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Jul 16, 2012 07:08 AM

Don't like tex-mex. Help me change my mind.

Yes it's true- I don't like tex mex, or mex food (at least what they serve up in the northeast)!

Though I'm not certain if this is because I've never had good Mexican or Tex-mex food, or if it's just not my thing.

My primary complaint is extremely dry, leathery meat. The second is too much spice with no flavor; it's as though they throw a lot of heat at you to cover up the fact that everything tastes like cardboard. I'm also a lightweight when it comes to too much pepper heat, I really don't like things too spicy (heartburn issues if you know what I mean).

Since I'm moving to DFW in a couple of months I was wondering if someone could recommend some Tex-Mex or Mexican that are soooo good they might change my mind.

*edit: I am moving to Grapevine, but am more than willing to travel all over DFW for good food.

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  1. DFW spans a huge geographical area encompassing the two cities of Dallas and Fort Worth which are 30 miles apart. Do you have an idea of a more pin-pointed location (N/E/S/W) in which city you will most likely relocate?

    2 Replies
    1. re: CocoaNut

      Moving to Grapevine (North Dallas) but I am willing to travel all over DFW for good food.

      1. re: CocoaNut

        Actually, that 30 mile interval is between Dallas and Fort Worth is not indicative of the scale of the metroplex, which now spans 100 miles east to west and 70 miles north the south. Where you live and work will dictate your everyday choices.

        The latest issue of D magazine has their top independent single store TexMex restaurants in a feature, and of the ones I've tried I'd agree with their selection. There is also a similar article on taquerias, and there are some differencs from the Texas Monthly ranking (Fuel City in Dallas as #1...good but a questionable pick, IMO)

      2. As a native of New Jersey, living in Boston since 1988, I do not share your opinion of Mexican or Tex-Mex food as it served around here. Some of it is very well made, but generally it is too salty, and has way too much cheese on it, and usually the wrong cheese. Queso blanco is rare, usually they use some sort of greasy mixture of Cheddar, Colby and/or Jack.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jira

          It might be that Tex-mex isn't for me, or I just somehow had bad luck picking places to eat to judge the cuisine. So I'm hoping to find out which is the case :)

        2. You need to erase your memory of it's terrifying experiences of Tex-Mex as prepared in the NORTHEAST and be open minded for the real deal. Get therapy maybe. As CN suggests, the number of good ones is practically endless, so you must be geography- specific. Let us know where the next lily pad you will land on is.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Veggo

            Grapevine, but more than willing to travel to other neighborhoods :)

          2. I wonder how many more times you have to mention that you're willing to travel :) I grew up here and lived in the NE for 6 years and didn't find a single Tex-Mex place that was worthwhile. These are two distinct cuisines (tex-mex and mexican) so i'll limit my suggestions here to Tex-Mex. Highlight dishes you should try to change your mind:

            Brisket Tacos at Mia's or Manny's in uptown. This is one of my go to dishes for any out of towner that is visiting. It will change your opinion of tex-mex right away and is certainly a dallas speciality.

            Cheese enchiladas with chili con carne at Gonzalez's in Oak Cliff.

            Ladrillo at Nuevo Leon. That's a steak pounded out and folded over cheese, ham and bacon. can't go wrong.

            Tacos at Desperado's on Greenville - They are puffy tacos and absolutely delicious.

            Fajitas at El Ranchito. I'd especially recommend the sweetbreads (mollejas) if you're willing.

            I think that's a good start, I would stand by any of those dishes.

            15 Replies
            1. re: demigodh

              Thanks for the Rec's! I really love sweetbreads, so the mollejas at El Ranchito sound like a great place to start.

              1. re: demigodh

                Also at Nuevo Leon, which is good Mexican, the seafood crepes. Good Tex-Mex brisket tacos are also found at the Blue Goose Cantinas in Addison and Oak Cliff, and I especially like their tortilla soup. For a workingman's Mexican lunch, the carnitas taco platter at El Paisa is the real deal - locations in Carrollton and on Harry Hines. For fine upscale Mexican, La Calle Doce is good, Mesa in Oak Cliff is the best Veracruz style outside of Veracruz and is arguably the best Mexican in Dallas. The Sunday brunches at the Mesa Grill locations ( different from Mesa) are really good.

                1. re: Veggo

                  I don't know much about tex-mex but I'd never have expected crepes. Are they similar to the french crepe or do they use a different crepe batter? Either way that sounds delicious, as do the rest of the recommendations.

                  Also could you describe the differences between Veracruz style and Mexican for me? I'm really quite the novice, and to be honest I'm not familiar with the technical differences between Mexican and Tex-Mex since I'm just a clueless Yankee :)

                  1. re: alkonost

                    This Connecticut yankee has lived in Texas for 8 years, and in Mexico for 4 years. There is a distinction between Tex-Mex and Mexican, and I indicate which is which in my post above. Further, there are many varieties of Mexican cuisine within that very large country. Veracruz is coastal, and is known principally for fish and shrimp preparations. Variations of Veracruz sauce are many, and I have tried at least 100 varieties as I distilled my own. The duck mole at Mesa is a bit of an anomaly given the distance between Veracruz and Oaxaca, but it's the real deal. When you meet the owners you will understand. They also do a seasonal chiles en nogada, not to be missed. It's the Mexican national dish.

