November 1999 Issue

On the Cover

The Joy of Mex

From La Valentina in Dallas to Casa del Sol in Juárez, 75 Mexican restaurants that will leave your taste buds begging for more, plus seven great recipes.


Joy of Mex: El Paso

CAFE CENTRAL109 N. Oregon at 1 Texas Court, 915-545-2233. This chic upscale spot is more a continental than a Mexican restaurant, but the Mexican dishes it does have are original and excellent, including wonderfully crisp bacon-wrapped prawns in a chipotle marinade, lovely puntas de filete (sliced tenderloin) in jalapeño

The Outsiders

Amarillo is a city where conformity counts, so the death of a punk at the hands of a football player had more than a little symbolic significance there. So did the jury’s decision to keep the killer from going to jail.

The Joy of Mex: Recipes

The Big EnchiladaEnchiladas Zacatecanas from Las Manitas, AustinQuick: define “enchilada.” Most people would say it’s a rolled or folded tortilla filled with something savory, topped with a sauce, and blanketed in melted cheese. And that would certainly be one correct definition. But if you go by the etymology of the

Water Under the Bridge

Henry Cisneros’ power derived from his ability to bring people together. It was supposed to get him elected governor, senator, president. He’s finally the president, all right —of a Spanish-language TV network. And all thoughts of a career in public life are in the past.

Joy of Mex: San Antonio

Aldaco’s100 Hoefgen, Sunset Station; from downtown, go east on Market Street under I-37, north on the service road, right on Commerce, and right on Hoefgen; 210-222-0561. Last year twelve tables, this year fifty: Tiny Aldaco’s has moved into a cavernous but spiffily remodeled railroad terminal practically next door to the

Joy of Mex: Reynosa, Mexico

La FogataCalle Matamoros Ote. 750, 011-52-89-22-47-72. A great place to cool your heels after tramping around Reynosa. The white walls, dark carved-wood bar, and arched stone window frames exude serenity. Cabrito (order the shoulder cut) is tender; the butterflied beef filet (medium-well-done unless you specify otherwise) comes in a

Joy of Mex: Nuevo Laredo, Mexico

EL DORADOBelden at Ocampo, 011-52-87-12-00-15. The point of visiting the former, original Cadillac Bar is not to eat, though you can certainly do that here. The point is, and always has been, to have an ethereal Ramos Gin Fizz, laugh and carry on, see somebody you haven’t seen in ten

Joy of Mex: McAllen

MARIA BONITA1612 N. Eleventh, 956-687-7181. Carved lava-stone columns add a touch of Mexican character to an otherwise unremarkable space, and the food is more authentic than is the norm hereabouts. Grilled items, a specialty, are served on tabletop braziers to keep them hot (ask for a platter so they won’t

Joy of Mex: Matamoros, Mexico

BIGO’S PARRILLAAvenida Alvaro Obregón 48 at Azucenas, 011-52-88-16-25-29, and one other location; personal checks accepted, no credit cards.“Todo al carbón” (“Everything’s grilled”) at this little brick-fronted cafe on a major tourist strip. Families and dates chow down on good, smoky fajita meat in the world’s smallest corn tortillas. On the

Joy of Mex: Laredo

COTULLA STYLE PIT B.B.Q.4502 McPherson, 956-724-5747. You can get decent, not-too-Americanized Mexican food at busy, barnlike Cotulla, which is famous for its barbecue and its huge variety of mariachis (borderspeak for “soft tacos”). Guacamole: 4.5 (avocado and fixings). Chips: 3. Salsa: 1 (totally bland). EL TACO TOTE5603 San Dario, which

Joy of Mex: Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

CASA DEL SOLAvenida Lincoln at Calle Ignacio Mejía, 011-52-16-13-65-09 or 16-00-88. Casa del Sol makes the most original chile relleno in Juárez—a beautifully simple ancho (a dried, ripe poblano that’s been plumped up) filled with sour cream and ricottalike panela cheese. It tastes like a sun-dried tomato, but better. Almost

Joy of Mex: Houston

BLUE AGAVE1340 West Gray, 713-520-9696. Order pollo gordo (“fat chicken”) and you’ll be gordo by the time you finish the generous breast stuffed with spinach and pepper cheese in chipotle cream. Your wallet, however, will be thin: Most entrée prices are in the teens. This trendy, exuberantly tacky spot does

Joy of Mex: Galveston

THE ORIGINALMEXICAN CAFE1401 Market, 409-762-6001. With its bright, bouncy colors, paper flowers, and pots of bougainvillea on the patio, the Original could have been created by central casting. Depending on what you order, you’ll finish with a smile or a grimace. The fajitas Jalisco, so tantalizingly described on the menu,

Joy of Mex: Fort Worth

BENITO’S1450 W. Magnolia Avenue, 817-332-8633. What a find! You’ll think you’ve died and gone to Mexico when you walk into this little old-fashioned place. Sopes—thick corn-cake tarts—come smeared with refried beans, grated cheese, and (unfortunately) tasteless green-chile sauce. A gigantic Oaxaca-style chicken-and-mole tamal wrapped in a banana leaf would feed

Joy of Mex: Dallas

CUQUITA’S2326 N. Henderson, 214-823-1859; cash only. Pozole (hominy stew) and lengua (tongue) make the menu more Mex-Mex, but there’s plenty of Tex-Mex at this fine place. The homemade lemonade is a nice little appetizer all by itself, and you’ll still feel like ordering simple and flavorful burritos (bean, chicken, and

Joy of Mex: Austin

CHANGO’S TAQUERIA3023 Guadalupe, 512-480-8226. This bright little taquería near the university is great for a quickie (meal). The menu is minuscule, with mostly tacos and burritos, and you stand in line to order, but the corn tortillas are handmade right on the spot—a mesmerizing operation—and the food is not


Time of Nic

Sixteen years after rocketing into the Whitney Biennial, Dallas photographer Nic Nicosia is still on the cutting edge.


