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Oct 1, 2007 05:56 PM

Tex-Mex Essentials

I realize that this post has gotten off topic, but naturally like every Chowhound, I want to add my bit.

I am very biased. I was born in Texas and have lived for most of my life here with stints in Italy, Greece, Colorado, and California, but I always return home to Texas

My definition of Tex-Mex.......
(which I think of as an American or Texas version of Mexican food.)

IMHO Most NY/NJ Italian food is of the similar vein. Did you see the episode of the Sopranos where the crew went to Italy? Pauley was upset that he didn't get pasta with red sauce (Marinara originally meant related to the sea--mariner. It was a tomato based sauce with seafood.) I know that some restaurants in NY/NJ serve "real" Italian food, but 85% do not. I lived in Italy for two years and most of the wonderful food that I experience had very little to do with what I had eaten at authentic Italian restaurants in the states. So 85% of the restaurants in NY/NJ do not serve Italian food as an Italian would experience it at home. The same is true for "Texan" mexican food, but Texans are smart enough to add their own moniker on it to differentiate it.

Tex-Mex should

1. offer chips and salsa (complimentary with a meal)
2. have combination plates
3. have refried beans made with pork (fat or bacon or similar)
4. serve cheese enchilladas made with true cheese; cheese like products run very far down the list. IMO Velveeta and enchilladas make a terrible combination.
5. serve queso (here is the one exception to where processed cheese is allowable, but I personally prefer queso blanco or another cheese instead) Queso flameado does not count.
6. have the option of crispy tacos (it does not have to be the default option though)
7. serve both flour and corn tortillas (my experiences in Mexico have not made me an expert, merely an experienced beginner; but I rarely saw flour tortillas unless it was for tourists. Corn is subsidized by the Mexican government, they do not subsidize flour. The government recently removed the price controls off corn and there were a few riots.)
8. have Nachos on the menu OR at the very least understand what you are talking about if you ask for them (they should not stare at you blankly)
9. have ground beef as a taco option, but brisket and other beef option are a bonus
10. have a nonmeat or vegetarian option of some sort OR can accomodate the request without resorting to Spanish.
11. have at least one of the following items: Fajitas, Burritos, Chulapas, Guacamole, or Quesadillas.
12. have either mints for free OR sell chicle, peppermint patties, thin mints or have a cookies based upon sugar and any nut. Machines are acceptable, but a counter is preferred.

The next one is very controversial and the last is extremely controversial and people have come to blows over it.
13. have a deep fat fryer in the kitchen. I guess it is possible for a Tex-Mex restaurant to not fry their own chips, but it is NEVER as good, BUT at least an appetizer, an entree or a desert must be fried.
14. accept credit cards UNLESS the restaurant is more than twenty years old and then they are grandfathered.

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  1. This might interest you! A Houston newspaper did a six-part history of Tex-Mex. Here's part one
    and here's part two:

    I think they have links to the other parts somewhere in the first two articles, I'm too lazy to find them but it's worth reading.

    20 Replies
    1. re: Brian S

      You're right. Criticizing Tex-Mex for not being authentically Mexican is like criticizing sushi for not being Chinese.

      1. re: ekammin

        There are valid criticisms of Tex-Mex independent of whether its Authentic or not. 99.5% of it is inferior to proper Mexican... why eat something inferior when the country has the immigrant population & more or less the ingredients to offer something better?

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          >> 99.5% of it is inferior to proper Mexican <<

          Hoo, man, then you haven't eaten proper Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex stands on its own as a food genre, it's a meld of both Mexican and southwestern cuisines. I love Mexican food, I grew up on it, and I also love Tex-Mex after living in Texas for years. The two cuisines are distinct and they are not the same, even though there's much overlap. When I lived in Mexico City, I never saw tacos, enchiladas or burritos outside of hotels that catered to tourists. Tortas were the most popular proletarian food, followed by, oddly enough, pizza.

          >> Criticizing Tex-Mex for not being authentically Mexican is like criticizing sushi for not being Chinese.<< Ekammin nailed it.

          1. re: KenWritez

            I reserve the 0.5% for exquisite versions of South Texas style Barbacoa de Cabeza, Cabrito & Fajitas... but those types of dishes & eateries are the exception within the fold of Tex-Mex.

