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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! http://www.tommytamale.com/

                        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.

                                2. A friend and I are going to Manny's Uptown tonight. Report to follow.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: twinwillow

                                    Manny's Uptown was good, standard Dallas middle of the road Tex-Mex. Not nearly as good or, in the same league as Casa Milagro but, good.
                                    We especially enjoyed the Chili Con Queso with Brisket and Pico de Gallo appetizer. Excellent!
                                    One thing we noticed (other than the too loud Mexican music) was, as soon as we gave our order to our waiter, he returned from the kitchen with it. Too fast!
                                    We ordered assorted enchilada plates with extra, fresh chopped onions and cilantro. We couldn't finish everything because their platters are huge and, very filling. Drinking just Iced tea, our bill came to just less than $30.00 for the both of us including the tax. Plus, our 20% tip.

                                    1. re: twinwillow

                                      I hate when the food comes out to quick. Like at El Fenix, where I picture racks and racks of plates of aging enchiladas just waiting to be delivered to tables seconds after being ordered.

                                      1. re: mrs.brownie

                                        (Out here perusing info on Casa Milagro)

                                        RE: El Fenix - but for us Dallas old-timers, you just can't beat the downtown location for the nostalgia..... albeit, a little carries a long way. :)

                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                          IMHO, Casa Milagro has some of the very best Tex-Mex in Dallas! We love it.
                                          A beautiful, very comfortable restaurant with excellent staff, delicious food and, great drinks!

                                          They have an outside patio as well. But, at this time of year...........?


                                      2. re: twinwillow

                                        Thanks for the review on Manny's. Sounds like they prep a lot of their food ahead of time, not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's fresh that day. Come to think of it, I suspect it might be part of the problem with the NYC tex-mex places I went to- nothing tasted like it was made to order. The picture that Mrs. Browie painted with the aging plates of food sitting like orphans waiting to be adopted sounds like what the tex-mex I've had so far tastes like. Can't wait to move to Dallas! Woo!

                                        1. re: alkonost

                                          Yeah, prepping ahead isn't necessarily a bad thing, although my cheese enchilada at Manny's was cold. It's definitely a sign that what you're getting is your grandfather's Tex-Mex. Enchiladas prepped ahead can get soft. Soft is OK, comforting perhaps in an old-school way, but at a certain point they start to disintegrate, and that's not a good thing. I save the old school places for when I'm desperate for someplace to eat (I usually think ahead to where I'm going to eat when venturing into unfamiliar territory, but it has happened once or twice that I failed to plan ahead--that's what El Fenix is good for).

                                    2. I have been going back and forth how to really approach this post.

                                      Mexican and Tex-Mex are two different cuisines, the latter I try to eat sparingly.

                                      For Mexican food there is a simple rule to know and it will effect your decisions on where to go.

                                      Are you more of a meat person or tortilla person? If meat you will want recommendations for Taquerias, for toritllas you will want to seek out Tortillerias.

                                      I am more of a tortilla person. I feel that even with mediocre meat a taco can be a good thing if wrapped in an awesome tortilla.

                                      La Nueva Fresh and Hot is by far the best tortilleria in Dallas that I have had. I have not had the pleasure to check out every place in Pleasant Grove or South Oak Cliff but I will stand by the fact that you will be very pleased when you come out of La Nueva Fresh & Hot. A few small but important tip, bring cash no more than $35 if you got a group of four with a ferocious appetite. DO NOT go in the middle of the day during July and August it will be hotter inside the store than outside. I absolutely love the puerco en guisado (pork stew) with either red or green chile. Just about every item will be on par or better than other places in the area. Make sure to grab some fresh tortillas before you go but eat them that day.


                                      Chitos on NWC of Legacy and Chase Oaks Blvd (just off 75/Central Expressway) in Plano will be your best bet. The corn tortillas are freshly made and would go with the Al Pastor taco if you have to have a taco. I would really go for the Asado de Puerco and with the fresh corn tortillas you can't get any better in Plano.


                                      Jose used to be with the Dallas Observer but does a nice job in covering the city's taquerias.


