Despite Recent Closings, Cuquita's is Holding On by Serving Simple Food

Categories: Eat This

Cuquita's Enchilads.jpg
There is a lot of cheese on this plate.
Cuquita's doesn't look like much from the outside. Just another strip mall Mexican place, right?

I paid the restaurant a visit the other day on the recommendation of a friend. I wanted an excuse to eat outside the loop, and Cuquita's, on Josey Lane in Farmer's Branch, promised traditional garb and handmade tortillas. I was in.

Inside the bright restaurant, I sat at the bar and ordered pozole. The simple stew was full of hominy and huge hunks of tender pork. It came with a bowl of onions and limes and cold, crunchy cabbage. It needed a little salt.

Enchiladas came three to an order and loaded with chicken and cheese -- so much cheese -- melted on top and running down the sides and into lifeless rice and limp beans. Still, the filling was tender and moist.

An order of eggs and potatoes tasted like eggs, potatoes and butter, and I think that's the trick here. Pozole tastes like pork and chili and limes after you squeeze them. The chicken enchiladas taste like chicken. Beans are beans and rice is rice. Cumin is not abused here. The dishes are simple and quiet.

Cuquita's Pazole.jpg
A warm and simple pozole
The clean flavors are a backdrop to delicate and soft tortillas cooked on-site, which is rarer here than I expected when I landed in Dallas. The corn version is made from such finely milled masa it almost resembles a flour tortilla in texture. The flour version is tender, too.

Despite being named a top-five Mexican restaurant in Texas Monthly, two Cuquita's locations have closed. One on Henderson Avenue became the Hacienda on Henderson, and one on Lake June Road is gone as well. Two remain, though. One on Spring Valley Road and the other in Farmers Branch, where I sat at the bar this weekend.

While folding shreds of tortillas into little scoops I dipped into the pozole, a waitress staged flatware and paper napkins into cigars in front of me. She built a little Aztec tower out of roll-up Lincoln Logs.

"How many of those do you do a day?" I asked her.

"Oh, I don't know, sir," she replied, twisting each roll into a tight parcel and adding to the pile. I asked her to guess and she sighed. "Lots," she said, with a roll of her eyes. "Muchos muchos."

Hopefully the remaining locations will keep her staging silverware for a long time to come.

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13 comments
primi_timpano
primi_timpano

The prize is the hecho a mano tortillas.  Get some caldo and tortillas and enjoy.

JesseHughey
JesseHughey

There was a Cuquita's off Kiest and Hampton that was great, with this wonderful spicy green creamy salsa. But it closed shortly after we moved near that area, making us instantly regret our choice of neighborhood.

Also, early candidate for next year's least-appetizing food photo?

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I liked the Cuquitas off of Henderson, had a real homey feel, like you were in your tia's or abulitas front room, the food was amazing and it had a mix of familes of all races and socio-economic backgrounds. Fast forward to the present and you get Hacendia, which is just another dry humping spot for all the slut bunnies and gorilla juice-heads that live off their parents dime...

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

You went north of 635? Are you feeling okay? There's rumors that exiting the core of Dallas is baaaaaaad.

and
and

Also one on Northwest Hwy, just east of 635.

Txcounsel
Txcounsel

The machacado breakfast at the Cuquitas on Henderson was perfect. I can still remember it.  Just like you said: simple, but honestly made, just like home.  And the warm, just made corn tortilla they gave you before the meal is my favorite amuse bouche of all time.  I wish they would come back to Dallas.

johan
johan

The fact that the wonderful a Cuquita's was replaced by the D-baggish Hacienda on Henderson is an East Dallas crime that has yet to be brought to justice . . . that is until Hacienda on Henderson eventually shuts its doors. D-bag places always do in Dallas you know. 

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Has anyone heard a rumor about that great announcer Craig James?

therrick
therrick

I used to think that they thought north of Walnut Hill was Plano.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

I'm slowly working my way out from the city center.  It was crazy up there! The street signs were red like blood!

CoupleNextDoor
CoupleNextDoor

We prefer that location to the one in Farmer's Branch.

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

Don't let the Urban Hipster(s) know that Dallas has D bags!  They are convinced EVERYONE in Dallas  is cool, EXTREME and freaking hip. 

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

When you're feeling EXTREME, bring your arse over to the town of the Cow..we do shit right over here.

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