had to take advantage of it. The flavor was a little bland, but it was still a treat to be able to order the dark mole (poblano style). The chicken was a little different than what I think is traditional–they served a whole chicken breast instead of the shredded chicken which I think goes best with the mole.

I was not terribly impressed with the flour tortillas served with the dinner, although I was glad that they were included (you can get tortillas with any meal, though, just by asking for them).

The Rice was good, but the Black Beans were just about the highlight of the meal (and were some of the best I have had anywhere).

Taco Salad

Taco salad

Taco salad

I did not try the taco salad, but I do have a photo of it. I was told it was “bland,” mainly because it had a lot of meat but very little lettuce and other vegetables (I can attest to the fact that under the toppings is mostly ground beef).

One of the attractions of Cantina Bravo is that it has four or five salads on the menu, but apparently some are a little lackluster.

Other Observations
The restaurant does not claim to be “New Mexican”–this is only a statement I saw in some reviews. I think this is because some of the enchiladas come with green sauce (although they apparently do not have a red sauce, as a true New Mexican restaurant would offer).

The menu seems to be a mixture of authentic and American style dishes, but the “gringo” dishes still keep a lot of the Mexican flavors rather than being traditional Tex-Mex food. They did not have horchata, but otherwise the menu was pretty much what I expected.

The staff was clearly struggling to keep up with the crowd that was there the night I went. The kitchen came through, and we got the food we ordered, but otherwise I thought this restaurant was even more problematic than the other Mexican places in town which are traditionally busy on weekends.

In the end the mole was a little disappointing, but I applaud the fact that they put it on the menu, and I do not think my like or dislike of this dish has much relevance to the quality of the other dishes served (enchiladas, etc.). Thus I am giving this review with a little bit of a disclaimer that I have not yet tried a good sample of the food.


Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes, but I only found one marked parking space
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Full bar

Most Recent Visit: Jun. 16, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Mole Poblano, Black Beans

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3


Special Ratings
star 4 Mole Poblano
star 5 Black Beans
star 4 Rice
star 3 Chips
star 3 Salsa

Menu (Jun. 2017):

Restaurant Guide–Nebraska

Restaurant Guide Main Index

  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)


Adana’s–3604 Twin Creek Dr. (Turkish) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say it is authentic Turkish food. The only things I see on the reviews, though, are gyros and chicken kabobs (so these are either very popular or it is all they serve). (3-6-19)

IPho #1–2403 Towne Center Dr. (Vietnamese) Open Daily.  Some say it is excellent, and some say the quality and menu choices are excellent but some items are lacking in the Vietnamese herbs and flavoring they should have. Still, though, it is inexpensive and good. (3-6-19)

Korean Grill–1408 Harlan Dr. (Korean) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say it has a true Korean taste. (3-6-19)

Ono Pinay Kitchen–2221 Madison St. (Filipino & Hawaiian) Lunch only (closed Sat & Sun).  Those who seem to know say the Filipino food is authentic. Also has a few Hawaiian dishes (Hawaiian plate lunch style). (3-6-19)

Quick Bites Soul Food–105 W. Mission Ave. (Soul Food) Closed Sun.  Reviewers say the food has very good flavor and maintains a consistent quality. (3-6-19)


Restaurant Vallarta–1153 23rd Ave. (Mexican) Closed Mon & Tue.  This seems to be the most authentic Mexican restaurant in town, but it only serves tacos, tortas, etc. (not plate or combination dinners). (5-30-17)


Huey’s Smokehouse BBQ–2204 N. Bell St. (BBQ) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  One of the best barbecue restaurants in Nebraska–a good place to experience Nebraska style BBQ (which I think is close to Kansas City style). Brisket, turkey, ribs, and pulled pork all get excellent reviews. (6-1-17)

Savannakhet–507 N. D St. (Lao).  This is not strictly a Lao restaurant (it has several types of Asian cuisine). However, Lao food is the specialty, and it gets very good reviews (pad thai, lap chicken, curry chicken, and spicy Thai chicken are recommended). (5-30-17)


