Breaking all the rules

At the Flying Burro, ignorance leads to good food

The next course, a combination appetizer plate, offered us a taste of everything in that category. The rather surprising Winnie's Killer Queso, a chile con queso, combined unmelted shredded cheese with chopped peppers--a more direct, in-your-face dish than typical melted Tex-Mex cheese-food. Stuffed jalapeĖos were corn-crusted bullets, nachos were yawners, and quesadillas were steamy and soggy from the hot plate; but the strange little New Mexican pizzas--squares of bread topped with green chiles, black olives, chorizo, and tomato sauce--were extraordinary, the kind of vivid little mouthfuls the French call amuse-gueules because they really do stimulate your mouth's imagination.

Even before Santa Fe became a suburb of Dallas, there was one thing every Texan knew about New Mexican food: They stack their enchiladas. This used to be talked of in a tone that implied the hopeless eccentricity that could provoke such behavior, or maybe Texans thought New Mexicans were just too lazy to roll their tortillas. (No wonder Texans aren't popular in the neighbor state.) The Burro serves enchiladas stacked and rolled; we tried both kinds. New Mexico-style, each tortilla is dipped in a red-chile wash, then piled like pancakes with cheese and onions, doused with chile sauce and topped with a fried egg. The Texas version assembles all the same ingredients, except the egg, in tubular formation. Not surprisingly, they were both good. Surprisingly, the style does make a difference: Stacked enchiladas are messier, the tortillas are more tender, and the texture is softer and somehow more sensual. It's typical that the Texan ones are more uptight.

Another entree, puerco asada, round slices of loin rubbed with spice and coated with bright achiote chile sauce, had been pounded too thin to be grilled to the "juicy perfection" advertised by the menu, but they were tasty, though slightly chewy bits of meat. They were served with calabacitas, the Indian-based traditional New Mexican vegetable mixture of carrots, zucchini, and corn. (In Tex-Mex cuisine, there are few vegetables.) Everything came with typical tomato-tinged Spanish rice, slightly scorched on our first visit, probably just because the kitchen was overpowered by the unexpected crowd.

Flying Burro may not look like much yet, but its highly personal interpretation of the established favorite cuisine is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and to the Dallas dining landscape. Proof: The place has been jammed for weeks.

Oh, and one parting thought: Did you know that the jackalope capital of the world is Douglas, Wyoming? There's an oversized statue of the fabled mammal smack in the middle of downtown, right where a Civil War hero should go. It's a surprising fact for those of us who grew up assuming that the jackalope was a creation of Texas braggadocio. I'm not questioning why Wyoming wildlife is a featured part of--indeed, the Flying Burro's only stab at--decor. I'm just suggesting that, since Mr. King is holding a "name that jackalope" contest for the restaurant's only accessory, he should prove he really is smart and name it Doug.

Flying Burro, 2831 Greenville Ave., 827-2112. Open Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Flying Burro:
Sapillo Combination Plate $6.95
Puerco Asado $9.95
Tortilla Soup $5.50
Combo Appetizer Platter $8.50
Vegetable Burritos $5.75

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