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Best Dallas Mex-Mex?

ponocat Mar 20, 2010 11:55 AM

Once I at at San Angel Inn in Mexico City and found out what Mex-Mex is. It was a true eye-opener after spending my youth in Dallas eating Tex-Mex and thinking that I knew all about Mexican cuisine. Now, after living away from Texas for a few decades, I am returning for a visit and hope to find a restaurant that serves true gourmet Mexican food. I have read over several threads and have seen some Mex-Mex listed (Mias, Litos, Cafe San Miguel...). If you have had a really fine Mexican meal recently, could you share your experience? And, if you have a view on the three I have listed, could you provide any details? BTW, money is not an issue, nor do I think that high price necessarily correlates with good quality (tho' it often does!).

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  1. c
    CocoaNut RE: ponocat Mar 20, 2010 12:32 PM

    Just curious. WHEN did Mia's become Mex-Mex??????

    1 Reply
    1. re: CocoaNut
      ponocat RE: CocoaNut Mar 21, 2010 10:54 AM

      CocoaNut, my error. I haven't been to Mias and I must have misread a thread somewhere and thought that someone called it Mex-Mex. From the replies below, I can see it is not.

    2. air RE: ponocat Mar 20, 2010 01:11 PM

      Litos closed last year and sorely disappointed that I never got a chance to eat there.

      Cafe San Miguel is legit Mex-Mex. Actually, none of the three places OP listed would qualify for high end/upscale/"fine" Mexican dining. Haven't run into something like that in the metroplex.

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      Cafe San Miguel
      1907 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

      1. amokscience RE: ponocat Mar 20, 2010 02:38 PM

        El Fuego's is consistently the best place I've eaten at.

        Lito's was about as good on most things (and cheaper) but it's closed now.

        The only time I've ever equated Mexican and high prices has been Lanny's (which was great, but it's basically Mex influenced continental).

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        El Fuego
        1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

        6 Replies
        1. re: amokscience
          twinwillow RE: amokscience Mar 20, 2010 02:46 PM

          I Second El Fuego! Great food!

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          El Fuego
          1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

          1. re: twinwillow
            air RE: twinwillow Mar 20, 2010 02:50 PM

            I love Taqueria El Fuego too, especially the access to uncommon dishes during saturday buffet. Just hesitated since that still wouldn't match what OP is looking for, unless food is truly the priority and fine/upscale atmosphere wouldn't matter.

            Some queries turned for Lanny's yield these... Prime carne asada? Oh my.
            http://dallasfood.org/forums/viewtopi...
            http://ulteriorepicure.com/2008/09/02...

            1. re: air
              amokscience RE: air Mar 20, 2010 03:58 PM

              Yeah, if 'gourmet' means all the bells and whistles then El Fuego's doesn't cut it. But I'll take quality and consistency of food over just about anything.

              (What's with the restaurant links? new feature?)

              -----
              El Fuego
              1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

              1. re: air
                ponocat RE: air Mar 21, 2010 11:05 AM

                air, thanks for the input. I followed the ulteriorepicure link and was wowed by the blogger's reviews. I read his/her review of York and found it to be very close to the experience that I had there a few years ago (i.e., good but not great). I definitely will check into this blog more, so I have you to thank for bringing it to my attention!

                1. re: ponocat
                  air RE: ponocat Mar 21, 2010 05:10 PM

                  No prob, can't wait to hear back from whatever you decide, especially with regards to whether or not Lanny's is worth the money/trip to FW.

                  I think the restaurant links are a feature they've been trying to implement for a while. before you had to use the 'add a restaurant'/manage a link button but now the forums can detect restaurant names.

                  1. re: air
                    DallasDude RE: air Mar 22, 2010 09:58 AM

                    Lanny's is worth the drive from Dallas.

          2. l
            ldascha RE: ponocat Mar 20, 2010 03:58 PM

            Cafe San Miguel is very authentic, colonial central mexico, ownership and service is great, the food is fantastic, the snapper, chile relleno, and pollo are favorites. Also, Javier's could also be considered ol'mexico, carne asada, grilled chicken, super margaritas.
            These are my two "go to" spots.