Tea Garden–3485 N. 10th St. (Thai).  Reviewers say the Thai food is authentic, and the other food is very good (Chinese, Japanese, even an American breakfast with biscuits and gravy). (6-1-17)

Grand Island

Farmer’s Daughter–105 N. Walnut St. (American).  Described as food that a person’s grandmother would have made. Popular for breakfast, but lunch is said to be equally good (I don’t know if it’s open for dinner). Hot beef sandwich is especially recommended. (5-30-17)

Royal Indian Cuisine–3337 W. State St. (Indian) Closed Mon.  This is the restaurant in Grand Island with the best reviews on Yelp. Reviewers say it is big city quality. Serves Indian and Nepali food. Has a lunch buffet, as well as lunch specials. (5-30-17)


Odyssey–521 W. 2nd St. (American) Closed Sun.  Has the best reviews in Hastings on Yelp. Steaks and hamburgers seem to be the most popular items, but menu has a lot of other choices. (5-30-17)


Dash Pizzaria a Flippin Sweet Joint–203 E. 25th St. (Pizza) Open daily except Sun evening.  This seems to be the most popular restaurant in town with locals, because they say it actually has flavor (as opposed to what passes too often for good food in Nebraska). The Flippin’ Sweet Burger Joint is also very popular in town. (3-13-19)

Everest Indian and Nepalese–5012 3rd Ave. (Himalayan) Closed Mon.  People appreciate that you can get exotic food in Kearney that is good, and it seems to live up to the standards of being the real deal. However, I saw about 5 items that were reviewed, meaning either that the menu is not very diverse or that there are only a few things that most people order. This seems to be a popular stop for people from Colorado and other places who have a lot of Nepalese restaurants. (3-13-19)

Sozo American Cuisine–110 2nd Ave. (American) Open daily (including breakfast).  Connected to a hotel, this has more of a feel of a real restaurant as opposed to a diner or cafe. The most popular meals here are lunch and dinner (as opposed to breakfast), and one of the reasons is that they have quite a varied menu (burgers, tuna risotto, grilled salmon, jambalaya fettuccine, mac and cheese, etc.). People say you save quite of bit of money, though, by coming at lunch as opposed to dinner. (3-13-19)

Suwannee Thai–1420 W. 24th St. (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon, and closed Sat lunch.  Good food with fresh vegetables. Most don’t seem to want food spicy or order it that way, so I don’t know if those who want it Thai spicy can get it. Many say, though, that this may be the best Thai in Nebraska. The problem here seems to be one person in the kitchen turning out orders when there are often more customers than the kitchen can handle. (3-13-19)


Amu Manu Ramen Bar–121 Centennial Mall S. (Japanese) Closed Sun evening.  I am not quoting the reviewers exactly, but what I understand is that this is probably not great ramen by west coast standards, but on a cold day on the Nebraska plains this soup makes an excellent meal. For me this would be a lower priority than the other Asian restaurants on this list, but is one I would try if I had the chance. (4-30-19)

Daffodil Mediterranean–5500 Old Cheney Rd. (Persian) Closed Mon & closed Sun evening.  Serves Persian food, and not just kabobs (the plate dinners look very good from the photos). (4-30-19)

Hub Cafe–250 N. 21st St. (New American) Open 7:30 am to 2:30 pm (closed Mon).  This is a “fresh and local” restaurant with both higher prices and higher quality than most other places. Has some interesting items such as Moroccan mint tea, avocado and preserved lemon toast for breakfast, gyros, huevos rancheros. Breakfast is served all day; lunch available after 11 am; brunch on Sat & Sun. (4-30-19)

Imperial Palace–701 N. 27th St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Has a “secret” menu with authentic Chinese food (just ask for the Chinese menu). Seems to specialize in spicy food (northern Chinese and Sichuan style). (4-30-19)

