Whether stuffing cornhusks with hand-ground maize or hosting holiday meals for the hungry, the Moreno family radiates the spirit of giving, earning kudos from the Dallas Observer and the East Dallas community. Since 1984, the clan has welcomed visitors to La Popular with warmth, hospitality, and their lauded tamales. Made without lard or gluten, each leaf-wrapped tamale brims with hearty fillings such as pork, chicken breast, ground chuck, and spiced pinto beans. The Morenos gather many ingredients from the Dallas Famers Market, where they also prepare savory bites for passersby. On weekends, the flagship location serves Mexican classics such as slow-roasted barbacoa beef, fried pork feet, and carnitas as tender as a love poem's first kiss.
Though Luna de Noche's menu doesn't stray far from its Mexican roots, the restaurant’s chefs introduce nuanced flavors in all their dressed-up versions of Tex-Mex classics. As staff members make guacamole tableside for patrons, they may add unique ingredients such as pecans, creating a dish that is as distinctive as it is traditional. Even the margaritas—served frozen, on the rocks, or from a hose—build on the classic recipe by incorporating ingredients such as Kahlúa, fresh jalapeño juice, or housemade sangria.
Qdoba's burrito baristas handcraft a menu of Mexican-inspired cuisine, customizable with a panoply of fresh ingredients. Qdoba's culinary crafters create succulent additions to burritos, tacos, and salads, such as slow-roasted pulled pork, adobo-marinated grilled steak or chicken, and spiced shredded or ground beef, with vegetarian options also available for each dish. Diners can bite through the warm shells of three tacos brimming with grilled chicken, steak, or seasoned beef, or mine for black beans and sweet corn within the taco salad’s crunchy tortilla bowl quarry. A festive burrito dinner allows eaters to customize burritos with add-on ingredients, including three-cheese queso or a creamy, hand-smashed guacamole that's ideal for filling up Queen Elizabeth's diamond-studded guacamole chalice. Warm tortilla soup and its crisper cousin, the tortilla chip, let pairs slurp with camaraderie or construct solid foundations for tortilla-chip houses.
The burrito is a self-contained tour through the worlds of meat, beans, and spices, a melting pot of food culture. Embark on a culinary adventure by perusing the restaurant's Tex-Mex menu, full of fresh ingredients that are never canned nor frozen nor stored in an insulated fanny pack. At Freebirds, the customer decides on the contents of each burrito, like filling a tortilla papoose full of meats, vegetables, and cheeses. Burritos range in size from the smallest, the hybrid, to the biggest, the super-monster ($4.69–$12.86). They can be stuffed with slow-roasted carnitas, grass-fed steak, fire-grilled chicken, or fresh non-meat-based vegetables and wrapped with four flavors of tortilla. Also available are a host of other Tex-Mex favorites, such as quesadillas ($5.43–$6.19), tacos ($1.59 each), and Baja chicken enchilada soup ($3.79/bowl).
Drawing on his experience as an artist, Pablo Esparza festoons the walls of his restaurant with a rotating display of work from local artists and framed prints of his own black-and-white photography. He also taps into 20 years of restaurant experience, staffing his kitchen with cooks who skillfully grill carne asada, assemble torta sandwiches, and wrap tortillas around beef, rice, and beans according to his specifications and the whims of a giant magic 8 ball. Bartenders mix custom cocktails and dispense brews from behind the full bar, and diners croon out hits during karaoke nights or dance to tunes from live DJs.
For a Tex-Mex experience that feels decidedly urban, downtown lunchgoers and happy hour enthusiasts head to casual Iron Cactus, located in the thick of the city’s hustle and bustle on Main Street. Alongside expected dishes like chile con queso, fajitas, quesadillas and carnitas street tacos, diners will also find crispy Baja fish tacos, New Mexico-style pork enchiladas with salsa verde and cornbread-crusted fish with jalapeño and mushroom cream sauce. Rustic brick walls adorned with folky art and cushy, bright-colored booths make a comfortable perch from which to sip on potent margaritas – concocted with your choice of several dozen tequilas, ranging from budget-friendly to extravagant – while signature cocktails like the El Corazon, served with tequila and fresh prickly pear purée, make for a delicious dinner companion as well.