HOME > Chowhound > Dallas - Fort Worth >

Discussion

Tex-Mex for a reluctant skeptic

Greetings all-

I'm a non-Texan, and I want to love Tex-Mex -- I really do -- but Mia's, Manny's, Matt's Rancho, Joe T. Garcia's, Gloria's, Monica's all seem unremarkable. In a few visits, I just haven't found anything impressive.

Where do you go, and what do you order? Chile con queso? Brisket anything?

[By comparison, I've been bowled over by El Si Hay, Bubba's, Hattie's and York Street, so nothing against DFW food as such - it's just this one category that I don't get.]

Thanks in advance...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Uncle Julio's is great - I love the carne asada, they have great salsa and great fajita beef! You might also enjoy Cafe San Miguel on Henderson near Uptown. I believe I ordered enchiladas and they were fantastic!

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

    Uncle Julios
    1125 N Union Bower Rd, Irving, TX 75061

    1 Reply
    1. re: beatlesfankp29

      I quite like the chicken fajitas at Uncle Julio's ... don't think I've had better.

      Of the restaurants on your list, I've been to Joe T's, Matt's, and Gloria's. Joe T's is the very definition of mediocre, so no surprise there. Matt's I have found to be variable, and Gloria's nothing special.

      I like the chicken enchiladas at Pappacito's, the shrimp tacos at Fuzzy's (some will argue it's not Tex-Mex--I say it is). I don't think there's a chile relleno anyplace I've been to compare with the one at Juanita's on Sundance Square, now tragically closed (so I would love recommendations). The Mexican Inn makes masa fresh daily, and from there corn tortillas and Frito style chips. Those & the salsa are all great. I used to love the arroz con pollo (which lately has been tough) and the taco salad (half beef half beans), which when I ordered it this weekend was short on both. Not sure you're going to think it's worth going if I can't come up with an entree to recommend ;) A few months ago I'd have mentioned Dos Gringos, but given the hair in my food last time I was there, I'm extremely reluctant to go back myself.

      The brisket tacos at Taco Diner *can* be good, but sometimes are greasy. Sometimes the beans aren't good, and last time I had the Tacos Cancun, which are shrimp (and not recommendable).

      Oh, Cuquita's ... have the barbacoa tacos there. But not the tongue or chicken tacos ...

      This doesn't sound very good, does it ... one of our few authentic regional cuisines, you'd think we'd be able to come up with a huge long list of great stuff. And perhaps we still will.

      -----
      Uncle Julios
      1125 N Union Bower Rd, Irving, TX 75061

      Taco Diner
      432 Grand Ave, Southlake, TX 76092

    2. Tell us what you liked about El Si Hay so we can help you out. Out of all the restaurants you listed El Si Hay is closest to Tex-Mex (actually I have given up on most Tex-Mex also).

      I am sure we can get some dishes that might resemble some of the tacos (just guessing) that you had at El Si Hay. If you are done with Tex-Mex then we can give some suggestions for taquerias and the like also.

      3 Replies
      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        Benjamin.L, I totally agree with you on the restaurants you thought were unremarkable. They are! El Si Hay to me, is the perfect example of a little Tex-Mex taqueria. I'm crazy for their tacos Al Pastor! Although, you really must try Taqueria El Fuego at Plano road and Campbell in Richardson. They serve sensational fresh, home cooked food and, made from scratch (right there!) corn tortillas.
        Depending on where in Dallas you live, I'd suggest El Fenix as well. NW Hwy. or McKinney Avenue in downtown Dallas. Good solid old school Tex-Mex.
        I've never been to Uncle Julio's but, everyone I know who's been there (Lemmon Avenue location) loves it.

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

        Uncle Julios
        1125 N Union Bower Rd, Irving, TX 75061

        El Fenix Restaurants
        6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116

        1. re: twinwillow

          I would be sure to get a recommendation if you're going to try another El Fenix location. It can be solid, or it can be warmed over & quite bad. I've had good luck at the Beltline location in Addison. This is your grandfather's Tex-Mex (or perhaps I should say my grandfather's--he liked El Fenix).

          -----
          El Fenix Restaurants
          6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116

          1. re: foiegras

            My late mother's as well. At El Fenix on North West Highway. I love their cheese enchiladas with chile con carne sauce, extra cheese, onions and cilantro.

            -----
            El Fenix Restaurants
            6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116

      2. On the note of taquerias, Danal's has opened a taqueria in the Grapevine location (121 SB near 360 fork) that Taqueria El Fuego gave up on back in the fall. Was talking with an acquaintance that works next door and she said the place stays pretty busy during the lunch hour.

