May 11th, 2009 by Bree
Tomorrow night Antone’s will be hosting a benefit for Ruben Rodriguez, chef and owner of Evita’s Botanitas. Ruben has a brain tumor, no insurance, and mounting medical expenses. Ruben himself insists on preparing a mouthwatering appetizer buffet and Flan Queen Marta Guzman has agreed to come out of retirement and make flan for this one party. Local bakers will donate their best pies for the live pie auction and the silent auction will feature gift items, a variety of professional services, cookbooks, restaurant meal packages, custom-made jewelry, and clothing.
Evita’s Botanitas has become a fixture of the South Austin culinary landscape. Entering the café you feel as though you have stepped into one of the small familial restaurants I’ve come to cherish in my travels through Interior Mexico. A small Mexican curio shop has been set up in the corner, a cornucopia of treasures, offering anything from cowboy boots to cactus lamps. The walls are hand painted with murals depicting different temples. Yellows, blues, greens, and reds from the booths to the tablecloths to the decorative art offer a festive spirit that embraces you and welcomes you to sit down, relax and enjoy a leisurely meal. It feels at once like you are on vacation and at someone’s home for lunch, a perfect combination for passing the afternoon away. Which is exactly what the Daze crew did on a recent Friday afternoon feasting on a meal that lasted almost three hours. The staff didn’t seem to mind at all.
Ruben and his family have been providing delicious food and welcoming hospitality for 19 years. The Rodriguez family is integral to creating such a friendly atmosphere. On the day we were there, Ruben’s daughter made sure our bellies were properly filled. And filled they were. The moment we sat down the infamous Salsa Tower arrived, a two tiered extravaganza of chips and six homemade salsas, ranging from hot to hotter to hottest. We ordered the Botanitas combo plate of appetizers—perfect for a party or to munch on over drinks. The plate consists of quesadillas, crispy flour tortillas with mushrooms, peppers, and cheese, battered and fried stuffed jalapenos filled with oozing white cheese, onions and cilantro, a healthy portion of guacamole salad, and bean and cheese nachos. We took on the homemade Mole Puebla Enchiladas (a perfectly rich sauce) and Chicken Fajitas which came out sizzling with a side of black beans, guacamole, rice (accented with cilantro and lime), sour cream and cheese. When it comes to presentation, Evita’s Botanitas goes the extra mile (vibrant bell pepper flowers adorn each plate) and Ruben’s desire to celebrate life with food shines through with every dish.
Leann Atherton, one of the many performers at tomorrow’s benefit, has been a big fan of the restaurant and was happy to lend a helping musical hand. She says, “ Ruben and I became friends when I was selling ads for the Chronicle. I called on his business and was blown away by his incredible salsa and the way he made everything look so beautiful. He had worked for a hotel and was trained in ice sculpting and all of that incredible presentation.” Leann was quickly sold on Evita’s Botanitas and it became her new favorite restaurant. She proudly watched as the business grew. She explains, “He started advertising with small ads, and entered the Chronicle Hot Sauce contest and won. He started catering cool events. He kept winning, he kept working, growing. He catered my (potluck) wedding at the Barn, using my porch to display his beautiful food.” Other musical guests who are longtime fans of the restaurant and will be lending their support include: Steven Fromholz, the Sunset Valley Boys, Zydeco Blanco, Gurf Morlix, the Texana Dames, Larry Lange & His Lonely Knights, and the Blue Tuesday band. Rumor has it there is a very special guest expected to make an appearance.
Come enjoy great food, great music and a live auction all for a great cause.
Date and Time: Tuesday, May 12th 6pm-midnight