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Despite its tourist-trap chic, Chihuahua Charlie's offers a tasty and varied Mex menu

There are "traditional" plates, too. You know, stuff like chiles rellenos, tacos, a combination plate, enchiladas, crepas de cuitlacoches en salsa poblanas. The truth is, I don't have any idea why the last was listed as traditional and then described as a "close encounter between France and Mexico." Traditional where, exactly? In Carlos and Pierre's place, perhaps? We just ignored it and tried the enchiladas mole with pollo. The mole sauce was a rosy brown cream, with slightly sweeter spice than my favorite mole sauces, and without that dark-roasted edge some of them have, but with a pleasantly assertive, granular texture from the grinding of the ingredients. It was particularly good with the rougher sweetness of the corn tortilla, but if I ordered it again I'd ask for cheese enchiladas because the chicken, though plentiful, was tasteless and even a little bit tough. The unctuousness of cheese would have made the dish more luxurious, and mole, even when served in the dimmest and grimiest of dives, is a luxury food.

There is an interesting dessert menu at Chihuahua Charlie's--ice cream with cajeta, apple cake, flan. But it's hard to imagine dessert after an evening of Charlie's margaritas. It's hard to imagine shopping in the mercado after an evening of Charlie's margaritas. In fact, the only activity I could imagine and welcome after an evening of Charlie's margaritas was retiring at home and contemplating my puffer fish mobile.

Chihuahua Charlie's, 3232 McKinney Ave., (214) 969-9300. Open Monday-Thursday 11a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Chihuahua Charlie's:
Queso Carioca $4.75
Sopa de Cuitlacoche $1.95
Camaron al Chipotle $14.75
Chiles Rellenos $7.75

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