In 1926, a Mexican immigrant named Adelaida Cuellar—now affectionately referred to as "Mama"—set up a tiny stand at a county fair outside Dallas, selling homemade tamales and chili con queso. The spicy specialties soon drew throngs of hungry patrons, and by 1940, she and her 12 children had transformed the stand into a café. Today, her legacy lives on at El Chico's many locations, where the staff rolls fresh tortillas into steaming enchiladas and salts the rims of towering margaritas. Waiters hoist platters of Tex-Mex favorites such as spicy beef burritos, crispy tacos, and guacamole prepared right at the table from fresh, self-puréeing avocados—a technology Mama never could have imagined during the early days of black-and-white tomatoes.
The flavors found in El Chico’s enchiladas and fajitas are a tasty testament to what the Mexican eatery does best: cultivating a menu that bustles with authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Fajitas provide a savory meal for two, with flour tortillas embracing veggies and chicken, beef, or a combination of the two with the gusto of a bear giving a bear hug. Or opt to reward tongues with enchiladas, which accentuate a variety of proteins with slick coats of cheese and sauce. The spicy beef of Mama’s Favorite enchiladas plays nicely with the fiery nature of chili con carne, and the Top Shelf fajita enchiladas capture rare glimpses of grilled fajita steak and ranchera sauce frolicking on the plate. Avocado enchiladas are also on hand for sets of vegetarian cravings.
The chefs at La Salsa Grille infuse dishes with the traditional flavors of Mexico, preparing items fresh daily. An assemblage of appetizers line stomachs with culinary samplings such as the tostada nachos—three tostadas topped in beans, taco meat, and melted cheddar served with chalices of pico de gallo, guac, and liquid humility. Dinner entrees highlight masterworks such as the carne asada, an 8-ounce thinly sliced chuck served beside rice, beans, avocado, and spicy sauce. Instead of looping Chicken Run on Blu-ray, the pollo verde satiates poultry cravings with a grilled chicken breast drizzled in salsa verde and cheese, complimented by rice and chef vegetables. The lunch menu brims with tortilla-wrapped confections such as the fajitas, stocked with 6 ounces of chicken or beef and mounds of grilled bell peppers and onions, or the two-hand-necessitating big burrito, surging with chicken or ground beef slathered in cheese or chili sauce.
Mamasita’s offers an assortment of tasty platters, delicious Mexican specialties, and a selection of 25 different tacos. Give your mouth a soupy gift with a cup of black-bean chili, whose broth features ground beef, black beans, cheddar, and jalapeños ($4.50), or start your meal traditionally with fried ice cream ($4). To graze in more abundant food pastures, gallop to the queso Mexicano burger, which combines mushrooms, veggies, and jack cheese ($7.50) to lure tongues out of their shells, or the mixed-grill burrito-supreme platter served with rice, beans, and both steak and chicken ($9.50).
La Luna's menu features traditional Mexican dishes that are made from scratch, and La Luna's tables feature complimentary salsa fresca, chips, and queso. A plate of olivenos ($6.25)—large black olives stuffed with salsa and cheese, then breaded and deep-fried—prime stomach engines within the restaurant's festive atmosphere. Fajita tacos ($11.95) combine strips of marinated beef or chicken breast, and spinach quesadillas (small $9.95, large $11.95) are served with guacamole and sour cream and consist of soft tortillas filled with sautéed spinach, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. During an episode of pollo verde ($11.95), chicken gets into a humorous situation with green chiles, Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes, and onions. Most entrees come in a moon-lite portion for those who don't want to be fuller than a purse packed with encyclopedias. Frozen margarita swirls ($7.45 each), which combine different liquors, can be sipped at the bar's multi-colored tile mosaic flat-top that guards the restaurant's bevy of tequilas.
The flavors of Mexico City get an inventive reboot at Cantina Laredo, which has specialized in modern Mexican cuisine since 1984. Over the decades, Catina Laredo locations have spread to numerous states, countries, and at least two planes of reality. Classic dishes fill the menu, including guacamole prepared tableside and hand-rolled enchiladas stuffed with everything from Angus beef to avocado and artichokes. At the same time, the chefs elevate and refine traditional flavors by creating chicken fajitas with bacon, mushrooms, and chipotle-wine sauce and filling tortas with slow-roasted pork, apricot spread, goat cheese, and fried egg.
As for drink pairings, the Casa Rita?Cantina Laredo's signature margarita?is versatile, its classic version including silver tequila with Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice. Diners can customize their drink by adding flavors such as mango or tamarind into the mix.