            Tex-Mex is inferior to real Mexican on so many levels. At the philosophical level... Mexican cuisine became really popular during the Great Depression... the cooks adapted Mexican cuisine to fit the reality of the times... including the need for cheap, fun flavored, abundant food.... and the lack of quality ingredients.

            OTOH... Mexican cuisine evolved from a higher reality. The Three Sisters were the cornerstone of civilization in Central Mexico... you really have to know the story to appreciate how amazing it was that these ancient Mexicans 6,000 years ago would figure out how to genetically improve naturally inedible plants like Corn, Squash & Beans... turn them into their modern appearance... and then figured how to cultivate them with such environmental efficiency that it can still give modern day agronomists chills of excitement.

            I remember in the 1990's there was a writer in Houston that was syndicated in the L.A. Times who would write up about food in Mexico all the time. His thinly veiled agenda was to prove that Tex-Mex was superior to Mexican cuisine and made so many arguments to try to prove why Mexican cuisine had to be inherently superior once it was incubated in a First World nation. Among the things he criticized about the Mexican food ecosystem at that time:

            > Modern, clean, efficient Super Markets are still rare in Mexico. The vast majority of Mexicans shop at less hygienic open air markets, traveling markets, and from roving street vendors.

            > Mexicans lack modern cooking equipment they still use inferior clay & copper based pots, griddles etc.,. and many don't have refrigeration in their homes.

            > Meat prices are out of reach for most meals.

            > Mexico lacks modern livestock techniques... they usually let their chickens roam around eating grubs, their cows eat grass etc., etc.,

            Well wouldn't you know that all the things there "backward" about Mexico in the 1990's now represent the height of culinary chic in the U.S.?

            While it is true that Mexico has gigantic Carrefours, WalMarts, Costcos & Comercial Mexican supermarkets that caterer to the growing modern, young middle class... the majority of Mexicans still get their produce & meats from the Mercados, Tianguis & roving street vendors... and their tortillas, breads & sauces straight from artisinal producers. Some of it is out of necessity (most Mexicans aren't part of the modern economy with the biweekly paychecks... instead they earn a little money each day and invest in food items as soon as its earned)... some out of conviction (even in L.A. in the 80's my parents would make trips to Grand Central Market, shop at the impromptu Tianguis at the church parking lot... buy produce from the guy walking around with a shopping cart full of pre-measured $1 bags of peaches, tomatoes etc.,... despite the fact we had a Safeway and other modern supermarkets in town... I won't even mention the foraging for Nopales, Greens & various fruits).

            So when we look at the typical Tex Mex restaurant... even forgetting the terrible Chains (which are usually from California anyway)... what we have is a huge menu of foods that are often reheated.... there are no real specials, nothing seasonal... alot of times its just multiple iterations of the same items... oh and everything is served with Mexican Rice & Refried Pinto Beans.

            The reality of Mexican cuisine is the exact opposite... its about specialization, freshness, seasonality & appropriate garnishes... a good Mole Poblano is made from turkey & is paired with an Anise tamal... Lamb Barbacoa is paired with Chickpeas cooked in its juices etc.,

            Lets forget the high level mumble jumble and get to specifics.... you never saw Tacos in Mexico City... that is ridiculous it is THE most common thing eaten outside of the home... you can even find Taqueros all around the Zocalo and near the Congressional building... where one of the local specialties is a NY Strip taco named Taco de los Senadores... because Senators are notorious for hitting the taco stands at the end of their sessions... similar to the way people in Wall Street historically hit the Hot Dog stands.

            Burritos are practically non-existent in Mexico City... but enchiladas are another popular item... with Enchiladas Suizas (proper ones made with Gruyere & heavy cream were invented at the flagship Sanborn's near the Zocalo).

            Of course Mexican cuisine is about so much more than Enchiladas... I am sure many Mexico City residents go years without having Enchiladas or any of the other dishes common in the U.S.

            I have to run but when I get back I will compare similar dishes which will really exhibits the superiority of authentic Mexican cuisine... something as silly as comparing the Nachos sold in Mexican Chains aimed at teeny boppers (the cultural equivalents of Foster's Freeze) with the Nachos at Tex-Mex restaurants targeting adults will exhibit the amateur, backward, overly processed reality of Tex Mex relative to the real thing.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              There is no such thing as an inferior cuisine. There are cuisines that are more complex than others, there are cuisines that I may PREFER over others, but these things do not in themselves denote superiority or inferiority. As for authenticity, I believe that this is defined entirely by what is served in its native location and how it is prepared there. A burrito is perhaps not authentic Mexican cuisine, but it IS authentic Californian, as Tex-Mex is authentic Texan.

