La Botana

2071 Savoy Dr., Atlanta. 770-986-9996;
Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.;
Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., closed.

Don’t be put off by the towering restaurant sign on Savoy Drive that could use a little love. This Mexican restaurant is a find. Its interior is unexpectedly welcoming, with spotless tables and colorful paper maché parrots hanging from the ceiling. Employees greet you with a friendly “Hello, amigos!” as your family steps through the door.

Whether your family likes a window seat or a booth by a TV, this restaurant allows you to pick your spot. Chips and salsa are brought out almost instantly to please hungry tummies, and entrees follow within a few minutes after your order. Fresh ingredients, authentic creations and affordable prices definitely put this on my list of favorite restaurants.

What’s on the menu: La Botana has traditional Mexican fare, from tamales to overstuffed burritos. Don’t expect the flavor-mottled Americanized version of Mexican food you find at chain restaurants – this is the real deal. The menu offers vegetarian options and large portions. Start the meal off with gooey white cheese dip or end it with a crispy churro.

Why kids will like it: The chips and salsa keep those pleading “I’m hungry” at bay and the colorful environment gives kids plenty to enjoy while the food is being prepared. While most of the offerings are Mexican dishes, the children’s menu also lists chicken fingers with fries for non-adventurous eaters. If the kids still have room for dessert, they’ll be drooling when they smell the $2 sopapillas (sweet, fried tortilla), or take a bite of the creamy flan.

Why parents will like it: It’s affordable. Everything on the kids’ menu is $3.50, and most regular menu items average from $6 to $9. Besides that, the ingredients are unbelievably fresh and the portion sizes enormous. My $2 side order tamale could have easily been my dinner, leaving no room for the big bowl of steaming chicken tortilla soup I ordered. Also, Margaritas are just $4, frozen or not.

– Alexi Wilbourn

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