Dude Food Walks Across The Street And Finds Comfort in Mediocrity
4001 Maple Ave.
Dude Factor: 7, or the Mavs Maniaacs, on a scale of 1 (Mike Bacsik) to 10 (Eduardo Najera).
You might find this hard to believe, but before yesterday I hadn't darkened Herrera's door in five or so years, despite the fact that it's situated directly in the shadow of the Dallas Observer offices. I blame two things for this: A) the fact that some female Observer colleagues had a bad experience there once and wouldn't go back (I think they just feared grease), and B) it's been down the street from Avila's the whole time, and Avila's is probably my favorite Mexican joint in Dallas.
Unfortunately, I can't exactly eat at Avila's right now, because it's currently closed while it serves as the set for some kind of tragic Tex-Mex soap opera (though we hear it's re-opening next month). So when a craving for quick, close Tex-Mex hit me Monday, I gathered up a couple compadres and strolled across the street.
Honestly, it's something I should have done a long time ago. I felt instantly at home among the plain booths and tables, drinking from a giant glass of constantly refilled iced tea and refilling my own individual salsa from the old school salsa/carafe/mini-pitcher thing. What the hell are those things called anyway?
Not that Herrera's has the best Tex-Mex in the world--far from it. I ordered a combination that included a cheese enchilada, a beef burrito and a crispy beef taco, none of which were particularly memorable. But they weren't bad, either--especially the burrito, which featured chunks of tender beef as opposed to the customary ground filling you usually find at Tex-Mex joints. The brown-to-yellow-to-light brown color palette was exactly what I look for in my Tex-Mex, as well, while the piping hot tortillas we were served on the side made for some fine sauce-soppers--though I just put a little butter and salt on most of mine, reveling in my gringo-ness.
Considering Herrera's has approximately 40 or 50 other combinations to try (seriously, reading the menu was an exhausting experience), there's no doubt I'll be back again soon. Sure, it might not be my favorite old-school haunt for Tex-Mex comfort food (that would still be El Fenix), but we've got to band together and keep as many of these places alive as we can, before the hip patios, Uptown dude brahs and decor-ideas-stolen-from-Batman Forever-set-pieces (I'm looking at you Greenville Gloria's) ruin what's left of our local Tex-Mex roots. So, just to recap, in the event of a Tex-Mex apocalypse, make sure to save El Fenix, Avila's and Mia's first, but after that, send some reinforcements to Herrera's. It's worth saving.