How to Talk to Your Friends When Your Friends Want to Eat Tex-Mex Again

Categories: Complaint Desk

Thumbnail image for Manny's Brisket Taco.JPG
A brisket taco at Manny's in Uptown.
I realize that the following assertion will likely result in my being doused in hot lard and dusted in the crumbled tortilla chips, but it must be said: Eating Tex-Mex can be a serious drag.

Please, Dallas, just put down the pig fat and hear me out. You should know that I wrote this guide at my editor's firm direction. But I should also admit the coercion was borne out of my own repeated (and often lengthy) complaints about my physical well-being after eating Tex-Mex. Enough Monday mornings were spent bemoaning yet another weekend binge that it was kindly suggested I commit my suffering to the written word.

Why eat it at all then? You should know that I had to. There's something oddly addictive about Tex-Mex and I could never break the cycle. I'm eating chips and salsa as I type.

My friends should take some of the blame, too. I'm convinced there are grooves in the pavement of every road that leads from Dallas' airports to prominent Tex-Mex restaurants. Whether coming for a visit or returning home, as soon as someone lands, the primary concern is the immediate consumption of Tex-Mex.

Travel aside, Tex-Mex seems to be the universal answer in the face of dining uncertainty. Groups with no plans can debate where they should eat for hours until someone finally calls out Tex-Mex and the deal is done.

It doesn't have to be this way. You can fight back against your friends' mindless desire for a meal that will expand their waistlines quicker than a dozen doughnut breakfast. The next time you hear the Tex-Mex rally cry, counter with the the ill effects of the tortilla chip binge.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for El Fanchito Fajita.jpg
So. Much. Meat.
Remember those small toys you added to water, which expanded to 38 times their size overnight? The next time someone suggests Tex-Mex, point out that tortilla chips have similar properties, only they expand more quickly, maxing out about hour after you've taken your last bite of chicken enchiladas. The result is a sensation that you've not just eaten Tex-Mex for dinner, but Tex-Mex and a gallon of ice cream.

Your friends may counter with queso, which is seductive for sure, but you wouldn't be a compassionate person if you didn't point out that cheese can clog up your arteries, and in excess it stops up your digestive system, too. Making cheese available in a form that can be funneled is an act of pure evil -- an act of pure, delicious evil that they will not refuse if they enter a Tex-Mex restaurant. And there are more fats that dominate most of the menu.

Lard flavors more than just beans, and if bacon is employed anywhere, your friends should know that the fat that was rendered while it cooked is used somewhere else too. Often dry tortillas are made pliable again by a quick dip in warm oil, and if it's not covered in melted cheese as thick as a quilt then it's likely not Tex-Mex.

With your friends backed into a corner, they'll likely argue that at least the salsas are healthy, and that's great. There's lots of salsa being shuttled around inside Tex-Mex restaurants, and sometimes it's delivered in larger pitchers or bowls with tapered tops so you can serve yourself more and more. So ask them if they know what happens to the leftover salsa after they leave the table.

Don't get over-confident now that you have them questioning their physical health. Stomachs are growling at this point, and one mention of steaming fajitas will undo all your work. Hit them with a fire hose of alternatives, and make sure they're good ones. There are tons of interesting options (here are 50 to start with) around the city with higher-quality ingredients and more innovative dishes. Dallas does many cuisines well, and these restaurants deserve more time in the spotlight. And many of them carry a lower risk of ruining your night.

The first time I really got hit hard by Tex-Mex, friends had just gotten into town. They requested Tex-Mex and I only put up a feeble fight. Five baskets of tortilla chips later we had trouble sliding out of our booth, and despite plans for an evening of live music, barhopping and other shenanigans, we went home and passed out after signing the check.

Our evening was demolished. We'd been Tex-Mexed. And no matter how hard you try, chances are good you'll be Tex-Mexed too.

There's another property of Tex-Mex that's more difficult pin down, and it's why despite writing this guide I'm actually contemplating a trip to Avila's tonight. Somewhere in this offering of meat, cheese and Texan heritage is something that warms and comforts us. It could be genuine feelings of happiness associated with hyper-satiation. But it could also be something like Stockholm syndrome -- we're drawn to the things that punish us.

So best of luck changing the minds of your enchilada craving friends. There's a chance you could pull it off. Maybe.

Pass the salsa?

Thumbnail image for avilas-vs-mextopia-tex-mex-battle.4942921.87.jpg
So. Much. Cheese


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
46 comments
Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

Scott, I agree with you basic premise, however, I think that the reader must understand that much like barbeque, tex-mex is a very large genre. My general rule is that if you live in a nice area and the place is close, it's probably shit. Not always. How if its good its probably very expensive.