              I love to explore as many regional cuisines as I can find: Sichuan, Alsatian, Tuscan, Northern Thai, Down-East New England, AND Cali-Mex, New Mexican Mex, Tex-Mex. Yes, and even Chop-Suey "Chinese" now and then. There is nothing inherently precious about any one set of recipes, only about using good ingredients and cooking them well. Taco Bell is no more "authentic" than McDonald's, but a well-prepared hardshell taco and a good, handformed-patty hamburger both are, by any reasonable reckoning.

          2. re: Eat_Nopal

            I definitely read from the Gospel of Authenticity when it comes to recommending Mexican restaurants on CH and I have lots of love for tortas, lengua and cochinita pibil. And I can understand how Mexicans can be annoyed that their culinary heritage is being misappropriated by the likes of Taco Bell (and some of the less high-minded on CH), but there is just something about a cheesy chimichanga, covered in sour cream and basted in an unnatural red sauce that is unbeatable. Tex-Mex is definitely not Mexican, but it is pretty good, nonetheless.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              "why eat something inferior when the country has the immigrant population & more or less the ingredients to offer something better?"

              To me, Tex-Mex and proper Mexican food are completely different and one is not necessarily superior to the other. There are days when I want a good mole or conchinita pibil. Other days, only a plate of nachos with mounds of freshly grated cheese and bacon-y beans will do. These two cravings are unrelated and no different than the fact that some days I want Vietnamese food and other days I want Ethiopian.
              Why must we belittle one cuisine to enjoy the other? They are both good when done properly...just different.

              1. re: Honey Bee

                "Other days, only a plate of nachos with mounds of freshly grated cheese and bacon-y beans will do."

                Perfect example... so let me tackle that with what I am proposing. So lets talk about Nachos... these were actually invented in Mexico and are fairly common. However, instead of ordering these at the traditional eateries where adults go to eat Cochinita Pibil & Mole etc.,... Nachos are dispensed by chains like Danchos... pretty much the cultural equivalent of Frostee's Freeze or the A&W chains... that is fun food for kids & teenagers. Chains like Danchos sell fresh fruit licuados, ice creams, frozen yogurt, tortas made from cold cuts etc., as well as their speciality.... Nachos. Nachos in Mexico are largely faithful to the original recipe by Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya... real cheese (Chihuahua & Asadero... most similar cheeses in the U.S. would be real Muenster & Provolone)... melted into a roux.... drizzled over fresh totopos (chips)... and garnished with homemade garlicky & intensely oregano-y pickled jalapenos, carrots, sliced cauliflour etc.... a pretty classy snack considering its just kid food.

                What is the Tex-Mex equivalent.... yello, uber-processed "cheese", blob of poorly crafted (often canned) refried beans, wilted, canned pickled jalapenos.

                The Mexican version is something even snobs might embrace.... the Tex-Mex version is generally baseball stadium level crap.

                So without going into the superiority of Central & Southern Mexican over Northern Mexican.... what I initiatially propose... is that if people were just exposed to the authentic version of similar Mexican dishes... they would prefer the authentic versions and reject the inferior Tex-Mex versions.

                Again I don't mean to demean all the honest, passionate, quality Tex-Mex cooking out there (I do consider a good rendition of Barbacoa de Cabeza, South Texas style Cabrito, Fajitas, & Chile Verde Stews to be in the same league as Authentic Mexican)... but I am not going to sing the virtues of all the mindless, processed, low quality crap that generally constitutes Tex Mex.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  >> but I am not going to sing the virtues of all the mindless, processed, low quality crap that generally constitutes Tex Mex. <<

                  You're comparing quality Mexican food to crappy commercial Tex-Mex. This is like comparing Sofia Loren to an inflatable love doll.

                  You and I actually agree: >> Nachos in Mexico are largely faithful to the original recipe by Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya [and are] a pretty classy snack <<

                  Tex-Mex, made with fresh ingredients prepared properly, are delicious and tastes as good as Mexican food prepared similarly, as you state above.