            -----
            Cafe San Miguel
            1907 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

            16 Replies
            1. re: ldascha
              DallasDude RE: ldascha Mar 20, 2010 05:57 PM

              Love Javier's. Mia's is simple greasy Tex Mex. Manny's is good Tex Mex.

              1. re: DallasDude
                r
                ranchand23 RE: DallasDude Mar 21, 2010 08:09 AM

                I second Javier's. The best true Mexican in the metroplex.

                1. re: DallasDude
                  d
                  DallasChowChick RE: DallasDude Mar 22, 2010 12:48 PM

                  +1 on Javier's

                  1. re: DallasChowChick
                    j
                    J.R. RE: DallasChowChick Mar 23, 2010 03:42 PM

                    Man, I have to party company with you guys re: Javiers. Might be the most overated joint in town. The food is not terrible, but it is terribly overpriced. I can live wiht over priced, but I can't live with bad service and if I'm going to spend anywhere from $100 for me and the misses or $150 for the 2 young'en, I do not, and I repeat want to be rushed to turn the table. Been going there for 20 years and just don't get it.

                    1. re: J.R.
                      p
                      pschweizer RE: J.R. Mar 23, 2010 07:37 PM

                      A strong second from me, J.R., although most of my friends would disagree. ... I just don't get it either.

                      1. re: J.R.
                        DallasDude RE: J.R. Mar 23, 2010 08:01 PM

                        Staying in your price comfort zone is always best. But when you say you want to party company with us I say YES! lets party!

                        1. re: DallasDude
                          twinwillow RE: DallasDude Mar 23, 2010 08:26 PM

                          I also agree with J.R.! Unless you're a "regular" at Javier's, you're just a number. Although, the food is very good.

                          1. re: twinwillow
                            DallasDude RE: twinwillow Mar 23, 2010 08:47 PM

                            Just chat up Javier. Not hard, you probably do that everywhere anyway (if you are like me).

                            1. re: DallasDude
                              twinwillow RE: DallasDude Mar 23, 2010 10:02 PM

                              I've known Javier for over 30 years. We used to both own and race Ferrari's a long, long time ago.
                              Service still sucks unless you are known as a frequent customer willing to spend big bucks.
                              It's like the Mexican version of Bob's Chop House. Same customer base. But, as I said before, the food is delicious

                              1. re: twinwillow
                                DallasDude RE: twinwillow Mar 24, 2010 11:55 AM

                                Doesn't he remind you of Jeffe (El Guapo) from The Three Amigos? Tell me I am lying.

                                1. re: DallasDude
                                  twinwillow RE: DallasDude Mar 24, 2010 01:49 PM

                                  Javier is much better looking (LOL).

                          2. re: DallasDude
                            j
                            J.R. RE: DallasDude Mar 24, 2010 06:53 PM

                            It's not a price comfort zone issue as much as it is principle. Great resto's offer great service to everyone. I don't want to chat up El Jeffe to get good service nor do I want to wax his very garrish car sitting in front. I want a meal that is served at a reasonable pace for the price and quality...that's it.

                            1. re: J.R.
                              twinwillow RE: J.R. Mar 24, 2010 07:05 PM

                              Well said.

                              1. re: twinwillow
                                DallasDude RE: twinwillow Mar 25, 2010 12:40 PM

                                Well damn guys, I won't do battle for him. Some like some don't. meh.

                        2. re: DallasChowChick
                          o
                          OCNC RE: DallasChowChick Mar 30, 2010 04:57 PM

                          Javier's is the best.

                      2. re: ldascha
                        ponocat RE: ldascha Mar 21, 2010 11:08 AM

                        Idascha, you didn't weigh in on El Fuego. Have you been there? If so, how do you rank San Miguel, Javiers, and El Fuego? Not just in terms of authenticity, but also in creativity and complexity.

                        -----
                        El Fuego
                        1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                      3. LewisvilleHounder RE: ponocat Mar 24, 2010 02:08 PM

                        If your eating only Mex-Mex food on your visit I would go to Taquerias El Fuego on Campbell and Plano Rd in Richardson, Birrieria Y Taqueria Colima at Corporate and Southwest Pkwy in Lewisville, Mangos formerly La Palapa Veracruzana (if it has opened yet) on Jefferson in Dallas and Paletas Frutitas on Jefferson in Dallas.