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

        1. I'd take Mex over Tex-Mex most any day. But when I do eat it I usually get enchiladas. I dislike fajitas because the flour tortillas all taste like store-bought (and I could easily make better fajitas at home). At least with an enchilada it's completely drowned in sauce.

          (Chile con) Queso is a religious thing for one of my co-workers, and it's often tasty, but shoving blocks of velveeta down my trap isn't exactly a nice thought.

          I do like chips and salsa if the chips are fresh and light and the salsa is tasty.

          1. I agree that all of the places you mention are unremarkable. If you are looking for a few more to try, I can make some suggestions but none could ever be considered gourmet by any means. I am not sure I would describe any tex mex as "impressive"-just yummy.
            Mariano's (any of the grilled beef dishes)
            El Fenix ( tortilla soup)
            Chuy's (chicken rellenos topped with ranchero not the tomatillo)
            Uncle Julios (fajitas as others have mentioned-probably the best in town)
            O'Jeda's (I have been going here for years but the food isn't all that great but the meltdown margarita is one of the strongest in town and it make the meal taste better)
            Pepe and Mito's (i have recently grown to like this place but I only have the lunch specials mainly enchiladas)
            Calle Doce (seafood tex mex)
            Veracruz cafe (not sure if this is correct name but the little place in Bishop Arts...)

            I am sure there are more but these are the one's I frequent after 35 years in Dallas.

            -----
            Chuy's
            3408 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75074

            Uncle Julios
            1125 N Union Bower Rd, Irving, TX 75061

            El Fenix Restaurants
            6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116

            5 Replies
            1. re: fixer

              Yes, I agree that Chuy's is great! Everything I've had there is top notch - especially anything with the Hatch green chiles, which will give you a hint of that great New Mexican flare!

              1. re: beatlesfankp29

                Another vote for chuy's. I love the green chile sauce.

              2. re: fixer

                I loved Chuy's until I saw a waiter loudly hawk up a loogie and spit it on the table to get up a spot instead of going to get a wet rag. Another waiter was talking to him as he did this and made no comment about that behavior. Beyond disgusting and we haven't been back. We told the manager but he was rather blase about it.

                -----
                Chuy's
                3408 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75074

                1. re: dalaimama

                  Chuy's is without a doubt, the most horrid restaurant (and I use that term generously) in Dallas!

                  1. re: twinwillow

                    Care to elborate? We go once a week. It's clean, the service is always great, food well prepared.

              3. Check out this list from the Dallas Morning News' "Best Taquerias In Dallas".
                I can especially recommend El Atoron on Henderson Avenue. You may be the only "gringo" in the place but they are very nice people and you will never feel "strange" or unwelcome. I love their tacos chicharron. http://www.elatorondallas.com
                http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedconte...

                -----
                El Atoron
                2023 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

                1. Oh I forgot one to mention one of my FAVORITE places - Amigo's Restaurant in Richardson. It's fantastic!!! It's on East Belt Line Rd. on the right hand side of the street before you get to Plano Rd. Fabulous food and service. Great little hole in the wall - but I must say it's getting more popular!

                  1. Benjamin, try one of the Pollo Regio spots. They have multiple locations and a website. Their specialty is grilled chicken, comes with rice, beans, tortillas, and lime wedges. Truly good, you will not be disappointed. Their carne asado is also authentic and quite tasty.

                    1. Forgot to mention because I haven't been there in awhile ... the El Chico right next to the El Chico corporate headquarters off 35 is pretty good (in case of chain, eating at the one right under the bigwigs' noses is a good bet). I like their cheese enchiladas, and the guacamole they make at your table is pretty good too. You can definitely smell the cleaning products as you walk in the door, so if that's the kind of thing you can't get past ... you've been warned. I nearly walked out of a Tex-Mex place in Austin that smelled overpoweringly of disinfectant, and then I had some of the freshest, most beautifully presented, and cheapest food I've ever had, so I was glad I stuck it out.

                      1. Wow - many thanks for all the excellent suggestions. Very grateful!

                        These are my notes summarized from the first 15 responses (excluding those that seemed possibly more Mex-Mex):

                        [first stop here?] Uncle Julio's - carne asada; salsa; fajita beef
                        El Fenix - tortilla soup
                        Pepe & Mito's - enchiladas
                        Chuy's - chicken relleno with ranchero ; green chile sauce
                        Mexican Inn - corn tortillas & Frito-style chips
                        Pappacito's - chicken enchiladas
                        Calle Doce - seafood

                        At El Si Hay, I raved about the al pastor followed by the barbacoa, but had no idea these were considered "Tex-Mex." From brief experience plus internet searching, my checklist for the latter included brisket; dishes swimming in sauce; chile con queso; cabrito [loved this in San Antonio]; and enchiladas.