                                      For the Upscale Mexcian option I would go with Mesa. I have had just about every dish on the menu several times. I would recommend smaller items like the Surtido sampler plate, Chileatole (not sure how you like bubblegum/licorice flavors as it is made with Hoja Santa leaf), the Mole and the Estofado. Round out the meal with the Flan De Naranja. I do like the seafood items a lot but I liked them better when it was a "less stuffy" restaurant. Say hello to Raul and Jaretzy for me!

                                      If you want more of the roaming mariachi and grilled items then El Ranchito is your place. I would recommend the grilled cabrito (young goat) and mollejas (sweetbreads). The salsas and corn tortillas are also very good.

                                      For Tex-Mex I usually go to Tipicos and there are two locations (one in Carrollton just off Beltlien and Josey and one off Bachman Lake close to Love Field on NW Hwy) I only get one thing the cheese enchiladas, I believe the #18. There are three reasons I only go here for my cheese enchiladas. 1. They use real cheddar cheese. 2. They use only a chile sauce, not ranchero sauce. 3. They have the best refried beans probably in Dallas (flor de mayo beans topped with an extra spoon of bacon fat and placed under the broiler).

                                      Additional topics to consider:

                                      Best Pozole in DFW

                                      Best street style tacos

                                      Carne Asada Burritos – if you want to try the SoCal style

                                      Off topic but some places out in Tarrant County (Grapevine) you might want to hit up

                                      I could go on and on but I don't want you to drift off to sleep.

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                        I love good tortillas, so thanks for these recs.

                                        Just wanted to mention that I don't perceive Mesa as stuffy. (The French Room--yes.) I think the dining room is elegant (quite something to have pulled off considering all the salvage) and artisanal, but the service is friendly and informal. The valet parking is a huge plus--and it's not just everywhere you can get valet tickets handwritten in pencil ;)

                                        1. re: foiegras

                                          I wonder in this case if "stuffy" is a direct correlation to $$$.

                                          1. re: CocoaNut

                                            I consider Mesa to be casually, elegant.

                                          2. re: foiegras

                                            Maybe stuffy was a bad choice of words. Here is the situation with Mesa, love the owners, love the food but not too keen on the gentrification. I don't mind it is on Jefferson or what have you. I have a problem with having been to both the former and current restaurant I feel that on any given night if I were to go in jeans and say a polo shirt you feel underdressed compared to the "new" patrons. There were hardly any customers before and they were basically pleading to get people to come. Now that the word is out, portion size was cut in half, prices went up and it seems that there is an unspoken dress code. I mean the place is hardly expensive but it can get spendy if you have a large appetite and want drinks. Maybe I am just to used to the blue collar eateries around town.

                                            I am glad everyone on the board here has finally gone and experienced Mesa but I still stand behind La Palapa being better. I do wish for Mesa to have the best of luck and would hope they would open a location in the north of Dallas just for us who are always driving.

                                            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                              LH: A "La Palapa Verecruzana" would probably do great up your way.

                                          3. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                            LH, the gang (and, you know who) and I are going to try Dona Lencha on No. Beltline in Irving next Tuesday. Have you been there yet? The tacos are supposed to be $1.00 each!

                                            1. re: twinwillow

                                              I heard recently the chicken I believe the rotisserie is pretty good there. I have not been recently enough to give you guidance beyond that.

                                              I think me and the Mrs are going to try ST Tacos in McKinney....look them up on FB

                                              1. re: twinwillow

                                                I've been there & it was pretty good. The service was nice and friendly.

                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                  To both, LH and foiegras: Mucho Gracias! And foiegras, did you mean Dona Lencha or, ST Tacos?

                                                  1. re: twinwillow

                                                    I was replying to you--Dona Lencha. I tried the rotisserie chicken someone else ordered ... wasn't blown away. The menu is extensive, so a good place to go with the gang--especially if they are sharers! I believe all the best people are ;)

                                            2. You really don't have to venture far from your own back yard. Mi Dia From Scratch is delicious. The menu comprises regional Mexican as well as Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex (New Mexico style) dishes and is helpfully divided into said categories. Their salsa is heavenly.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: dentonfoodie

                                                What's a good time or day to go to Mi Dia for dinner and avoid the crowds? My attempt to dine there turned out unpleasant, I don't see myself going back without insider info on dodging the locusts :)

                                                1. re: alkonost

                                                  did you have a reservation? since the area is short on restaurants, mobbing is probably the norm ... but probably a mon or tues is pretty slow. i'm sure they'd be happy to tell you what their slow nite is.