Renaissance Man

Laugh not, wretch, at the man in the tights: Twenty-five years after George Coulam founded the Texas Renaissance Festival, it hath been a big success.

First Person

Eyes Wide Cut

I can see without my glasses for the first time since childhood, which is why I’m a fan of LASIK surgery. But don’t take my word for it; ask Troy Aikman.


The Screenplayer

Anne Rapp’s first script for Robert Altman, Cookie’s Fortune, was critically acclaimed. The second is now being filmed in Dallas and stars Richard Gere. Not bad for a girl from a tiny Panhandle town.



Sergio Troncoso

“I am a writer from a particular community in Texas,” says 38-year-old Sergio Troncoso. “It’s not even El Paso. It’s Ysleta, the east side of El Paso. I grew up around cotton fields and combines.” That environment has emerged in Troncoso’s stories years after he left for the East

The Ex Files

Michael Nesmith

I knew what I wanted to do when I was four years old in nursery school and stood on a chair and pretended that I was directing an orchestra. When I was around nineteen, I was playing guitar and decided that I wanted to be a folksinger. But the problem

State Secrets

Divide and Conquer

What is George W. Bush up to? Twice he has criticized his own party, charging that congressional Republicans were trying to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor” and that the GOP has concentrated on economic issues at the expense of “human problems that persist in the shadow

Hot Box

CD and Book Reviews

MUSICRoy OrbisonThe Roy Orbison Official Authorized Bootleg CollectionOrbison RecordsHOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED. Bootleggers of music, once reviled as thieves of intellectual property, are now being recognized as archivists, Bob Dylan’s “Royal Albert Hall” concert of 1966 being the most notable example. Now comes one of Texas’ genuine legends, Roy Orbison,



Lamb Loin and Spicy Grits

Corn-Serrano Grits1 ear of corn 2 serrano chiles 1 cup yellow stone-ground corn grits 1 tablespoon basil, cut in strips 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper to tastePreheat oven to 375 degrees or heat up a grill. Roast whole corn in oven for 45 minutes or


Corn-Serrano Grits

1 ear of corn 2 serrano chiles 1 cup yellow stone-ground corn grits 1 tablespoon basil, cut in strips 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil salt and freshly ground pepper to tastePreheat oven to 375 degrees or heat up a grill. Roast whole corn in oven for 45 minutes or grill


Mojo Sauce

3/8 cup olive oil 3/4 cup lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 cup fresh oregano (1/8 cup dried) 3/4 teaspoon salt Whisk ingredients together and refrigerate for 2 hours.


Margaritas From the Kentucky Club

salt (coarse if available) 1 ounce white tequila (Herradura is excellent) 1 ounce Controy (Mexican orange liqueur) juice of 1 Mexican lime iceMoisten the rim of a cocktail glass with lime juice and invert in a saucer of salt. Shake tequila, liqueur, lime juice, and ice together and strain into


Cilantro—Pumpkin Seed Shrimp

Cilantro—Pumpkin Seed Sauce1 bunch cilantro (cut off large stems) 1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese or queso cotija 1 1/2teaspoons minced garlic 1/ 4cup olive oilPurée all ingredients in a blender to a pestolike consistency.Shrimp2 tablespoons olive oil 24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails


Chiles Rellenos with Guajillo Sauce

Guajillo Sauce1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed 1 large white onion, peeled and cut into eighths 6 cloves garlic, peeled 1 ounce guajillo chiles (approximately 4 chiles; guajillos are about 4 inches long, reddish-brown, and smooth-skinned; they are sometimes labeled “cascabel” chiles in stores); or use


Spicy Tomato-Avocado Salsa

1/2 bunch cilantro (cut off large stems) 2 scallions, white part and some of the green stem 1/2 medium onion, peeled 2 tomatoes 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño, stemmed (seeded if you wish) 1 avocado, peeled 1/2teaspoon salt or to tasteDivide first 6 ingredients into 2 batches. Coarsely chop ingredients


Enchiladas Zacatecanas

Chicken Filling1 whole frying chicken, giblets and excess fat removed 1/2 medium onion, peeled and sliced 1 clove garlic, peeled 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 1/2 medium onion, peeled and chopped 1 medium tomato, chopped 1/2 bell pepper, seeded and chopped


Around the State

Around the State

Ricky Martin brings his hipness (and hips) to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Plus: The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hico rounds up a few heroes; a Spring Storm makes a fall premiere in Austin; the No Tsu Oh Festival turns Houston upside down (and backward); and four hot

Roar of the Crowd

Hits and Misses

FOR US TEXPATRIATES, JOHN CAMPBELL was an excellent choice for “The Texas Twenty” [September 1999]. We miss a lot about Texas and, in particular, Austin. Sadly, friends and co-workers in Southern California don’t get it when we rhapsodize about Central Market: “A grocery store? Whatever.” We try to explain the

Texas Primer

Mickey Leland

DURING THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES, emotional issues abounded—civil rights, the Vietnam War, women’s liberation. But what outraged social activist Mickey Leland the most was hunger, and the fact that it existed in his own Houston neighborhood. Early on, Leland’s passion for helping the common people catapulted him into the spotlight.

The Inside Story

Ally McMeal

Forget the recipe secrets. What we want to know is how senior editor Patricia Sharpe—the Calista Flockhart of Texas Monthly—keeps her slender figure. For this month’s cover story on Mexican food (see “The Joy of Mex,”), Sharpe dined at more than 120 restaurants on both sides of the border,

Explore the Archive

See all issues
Magazine Latest