                  I'm not defending fast food Tex-Mex made with shit ingredients. I'm defending good food made well, and in this thread it happens to be Tex-Mex.

                  1. re: KenWritez

                    Your Sofia Loren quote is right on the money and hilarious. Using 7-11 nachos as the standard-bearer of Tex-Mex is like using McDonald's as the epitome of American cuisine. As good as the "authentic" Mexican nachos sound, I can't turn down crispy tortillas covered with ground beef, melted cheddar, black beans, guacamole, tomato, onions, pickled jalapenos and sour cream. That's what I know as Tex-Mex: a far cry from the caricature of Velveeta on crap. And while I love a warm tortilla brimming with chivo, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, cauliflower, carrots, radish and salsa verde, I do sometimes miss the crunch of a hard shell dripping with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and ground beef.

                    If you grew up with authentic Mexican cookery, Tex-Mex probably looks like and tastes like a joke to you. It's a (d)evolution from Mexican, depending on how you see it. But as someone who grew up with both, I think they both have their merits. I certainly wouldn't judge Mexican solely by the Montezuma's Revenge platter in a Tijuana pit stop.

                    1. re: KenWritez

                      Ken.... the difference is that 80+% of the food dished out in Mexico (outside of some tourist sh1tspots like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Cancun etc.,)... is prepared with good ingredients, solid technique, classic & innovative flavor combinations etc., whereas in Tex Mex its only 1% that fits this bill.... the typical Tex-Mex crap is the inflatable love doll.

                      Here in California its too common that you get quasi authentic restaurants... that end up devoting too much of the menu to crappy Tex-Mex to pander to the legions of ashamed ex-Taco Bell fans... and I end up with very little authentic stuff to enjoy.... the Nopales, Calabacitas, Handmade Tortillas etc., are crowded out to make room for ridiculous Taco Shells, Tostada Shells & the ever present mindless blob of Rice, Beans, Sour Cream, Pico de Gallo & Guacamole.

                      Even the places that serve well crafted Tex-Mex (and I do admit there are some).... you have to HATE VEGETABLES to really want to eat there over an authentic Mexican restaurant.... because it best they still do the depression era... slap Rice & Beans on whatever you eat... they usually lack good vegetable soups (Menudo is not a vegetable!)... they lack vegetable dishes & fruit salads etc. in other words they are against everything Mexican cuisine stands for!

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        not to go off topic, but that (removing vegetables) is what ALL americanized versions of cuisines do to the original. Take "italian-american" as most people know it. my grandparents came here from Italy and c ontinue to cook vegetables and legumes as their diet staples. meanwhile i have to put up with people telling me that spaghetti and meatballs is italian and/or italian-american. I don't even try to explain that most southern Italians actually eat mostly bean soups and roasted vegetables, along with pasta, bread, and other grains.
                        forget the huge amounts of melted processed mozzarella on everything, that is not italian, not italian-american, but AMERICAN food.

                        1. re: fara

                          You are absolutely right... and I guess I really don't care what mainstream Americans think... they are going to eat like crap.. and well they can enjoy all the Tex-Mex they want. As a promoter of Mexico's cusine... I am more interested in influencing & reaching out to people that already enjoy Thai, Vietnamese, Real Italian, Provencal, Ethiopian, Indian (and not just the carb rich dishes) etc.,

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            But we're not Mexican. Why SHOULD we care?
                            This whole authentic argument, whether applied to Mexi, Thai, or any other foreign cuisine, seems to be predicated on first denigrating whatever the eqivilent dish is here in America so as to make the point that the original dish from Country X is SO much better.

                            1. re: bbqboy

                              I would expect Chowhounds to care because we supposedly have better taste & are more culturally sophisticated than society at large... but that is just a supposition or perhaps a suppository.

                              The truth is the truth and it has to be said... I am more than happy to point out when the U.S. versions of a particular Mexican dish is better... it does happen sometimes. Although I get the feeling that so many culturally unsophisticated people live under the assumption that anything in the U.S. HAS to be better than in the country of origin.