                        The tacos at El Si Hay, like the fried chicken at Bubba's and the 4-cheese mac & cheese at Hattie's, are simple (and in a way humble) but bursting with flavor and perfectly cooked and balanced - I'm not able to describe it in a more precise way. That's really what I'm looking for.

                        Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that some of the suggestions here would be closer to "Mex-Mex" (I love the back-formation of this term) than classic Tex-Mex. From reviewing other threads, as well as the suggestions here, I'm eager to try La Acapulquen~a and La Victoria in East Dallas [where we live]; Cuquita's; El Atoron and San Miguel on Henderson; El Ranchito and Gonzalez on Jefferson; El Fuego in Richardson; Pollo Regio (roasted); and Pollo Campero (fried).

                        Thanks again. Glad to be in such an interesting place.

                        -----
                        El Ranchito
                        610 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

                        El Atoron
                        2023 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

                        El Fuego
                        1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

                        La Victoria
                        1605 N Haskell Ave, Dallas, TX 75204

                        Chuy's
                        3408 N Central Expy, Plano, TX 75074

                        Uncle Julios
                        1125 N Union Bower Rd, Irving, TX 75061

                        Pollo Campero
                        3434 W Illinois Ave, Dallas, TX 75211

                        El Fenix Restaurants
                        6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Benjamin.L

                          Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that some of the suggestions here would be closer to "Mex-Mex" (I love the back-formation of this term) than classic Tex-Mex. From reviewing other threads, as well as the suggestions here, I'm eager to try La Acapulquen~a and La Victoria in East Dallas [where we live]; Cuquita's; El Atoron and San Miguel on Henderson; El Ranchito and Gonzalez on Jefferson; El Fuego in Richardson; Pollo Regio (roasted); and Pollo Campero (fried).

                          Mof the places would be examples of Mex-Mex, some like Cuquitas and Gonzalez will have some Tex-Mex dishes though.

                          I never have liked Pollo Campero, the borracho/charro beans. It is basically fried chicken with salsa, tortillas and beans....I would suggest going to a good chicken to-go place and bring your favorite salsa, beans and El Milagro corn tortillas. I definitely prefer El Polle Regio just for the chicken and grilled onions alone, nothing like the spicy Sinaloa style rub they put on it. The tortillas at El Pollo Regio are bagged and some of the worst definitely bring your own. The rice and beans are both pretty bland. If you have the chance go to the El Pollo Regio on NW Hwy close to Bachman. Skip the sides at El Pollo and order rice and the refried flor de mayo beans at Tipicos next door. The refried are some of the best I have tasted and are consistent

                          Cafe San Miguel is going to be more upscale than all the others in the list.

                          El Ranchito is pretty decent be sure to ask for the salsa fresca (typically not given) if that is not the one then ask for the salsa de chiptole (not very hot but nice and smokey) and also some of those fresh tortillas they have the ladies pressing. Be sure to avoid any dish with salchicha (as it is Eckrich style sausage).

                          If you go to El Ranchito walk caddy corner from it until you see the place that is painted yellow on the outside (Paletas Frutitas). If you had a light meal at El Ranchito order an ice cream (corn (elote), rompope (egg nog usually with alcohol), aguacate(avocado)) or you can order my favorite the mangonada (a sweet tamarind liquid lined cup topped with mango puree and capped with chile powder). You can feel free to add some chimayo (pepper sauce) to make things a bit more interesting.

                          As far as barbacoa it all depends on where you are at. It can range from cow head roasted in the oven, to cow head wrapped in banana leaves and roasted in a fire over smoldering coals (not in Dallas), or goat (typically cabrito (kid) not chivo (full grown goat)) in either preparation; in the oven or in a pit. I have rarely seen brisket. Literally barbacoa translates to barbecue but I don't see many taquerias using brisket or barbecueing the meats. Brisket is a more expensive cut than say a head. Most Mexican taquerias in Dallas serve barbacoa de cabeza de res. Since I haven't been to all of them I would say a good majority use the oven method.

