Since 2000, the cooks at Norma's Tex Mex have brought together Mexican and American food to dance a culinary tango of bold flavors. They sculpt pork tamales, grill shrimp quesadillas on housemade tortillas, and top burgers with avocado slices and jalapeño rings that patrons can also use for spur-of-the-moment marriage proposals. Diners can also slurp bowls of caldo de res, a soup made with beef broth, carrots, zucchini, and cabbage, or savor spoonfuls of deep-fried ice cream. Citrus-toned walls lend a cheerful ambiance to the eatery's clean interior.
After more than 35 years, the walls at Paperbacks Plus in Mesquite couldn't cope with all the books. So the owners expanded into the city proper, setting up two new shops under the name Lucky Dog Books. Shelf after shelf of volumes greets the eye at each location; alongside the paperbacks and hardbacks sit myriad other forms of media, from used CDs and DVDs to LPs, magazines, and comic books young and old. Chairs dot the landscape at all three bookstores, inviting customers to flop down and flip through the pages of a novel or pretend to read a comic book that conceals a history textbook. In addition to selling its wares, Lucky Dog Books also offers cash or store credit for used items and takes its services on the road with a Books at Home program.
Housed inside a one-time Taco Bell, Taco Zone has the framework to supply Tex-Mex fare for those on the go via a drive-thru window or their colorful, quick-service dining room. Breakfast burritos filled with bacon, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and sausage fuel bodies so they won't come to a standstill while jogging down highways on the way to work. Tacos, burritos, and genre-crossing taco burgers populate a $0.99 value menu, and the Frito burrito works teeth with a spicy crunch of ground beef, refried beans, red sauce, and corn chips.
Inside Giulianna's intimate dining room, bright yellow walls dappled with framed artwork cultivate a cheerful atmosphere, while black tablecloths and a glimmering chandelier add a splash of elegance. Fresh from the chefs' hands, warm pasta dishes such as eggplant rollatini and cheese lasagna give stomachs comforting hugs, and chicken arrives at tables wearing various sauces, such as marinara and white-wine lemon. A rustic wood oven bakes savory pizza pies—with toppings such as fresh basil, thinly sliced sausage, and gorgonzola cheese—until they bubble and crisp like a rubber duck in a fire pit.
Inspiration can come from unexpected places. Quesa-D-Ya's owners found theirs in a pizza box. When they ordered the pie, they were hoping for a hot meal to be delivered to their door that still tasted fresh. The lukewarm pizza that arrived at their door helped the pair realize that, thanks to its innate portability, Mexican food would have fit their bill much better. So, they opened Quesa-D-Ya's with an eye towards satisfying Dallas's busy community with take-out and delivery dinners.
They put together a menu primarily featuring fusion-style quesadillas, such as their pork and pineapple stuffed Hawaiian D-Ya or their tomato, basil, and mozzarella Bruschetta D-Ya. They also offer street-style tacos by the half-dozen, served in classic corn tortillas as opposed to street signs that have been bent in half.
Cuisine Type: Fresh delivery alternative for pizza.
Reservations: Not necessary
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 1–5
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Smokey Mountain Quesa-D-Ya
Delivery / Take-out: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Arturo and Tina Vargas have a unique way of celebrating their family's central Mexican roots. They make an annual journey to different locales south of the border, ending each trip with a visit to their hometown of Cuernavaca. But these aren't average vacations. Instead, Arturo and Tina use the opportunity to discover new ingredients or recipes that they can bring back to Cristina's Fine Mexican Restaurant, their flavorful franchise of Texas eateries. Their culinary findings appear throughout the menu of Tex-Mex cooking.
The staff at each of the Vargas' venues wholeheartedly embraces those deep roots, making flour tortillas in-house, hand-rolling enchiladas, and preparing orders of guacamole directly beside diners' tables. But that's not to say the dishes are expected?salmon with pineapple butter and fried chicken breast with white wine-cream sauce demonstrate some of the kitchens' more experimental inclinations. Flavored margaritas and mojitos can add spirited refreshment to meals, as can any of the beers that the restaurants import from Mexico via man with a very strong throwing arm.