                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                    No need to hate on G'vine - particularly when you're wrong.

                                                    1. re: CocoaNut

                                                      since i have only one hand to type with, i abbreviated my thought. i meant it is short on stellar restaurants.

                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                        "Stellar" restaurants is hardly the topic. Why the snarky Grapevine hate?

                                                    2. re: foiegras

                                                      Yeah I did try to make a reservation, but was informed by the hostess that they only take reservations for parties larger than 5.

                                                      Mr. Alkonost and i were thinking of returning early on a weeknight. Maybe next time I won't nearly loose the ass of my car to 8 spirited drivers in the parking lot.

                                                  2. re: dentonfoodie

                                                    Ok, our second attempt at Mia Dia was a charm (6pm on a Tuesday, no wait to speak of). If Mia Dia opened in Manhattan they could cut their portions in half and double the price and it would be considered a bargain. I loved it.

                                                    Our app was the quesadillas de huitlacoche, being a mushroom aficionado this was a hit with me, I loved the combination of the cheese, roasted corn and green chili with the mushroom. Although the red and green sauces were a teeny bit to hot for me I still enjoyed it in moderation.

                                                    Our main courses were the pato a la parrilla (grilled duck breast with mole sauce) and the steak & relleno. I liked the duck but felt Mr. Alkonost's dish was better (the steak & relleno). I'd asked for my duck to be prepared as mild as possible, and the wish was granted. The sauces were very well seasoned and flavorful, it reminded me of Indian cusine (when it's done well) where the sauces are so saturated with high-quality spices that they're extremely rich, savory and complex. Even though I was stuffed I ended the meal with a flan, and since I was driving hubs ordered a tequila flight (which came with a very nice lime sorbet).

                                                    While it's been 12 years since Mr. Alkonost has been to Chicago, he mentioned that he'd would rank Mia Dia in the same league as Rick Bayless' restaurants. We loved it and the service was excellent.

                                                    I'm hoping to try more places closer to central Dallas soon. right now we seem to be exploring the areas closest to our home turf and are slowly working our way out as we get to know the roads and highways.

                                                  3. IF you caught my other thread on the Japanese restaurants, you'll anticipate that my trip didn't work out so well because I had a cranky spouse unwilling to drive outside of Grapevine and Southlake for eats! The bastard foiled my plans to sample the culinary delights of your recommended restaurants!

                                                    On the upside, I did manage to try Burritos Locos in GV. While I understand El Taco H and Mia Dia from scratch had better food, we just happened to drive by Burritos locos about 5 times and I twisted by husbands arm into buying lunch.

                                                    We sampled many tacos: chicharron, lengua, tripe, el pastor and the lomo (ribeye). While I know this was considered to be a good place but not top tier I must still say that they were the best tacos to date. I was partial to the lengua tacos because of the lovely texture, and the seasoning on the chicharron taco was delicious. My hubs was adventurous and tried the tripe which turned out to be a taste he has yet to aquire if you know what I mean! I didn't try the lomo or the el pastor, but hubs wasn't crazy about their el pastor- I think he felt the marinade was too sugary... But we're strange, we're not used to having things sweetened. The guac was fresh and plentiful, and we picked up a couple of mexican cokes to go and ate in our hotel room...

                                                    In short, so far these are the best tacos I've ever had! I can't wait to try El Taco H, Mi Dia, El Ranchito, Mesa, and all the other places. Why, why in the name of all that is sacred can I not get a lengua taco in my current neighborhood? I'll be back in DFW in October, and I can't wait to try the other suggested places. And next time, the heck with my cranky hubby- I will be the one driving.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: alkonost

                                                      (A simple FYI - El TacoH is not as menu adventurous as Burritos Locos, but much more a hole-in-the-wall. MiDia is MUCH more upscale and $$)

                                                    2. Have known people who are not from Texas
                                                      that never end up enjoying "Tex Mex". It's spicy
                                                      and if you don't like spice you may just have
                                                      a little trouble with any Texas cuisine because
                                                      almost all of our food packs a punch with a lot
                                                      of flavor whether it's Tex Mex, BBQ, or Southwestern.

