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Amigos Brings Fiesta Of Flavors To Kirkwood

The cantina serves up traditional Mexican fare at 120 W. Jefferson Ave.

Amigos server Nicky Steger holds the "best margarita in town" made with Sauza Hornitos 100 percent agave tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and agave nectar. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
May 01, 2009
Amigos Cantina is bringing inside dining to the outdoors just in time for Cinco de Mayo with Kirkwood's "first non-smoking patio."

Like the interior of the eatery, located at 120 W. Jefferson Ave. in Kirkwood, the patio will have the feel of a Mexican cantina with warm colors of terra cotta, the sounds of salsa music and the aromas of traditional cuisine such as grilled steak and chicken fajitas and fine spices.

That's just what Chef Roberto Trevino and his partner Richard Daniels, financial officer, had in mind when they opened the cantina in April 2008.

"This is not your typical Mexican restaurant, he said. "We are a step up.

Roberto Trevino stands on the new patio which will seat about 50. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
"You come in here to sit down, have great service, have a great Mexican meal, and some good strong margaritas, and you're happy," he said.

For Trevino, who's been in the restaurant business for 30 years, Amigos is his dream come true of owning a Mexican restaurant.

While not a classically-trained chef, Trevino from San Antonio, Texas, grew up around food. He has brothers and uncles who have owned and worked in Mexican restaurants. Personally, he's been an assistant manager, chef, sous chef, and general manager.

"I've always been in the kitchen, learning and observing - that's how I created my skills," he said.

He came to Kirkwood in 1991 at the urging of his wife, a Webster Groves native. He worked as a general manager at several establishments in St. Louis. But a fajita and taco stand at Kirkwood Farmer's Market for three seasons put him on the road to Amigos.

With brightly-painted shingles, Amigos is easy to spot on Jefferson between Kirkwood Road and Clay Avenue. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
"That's when people said 'you gotta open a restaurant in Kirkwood,'" Trevino said. "That's when the good Lord blessed me to put someone in my path who had the financing to do it.

That someone was his partner Daniels, who also happens to be Trevino's neighbor.

"I had the concept and the recipes and he had the money to finance the restaurant," Trevino said. "That's why we became good business partners.

"This restaurant has been a real blessing for me. People love this restaurant and I'm so grateful they do," he said.

Accolades for Trevino's food now extend beyond his fajitas and tacos, which are still on the menu.

Server Caelin Graber chats with customers, from left, Barbara Albrecht of Kirkwood, Anne Albrecht and Doug Albrecht. They enjoyed an Amigos lunch to celebrate Doug’s birthday. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
"People tell us our food is really delicious; it's so authentic and fresh," Trevino said.

Whether its homemade salsa - Trevino's mother's recipe - or a stuffed poblano chile, Trevino takes pride in using only fresh ingredients.

"I'm vigilant on the food," he said.

The chef enthusiastically highlighted a number of his specialities. The steak fajitas - "some of the best in St. Louis" - start with beef which has been marinated for 24 hours in fresh citrus juice, garlic and spices. Amigos also serves chicken fajitas which have also been marinated for 24 hours.

For seafood, a favorite is cilantro lime shrimp, large shrimp marinated in cilantro lime dressing, then sauteed and topped with creamy chipotle sauce. People also rave about fish tacos which can be grilled or fried with shredded Napa cabbage with zesty yogurt sauce.

Amigos favorites include, from left, back to front, homemade salsa and chips, margarita, fish tacos, stuffed poblano chile and cilantro lime shrimp. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
For those who want standard Mexican fare, Trevino also cooks up a variety of quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos, plus sides such as beans and rice. Amigos uses only shredded beef, no ground beef in the dishes.

Trevino said his food is not necessarily spicy, although he has a habanero sauce that can turn up the heat and is so popular he sells out of it.

"Mexican food doesn't have to be spicy. My food has a lot of flavor and has a little bite," he said.

On Cinco de Mayo, Trevino is cooking up a traditional Mexican dish made with roast pork butt wrapped in banana leaves.

For the fiesta, Amigos plans to sell a lot of margaritas, which Trevino called "the best margarita in town." Amigos uses Sauza Hornitos 100 percent agave tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and agave nectar - and they are individually hand shaken!

"We raise the bar on what a margarita should taste like," Trevino said.

Menu prices range from $5.29 for fresh guacamole - a family recipe - to $8.99 for an oversized shredded chicken, pork or beef burrito served with beans and rice to $13.99 for cilantro lime shrimp, served over cilantro lime rice.

Amigos also has a $6.99 weekday lunch menu which features six items daily and includes a coffee, tea or soda. Choices include two shredded chicken flautas with cup of homemade soup or two fajita steak tacos with a small side salad.

After work, Trevino invites individuals to stop by for Happy Hour, Monday through Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., for a $6 margarita and $2.25 Mexican beer.

For more information, call Amigos at 314-821-0877 or visit the Web site www.amigoskirkwood.com.

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