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In praise of "Gringo Mex"

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Sometimes in our search for "intense deliciousness," I worry that we give short shirft to that which is not new, trendy, and/or exotic.

Please allow this to be my paen to the old fashioned "Gringo Mex" that most of us who are native Texans grew up on. I fondly recall the days of combination plates that also include "coffee or iced tea" and your choice of sherbert or a praline. To me, nothing is more nostalgic, comforting, and delicious than a combination of a crispy beef taco and two cheese enchiladas covered in chili gravy. I raise a toast to the wistful days when Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin didn't even have fajitas, which were a special treat at the Hyatt's La Vista restaurant.

Whether I'm a crumudgeon, nostalgic, or merely possessing an unsophisticated palate, I'd encourage my friends on here to consider re-experiencing the joys of Gringo Mex.

My absolutely unqualified recommendation for Gringo Mex is El Gallo on South Congress. From their crisp chips to their meaty chili gravy, this is the Mexican food I remember as a kid, not necessarily the more "authentic" food that so many of us have forsaken the "Number 1 Dinner" for...

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  1. I'll give El Gallo a try. As I mentioned in another post, I do find food of the kind you describe above to be a kind of nostalgic comfort food. It was what Mexican food meant where I grew up on the east coast, but I have yet to find a version that rises to the level of intense deliciousness. (By which I mean something worth going out of my way for, a list that currently includes Asia Market Cafe, Backstage Steakhouse, Top Notch Burgers, and La Hacienda Meat Market among other places.)

    This may be a cuisine I don't have a taste for any longer, but I'm willing to search for the greatness. I am happy, though, that the community is diverse enough to support lots of varieties of Tex-Mex and that most people can find something delicious (to them) in at least some of the varieties.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Knoblauch

      Cracks me up, you two. Growing up in El Paso, Gringo-Mex was what we were served in the school cafeteria. Little did I know I was being served deliciousness...and at only 35 cents!

      In all seriousness, my guilty warm fuzzy is a crappy burger....but I love the Casino El Caminoish as well and appreciate each for it's own value.

      1. re: amysuehere

        On this board, there have been several threads on some of what’s being called “gringo Mex,” including this notable one that involved tom in austin:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/363484

        I’m a native Texan, but “gringo Mex” isn’t comfort food to me, either. It was cafeteria-like-product to be endured only when necessary. Of course, even “we” native Texans have different ideas of what’s delicious.

        But exlnghrn, you’ve got the right idea. Post about what you love. As chowhound founder Jim Leff has said, “We don't need less of everybody else's oranges....we just need more of your apples!” By the way, that line comes from what I think is a great thread on how this site may have changed:

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/410531

    2. Ahh the combo plate...
      Whenever anyone asks my husband what is his favorite food, he always replies "combo plate". To him, a good Mexican food place must:
      1. Offer a variety of combo plates
      2. Have booths with benches covered in plastic
      3. Be closed on Sunday

      I'll have to take him to El Gallo. Thanks for the rec.

      1. Vallarta Jalisco has a good combo plate w/brown gravy. The crispy taco's OK. Although not my favorite it's good in it's own way. And it is heavy.