                        I am not sure what dishes you are after but these places are the closest I have found to the places I sampled in Mexico. I would skip any moles here in the metroplex as they are all mole poblano and not very good at that. Litos used to have a mole verde and it was decent but no where what I had in Oaxaca. The exception being La Palapa Veracruzana which had a Mole Alvaradeno (the wife was handed down a long time family recipe and she hailed from the city of Alvarado in the state of Veracruz). It was similar to a mole poblano but not exactly.

                        Taquerias El Fuego is one of the few places who make fresh corn tortillas. The buffet is actually pretty good and will run the gammet from chilaquiles to enchiladas to several guisos. They also have a fresh salsa bar with about 4-5 varieties.

                        Birrieria Y Taqueria Colima has never been mentioned here but I will just go ahead. If you are tired of the greasy heavy meats and grease soaked mini tortillas then this place is quite a change. They have two or three gringo options (fajita, pollo and adobada) and the rest is organ meats (buche, mantalayo, tripas, machitos). The tortillas are steamed and filled to order not sitting in a bag getting stale. Tacos are $1.25 meats by the pound range from $6.99 to $11.99.

                        Mangos is slated to open back up under the same owners just with a liquor license. If you never made it to La Palapa Veracruzana it was our Mexican seafood place. The red snapper Veracruz style was awesome, shrimp in chipotle was actually spicy and in a freshly made sauce, cocteles were made with the correct coctel suace imported from Veracruz, the enfrijoladas was fresh corn tortilla in a simple black bean sauce and finally the enmoladas was a fresh corn tortilla bathed in the best mole in Dallas. Hopefully it has opened back up.

                        Finally to round off the meals would be an appropriate dessert at Paletas Frutitas. Try one of the specialty ice creams (corn, egg nog (rompope), or avocado) or even a mangonada (a frozen granita of mango with a tamarind sauce at the bottomand topped with chile powder).

                        Non of these items listed above tops the $20 mark. I have the contrary feeling about Mexican food if it is cheap and everyone is eating it, that usually means it is good. I also look for restaurant who specialize in a particular region (Colima, Veracruz), devoted to quality (fresh corn tortillas) or a specific dish (Paletas).

                        If you like spending money at Javiers the by all means support them but I am not a fan. I have had the same dishes prepared elsewhere better for less and with better service.

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                        El Fuego
                        1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                          twinwillow RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 24, 2010 05:21 PM

                          L'Hounder, I always enjoy your factual and interesting reports. I'm glad you're here!

                          1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                            LewisvilleHounder RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 24, 2010 07:51 PM

                            To expand a little bit on my previous post.

                            Taqueria Colima is not by any means a fancy place in fact it is in a Valero gas station. I can only speculate as I am not fluent in Spanish but I believe this restaurant to be one of the first I have seen that possibly could be a farm to table restaurant. They have a ranch (Rancho Colima) out in Greenville as a quick survey of the card selection on their counter proved. I tried the montalayo with a fajita taco on my first vist not knowing what the montalayo actually was (sheep or goat stomach, more than likely goat in this instance, is filled with chopped up organs, chiles, herbs and spices). I happend to enjoy the slightly gamey taste as it was quite a change. I found nothing offensive about it and with a squeeze of lime and salsa the gamey taste was gone. Each taco comes with onions and cilantro on top if you would like. If you are a fan of consomme then they have the goat as the restaurant is named for..

                            As for Mangos I have heard no new news as of last week when I saw a posting on a separate food blog from the owners daughter about their opening. La Palapa was "the" Mexican seafood place in Dallas as all others paled in comparison.

                            As for El Fuego the mother and sons run the place and they hail from D.F. (Districto Federal) so the dishes there are going to be a mixture of the country's best offerings. I don't believe they do moles but if they did I am sure they would be a very nice version. I have been waiting for them do have a spinach and squash blossom soup, I had a nice version in Oaxaca, instead of masking them in a quesadilla.