General rule, if you see old white people, keep driving.

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

What is wrong with you? Did  somebody crack a bottle on your head? 

You don't want Tex-Mex? Fine. Go have some sushi. 

Tex-Mex is redundant and repetitive because at its core it is peasant food. Beans, rice and corn with a bit of meat and/or cheese and some spices to make it more tolerable on day five thousand. My  family members who have had to venture off into God forsaken places like Cincinnati and parts east where things like a good plate of enchiladas are non-existent either want BBQ or Tex-Mex as soon as the suitcases hit the truck. 

You didn't have to eat five baskets of chips. That is on you. 


yoka
yoka

I never really get tired of Tex Mex, and I'm not gonna worry about the less-healthful contents of it until I have to.  I certainly don't think "it all tastes the same", because it doesn't; plenty of metroplex Tex Mex places have their own spin on the rices, beans, and entrees.  Best of all, many of the mom & pop places I like have evolved a more Mex Tex quality into their platters that I'm very enthusiastic about. Just reading this article, I wanna run right out to Avila's, Mexicali, Dos Banderas, or any of the other places I like...and yeah, I'll probably gorge myself.

One place I won't go though, because I fully agree with executiveaircraft, is the loathsome El Fenix.  I'd rather buy a Patio TV dinner than eat their overpriced swill. 

MissMacy
MissMacy

My main complaint? IT ALL TASTES EXACTLY THE SAME. The cheese, the hot sauce, the tortillas, the beans, the rice. Nothing on a Tex-Mex menu in any price range has excited me in YEARS.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

see you can string over 30 comments without using Facebook. just hit people where they live!

J_A_
J_A_

This is so spot on. The worst on my list is Mi Cocina. Overpriced with horrible service, yet I still end up eating there once in awhile to meet friends. And fuck Taco Diner.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

When facing TexMex loads beyond my safe capacity I vary the menu.  No chips--save space for really good stuff.  If you cant help yourself, trade the chips for hot tortillas.

Go light.  Try the caldos, avoid the rice.  Try some fish.  There is always a way to safely consume TexMex for several meals.

tb00
tb00

BAD DOG! BAD DOG!

dallas_paul
dallas_paul

I've never seen a public food blog with so much groaning about how much food they don't like as COA. If you don't have a passionate love for food and all cuisines, then step the hell off and hand your job to someone else.

There's a cure for that lamented corn-chip bloat: Don't eat five baskets.

executiveaircraft
executiveaircraft

I have to agree at least somewhat with the article. Maybe that's why these "street taco" places are popping up on every corner - they serve delicious tacos on corn tortillas, and usually there are not baskets of chips involved...

I think the old "real" Tex-Mex is dying. Take El Fenix, for example. It was family owned for over 100 years with reliable food, service, and pricing.  Who from around here didn't occasionally get the $3.99 enchilada dinner on Wednesdays?  Now El Fenix has been sold to a corporate investor and the thing has gone to hell in a hand basket.  

Those Wed. $3.99 enchilada dinners? They now cost $5.99. The old wait staff, some we had known for 15 years, has almost all quit.  Now some of the servers don't even speak passable English. The guacamole that used to be the best in the business? Its hit and miss now. Those margaritas we used to love - priced is jacked up to $6.99 from $3.99.  Same margarita.

And to top it all off, its seems every time I get my check, there is something added to it that I didn't order.  With the servers not really speaking english, its difficult to know if this is a mistake or a misunderstanding.  For example, my wife ordered a bowl of tortilla soup for $4.99.  When the check came, it was for a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, which is $7.99.  Looking back, there had indeed been chicken in the soup, but she assumed that was how it was served.  We paid the $7.99 but will be very cautious in the future, if we return.

Its sad to see a DFW Tex-Mex mainstay like El Fenix go corporate and loose its soul, but unfortunately it apears to be so.

I think I'll head over to Fuzzy's for a taco now.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

That's a Shiner in that pic!  Shiner, Budweiser and Tex Mex "erryday" makes for a happy person. Just throw in some Red Sox baseball, a brisk hike and some BBQ, and you "dern" near have a state of Nirvana. 

iggyhero
iggyhero

you're doing it wrong!!. you wanna take a nap pig out on tex mex, you have plans for the night, stick with the fajitas and corn tortillas. .. freaking rookies..

