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East Tenampa brings Mexican fare to Milton

Apr. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

MILTON -- Jose Valencia came to Huntington to open his first restaurant, West Tenampa in West Huntington, in 2005.

It was followed by South Tenampa in Lavalette, East Tenampa in Milton, Flapjacks/Tenampa in downtown Huntington and Little Tenampa in Proctorville, Ohio. The Milton location is fairly unique among the regional family of restaurants as it features a full service bar with signature margaritas called "Cantaritos" made with fresh fruit juice. It also has a "Wall of Fame" where customers can join by having their pictures taken on their birthday.

"I used to have customers who came from Milton all the way to West Tenampa," Valencia said. "They kept asking me when I was going to open up a restaurant near Milton. One day a customer came to me with a potential location here. I checked it out, talked with the landlord and managed to get it going. Several restaurants had occupied this location before. I think there was a home-cooking themed restaurant, a Mexican restaurant that moved to Hurricane, and a seafood and barbecue place. It took me about three years to really get established here. I always start low and work my way up."

The menus at all Tenampa locations are the same, save for Flapjacks/Tenampa which offers a full breakfast menu all day every day.

"We're always featuring something new," Valencia said. "I'm always trying to get into the kitchen and look for a new special. The specials that I think are going to make it get put on the menu full time. We have a dish called 'Chabelas' which are pork tips with grilled vegetables. I named it after my mom because it's something she made for me when I was growing up in Mexico. When I cook I always think about how well she used to cook for us."

Some featured items also come from customer requests.

"We added the Black Bean Soup because a lot of customers would come in and ask us why we didn't offer it," he said. "To be honest, growing up we didn't have black beans that much. I guess in my home town Guanajuato, pinto beans are more popular. But it's what the people wanted. Another featured item we have is 'Los Mexicanos.' It's got pork, onions and tomatoes in it. It features a layer of red sauce, green chili sauce, white cheese sauce and pico de gallo. When served it comes in the pattern of the Mexican flag. It's a very good dish with just a little spice."

East Tenampa is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Lunch combos and specials starting as low as $4.99 are available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dinner is all day Sunday. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted. For carry-out orders and more information, call 304-743-2205. For an online menu visit www.wvtenampa.com/.

If you go: East Tenampa

Type of food: Mexican

Address: 1056 Main St., Milton, W.Va.

Phone number: 304-743-0060

Payments accepted: Cash and all major credit/debit cards

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday

Website: www.wvtenampa.com

More online: For more than 150 restaurant profiles and growing, visit the entertainment page at www.herald-dispatch.com.