                                                      16 Replies
                                                      1. re: jinet12

                                                        Oh I certainly noticed the punch :) In a trip to Dallas last year we went to a Mexican restaurant and I couldn't eat my dish at all as it was too hot. But I had a good experience at Burritos Locos so I can't wait to try more places once I relocate for good in October, I just made sure I stayed away from the tacos known to be spicy like the Al Pastor. I can handle a little spice, but it's usually a case of heartburn that stops me before the tongue tells me to quit.

                                                        1. re: alkonost

                                                          Interesting ... I've never found tacos al pastor to be at all hot.

                                                          The secret to Tex-Mex may be to create your own perfect combination ... recently I saw Enchiladas, Nachos, Tacos, and Pico de gallo recommended. You could also try some fresh corn Tortillas, Jalapenos (there are great mild ones), and maybe some chicken Fajitas.

                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                            I had an al pastor from a taco truck in my neighborhood and it was pretty spicy, so was the one from burritos locos (very zippy) so I assumed that most are on the spicy side. My mistake if they're not, I'm not very experienced in Mex or Tex-Mex, I'm just going by what I've tasted so far which isn't very much :) That you for pointing out the the al pastor isn't always made spicy, so that's good reason for me to try the different restaurant's versions, the more options the better :)

                                                            1. re: foiegras

                                                              I tried the al pastor at el Taco H yesterday and found their version to be very mild so I was a very, VERY happy eater yesterday. I guess burritos locos likes to make theirs a bit on the spicy side, pr maybe I got an unusually spicy batch. :)

                                                            2. re: alkonost

                                                              Simply stated, Tex-Mex is not traditionally hot, unless you add jalapenos and/or a hot salsa. Most people complain more about the copious amounts of "greasy, yellow cheese". I'd be curious to know the restaurant and dish you ordered last year - seriously! :)

                                                              On the other hand, heartburn is a possibility, particularly if eating traditional Tex-Mex at a non-chain eatery. They are more likely to use less healthy, full fat cuts of meat and perhaps even lard!! in their delicious preparations.

                                                              And for the record, BBQ is not hot either. The sauce may be, but not the meat. Many regions of the country use bbq rubs that have varying degrees of peppers. Good TX BBQ relies more on the smoke, less on the seasoning, to mildly flavor the meats.

                                                              As to Southwestern cooking and the ilk, I'd suggest a meal at Stephan Pyles or (Dean) Fearings and you make your own decision.

                                                              And if you ever try El TacoH, don't go near the green salsa. It looks friendly. It's not! :)

                                                              1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                I must concur with CocoaNut and, foigras.

                                                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                  I love lard; even under the scrutiny of my low-fat-embracing peers I save my bacon drippings to fry my eggs and other things. It's usually the chili spice that lights the fire in my stomach, yet lard, cheese and fatty cuts of meat are good friends as long as there isn't too much chili heat involved.

                                                                  The dish I ordered, if memory serves, was a plate of enchiladas, but it was swimming in a red sauce that was far too spicy for me to eat. I even tried scraping the filling out to eat, but the sauce permeated everything. My nose was running, and I was popping tums like it was candy for the rest of the night. Sadly the menu wasn't very descriptive of the chili sauce that came with the dish or I would have asked for the sauce on the side.

                                                                  Thanks for the warning on the El Taco H green salsa, hubs and I drove past El T H a few times while frantically racing across grapevine to all the apartment complexes on our last trip. I wanted to stop in because of the recommendations of good tacos, but we never passed by during lunch time. Not to mention all the construction on the roads confused the heck out of us and turned our GPS into a worthless pile of junk ("recalculating.... recalculating.... recalculating....") but I digress.

