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(HOU) Your Favorite place for cheese enchiladas

There has been this ongoing discussion on the Home Cooking board about cheese enchiladas and what goes on them. You can read it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/645312

I don't recall having them with a chili con carne sauce, except maybe at Pancho's many, many years ago. To me that is what you get at restaurants that aren't really Tex Mex. But I could be way off.

Now I am absolutely craving some! Where are your favorites, and do they have meat in the sauce or not?


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  1. I usually get beef enchilads. Two of my favorite old school Tex Mex places are El Gallo on Gessner and Casa Dominguez on Bissonnet, but i don't recall any meat in the gravy. I also like the chicken enchiladas at El Gallo.

    17 Replies
    1. re: James Cristinian

      What's the meat like in your beef enchiladas? Ground beef? Pieces of steak?

      1. re: James Cristinian

        Oh, El Gallo! I had forgotten about that place. I liked that a lot. I think most beef enchiladas come with ground beef, unless you request fajita enchiladas. Right James?

        1. re: danhole

          Not James, but that depends upon where you are. Many places, the standard filling for beef enchiladas is machaca or carne seca.

          1. re: danhole

            To answer Dani and jgradieoakes, yes, ground beef of some sort, or fajita meat which is usually referred to as enchiladas al carbon, a relatively recent addition to menus, say 15 or 20 years ago. Jaymes, carne seca translates to dry meat. What is that and what is machaca?

            1. re: James Cristinian


              I had to look up machaca, and here is an article about it.


              I know that Jaymes is pretty educated about "true" mexican food and not a big fan of Tex Mex, so maybe the places she knows serve beef enchiladas like that, but I have never run across them. It;s just good old ground beef where I eat, unless you upgrade.

              1. re: danhole

                Dani, right, I've never run across that. It's always groung beef, maybe even like a picadillo that my wife makes, ground meat, cumino, tomato, and garlic. I really would just have the ground meat instead of the fajita, it's what I grew up on, and I love it, basic Tex Mex, no apologies.

                1. re: danhole

                  No, I like TexMex, too. Like both, actually. TexMex is really comfort food, isn't it.

                  Machaca and carne seca are similar. Kind of like roast beef when you cook it really long and the juices dry out and you shred the meat. More or less.

                  You well may have had it and not realized it.

                  1. re: Jaymes


                    I think Tex-Mex is the ultimate comfort food! I just got the impression from some comment you have made that you didn't care for it all that much. Glad to know. Where have you eaten enchiladas where the had the shredded beef? I truly don't believe I have ever had that, and now I am curious.


                    1. re: danhole

                      As far as exact restaurant names go, I've lived in Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California and other locales in Texas, not to mention in Mexico itself, and eaten in innumerable Mexican restaurants so it all kind of melds into enchilada memory fog, you know? But I'll start paying attention. How about flautas? They usually use the shredded beef.

                      I think it's better than ground beef, although obviously it's a lot more work. Ground beef has an unmistakable grainy texture that the shredded beef doesn't have. Also, it depends upon what you're in the mood for - authentic Mexican or TexMex. Sometimes a good ol' TexMex ground beef enchilada with chili gravy is just the ticket.

                      But as us oldsters can tell you, years ago, before ground beef was so ubiquitous, all of the beef enchiladas were made with either machaca or carne seca. But now they are difficult to find. I'll make finding shredded beef enchiladas in Houston (and remembering the name of the restaurant) a personal quest so you can try them. Although honestly, I can't help but think you probably have and just were thinking "beef" and didn't pay that much attention to the texture. The texture is really the only difference.

                      1. re: Jaymes

                        Well, I have had flautas, so I guess I have tasted the shredded beef!

                        1. re: danhole

                          I'm sure of it. Like I said, the texture is the only difference. The flavor profile is basically identical. Beef and seasonings and there you go. Not cosmic.

                          1. re: danhole

                            The way I learned was Flutas are chicken filled- fried, taquitos are beef (shreaded) filled-fried. soft Beef tacos were oil soften corn tortilla filled with ground beef-rolled...no sauce. Beef enchiladas were enchiladas filled with ground beef. Crispy taco is hard shell corn filled with ground beef, puffy tacos are puffy-fried conr shell(fry raw masa, not made tortilla) filled with ground beef, soft fluor tacos de carne picada(ground beef) and Picadillo (stewed ground beef).

