Casa Manana has been around the Lake Charles area since the 1970's. Everyone I know who has grown up in or around the lake area has at least one really good memory of eating here. It's the type of place where you can take your entire family for dinner, a significant other for a nice meal, a rowdy crowd for a party, or just a few friends to sip margaritas with.
The restaurant features some very good Mexican dishes and some great Tex-Mex. My personal favorites are the Chile Relleno meal and the Enchiladas Especial. Both of them come with some excellent Spanish rice and beans. Their tacos are served with a heaping pile of lettuce and cheese, and you can add sour cream if you like. They also have some wonderful stuffed bell peppers!
Casa Manana makes their own chips and salsa. In fact, you can buy their salsa in most stores throughout southwest Louisiana. They used to sell their chips as well, but I haven't seen them in a few years on store shelves.
The restaurant makes excellent mixed drinks and features a happy hour for those after work get togethers. There's also a bar and a room with televisions to watch games on Sunday afternoon or, in the case of a Louisiana crowd, LSU games on Saturday night.
Along with the great food, a key highlight of Casa Manana is the atmosphere. It is a very social restaurant. If you like quiet meals with only slight whispers, Casa Manana isn't the place for you. If you prefer dining in a place where it can get a bit loud and it isn't out of the ordinary to strike up conversations with the table next to you, Casa is definitely running at your speed.
If I have to knock Casa Manana at all, it's some of their staff. Most of the time, the waiters and waitresses are brilliant. In fact, there are a few that I actively seek out and ask to be seated at one of their tables when I visit. One waitress in particular goes out of her way to talk with everyone at the table and makes the smallest child feel just as important as the oldest adult. Sometimes, though, I've had waitstaff that rarely checked on the table or acted as if they didn't want to be there. These people are usually weeded out relatively quickly and they don't work at the restaurant for very long, but Casa always seems to attract these people. Perhaps it is because the place is so social and charming, that a lot of people want to work there.
A few bad apples aside, Casa Manana is one of the most popular places to dine and socialize in Lake Charles. I've celebrated a number of birthdays there (my own and other's), as well as started off many crazy evenings there. I highly recommend Casa Manana for good times and great food in the lake area.