Taco fix: Bone Garden Cantina

Westside Howell Mill has no shortage of places to satisfy the need for a taco fix. La Parra and El Amigo promise a more traditional “Americanized” Mexican joint. La Fonda (“the cow” in Spanish) offers Latin favorites like paella, Cuban sandwiches and tacos.

I was hopping local favorite Taqueria del Sol would aid me in my need for a taco fix. But after waiting in the line that went out the front of the building to order at the counter, my date and I saw a couple of spaces open up at the bar. When seated, the bartender informed us that some nights they hold seats at the bar for other patrons at the bar that ask, but sometimes the bar is first-come-first-serve. Since we had lost our place in the long line at that point and people behind us were on the “list,” we left.   

Bone Garden Cantina came to the rescue. Although Bone Garden doesn’t sport a Howell Mill address, the hidden authentic Mexican gem is worth the ride down the block. Started by one of the brothers behind the Vortex and his wife, the small restaurant with a funky attitude hides in the back of the Lumber Yard industrial park.

Although the small space was packed, we quickly found a seat at the bar, (no name on a top-secret list necessary). The small space was filled with candles, colorful Dia de Muertos-style shrines and beautiful, hand-painted murals. There is a lot going on the restaurant without it being too much. A big bar in the back of the dining room that has a window to a clean open kitchen was a great addition to the place.

Drinks might take up more of the menu than food. There are many things for those not looking for a tequila-laced drink. The Horchata with sweet rice milk and cinnamon was, well, sweet. The Tamarindo, made from the tamarind pod, was also sweet, but very interesting.

Tequila wise, there is no shortage of drinks. The bar has a whole wall of tequila offerings. The margaritas were varied from the expected to the wild. The hot chili margarita with habanero-infused tequila was tangy and left a good amount of burn in your mouth. The Papi Chulo had grapefruit and a hint of lavender that was very nice. The sangria was exceptional.

The a la carte menu makes picking out a meal fun. The starters featured standard issue starters for a Mexican place: queso dip, guacamole and ceviche. There are also some more authentic offerings like esquite, or Mexican street corn.  The street corn had a nice smokiness and was devilishly good from the mayo. The goat soup also had some great flavor, but was skimpy on the goat.

The tacos were crazy good. Ranging from pork rind to beef tongue, there were plenty of offerings. Even the veggie taco, the Flor de Jamaica, had hibiscus flower, avocado and jicama-packed flavor and was pretty hardy. The Al Pastor, pineapple-cooked pork with a peanut sauce, was also a plus.

The enchiladas were a smaller selection. The shrimp and chorizo selections were pretty good, but not as good as the tacos.

The tamales are front and center on the menu and come with the disclaimer that they were made in limited batches. They were not kidding. They were sold out of all but the Pasilla Patron (filled with onions cactus and green beans) when we tried to order them.

For tacos on the west side, you definitely have options. But if you are craving something authentic in a fun atmosphere, Bone Garden is unmatched.