              2. re: James Cristinian

                Casa Dominguez! I thought my DH and I were the only chowhounds that loved that place. No meat in the cheese enchilada gravy, as I recall. Closer to home (Sugar Land) Lupita's is my favorite Tex-Mex place and has, not just good cheese enchiladas, but very good enchiladas of all types (including mole).

                1. re: zorra

                  Zorra, I love Casa Dominguez, although it has taken some flack on B4UEAT. Others love the place. Closer to you, and I've only been there once quite awhile back, is Larry's just east of Richmond on Alternate 90. I believe it was Robb Walsh, or maybe Allyson Cook who raved about their chese enchiladas, although there are times I don't agree with their reviews.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    I've lived just down the road from Larry's for many years, and have tried and tried, but unlike nearly everyone else on this side of FBC, I just am not a Larry's fan. Robb Walsh (if I recall correctly) does love their enchiladas, though.

                    1. re: zorra

                      I don't remember what I had, but I never went back. I guess that speaks volumes.

                1. In answer to the OP's question. The cheese enchiladas at Los Tios are fairly tasty. I always get a side of chopped onions and a Dos Equis ;) Lucy's down in West Columbia also serves an authentic Tex-Mex cheese enchilada.

                  1. I like Irma's Southwestern Grill on Texas st. Daytime hours only,, unless the Astro's are playing at night,,, as they close about the time the first pitch is delivered. I also like Teala's on W.Dallas, a block from Waugh.

                    1. I've grown up in Fort Bend and have never been able to stomache Larry's. I can't understand anyone saying they have the best anything.

                      To me, cheese enchiladas should be creamy, not plasticy or rubbery like Sylvia's, Lupe's or Pappasito's. Has anyone noticed how rubbery the cheese is?

                      My vote for the 2 best are El Colonial and Lopez. I also vote for no meat in the chili gravy.

                      Besides Larry's, Los Tios and Lopez were about the only Mexican place to eat out here 30 years ago. Los Tios was far inferior to Lopez and has gone down the path of powdery cheeses. Such a shame. They upped their prices and slahed their quality.

                      1. The cheese enchiladas at Last Concert are excellent, as are the black bean tostadas.

                        1. Tonys Mexican on Ella. They are amazing.....

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: angmatt


                            What is amazing is that I was going to post this, too! We went over the weekend and I got a combo dinner and had them sub an extra cheese enchilada instead of the tamal. So good! Perfect creamy cheese. And just gravy on top, no meat. The only thing is that I really don't like the rice and beans. Wish I could get it without those.

                            1. re: danhole

                              Just making an assumption that the beans you don't like are refried. Tony's has charro beans and will sub them if you ask. Refried beans are not my favorite, so I always get the charro beans.

                              1. re: Jaymes

                                Thanks for the tip. I'll do that next time. The refried beans were horrid.

                            2. re: angmatt

                              I told someone that I was going to try Tony's, and they told me that they thought it had gone downhill since a new cook took over. Maybe it's still worth checking out?

                              They told me we should check out Juanita's instead, north of 610 on T.C. Jester. We have been a few times and really enjoyed it! I like their enchiladas (even the chicken ones, which at most places seem too dry to me). The cheese enchiladas are tasty -- covered in just gravy (and some cheese, I think), but no meat in the gravy.

                              I am definitely not an authority on enchiladas, but I like them!

                              1. re: mjust

                                Juanitas is literally down the street from our house, and we have given it a fair shot, but really don't care for it. Now, in all honesty, I can't say I have tried the cheese enchiladas, (I may have) but my DH (who will only eat fajitas) doesn't like theirs at all. One time they were really good but the next 3 times we went they were tough and chewy. Also lacking in flavor. I never order those though.

                                1. re: danhole

                                  Hm, yeah ... I've never had Juanita's fajitas (prefer other places when I need a fajita fix), but I can see them not being the best. I like it for other Tex-Mex staples, though. I'll have to check out Tony's to see if my friend's advice was wrong.

                                  1. re: mjust

                                    Larrys in richmond is the bomb. off topic a place in new braunfels called pats place has probably the best old school enchiladas in the state strange but true. and there not even a mexican restaurant.

                                    1. re: joedontexan

                                      I have heard, not tasted yet though, that Lankford Grocery has some incredible cheese enchiladas. This was coming from someone who normally doesn't eat them. I don't know if it's a daily special or an everyday item.