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incognito - to do a light sampling of their menu.
According to their website, Benny's Tacos operates on the basis of offering something new, different, and fresh. They use organic chicken, "premium USDA" meats, and pretty much make everything themselves, including their own tortillas.
The restaurant occupies a colorful building - inside and out - on Lincoln Boulevard, near the intersection with Rose Avenue. The kitchen is open to full view with a secluded prep area in rear. The rest of the space is comprised of a salsa bar, food/drink coolers, and tables for dining in. There is a nice patio in front for al fresco dining.
nice accompaniment. I was looking for more garlicky punch from the garlic paste and it was quite oily, but I thought it was okay nonetheless. The ¼ Chicken Plate was the best item of the meal.
A word on the tortillas: I love that Benny's makes their own tortillas and the difference that it makes is significant. I just wished that the cook pressed them a little bit thinner.
The housemade horchata was fine as well. I would've enjoyed it more if it had more spice though.
The pico de gallo and tomatillo salsas I tried were tasty. The tomatillo salsa had a spicy kick to it.
In summation, you can really taste the quality of the ingredients in the food they make here, which, in my mind, is the best thing about Benny's Tacos. I thought the chicken was reminiscent of Zankou, although I'd have to say Zankou's is better by far. I think the ubiquitous usage of shredded Romaine and diced tomato comes from an Armenian sensibility if not from something else. With some fine tuning, Benny's could turn out some really stellar food.
Benny himself was my gracious cashier/server. He played up the fresh and qualitative aspects of the food and set me up with everything I needed for my meal without my having to ask.
Parking here shouldn't be too much of a problem. There is a parking lot and a side street adjacent to the restaurant. Also, Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus has a stop right in front.
Don't forget to ask for a VIP card (if Benny doesn't offer you one first), which entitles the bearer to a 10% discount on their bill.
The Bill: 11.47 USD.
My Rating: out of four stars (good). Open Monday to Thursday 9:30 AM to 10 PM, Friday and Saturday 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM, and Sunday 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM. There is also a late-night window open Friday and Saturday until Midnight. Major credit cards accepted. www.bennystacos.com
Last Word: I think Benny's Tacos is a fine addition to Venice. Although the food isn't strictly Mexican, the quality ingredients and decent prices make eating here worthwhile.
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