                          -----
                          El Ranchito
                          610 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

                          Tipico's
                          3118 W Northwest Hwy, Dallas, TX 75220

                          El Atoron
                          2023 N Henderson Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

                          El Fuego
                          1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

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

                          La Victoria
                          1605 N Haskell Ave, Dallas, TX 75204

                          Pollo Campero
                          3434 W Illinois Ave, Dallas, TX 75211

                        2. Yikes - sorry for messed-up editing. Can't figure out how to fix it.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Benjamin.L

                            Easy peasy. Click on edit on right side below your post. Make your changes and click on save. Then, refresh the page. You'll see only your corrected changes.

                            I love Pollo Campero (Guatemalan not, Mexican).

                            -----
                            Pollo Campero
                            3434 W Illinois Ave, Dallas, TX 75211

                          2. How is El Si Hay Tex-Mex? I thought that was Mexican.

                            1. I believe as someone mentioned earlier that there has been a mix up here. The poster asked for tex-mex. Although many suggestions are excellent places to eat they are not tex-mex.

                              For tex-mex try the Blue goose, or Uncle Julios. Tacos el carbon are good, brisket tacos, Enchiladas, Chiles Rellenos, etc.... El Paso has excellent tortilla soup. On the upscale try Blue Mesa's Sunday brunch although this is more southwest than tex-mex.

                              For tacos or more Mexican style food (Mex-Mex) Try El Rio Grande supermarket. Their lunch counter is awesome and they make fresh tortillas, corn and flour, on site. La Paloma also has great tacos.

                              On the subject of Mex-mex. In my opinion if you see a place like Taco Diner where they charge 8 dollars for 3 little tacos, skip it. Sure the food may be good but its not awesome. And for 8 dollar tacos it should be awesome. It should blow your mind. In my opinion Taco Diner was setup for rich suburban white ladies to have a "taco experience".

                              -----
                              La Paloma
                              4900 Main St, The Colony, TX 75056

                              Uncle Julios
                              1125 N Union Bower Rd, Irving, TX 75061

                              El Rio Grande
                              2515 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75211

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: amadanj

                                As a white woman who lives in the city, I don't expect to have my mind blown for $8. $80, yes ... Sure, you can get better tacos for less ... and some of the more expensive items on their menu aren't as good as their brisket tacos. But sometimes a hole in the wall isn't appropriate to the occasion ... I myself am willing to forgive many things for good Mexican food, but many people don't feel the same way. And if you're near a Taco Diner, there probably aren't good hole in the wall taco places nearby anyway as TD tends to be in upscale areas (West Village, Preston/NW Highway, Shops at Legacy ...) They may be a relative bargain in comparison to some of their neighbors ... but it's true that they're not a foodie destination.

                                -----
                                Taco Diner
                                432 Grand Ave, Southlake, TX 76092

                              2. Casa Torres in Decatur, TX is my absolute favorite. The real deal for Tex-Mex.

                                1. Just wanted to mention I tried a new place yesterday--Old Rip's next to Fuzzy's in FW. Fuzzy's was packed, people waiting to sit down, so I went next door.

                                  The only downside was that there was a TCU game on, and there were a number of screamers. The noise level was quite high, and nothing to absorb it.

                                  The food, however, was pretty good. I love the way the menu is structured--no preset combos, you make your own from a wide variety of items, plus rice and beans. I thought the rice and cheese enchilada were meh, beans and guac pretty good, and the brisket taco quite good indeed. The salsa is quite, quite garlicky, and I kept telling myself how good it was for me, and that it would build the character of the people I talked to later in the day :D My ears were ringing as I left, and I told the guy at the door (owner?) that I missed the days when TCU couldn't win a game (what a grouchy alum ...). They do have mints--if you go, grab a handful on your way out. I'll be back ... just hopefully not on game day.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: foiegras

                                    man-o-man-o-man... TCU got SLAMMED yesterday!

                                    1. re: CocoaNut

                                      Whatever it takes to get the games off television and out of restaurants ;)

                                  2. I can't get excited over Tex-Mex anything. I grew up in suburban Chicago and never really experienced any Mexican food until I moved to Southern California. I guess that I'm hooked on more Baja Mexican, focusing on lighter ingredients and good seafood. Tex-Mex just seems to have the same old, same old seasonings and ingredients and it gets old in a hurry. Everything with rice and beans, rice and beans. I LOVE rice and beans, but it is really interesting that when I visited Mexico I don't recall any meal that was automatically accompanied with rice and beans.

                                    I get tired of cooking every night just for myself, and would love to find some good restaurants around my home. I could also use some suggestions.

                                    1. El Fenix! and Mattito's sunday brunch. Blue Goose?

                                      -----
                                      El Fenix Restaurants
                                      6391 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76116