My brother was in town tonight and free. That's part of why the blog is so late this evening. Since he had an open evening from the conference, we decided to take him out to eat before he had to head back to Austin. After tossing out a few options, we ended up at El Fenix. The "original" location on McKinney.
I know it's trendier to like real Mexican food now. To seek authentic street tacos, pozole, mole, elote, etc. To look down on the flour tortilla. And I like real Mex. I enjoy the variety.
But, honestly, nothing beats good Tex-Mex. Chile con queso. Chile con carne on cheese enchiladas. Beef crispy tacos with lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese. Chips and salsa.
El Fenix is the original Tex-Mex restaurant. Founded in 1918, it has been in operation now for nearly 101 years. It was especially fun to be here on a Wednesday night, in honor of the Enchilada Wednesday Special, an offering at the restaurant since the mid-fifties.
The place was packed tonight, with patrons trying to grab a bite before the Dallas Stars game. From shortly after we were seated right up until we were leaving, there was a solid line of people waiting for a table.
And while it may not be the absolute best Mexican food in Dallas, it can certainly hit the spot. It's comfort food, just like good Tex-Mex. Good Tex-Mex fills you up body and soul. From filling up on chips and salsa (but continuing to eat nonetheless), to making room for the sopapilla. It's go to snacks and extravagant meals and everything in between.
It's why Casa Ole or Crazy Joses (or Mi Pueblo using the Casa Ole recipes) is still a must when I visit home. It's not the food, specifically. It's the memory, the experience. It's a part of who we are. Why the food is one of the basic food groups of Texas.
On the subject, I have to agree with John Nova Lomax in Texas Monthly writing on the disappearance of Tex-Mex in Houston (March 19, 2015):
"But here's the dirty little secret we can all admit to now: in most cases, old-school Tex-Mex was, and is, objectively bad food. It's bland by modern standards, overly filling, heartburn-inducing, and coronary-breeding. In the big cities of modern Texas, it's so easy to find authentic Mexican meals that are cheaper, tastier, and healthier, all at the same time.
And yet, for me, if it came down to a deaht row last meal chocie of Hugo Ortega's Mariscos al Ajillo (sauteed lobster, shrimp, scallops, and octopus served with arroz blanco), or Spanish Village's Enchiladas a la Taylor ("prepared with Many Spices, Cheese, with Chile Con Carne and Rice, Beans, andd Guacamole Salad"), um, yeah, I'll take column B, Mr. Warden."
As will I. So bring on the chips and salsa. A large queso please. Enchiladas and tacos.
And keep it coming.
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