                              1. re: bbqboy

                                I don't think it's an assumption that b/c it's from the U.S. it has to be worse- all one has to do is look at the end product. is it extremely bad for you? then it's not something that's eaten very often -if at all- in the country of origin. those people would have died of obesity long ago, or not had the resources to die of obesity.
                                There are so many great regional American foods that people who appreciate authenticity like a lot.. My impression of Tex-Mex from watching the food channel is that there's a lot of Texan, New Mexican, Arizonian, foods that are the result of a long history of chicanos maintaining their culture in the U.S. Some of these people have maintained their heritage and language since that area was part of New Spain. When I hear Tex-Mex I think of food that has been developed over generations, just as southern and creole food has. As someone mentioned in another post, you had better be darn good to compete with a recipe that has been developed for hundreds of years.

                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Eat Nopal, do you consider the cuisine of Tex-Mex inferior, or the typical restaurant preparation of the food?

                    A huge problem with this discussion is that Mexican is a tremendously historic, culturally rich and diverse cuisine. Tex Mex is a fusion drawing from one region of Mexican cuisine. It's no a cuisine. It's like saying a pro athlete is better than high school player. Of course he is. He's older, more mature and stronger. But trust me, (coming from Texas, remember) High School football can be a great thing. You have to appreciate something for what it is.

                    Tex-Mex can be wonderfully prepared, but it can't ever be as complex as true Mexican.

                    1. re: kindofabigdeal

                      That is kind of my point. More than anything I would like people to realize that there is much more that we can enjoy about Mexican cuisine than is currently being delivered by the proliferation of Tex-Mex & Cal-Mex eateries.

                      I know there are some great dishes in Tex-Mex... I have mentioned Fajitas for example. But Tex-Mex should (ideally, based on merit) be 0.5% of Mexican cuisine served here in the States... not 99.5% (as it currently seems!)

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        that would be nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

                        Actually, we've probably come a long way in the last few years, so the momentum is at least in a good direction. On the other hand... I have in the past few months eaten at three highly regarded mexican restaurants. Bario Cafe in Phoenix, AZ, Frontera Grill in Chicago, IL, and Veracruz Cafe in Dallas, TX. 2 out of the three were disappointments. I would rather have well prepared Tex-Mex than poor food prepared authentically. Chicken at Bario (I realize that this is more modern than traditional) was terribly dry and the Mole was just good. Veracruz was similar. Frontera on the other hand was exceptional. Some people reject Frontera and Topolobampo and call them overrated. My one experience was very good.

                        1. re: kindofabigdeal

                          Topo is overrated. The food is dumbed down, pricey... and the Tasting Menus don't make sense. Sol de Mexico was opened by Topo alumni & serves tastier, quality food at mid-level ambience in the barrio.

              2. i dont agree with #14, I dont feel a restaurant needs to accept credit cards, why should a small restaurant have to share a percentage of their profits with AMEX, Master Card, Visa, or Discover.

                One of the best Mexican restaurants in the Chicago area Amanacer Tapatio in Joliet gets by without accepting credit cards.

                I would add to you list they should have Mexican Coke in glass bottles as one of their drink offerings.

                13 Replies
                1. re: swsidejim

                  From what I hear... isn't Amanacer Tapatio fairly authentic? Thus it wouldn't need to fit the Tex Mex category.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Yes, Amanacer Tapatio is pretty authentic, I was just giving an example of a small family owned restaurant that does not need to offer the use of credit cards, but is cash only.

                    Their daily specials are pretty authentic from what I have been told, but they also offer a menu with tacos, burritos, etc.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      ...and unfortunately Chicago doesn't have much to boast by way of Tex Mex(of course this is contrasted by the depth of "authentic" Mexican cuisines on offer)...

                      Not that Eat_Nopal would enjoy it, but the only quasi-Tex Mex restaurant in town is the chain outpost Uncle Julio's Hacienda in Bucktown.

                      As a 6th gen. Texan I can appreciate both "authentic" cuisines(why the quotes? because all cuisines are always already morphing and mutating) *and*
                      Tex Mex...which if you've ever dined within the hallowed halls of such like Ninfa's and enjoyed their fajitas and blissful in-house flour tortillas...then there'd be no moribund us vs. them culinary border skirmishes...

