Food for Thought: Bethany Cafe

We all know bubble tea is A Thing, and (fake) Chinese food is the true American Dream. At least it’s my American Dream to get enough lo mein out of one purchase to last me for multiple days, so I’m always on the lookout for decently priced and tasty Asian food joints. Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m no connoisseur of Asian food — authentic, Americanized, or otherwise — but I do keep a running ranked list in my head of all the lo mein I’ve ever eaten, and I’m always eager to update it in the search for the Ultimate Lo Mein. That’s why I was delighted to discover the Bethany Cafe.

Located near Coit and Belt Line, Bethany Cafe boasts a variety of Asian dishes and boba tea drinks. I was blessed with the knowledge of this newly opened location by a flier unceremoniously shoved in the crack of my apartment door. I know you’re imagining a folded sheet of printer paper with red text and no photos that looks like it’s been photocopied about 100 times. I’m all too familiar. Such fliers are just litter on my apartment floor, but this one caught my eye as it was unusually well-designed. (If any place invests in good design, I’m way more likely to give a crap.) Printed on glossy cardstock, the color photos of various yummy-looking dishes and the words “FREE BOBA TEA” sucked me in, then the prices, locations, and selections piqued my interest enough to give it a try. Turns out, I found a winner in my book.

This restaurant is different from the usual hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants scattered around DFW. You can tell this place is new — and maybe trying just a little too hard to be hip — but it’s a nice change of pace. I’m a fan of Lovers Egg Roll across the street from UTD, but no one can claim it has atmosphere. Bethany Cafe is clean, cozy, and cute enough to want to hang around.

So “FREE BOBA TEA??” you say? That’s right, at Bethany Cafe, every entrée includes a free boba tea or an equal amount of credit towards upgrading to another drink (like a smoothie or slush). I really enjoyed their black tea, and I’ve got it from a reputable source that the raspberry smoothie is delicious. The second time I went, I tried their House Tea, and fell IN LOVE. I wish I were drinking one right now. I wish I hadn’t moved 20 minutes away so that I could buy one every day. It’s a black tea latte, and all I know is that it gives me the same internal joy that I got from drinking chocolate milk as a kid. If you like milk tea, or black tea in general, I beg you to give it a try.

But here’s the breakdown of why Bethany Cafe is now the queen of my Chinese take out go-tos: the price; the free boba tea; the unique options; and that sweet, sweet, UTD discount. As I said before, lo mein is my prefered poison. However, most of the time, you can only get lo mein on it’s own, because all the entrees come with rice. And no matter how much I crave orange chicken, I can’t give up my noodles. Bethany Cafe has solved all my internal struggles by giving me Combination Platters. For less than $8, I can get a big-ass plate of orange chicken AND lo mein. It’s only like 10 cents or so more than a regular entree, and it’s basically a full serving of both. God bless.

I quite liked my lo mein and orange chicken. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but not so generic as to be forgetful. Let’s be real, no one is expecting the food to be out of this world. However, Bethany Cafe also has much more variety than the typical Americanized Chinese food place. There is a sprinkling of food from different cultures, including some more traditional-sounding dishes. There are curry dishes, noodle soup, rice noodles, katsu, oyako don, gyu don, and appetizers like sour cabbage, stinky tofu, and sweet buns in addition to the usual egg roll and rangoon. It seems like the menu is trying to appeal to both American expectations and traditional tastes.

So, Bethany Cafe is already cheaper than competitors (cheaper than Lovers by a few bucks, and cheaper than Panda for how much food you get), and the Combination Platters are a level up from my usual chicken lo mein. The included bubble tea is a huge level up from paying for a combo meal to get a probably flat Dr. Pepper with no ice from a soda fountain, and they have a nice atmosphere and opportunities to expand your palate without breaking the bank. On top of all that, they give a 10% discount to UTD students. That kind of value and deliciousness make me feel guilty for spending $6 bucks on a Panda Bowl.

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