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Feb 11, 2008 06:39 AM

Best Tex-Mex in Dallas for out-of-towner

I'll be spending a few nights in Dallas, and I'd love to try some real Tex-Mex food. The cuisine is generally looked down upon in NYC (where I'm coming from) as an americanized version of Mexican food, but it seems to me that it's a style of cooking that's been here for years (probably before Texas was part of the USA.)

Anyways, I was wondering where I could get the best of the best in Dallas. (Hopefully towards the north; I'll be staying in Addison, but will travel anywhere for "the best".) I've herad good things about Mi Cocina and Monica's from this board - is there anything else that's better or a better cheerleader for this much-maligned culinary style?

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  1. More of a Mex-Mex place but has similar items is Taquerias El Fuego in Richardson somewhat close to where you will be staying in Addison. I enjoyed some of the different items that they never have at Tex-Mex places (i.e. Huitlacoche Quesadillas (Corn Fungus)). The atmosphere isn't as trendy as Monica's and Mi Cocina but if you are in search of great food I would make the trip. Below is a link to their website. The place is family run, owner very helpful and interested in that I knew about chapulines (fried crickets tossed with chili powder) and escamoles (ant larvae). She had had both when she was a kid in Mexico and said she really enjoyed the chapulines the most. To make a long story short there are a lot of Mexican natives that frequent the place (a very good sign)!

    1. A good combination of atmosphere and food quality is Cafe San Miguel in the Knox-Henderson area. A tad closer is Luna de Noche (Forest location) if atmosphere is important I think Luna de Noche is a better choice than Mi Cocina and Monica's (Monica's is actually Salvadorean-Mex).

      1. lambretta76 , you should consider El Fenix since you will be in Addison...El Fenix is on Beltline Rd , which is sort of the main drag in Addison. You will see good remarks about El Fenix on Chowhound , but mostly they are overlooked because they have been around so long and because they have multiple locations . But for what you want , TexMex , they helped invent it in the North Texas area . I suggest that you explain to your server that you are new to TexMex , and get he/she to guide you to some of the standards...soft cheese taco , enchiladas , chile con queso , guacamole......on a final note , I would stay away from Mi Cocina ; El Fuego will be great , but there is a difference between a taqueria and a TexMex place...enjoy yourself .

        9 Replies
        1. re: pinotho

          For the real deal Tex Mex, you just can't beat El Fenix. It is family owned. Not a franchise or a corporate concept restaurant.

          1. re: pinotho

            I'll third El Fenix. They helped make Tex Mex what it is today in Dallas. Their guacamole is very good. The chips are so-so, but I figure that helps me eat fewer chips ;> The salsa is very good.

            If you are here on a Wednesday, El Fenix offers a cheese enchilada special for, I think it's gone up to $4.99. Cheese enchiladas are sort of the proving ground for Tex Mex - if you can do them right, you probably know what you are doing. Cheese enchiladas are tortillas filled with melted yellow cheese and onions and rolled into a tube. Then, they are topped with a beef chili sauce. It will be served with rice and refried beans.

            They have several combination plates that will let you try different things. Don't go for fajitas. Nothing against fajitas, but it's pretty much just grilled chicken or beef with a bunch of stuff on the side to add as you please.

            Monica's is a hike from Addison and, while it is good, it is not traditional Tex Mex.

            Cafe San Miguel will get you more "street cred" with the Chow crowd, but it is really more Mexico Mexican than Tex Mex.

            Mi Cocina is Tex Mex and is also very good although pricier than El Fenix. (Pricey to me is going to be downright cheap to someone from NYC, but I find $8.50 for a couple of tacos and rice and beans to be a bit overpriced.)

            1. re: dalaimama

              I'll fourth El Fenix. It's the highest quality, most authentic Tex-Mex in Dallas.

              1. re: DeniseAV

                if you want the real deal go to Herrera,s. There is one in Carrollton on Josey Lane probably about 10 min from Addison.It is a dumpy old place but the food rocks. I think they have the best chips and salsa in town. It is also really cheap.