                                                                  As for BBQ I have eaten at hard 8 in Roanoke a few times, I'm not sure how high it ranks with other Dallas BBQ places but it certainly beats the pants off anything we have in NYC. I did notice one of their sauces was a bit spicy, but I really enjoyed it. It's very helpful when you can control how much spicy heat gets applied to your food. I managed a few bites of their jalapeno sausage, while it was delicious it almost stripped the flesh off my lips :) There's no fun in eating if you don't test your limits once in a while :D

                                                                  1. re: alkonost

                                                                    It sounds like you're extremely sensitive to heat. I've been eating Tabasco and jalapenos pretty much all my life. I am aware of heat and keep it mild to medium, but you sound much more sensitive than I am. Five-pepper Thai will clear my sinuses to the point that I need to eat it by myself, but I don't order anything that hot for myself.

                                                                    In general, Mexican food isn't hot, but you can add heat to it. I can't remember an enchilada sauce in my whole life that had any significant heat to it.

                                                                    Suggest you try Velvet Taco ... I find all their tacos very mild, and their Heat Sauce (which is also sweet) is on the side in a squeeze bottle that makes it easy to control. It's conveniently located near Northpark and the Angelika (Mockingbird Station).

                                                                    1. re: foiegras

                                                                      I totally agree about the "heat". However, Velvet Taco is at the N/E corner of Henderson and Central (75).

                                                                      1. re: twinwillow

                                                                        Agreed. I'm not saying Velvet Taco is in Mockingbird Station, but that it's close to the Angelika at Mockingbird Station (not the one in the Shops at Legacy). IOW, reasons to justify the hike from Grapevine ;)

                                                                      2. re: foiegras

                                                                        Yes, growing up I wasn't exposed to much chili heat, and on the rare occasions when I was it was literally painful. Later on in adult life I've tried to build a tolerance, but then I discovered that my stomach doesn't always cooperate. I can't live without franks hot sauce in my fridge, but it's very mild. Sriracha is too hot for me. For some odd reason I tolerate kimchi well, I'm not sure if it's the fermentation that makes a difference or if it's the kind of chilis used. Anyway, it is very frustrating for me at times, I do like the flavor of spicy foods, and when I can't tolerate the heat (whether it's the level of spice, or the heartburn) I really feel like I'm missing out.

                                                                        Thanks for the suggestion on Velvet Taco! I haven't explored that part of Dallas yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

                                                                        To be safe I'm just going to avoid anything that comes pre-sauced. I'm starting to realize that what I consider hot, most would probably consider pretty mild.

                                                                        1. re: alkonost

                                                                          We that have lived in Texas for many years or grew up here, have developed quite a natural tolerance for hot, spicy foods.
                                                                          I've been here from NYC since 1963 and have no real problem with most all hot peppers, Siracha, and Tabasco type hot sauces, etc.

                                                                          Do try Velvet Taco. Most all their tacos are mild and very good!

                                                                          1. re: twinwillow

                                                                            I'm hoping repeated exposure to heat will eventually get my tolerance up to where it should be :) I was brought up on slavic food (mostly) and my husband likes to tease me that the spiciest thing in slavic cuisine is sour cream... And he would be right (my family hails from the wrong side of the Carpathians to have hot paprika).

                                                                            I've been looking at the Velvet taco menu- it looks really creative with lots of fusion. Their crispy calimari taco is an example of why I want to get my heat tolerance up if possible, it looks delicious but I know I can't handle a habanero salsa.

                                                                          2. re: alkonost

                                                                            As a baby, I literally was weened to Tabasco on red beans and rice, was moved to TX in the late 60's and can tolerate most anything done to (Tex) Mex, though prefer it NOT overly hot spicy - same with TX style chili (a whole 'nuther topic for discussion!). But when it comes to Sriracha - love, love the roasted flavor - that is the hottest sauce I've ever tasted, including habenero varieties. So yes, I think there's something other than scoville rating at play when it comes to heat tolerance.

                                                                            (if you're already here or will be soon, buy a small quantity of *seeded*, roasted Hatch Chili Peppers - it's the season and use them as you would bell peppers. Very good flavor, mild and they freeze well.)