                    The seafood crepes at Nuevo Leon are similar to french crepes, topped with a mild sauce.

                    Nuevo Leon, La Calle Doce, Mesa, and El Paisa are truly Mexican. Brisket tacos anywhere are Tex-Mex. All are way beyond any experience you suffered through in New England. Your eyes will open, trust me just this once!

                    1. re: Veggo

                      I trust that you and everyone else here would not lead me astray. I can't wait to try these suggested restaurants. Thanks for the info! I really didn't know the difference between the cuisines so I'm not sure if what I've eaten so far is tex-mex or Mexican. I've just had the usual beef or chicken fajitas, flautas, burritos, and tacos.

                      I think there's been 3 votes for Mesa, so I will try and visit when I'm in town in a couple of weeks. My spouse and I love seafood so Veracruz cuisine sounds like something we'd both enjoy.

                      1. re: alkonost

                        Mesa was also D Magazine's best new restaurant of the year last year. Forgot to mention, be sure to try the housemade corn tortillas. They are great for mopping up the last of the mole ;)

                        1. re: alkonost

                          Mesa, the restaurant and the whole Reyes family are very special! Don't miss it!

                      2. re: alkonost

                        I'm safely assuming that everything you've ever eaten as "Mexican" was tex-mex. You should probably start with that assumption and then look into real Mexican food. I'd begin my education into the world of Mexican food with any of the million taqueria's around town and go from there.

                    2. re: demigodh

                      A big second to all of demigodh's recs and I add, Casa Milagro in Richardson on Campbell at Plano Road.
                      Excellent food, drinks and, service.

                      Btw, my favorite dish at Gonzalez is the Guisado Puerco.
                      And by all means at Gonzalez, don't forget to ask for the "fresca salsa" with your chips! Otherwise, the salsa is like Pace. Remember, you have to ask for it! And also at Gonzalez, don't forget to order their incomparable, home made flour tortillas!

                      1. re: twinwillow

                        Hehe, I had to google Guidado Puerco since I've never heard of it, so it seems to be a kind of pork stew? Is it tomato-ey? spicy, mild or in the middle?

                        And thanks for the tip on the fresh tortillas and salsa at Gonzalez. I make my own salsa at home and I know what you mean about the jarred stuff being "bleh" (except for Green Mountain Gringo salsa, that's actually really good).

                        1. re: alkonost

                          Guisado de Puerco. AKA, pork stew. Dark brown (not, tomato-ey) stew with fairly thick (meaty) gravy. Very delicious Mexican comfort food. Especially with their thick home made wheat tortillas!

                          Look it up on their menu under "specialties". No description on the website menu but, In your hands, it's on the right hand side of the menu under specialties. Listed as "Guisado de Puerco".

                          1. re: twinwillow

                            Sounds delicious! As you've probably noticed I love just about anything. I'm slavic and LOVE goulash, so any yummy gravy stew is something I'm almost guaranteed to like. Good to hear it's not in a tomato based sauce, nothing wrong with tomatoes but I have acid reflux. So while I love tomatoes, tomatoes don't love me.

                            1. re: alkonost

                              The Guisado Puerco is very much like a Mexican pork "goulash".
                              I have reflux as well! Just bring some extra Tums with you because you MUST order the 'fresca salsa' with your chips!

                      2. re: demigodh

                        One thing I've learned for sure living in TX most of my life is that Tex-Mex is like a religion--many people love it, and many also disagree violently about how it should be practiced ;)

                        After many recs of those brisket tacos, including from family members, I finally tried them at Manny's. I was not blown away ... I prefer them at Taco Diner. (There--I said it!!) I did think the Spanish rice at Manny's was quite good. (They failed my standard cheese enchilada, rice, and beans test.)

                        Few things to get you started ...

                        * Housemade corn tortillas, chips, and salsa at the Mexican Inn on 8th Ave. in FW. They make their own masa fresh daily. I also like the arroz con pollo, queso loco, and taco salad, which I order off-menu half beef half beans. This is a local chain that has changed hands and expanded, and there is at least one closer to you, but there are variations between location, and this is my favorite location of about 5 I've been to.

                        * Duck mole at Mesa in Oak Cliff. (This is real Mexican.) The ceviche is also outstanding.

                        * Chicken enchiladas in blue corn tortillas with sour cream sauce at Pappacito's.

                        * Tortilla soup at Luna de Noche.

                        1. re: foiegras

                          That's a good way of describing it :)

                          It looks like Mexican Inn's location in Bedford closed, but they mention on their website they plan to open another one soon so I'll keep this on our radar and make an attempt to visit the FW location if I'm in that corner of town.

                          I'm going to be in town at the end of the month (quick trip) so I'm hoping to try at least 2 places on this thread with all the wonderful suggestions. I have a spouse who is quite fond of Mexican food.