                1. re: Analisas mom

                  Wow - El Fenix sounds like a winner. Taquerias El Fuego sound slike an interesting place, but it seems much more of a Oaxacan restaurant than true Tex Mex, and there's several decent if not great Oaxacan restos in the NYC Metro area. What we don't have is great Tex Mex (unless you consider what Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill was a decade or so ago) which is what I'm trying to suss out.

                  Since I'll probably be going by taxi, El Fenix sounds like a good plan, but I won't count out Herrera's.

                  1. re: lambretta76


                    There are also good places close to downtown Dallas along Maple Ave, might be a bit of a hual from Addison but Avilas and Escondidos are my favorites in the that area....neither are a chain. Below is a link for Avilas. Escondidos is hardly reviewed b/c it is in a shack and hard to find if you aren't paying close attention. All of the doctors and nurses from Parkland (our large county hospital) eat there



                    Closer to Addison is Tupinambas which has about the same Tex-Mex as El Fenix and the rest. The Tupy Tacos are great. Escondidos has a very similar version of the Tupy Taco but I like the Escondidos version better.

                    Some other recomendations from a previous post

                2. re: DeniseAV

                  And I'll fifth El Fenix -- Downtown location. They're the only spot with the "hot-hot" sauce. That used to be their house sauce until about 10 years ago. It is one of my favorite salsas -- completely different than any other salsa you will ever taste. Their food is consistently great, served hot, service is faster than anything I've ever experienced. Plus the downtown location is a historical landmark. "El Fenix! El Fenix! El Fenix is the place with the great Martinez name..." (commercial jingle from the 70's.)

                  1. re: DiRotiman

                    >service is faster than anything I've ever experienced<

                    No kidding. The last time we ate at the El Fenix on Central in Plano, it couldn't have taken any longer for us to get our food than the time it took the waiter to walk to the kitchen and immediately return. It was like the waiter was wearing a hidden mic that the kitchen picked up. I don't know if we've ever waited more than five minutes.

                    I sometimes feel bad for liking El Fenix as much as I do, but it's a lot better than a restaurant like that should be.

                    1. re: healthyscratch

                      Boy, if liking El Fenix is a vice, count me in. It's not trendy. Just good old food and fast pleasant service. We go to the one on Central too. Actually, if you sit in the bar area, it's like a cantina in Mexico.

            2. I think a lot of people would agree that you go to one place for enchiladas, another place for tacos...some times it is the margarita's.

              Where ever you end up should try a combo plate....if you do not know what you like.

              When I think pure Tex-Mex I think of cheese enchiladas in what they used to call brown should be a thin but meaty texas chili sauce. I think the enchiladas should have onions either inside or on top. These should also be some cheese melted on top. I prefer cheddar or sharp cheddar to american...but a lot of places use american...

              good sour cream chicken enchiladas are great too with a bit of green sauce

              A good beefy taco, a great moist tamale

              refried beans and rice.

              the chips and salsa on the table are also key.

              I love El is pure, but I might try Mi Cocina too...I think they are a bit more modern and their ingredients are usually pretty fresh...Plus I love their salsa....and their spicy sunset sauce....but some locations are better then others.

              There are soooo many good places and so little time.
              I hope you hit the restaurant at a good time....when everything is up to snuff...
              Good luck, have fun, let us know where you went and what you orderd!

              like all comfort foods...Tex Mex is not to be overlooked or snubed.

              1. If you are looking for traditional texmex then El Fenix is okay again not great food but traditional. If you want really good food go to Nuevo Leon in Farmers branch

                2 Replies
                1. re: irodguy

                  Nuevo Leon has great moles and an awesome Poblano Soup. Great suggestion irodguy!!

                  1. re: irodguy

                    Nuevo Leon is great, but I don't think of it as true Tex Mex. Even they refer to themselves as "mex-mex" instead. I love their mole and was very sad when the Greenville location burned down in the Arcadia fire.