Cristina's Fine Mexican Restaurant looks like just another Tex-Mex hangout.
Then you open the menu.
The Vargas family's 15-year-old regional chain -- now open in The Crossing in North Richland Hills -- is updated enough to make it more than another fajitas-and-margaritas stop.
For starters, there are the starters.
Say no to the very boring salsa. Ask for the special extra-hot sauce.
Then watch as the server blends guacamole to order at your table, with extra garlic, cilantro or pepper to taste.
For a second tableside show, order the queso flameado with chorizo or chicken fajitas.
For another appetizer, try a triple-tamale sampler: one chicken-corn tamal, another with green-chile-and-cheese and another pork-ancho.
After that, delve into the multipage menu for a spinach-and-cheese-stuffed chicken breast, a steak-and-chile-relleno combo or grilled salmon with pineapple butter.
The regular dishes are here, too, served with above-average sauces: enchiladas or tamales with genuine chili con carne, chicken enchiladas in green sauce or North Texas' ubiquitous regional "soft cheese tacos" in thick queso.
Cristina's also serves chimichangas, a triple-stacked chicken-and-beef tostada, puffed tacos, and a selection of brisket and fish tacos.
Basically, it's an old-school fajitas restaurant cranked up a notch, in an elaborate location (the former Anejo's): 9159 Boulevard 26, North Richland Hills, 817-520-9900, cristinasmex.com.
Cristina's also has a location in Southlake, the original in Flower Mound (where it began as Angelina's) and 10 others across the northern suburbs.
Our best brunch buffet is doubling up.
Buttons Restaurant will serve its Sunday buffet again on Monday, a special for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Buttons also will serve family-style Sunday-night fried chicken, catfish or ribs for $15, including sides.
Buttons is open for lunch and dinner daily at 4701 West Freeway; 817-735-4900, buttonsrestaurant.com.
It's rodeo time, which means it's time to book Reata at the Rodeo.
The mini- Reata inside the Amon G. Carter Jr. Exhibits Hall is open at lunch and dinner throughout the Stock Show, serving steaks, sandwiches and salads; 817-336-5766.
Reata also operates La Espuela, a counter-service Tex-Mex restaurant in the Moncrief Building, and Reata at the Backstage, a private restaurant and club selling $150 memberships; 817-348-0642.
Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.