                                                                            1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                              I was spoon fed sour cream and pierogies :) I'm sure that has a lot to do with my lack of spice tolerance. Sriracha is amazing, while it's in the fridge more for my husband's use, now and then I put a small drop of it on something- a little goes a LONG way for me.

                                                                              Will hatch chili season extend into the latter half of October? When were popped into town a couple of months ago to take care of apartment leasing business, we noticed that Central Market was starting to advertize the fire roasted hatch chilis, and they were set to begin the glorious fire-roasting the week after we had to leave. We should be settled into the new apartment by Oct 29th.

                                                                              1. re: CocoaNut

                                                                                I think I'm addicted to hatch peppers now. While moseying through central market grabbed a few jars of store brand salsa. The green hatch chili salsa is my new favorite, I'm putting it on my eggs in the morning. Everything is becoming a vehicle for this magical salsa: chips, toast, cheese crisps, etc..

                                                                  2. You might want to try Esparza's on Main Street in Grapevine. I haven't been there in many years, but I have friends in the Ft. Worth area who love it. I do remember they had killer margaritas. Another one is El Asadero on North Main in Fort Worth by the stockyards. I believe they recently changed owners, but believe they were trying to keep the same kitchen staff. Be careful of their salsa as it can be quite spicy.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: kirakat

                                                                      Killer 'Rita's, yes! yes! yes!

                                                                      As to food - until the late 80's, Esparzas was the only restaurant that had anything called "taco" on the menu for miles and miles and miles. Times have happily changed.

                                                                      1. re: kirakat

                                                                        If they make a good 'rita on the rocks, I predict a lot of designated driving in my future since my better half loves them (so do I). Thanks for the rec' on El Asadero!

                                                                      2. I am a native Texan who has lived much of my life outside the state, and who like many Texans, has a genetic addiction for TexMex cooking, and has yet to find satisfying authenticity outside the state. Unlike many on ths board, I find TexMex a valid cuisine, with variations across the regions of Texas, and wild swings in quality. Just as one will find in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, with the hyphenate-Mexican you'll find in each state, each evolving differently.

                                                                        If you are living in Grapevine, you will have many choices in the Metroplex. I believe in learning a new cuisine one must start with a baseline place and dish. In my opinion, the place to start is El Fenix, a local chain that has been in business in Dallas forever. Go to the original in downtown Dallas. The baseline dish is the cheese enchilada with chili con carne plate, with refried pintos with lard and rice. It is not fancy, but this is the prototypical dish that TexMex addicts like me crave every few days. You will find the chili well seasoned but not "hot", the cheese melty, the refritos creamy. The only heat comes from any addition of salsa or peppers from you.
                                                                        From here you can expand your horizons.

                                                                        In Grapevine, Esparza's is excellent TexMex, and they have excellent tamales. La Hacienda Ranch, Cristina's, and Anamis' are close by. As a newcomer, you may not realize that before the airport, there was a thirty mile DMZ between Dallas and Fort Worth. Do yourself a favor and use both cities as they are quite disctinct in culture and style. In Fort Worth, La Familia on Foch Street is the best TexMex restaurant in the area, and might be one of the best run restaurants in town. The more snobbish folks may try to steer you to Mi Cocina, an abominable creation of TexMex with a goddam attitude; the food is sometimes ok but you will pay for it.

                                                                        In DFW, everyone now sells cheese tacos. These are cheese enchiladas with queso sauce instead of chili. You rarely find them south of Waco. In San Antonio, puffy tacos are a religion. Austin is heavy with egg dishes like migas. El Paso TexMex is a amalgam of TexMex, New Mexican, and Mexican foods. Real TexMex tacos are stuffed, then fried, and very rare as they are labor intensive and messy, but good.

                                                                        Of course, there is every kind of Mexican cuisine, hyphenated - Mexican, and nuevo elements of Mexican "inspired" foods in DFW, whether eating a jalapeno waaffle at a donut ship or fine dining with Dean Fearing or Stephan Pyles. If you get a chance, the tacos at Fuel City in Dallas are well worth the drive.

                                                                        Robb Walsh and Lisa Fain have books that can help you with all this.