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I have a new problem Ive recently gotten myself into at Tex Mex places.   A lot of them offer shrimp now to add to your entree for $4.95ish and I do it....every time.  Why, I do not know, but I feel as if I have an addiction to it now and I always order the, and then always bitch that my lunch is now a $18 lunch

cyrrndr
cyrrndr

What a wuss! Real men don't suffer ill effects from eating Tex-Mex

mm32
mm32

You go to hell, sir.  You go straight to hell.

TexMexIsntThatGreat
TexMexIsntThatGreat

I've always felt the same way about Tex Mex. Not much flavor or substance to it, and generally makes you feel gross after eating it. I know it's blasphemous to say this in Texas, but it's the truth!

MissMacy
MissMacy

@yoka Okay, you talked me into it. I think I'll drive thru Taco Bell for dinner tonight.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@primi_timpano 


Primi, that's what I do.....go straight for flour tortillas laden with hot sauce; although last time I went to Posado's, they told me they didn't have hot sauce; we were baffled!   

G_David
G_David

@executiveaircraft You may not have noticed, but the price of food has gone up just a little bit over the last 30 years.  If it's a choice between serving me shit for the same price or raising the price, raise the price for Chrissakes. 

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

So you've shifted from one local place that went corporate and is no good to another local place that has gone corporate and is no good. Well thought out dude.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@cyrrndr bullshit, after a bowl of salsa, 1/2 bowl of queso and the Carne a la Tampequena at Herrera's,  I feel as if I should just go lay in my grave and the only thing that keeps me going is knowing happy hour on Friday is only 4 hrs away.  But that first beer takes forever to drink as it makes it way past meat, beans and enchilada, chips and all the dips

trey38
trey38

@TexMexIsntThatGreat No flavor?  You must be eating at the wrong places. There are more bad Tex-Mex places around than good. Just like BBQ joints. When you find one that does it right you will know.  Everything is good from the salsa to the enchiladas to the margaritas.  if they only have a couple of tequilas behind the bar...move on. its probably a bottled mix and cheap mixto you are getting and you know the queso will be velveeta, rotel and some lawry's taco seasoned meat.

yoka
yoka

@MissMacy @yoka Taco Bell??!  C'mon, you know that's FAST FOOD, hardly a worthwhile demonstration of Mexican cuisine, and often not a very worthwhile demonstration of fast food,  for that matter.

Either you simply don't care for Mexican food, or food inspired by it, or you're going to the wrong places. And Tex Mex isn't necessarily 'excitement' food to me, it's comfort food.  It's warm, filling, and reassuring.  The best of it is pleasant to the palate, but also satisfying to the soul.  Some of it is heavy, some of it is spicy, but I always finish a good Tex Mex (or Mex Tex) meal with a feeling of well being, like a joyful reunion with an old friend.

And by the way, it doesn't all taste exactly the same!  I've had nothing like the Filete Piporro, covered with a complex ancho-chile sauce and splashed with tequila, anywhere except Monterrey (their Huevos Divorciados, two eggs served with two tasty and distinct salsas, is another favorite there); the Cabrito Guisado, with a fiery verde sauce that will take your head off, is unique to Gonzalez, as is the savory bean soup served with chunky, vibrant salsa at Ostineria 7 Mares.  Speaking of unique salsas, the avocado based green salsa at Rancho La Sandia is habit-forming, and the combination platters at La Acapulquena are as good as any I've had.  I could also make a case for the Seafood Chile Relleno at Casa Cavazos or the scrumptious ceviche from La Calle Doce.

The point is I've highlighted several very specialized and one-of-a-kind offerings in just a few great restaurants in a fairly narrow geographic portion of Dallas.  And most of the places I've referenced have been dishing out winning Mexican food to area diners for the better part of three decades.  They're doing something right, and they don't deserve to be lumped in with the likes of Taco Bell!          

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@trey38 @TexMexIsntThatGreat Yeah, flavor has never been the issue for me. Tex-Mex has HUGE flavors. Unfortunately the rest of it's huge and heavy -- including me.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@cyrrndr @ScottsMerkin so Im assuming as a real man that you weigh about 350 pounds and hoggin down a full meal at a Tex Mex place doesnt phase you bc your body doesnt feel it

trey38
trey38

@scott.reitz @trey38 @TexMexIsntThatGreat I try to buck that trend when I do my version of Tex-Mex.  Not a whole lot of oil or fat and I still get big flavors. I just impart those flavors into the sauces and meats. the only real fat in my enchiladas is what I use to heat up the tortillas...there are never leftovers no matter how much I make.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...