The Big Red Sun of Del Rio Texas
Don Marcelino's Del Rio Texas
After a long,hard night of drinking in nearby Acuna,Coahuila I'm heading across the international bridge and back to good ol USA.
It's with a heavy heart as Mexico feels more and more like home these days what with all the dustup America's been kicking up for the past few years.
The border guard ain't buying my story[admittedly spun from wholecloth on the spot...still logie with beer and brain addled from sitting in the hot sun for a half hour in line on the blacktop]."I'm going to have to search the bike",he announces eying me good and long.After the search[fruitless]I begin to inquire as to his eating habits,where he lives,what he does in his time off etc etc.He becomes more receptive gradually warming to the fact that I'm curious as to the foodways of Del Rio Texas.
Apparently Tb's is the spot,it's been there a good while and turns out some well respected food.We say our goodbyes and I point my bike out Veterans, several minutes later I pull into a closed on Sunday TB's.I remember the name Don Marcelinos from an old review and decide to check it out.I pass one great big location and it's packed with hungry people and hordes of small children.Slowly backing out of the restaurant I carefully get on my bike and get the Hell out of there.Not a mile or two down the road is ANOTHER Don Marcelinos..I pull in and make my way to the order counter.
It's hard to believe Del Rio doesn't have at least one ornery honcho who'd dry gulch a man over having to pay for chips and salsa.Yes,Don Marcelinos charges for the Texas' birthright.Unconscionable to be sure but I decide to let em stick it to me.At table I pore over the SA Express and here comes the food.The chips are beautiful,housemade deepfried and golden yellow.The salsa is light red and devoid of flavor,it's served warm but has no chile,no salt,no lime juice.
The chips are delicious,as good as Totopos get.Golden roasted corn flavor with a trace of good fat.Salted,they drive me wild.I eat them sans salsa.My order of Taquitos arrives apace.Don Marcelinos version is a half dozen Chicken Flautas drenched in vivid red Ranchero sauce and blanketed with Yellow and White cheeses.It's classic Tex Mex comfort food and a very good bargain at $3.99.Is it "good"?.Not really.The Ranchero sauce is one dimensional-sweet,pretty to look at but not a lot going on flavor wise.The Cheeses are decent texturally[chewy in a good way]but have little flavor.The Taquitos themselves are fine.The crispness from frying lasts nicely under the sauce but the chicken within has little flavor.
The service:Laughable.The worst that I've had in memory.You order at the counter and a waitress brings your beverages and food to you.Which she did.That was the last visit I managed to get.The 3 servers had a total of 3 tables.As the girls sat at a vacant table and idly chatted amongst themselves I paid two visits to the counter lady for water and two more visits for coffee,each time walking within a few feet of the their hang out.After dining I finished the paper and gazed at the remnants of my food.Snapping out of it I stacked all the glassware and made my way to the rear of the restaurant."What do y'all do with these?",an alarmed gentleman raced up to me and we made the trade.He apologized and glared at the girls as they lolled back adjusting their makeup and yawning.
If I grew up in Del Rio I would love Don Marcelinos.It's the kind of place that builds food memories for the community.As a teen the fried-drenched with cheese-stance on their food would ring out strong and true.Would I return?If it was a Sunday when TB's is closed I would explore more of their menu.Their might be a hidden treasure or two[the menu is vast]
Motoring out of Del Rio I point my way out 90 East.The scrubby brush countryside races by me...jackrabbits are hauling ass not 50 feet from the blacktop as the hot Texas sun throws beatdowns on the heat blasted landscape.I'm pleasantly full and wandering if I'll be hungry by the time I get to New Braunfels.
Yes, Don Marcelino's is comfort food for people who have either grown up in Del Rio (my husband) or spent a lot of time there (me). I've admittedly never tried their chips and salsa! My husband usually gets the guisado plate or a bowl of caldo de res, and I usually get the tacos tapatios. Service is indeed non-existent after bringing your food. Make sure you have what you need before the waitress leaves!
I have honestly never heard of TB's. I googled it and it's a honky-tonk that serves BBQ. Honestly, we get plenty of that here in DFW, so it's not somewhere that we'd go in Del Rio... My mother-in-law swears by Avanti's Italian.