                      1. re: aelph

                        I almost cried when I ate at Ninfa's: The fajitas were the best I'd ever had: Seared beef seared perfectly and seasoned redolent of the herbal scent of the desert on a summer night with cumin, salt, pepper and sage. Peppers that tasted fresh and nicely grilled with onions cooked al dente. The homemade flour tortillas were warm, pillowy, and hot with small dots of golden brown and barely charred surface.

                        I'm not going to describe the salsa because I don't want to break down completely. Ditto for the grilled shrimp.

                        Dang. I'm almost considering a road trip to Texas just to eat at Ninfa's again.

                        1. re: KenWritez

                          My first Ninfa's was back in the late 70's at the original location on Navigation (Ninfa's home). Tacos al carbon and garnaches - perfection on a plate. The pico de gallo would knock your socks off. Two salsas - red and green, different as night and day.
                          We live in central Mexico now. There is no restaurant in our area to compare with Ninfa's. Street food is far superior to the sit-down restaurants. The street tacos are really good. Hecho a mano tortillas, chewy griddled beef and onions and pickled veggies - super hot.
                          Pollo de Patzcuaro is amazing - chickens skewered and cooked over open fires. Chilis en Nogada a traditional food for this time of year.
                          Tex-Mex and central Mexican food are two different and distinct cuisines. They shouldn't be contrasted and compared. Each should be enjoyed for what it is - comforting, family food.

                          1. re: Pampatz

                            Chiles en Nogada is comforting family food?

                            1. re: Pampatz

                              Sounds like your in the Patzcuaro area... yeah not exactly known to be a culinary haven within Mexico.... the Uruapan area way to the West... and the Ciudad Hidalgo (near Mexico State)... are much more chow worthy.

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                Yes, we are on the side of a mountain south of Patzcuaro overlooking the town and the lake. Some people love the food here, not me. We're eating at home almost all the time.

                                1. re: Pampatz

                                  You might consider moving to the Xalapa area.

                                  1. re: Pampatz

                                    FWIW.... the Purepecha linguage is believed to be from the same family as Quechua (Inca)... and I certainly see cultural similarities between the Purepechas & the Incas of the Cuzco area... and that includes a less remarkable culinary tradition. Although its in close proximity to the Valley of Mexico... I don't consider the cooking in your area as part of the Central Mexican tradition... Ciudad Hidalgo is roughly the boundary where that would begin.

                                    I pick on the Patzcuaro area a little bit... but I should say the homecooking is vastly superior to the Restaurant infrastructure... with some intriguing flavor combinations, I plagiurize in my own Contemporary Mexican style of cooking. Among the winners of course is the Duck Carnitas with Blackberry Sauce which is of course re-interpreted in to a modern style in Mexico City's chic restaurants... although it might have been one of the institutions in Morelia that first popularized & brought it mainstream.

                                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    That's funny - some Nashville friends of ours also have a house in Patzcuaro, and are totally in love with the food. When Dan was here in Pasadena for a school program, we took him around LA, and made a stop at Tacos Michoacan on Broadway, where we all indulged very enjoyably in what he allowed was pretty authentic stuff. If that's inferior food, I REALLY want to try the better!

                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Tacos Michoacan.... was that Carnitas Michoacan on Broadway and Avenue 19? Just east of Chinatown? I grew up nearby... back in the 80's Carnitas Michoacan was the real deal... they have gone down hill big time. Compared to Taquerias around Patzcuaro... its a dog. But then again... Patzcuaro's tacos are generally uninspiring compared to what you get in Uruapan, D.F., Puebla & other places.

                                      Patzcuaro has good tasting food... it just lacks the variety, sophistication & delicacy of the more chow worthy towns / cities in Mexico. Oh yeah... its restaurant scene is not great. The places with atmosphere don't serve food that even matches the average home cook. The places that serve good food... lack atmosphere & variety etc.,

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        Yes - I had a Senior Moment (SeƱor Moment?) there - it IS Carnitas Michoacan. Yeah, the stuff we had there wasn't perfect, but it was pretty special. I've gone back.

                                        Two things about these friends: first, they're Southerners born and raised, and "good tasting" trumps sophistication any day in that culture (as in mine). They're also more likely to eat street food when they're out shopping, then buy food in the market and take it home to cook. In fact, I didn't hear Dan talk about any kind of Patzcuaro food other than street food.