Lan House–1226 P St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Home of authentic lanzhou (hand pulled) noodles. Noodle dish is served with a very overwhelming amount of chile oil, but it is not overwhelmingly spicy, just oily (much as I have found authentic Sichuanese food to be). A Journal-Star article recommends the soup instead of the noodle plate (it is not covered in chile oil). Has many other items besides its specialty noodle dishes, and these are said to be very good as well. (4-30-19)

Mr. Hui’s–3255 Cornhusker Hwy. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Said to be mostly real-deal Chinese and Taiwanese food (Chinese food is mostly spicy Sichuan style). (4-30-19)

Sebastian’s Table–8340 Glynoaks Dr. (Tapas) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  The main theme here is Spanish style tapas, with upscale food on small plates. Albondigas (meatballs) seems to be the most popular dish. Also has regular dinners including steak (but the toppings and seasonings are Spanish style). Has paella. I think there are limited items here that would fit into my normal price range for being on this list. (4-30-19)

Stur 22 Lounge–2110 Winthrop Rd. (African & Caribbean) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Doesn’t just offer some of the well known Caribbean dishes, but has a wide choice of Caribbean and African dishes (and people say they are glad they tried them). African stew is recommended. (4-30-19)

The Oven–201 N. 8th St. (Indian) Open daily except Sun lunch.  This is not a buffet restaurant–you order from the menu, and they emphasize quality over quantity. Has specialties from Bhutan as well as Indian food (Bhutanese food is said to be more milk or cream based than the regular Indian curry based food). Malai kofta has good reviews. Several reviewers recommend the vegetarian Thali (sampler plate). (4-30-19)

Vung Tau–2708 Y St. (Vietnamese) Open 10 am to 7 pm (6 pm on Sun)–closed Mon.  Reviewers say the pho is better than in Omaha. Also serves vermicelli bowls, and apparently has other items (but I could not find a menu on line to verify this). (4-30-19)


El Rodeo–107 W. Norfolk Ave. (Mexican).  Serves authentic Mexican street tacos. This and burritos are the most popular items. (6-1-17)

North Platte

Merricks Ranch House–1220 E. 4th St. (American).  This is a diner with home cooked style food. Some of it is a hit with reviewers and some isn’t, but overall people like it. With items such as BLT getting good reviews, it indicates that it is the basic, simple items that they do the best. (3-13-19)

Tempura–221 E. 6th St. (Japanese) Closed Mon.  Sushi restaurant that also serves Bento boxes and Chinese food. All have good reviews, but the Chinese food is made to American tastes. (3-13-19)


Golden Village–105 E. 1st St. (Chinese) Open daily except Mon evening.  Probably Peking is the restaurant that serves off-the-menu authentic Chinese food, but I am not sure (so I’m including the name and address of this restaurant in case it is the right one). (6-1-17)

Peking–112 E. A St. (Chinese). A post on Chowhound indicated that there was a Chinese restaurant in town that served authentic Chinese food if you requested it (it may not be on the menu). There was no name given, but it is the one “on the east side of town” (both Chinese restaurants are actually on the east side of town). Reviews on Yelp seem to indicate it is Peking, but I’m not sure. (6-1-17)


American GI Forum–2002 N St. (Mexican) Closed Mon. This is a non-profit veteran organization that serves either authentic Mexican food or very good Tex-Mex (according to different reviewers), but in any case they say it is very good, tastes homemade, and is cheap. Hours are erratic (apparently because of being a non-profit and being staffed by volunteers), but it is open much more often than it is closed. (6-1-17)

Blue & Fly Asian Kitchen–721 S. 72nd St. (Chinese) Open daily except Mon lunch.  Authentic Chinese food (the authentic food is Sichuan style). I don’t see any comments about how spicy it is, so I imagine if you want it spicy you have to ask for it. Has daily specials written on a board. There is an Americanized menu if you want it, but Sichuanese food is what they do well. (3-6-19)

China Garden–8441 W. Center Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  One of the three supposedly authentic Chinese restaurants in the city. This one is Sichuan style (like Blue & Fly), but apparently you have to ask for the Sichuan menu or you will get Americanized food. For those who know the system, though, it gets good reviews. (3-6-19)