                            As far as your rating of the authenticity each gets a 5 out of 5 stars, creativity I would say 2 out of 5.....this is not like Iron Chef or Molecular gastronomy dishes, and complexity I would say each gets a 5 some of the braising sauces and spice blends take years to master and each place does their craft with great skill.

                            As far as the places in Uptown and other predomintely upscale areas, yes some do have authentic dishes and use better meats but for the price, service and down home feel that you get in Mexico the places listed above can't be beaten. Many of the owners will come and ask you how you like your meal, invite you back and might pull up a chair and talk to you about their place and the dishes.

                            -----
                            El Fuego
                            1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                              amokscience RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 24, 2010 10:21 PM

                              One of El Fuego's lunch items was a chicken mole poblano that I'd kill my cubemate to have again. Quite possibly my favorite Mexican dish ever (please tell me it wasn't from a factory paste). Haven't lucked into it since.

                              -----
                              El Fuego
                              1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                              1. re: amokscience
                                c
                                CocoaNut RE: amokscience Mar 25, 2010 06:31 AM

                                Sorry to report, but yes, the mole at El Fuego is from a pre-made paste. When they still had an outpost in Grapevine, I asked Achilles (?), the owner, about their mole. Understandably, due to the time involved to prepare and cook, he told me that he was unaware of any restaurant around that makes their own.

                                Personally, I'd love to taste a good version of the real deal after having seen Rick Bayless prepare his version in 30 min. on magic-Tv several years ago.

                                -----
                                El Fuego
                                1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                                1. re: CocoaNut
                                  amokscience RE: CocoaNut Mar 25, 2010 08:28 AM

                                  Sigh... well it was better than the rest of the pre-made moles I've had over the years. And that won't stop me from not getting it if I spy it in line.

                                  Though now I'll have to hunt down the "real" thing one day. Or maybe try my hand at making.

                            2. re: LewisvilleHounder
                              l
                              luniz RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 25, 2010 07:56 AM

                              Cafe San Miguel does a quail in a mole pipian that I haven't seen anywhere else in town. They also have a chicken dish with a couple of mole sauces which I haven't tried. It's a little bit fusion-y from all across Mexico rather than specific to one area but it's still one of the better options in town imo, especially if you're looking for something nice than a taqueria.

                              -----
                              Cafe San Miguel
                              1907 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

                              1. re: luniz
                                g
                                gavlist RE: luniz Mar 25, 2010 09:04 AM

                                Veracruz, in Bishop Arts has pipian on the menu (on chicken, I believe). I've only eaten pipian there, so I can't compare it to CSM's version, nor rate its authenticity. I recall it tasting good, albeit a bit heavy and cloying.

                            3. twinwillow RE: ponocat Mar 24, 2010 08:18 PM

                              I am waiting for both La Palapa Veracruzana (soon to be, Mango's) and Lito's to re-invent themselves (as promised). Until then, it's Taqueria El Fuego, Taqueria El Si Hay and, Taqueria El Ataron as my personal favorite best, "Mex-Mex" restaurants in Dallas. Oh, and another place I like on Maple Avenue just south of Inwood. I forgot their name.

                              -----
                              El Fuego
                              1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: twinwillow
                                LewisvilleHounder RE: twinwillow Mar 25, 2010 05:34 AM

                                Tortas La Hechizera is the one you are thinking of twinwillow on Inwood @ Maple

                                -----
                                Tortas La Hechizera
                                13531 Montfort Dr Ste 127, Dallas, TX 75240

                                1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                                  amokscience RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 25, 2010 08:31 AM

                                  I'd like to mix the torta ingredients from La Hechizera with the bolillo (bread) from Tortas las Tortugas.

                                  -----
                                  La Hechizera
                                  2425 W Walnut St Ste 200, Garland, TX 75042

                                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder
                                    twinwillow RE: LewisvilleHounder Mar 25, 2010 08:38 AM

                                    Thanks, 'Hounder. That's the place. We ate there a few months ago. Excellent food! I'll return in a few weeks after I get off my Atkins diet. Atkin's and Mexican is an oxymoron.

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