Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How to Judge a Tex-Mex Restaurant

Here are a few guidelines: 1. It has to be family-owned. 2. A ramshackle space with added-on rooms is a positive. The most successful Tex-Mex restaurants started small and expanded due to popular demand. 3. It’s best if the patrons in the dining room look like the face of democracy. You want a mix of gringos and Hispanic customers; professionals and laborers.

Joe Gonzalez who, with his wife, Alma, opened El Jardin in 1975, offers a fourth tip: take careful measure of the chips and salsa.

“It’s the first thing that hits the table,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “Are the chips and salsa homemade, or does it taste like they’re from a bag and a jar? Right there you know if you’re in for the real thing, or they’re trying to save money.”
Indeed, this is exactly how I begin judging a new Tex-Mex place. Much, much more about Tex-Mex, that "native regional food," from this NY Times article, A Celebration of Tex-Mex, Without Apology. It's got plenty of input from Robb Walsh whose seminal Texas cookbooks I reviewed here. Thanks to Don for sending me the link to this enjoyable article!

Read about The Saga of Texas Chili and Terlingua.

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