Saturday, January 10, 2009


Zhongxiao E. Road Section 4 (near Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT) Lane #216, Alley 11 #21

Go here.

It's a new foreign-owned Tex Mex restaurant and it's fabulous. The food isn't "Mexican" (as in, no corn tortillas and delicious tamales from the back of a van by the side of the road outside Houston, which is my fondest memory of true Mexican fare) but it is legitimately "Tex Mex" (the American spawn of Mexican + Southwestern) and is legitimately good.

I know there's a good Mexican place up in Danshui, but dude, that's Danshui. An hour on the MRT? I know La Casita has a good reputation for food, but their reputation for friendly service is lacking. Tequila Sunrise on Xinsheng S. Road does Tex Mex tailored to Taiwanese tastes - that is, entirely too mild. Jake's is alriiiight but a bit greasy, and I do think Tianmu is inconvenient.

This place is the real deal, and in a convenient location, too. We came at 4:45 and were still allowed to order off the lunch menu (ends at 5). Service was excellent and friendly, and the staff speaks fluent English as well as Chinese, which is good because I have no idea how to order Mexican food in Chinese unless it involves Chinese-ifying words like 'tortilla' into 'tou ti la' and 'salsa' into 'sa lu sa' or some such.

The food was great. The nachos...were really...nachos! REAL NACHOS, people. I haven't had those in awhile. Real cheese, real melting, real toppings. Not just microwaved Doritos with a few sad strips of plastic cheddar. Real salsa, not glorified ketchup. Real. Sour. Cream.

Emily said the rice was too mild, but I am sure a kitchen request could fix that. She had effusive compliments for her ribs, though, which "were so tender they were just falling apart. I'm used to having to saw ribs apart to get any meat." Our sandwiches were fantastic, with lots of spicy jalapenos, tender chicken and other good stuff, and came with generous corn chips and salsa. They were also huge, and on the lunch menu, less than $200 NT each.

I do wish the dinner menu contained more options for those of us who like our Tex Mex food pre-wrapped in tortillas - the only fajitas are steak fajitas, and otherwise it's either nachos, half-chickens, ribs, shrimp, etc.

They had flan with vanilla ice cream, but we were too full for dessert. The margaritas (only a few on the menu but all looked good, not foofy or frilly) looked fine, but I'm on meds for bronchitis so no drinkies for me. We only went there in the first place because I am sick and craving Western goodies. I always want pasta, Tex Mex or some such when I'm ill.

A generous meal for 3 came to $1170 and there was no service charge! We tipped, because we liked it. Good deal for tasty foreign food, I'd say.

The service was spectacular - friendly staff, helpful but not intrusive, and honestly trying to please. The waitress confirmed the order and the waiter who spilled a few of my chips on the table brought a bowl of fresh ones.

Bonus - the decor wasn't tacky, froofy or embarrassing. It was minimalist, with a southwestern feel. No plastic cacti or sombreros with poofballs on walls or all those other things that make me avoid Tex Mex restaurants.

It was nearly empty at 5pm on a Friday night, and that just ain't right - though it seemed they were setting up for a party downstairs.

So. Um. Go here!


阿牛 said...

You wouldn't be talking about the truck at the I-45 South Freeway and FM 2351 by chance, would you? Or perhaps one of the city's many other tamale trucks?

Bicyclesidewalk said...

Wonderful write up - I have not been however tempted to go - full moon this evening, watching my your writing.

Jenna said...

You know, I have no idea where that tamale truck is but you might be right. It's near the south side of Houston where my friend's family lives.