                      3. Grapevine does not have anything Mexican or TEX-MEX that will rival what's been mentioned, but that does not mean there are not a couple of gems in the area for you to fill a craving without driving long distances.

                        El TacoH Taqueria - for $1.25, you'll likely not find a better carnita taco. This is a hole in the wall, so don't go in looking for refinements. Pick up your taco and dress it at the condiment stand with onion, lime, different varieties of pico and sauces (some are VERY hot). I like to stop in when already in the area for other reasons or am just looking for a snack, though a couple of the tacos make a meal for me. Chips and sides (beans and rice) are a la carte. Location: William D Tate. (The Baja Grill next door is owned by the same people. I found their food "OK", but have only eaten there once. The margaritas are kick-ass)

                        Tommy Tamales on Northwest Hwy - take out. Friendly, friendly gringo couple (Steve and JoAnne) procure tamales from multiple metro sources. They keep a large standard selection, but during the Christmas holidays, they bring in a number of special tamales as in spring, they have chicken tamales with hatch chiles. Do not pass them by and don't neglect checking out their salsas and jellys!

                        Anamia's (local chain) in neighboring Southlake offers a typical Tex-Mex menu in an upscale casual setting. You won't find mollejas or guiso or probably not even menudo, but the food is tasty and the service is friendly.

                        Not Tex-Mex, but..... around the corner from El TacoH, on Dallas Road is the Breadhaus - you will not find better German rustic breads in the metro. Catty-corrner across the parking lot from El TacoH is the newly opened Eatzis - market/takeout/wines/browsing.

                        A few blocks south of El TacoH, on Wm D Tate is the also newly opened Grimaldi's Pizzaria - not sure what part of the NE you arrive from, but this is part of the (chain) family from NY/NJ. (I haven't eaten there. Just noting it if you are a fan of theirs)

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          I was under the impression that they made their tamales at Tommy Tamale, of course I could not get much conversation in on Saturday as I would have like because there was a constant stream of customers. I would highly recommend the pork and habanero (People for the most part on the East Coast would say these are hot) and the hot fresh salsa and the hot roasted green salsa that they make.

                          I will hold of on replying at length and I typed up quite a lengthy response, just needs editing!

                          1. re: CocoaNut

                            I'd add Taqueria Burritos Locos to the list of Mexican places in Grapevine. I've only been once but the Torta de Lengua was pretty damn tasty.


                            1. re: driggity

                              Driggity, you're my hero! My husband LOVES lengua, so I think he'll be pretty excited to head down to Burritos Locos one we're in town, since it's in grapevine I'm going to see about swinging by for lunch.

                            2. re: CocoaNut

                              Totally agree with El Taco H. We had heard it was good from a friend and decided to give it a try. When we walked in we were totally intimidated, the place was full of mexican families and groups of men watching soccer (a good sign!) We were totally blown away and in love at first bite. The queso is magical. Like seriously, they must have sombrerro wearing unicorns in the back making it. Their tacos were great, especially the al pastor. Such a great find in our land of chains that is Grapevine!

                              1. re: CocoaNut

                                Thanks Cocoa for the local Grapevine suggestions for tex-mex & mexican! There have been so many suggestions it will take me a while to try them all, but dang it I will die trying :)

                                Breadhaus is on my radar, I had seen a lot of recommendations for it, and it's even more reassuring to see you suggest it as well. I've been doing as much research as I can on all the DFW culinary delights. In NYC I have a lot of favorite places that I'm going to miss, so I've been trying to find what their equivalents would be in DFW so I'm not at a loss whenever I get a craving for something specific. The only thing I haven't found is something similar to Veniero's, which is OK, I mean heck you can't win 'em all!

                                I'm used to NYC style pizza, but the crust consistency has a lot to do with the water we have here. I'll definitely give Grimaldi's a try, I'm going to take a wild guess that it's pizza you can fold and eat! My favorite place for pizza in NYC lost their lease recently (makes me want to cry), it was the Ray's on prince street (the one all the other "rays famous" titled restaurants in NYC were trying to imitate).

                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                  I've finally had a chance to try El Taco H and also Breadhaus.

                                  Loved El Taco H, can't wait to go back and try more of the tacos. I was in a fried fish mood, so I tried the fish tacos and grabbed an assortment of salsas. Thanks for the heads up that some of them are really hot, I stuck with the pico and let my husband play the guinea pig for sampling the hot salsas. Horchata and I are now the best of friends, where has that drink been my whole life?

                                  On a side note: I learned the hard lesson that one must rush to Breadhaus early in the morning in order to beat the locust swarm. They had a lonely rosemary focaccia on the shelf and some desert items left so I took those home with me. If I'd arrived early enough to have a selection those wouldn't have been my first choice of products to try. Next time I'll be there bright and early to claim a rye loaf before they sell out of everything :)

                                  While we're slowly getting the chores and errands done related to the relocation, all I can say is that moving stinks. But so far when we've gone out for tacos the food has been far superior to the slop we were fed in NY.