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At exuberantly eclectic and casual Evita’s Botanitas, the finest beef fajitas in town come on a sizzling platter with strips of grilled onion and bell pepper plus guacamole, sour cream, grated cheddar, and jícama matchsticks. Don’t miss the beef fajitas at dark, sultry Vivo, which come with the restaurant’s terrific homemade corn tortillas; slather and sprinkle them with the usual condiments. Lemon-pepper seasoning gives the exceptionally tender beef fajitas at minuscule, unpretentious Cilantro’s a different twist, and the friendly owner makes you feel as if you’re dining in her home.
Forget those overwrought fajitas swimming in too-sweet marinades that are proliferating in Dallas. Instead, head to funky, lively Pepe’s & Mito’s, in Deep Ellum, for the sizzling pan-grilled vegetable fajitas. Subtle butter-garlic flavor sings in each bite of sliced mushrooms, chayote squash, potato, and tomato.
Trailing clouds of smoke, smiling servers in the happy camp that is La Familia deliver platters of fajitas with such a sputtering racket that conversation invariably stops. Never overmarinated, the toothsome strips of steak or juicy chicken breast come with grilled onion and tomato and chunky guacamole, plus sour cream and pico de gallo.
There’s a tie for the city’s best: At sprawling, loud Don Carlos Cantina, in the Hispanic Second Ward, sizzling platters of fajitas are served in a dramatic haze of smoke. The beef, deliciously marinated in pineapple juice, is charred and slightly chewy, while the chicken is fork-tender; both come with caramelized onions and peppers. Sharing first place are the mesquite-grilled beef fajitas at contemporary, chic Jalapeño’s, which caters to a tony River Oaks crowd. Generous slices of melt-in-your-mouth beef, rosy at the center, glisten with a smoke-tinged marinade and come with crisp onions and tricolored peppers. For something special, order the combo fajita platter at cool and cozy Teotihuacán, which includes a few shrimp—gorgeous butterflied specimens bursting from their shells. The beef fajitas, with grainy skirt-steak texture, are charred and highly seasoned; all fajitas come with cakelike homemade corn tortillas. At the original Ninfa’s on Navigation, a kitschy barrio favorite, the chicken fajitas have lost their luster, but the tender beef fajitas with the famous smoky marinade still have their old magic. The made-on-the-spot flour tortillas are truly carb-addictive.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY
The exceedingly fine fajitas at Poncho, in Pharr—skirt steak marinated to a toothsome tenderness and served with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes—seem to taste especially good because you’re eating them amid graceful brick arcades and booths nestled in alcoves.
Here’s a tip: Order the beef al carbón platter rather than the regular fajita platter at classy El Jarro de Arturo for the city’s best fajitas, with an almost caramelized taste from the grill (the plain fajitas are fine, but they’re not in the same league). La Fonda’s excellent beef fajitas are jazzed up with strips of grilled poblano plus red and yellow bell pepper, making a pretty platter; the attentive service matches the rather proper old house, with its charming drawings of Spanish regional costumes. Fajitas don’t come any simpler than those served in Tito’s equally basic, informal dining room; tender and seasoned with salt and pepper, they are the essence of beef. Known for its smoky-flavored fajitas, Picante Grill welcomes carnivores with its red and yellow walls, strings of twinkle lights, and vases of paper sunflowers all around.
See the Directorio for directions to any of these restaurants.