Crystal Jade–7255 Cedar St. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  Serves several Asian cuisines, but Malaysian food is the specialty. Good dishes include amazing chicken and lemak. Has pad thai which sounds different from the Thai version, but it does not have great reviews. Popular with vegetarians because it has quite a few menu choices. (3-6-19)

Gerda’s–5180 Leavenworth St. (German) Breakfast & lunch Tue-Sat; dinner Wed-Sat.  On many people’s list of the best restaurants in the city. The menu changes daily and they have specials every day. Has a bakery and these items are quite popular as well. (6-1-17)

Laos Thai–4520 S. 24th St. (Lao) Closed Sun & Mon (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Cash only, but has very low prices. Has several types of curry and has a few dishes not found in many Thai or Lao restaurants in the US. Reviewers say some of the curries are more like a thin soup (I think it is because they have different types of curry, and probably some without coconut milk). (3-6-19)

Lithuanian Bakery–7427 Pacific St. (Bakery) Open 8 am to 6 pm (4 pm on Sat); closed Sun.  Popular for their sweets, but also serves sandwiches and other lunch items. The Napoleonas torte is their specialty. (3-6-19)

Mercy Thai–4741 S. 96th St. (Thai) Closed Sun (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Reviewers say it is hard to find real Thai food in the Midwest, but this one is. Furthermore, it follows the real Thai spicy scale. Most popular dish seems to be the drunken noodles (some others may be just as good but I don’t see reviews for them). (3-6-19)

Mother India–3572 Leavenworth St. (Indian) Closed Sun & Mon.  The favorite restaurant in town for many who appreciate the delicate herbs and spices of India. This is a no-frills restaurant which is very small and does not have a buffet (they have a large take-out business). The biggest downside for some is that it is cold in the winter and hot in the summer (but an outdoor patio is also available in the summer). (6-1-17)

New Gold Mountain–6750 Mercy Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Has authentic Cantonese style food, and apparently you are handed an authentic menu without having to ask for it. They have dim sum which is very popular at lunch time, but I cannot tell which days it is served (it looks as if it is only on Sunday). (3-6-19)

The Drover–2121 S. 73rd St. (Steaks) Open daily except Sun lunch.  This is a popular old-school Omaha steakhouse with good reviews. Whiskey steak is the specialty (most people say it is very good, and enhances the flavor). Down sides for some people are the service, prices, and side dishes. The salad bar somewhat makes up for the side dishes, though. Steaks run about $45 (filet is less expensive). (3-6-19)

Upstream Brewing–514 S. 11th St. (American) Open daily (open late night).  Some say that if there is such a thing as typical Nebraska food, this is the place to find it. Pot roast, meat loaf, beer cheese soup, burgers, and steak with mushroom sauce are popular. One reviewer, though, says they have too many things on the menu to do anything really well. (3-6-19)


Sisters Cafe–534 Main St. (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon.  This is home cooking style Thai food in a small town. People have very good comments about the food, and it looks very good from the photos. (3-6-19)


El Molcajete–1013 E. Overland (Mexican).  Reviewers say it has good food with red and green sauces (not Tex-Mex). I’m not sure it is completely authentic, but it certainly seems to be the closest you will find within a number of miles in NE and WY. Reviewers also say the food tastes home made. (3-13-19)

Wonderful House–829 Ferdinand Plaza (Chinese) Open Daily.  American style Chinese food that seems to have a few items that may have at least a few elements of being authentic (such as hot pot dishes). People like the freshness and flavor, and the fact that they serve hot tea seems to set them apart from other restaurants in this part of the country. (3-13-19)

South Sioux City

Mi Rancherita–1512 Dakota Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Reviewers say it is authentic with dishes such as mole verde, pozole, etc. Drinks are excellent as well (horchata, fruit drinks, Mexican Coke). (3-23-19)


Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.



Chowhound (Nebraska)

Lincoln Journal-Star (15 Best Asian, African, and South/Central American Restaurants) (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Nebraska)

Zomato (Omaha)