                        2. I have read all your counter arguments... and I will just say we all have our Trailer Park moments... for some of you its Tex-Mex for me its cartoonish versions of American regional foods. I am still convinced Tex-Mex is inferior to Mexican... and what I would invite any of you to do is to travel to Cuzco, Peru.... and sample through the city's tourist culinary offering... and I will propose that Inca-Tex-Mex and Inca-NY-Style-Pizza are different but equivalent to Tex-Mex and NY Style Pizza.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Eat_Nopal


                            Calling Tex-Mex, a Trailer Park Moment, at the very least is insulting, but obviously a show of IGNORANCE as well. Having lived and traveled in many places throughout the world, I can say that different cuisines is what makes life especially enjoyable. If I don't like sweetmeats such as kidney, that doesn't make regional cuisines that favor them, terrible. I love food from street vendors to Michelin three stars in Paris. If I don't like yellow curries, that doesn't make Indian food with yellow curry awful.

                            I can admit my bias of being born in Texas, but it is not a guilty pleasure to love Tex-Mex merely a superb pleasure. Evidently you can not see that the fact you were born in Mexico and that your parents are from Jalisco might seriously affect your opinion.
                            That is fine.

                            If you prefer food from the various areas of Mexico, that is great, but to equate Tex-Mex food as trashy (Trailer-Park) is contrary to the Chowhound Posting Etiquette. Perhaps before sharing your opinion, you should read that post and apply it.

                          2. I submit that all 4 US border states have distinct cuisines owing to their relation to Mexico.
                            This whole authentic thing is BS. The intermingling's been going on for 200-300 years.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bbqboy

                              Of course. Should we not eat pasta, on the grounds that it was originally not Italian but Chinese, evidently introduced to Italy by Marco Polo? Or tonkatsu, a Japanese version or pork cutlet, introduced by the Americans when they began commercial relations with Japan in the 19th Century?

                            2. I wont go on and on with the subject here but I will agree with Chefdavis. My one point would be that when I came back home from spending some time in Germany I went to the Hoffbrauhaus in Las Vegas, Neveda which was suppose to be the same as the one in Munich, but guess what ?? They Americanized the menu so bad that the dishes didn't even taste the same nor did they look authentic to what you get in Munich !! Blah, America trying to keep is simple and quick again. Good things come to those who wait but everything was rushed and tasted exactly that. My wife is Bavarian and told them how much they were off. The woman who was seating people was also bavarian and was surprised to see another in her presence but couldn't do much but agree !!

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Jimbosox04

                                Why should they have been authentic? It's Las Vegas! If you wanted something closer to Germany you could have hit numerous small towns in the Great Plains.

                                1. re: bbqboy

                                  because when you advertise something as an "EXACT REPLICA INSIDE AND OUT", to me that includes the menu.


                                  You won't find chicken fingers and fries on a menu in Munich, maybe Pommus.

                                  1. re: Jimbosox04

                                    I can partially agree with your expectation, but that's why the whole "authentic" thing sucks.
                                    Ain't that America, Land of The Free....

                                    1. re: bbqboy

                                      Bingo! Don't get me started on the difficulty of finding good chicken-fried steak in California.

                                      1. re: KenWritez

                                        let me just say that I was only in Texas for a few days but I miss the food.

                                        1. re: KenWritez

                                          "Don't get me started on the difficulty of finding good chicken-fried steak in California."

                                          Or cornbread that isn't like some kind of dessert!

                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Where did you grow up? We are on the same page here, particularly with the cornbread. I generally avoid cornbread in local places because it is always so cakey & sweet. I grew up in SC. Our cornbread was relatively coarse compared to the restaurant cornbread here. I especially loved my mother's cracklin' bread - usually make in a cast iron corn stick pan.

                                            1. re: rfneid

                                              I grew up in Illinois, thinking that what you made with Jiffy Mix was really cornbread. 27 years in Nashville taught me WAYYYY different.

                                              Never done cracklin' bread exactly, but I do like to put chopped bacon in the skillet instead of lard when I put it in to preheat, then pour in the batter before the bacon gets too done.

                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                I've never done it that way, but really like the idea. Thanksgiving is coming, so..........

                                      2. re: Jimbosox04

                                        What is the point of going to Vegas to eat? Did you have high expectations?

                                        1. re: fara

                                          Usually that is what one does when they are there for a week on vacation.