In the family way

Around the corner from Vitto's is Mi Familias, a new little Mexican restaurant that is Vitto's exact opposite in substance and style. Vitto's is trying to carve a little niche of unexpected chic in old-fashioned Oak Cliff; Mi Familias is precisely what we've come to expect from Oak Cliff eateries, a humble mom-and-pop operation, with no tricks in its kitchen and no frills out front. Its customers will come from the neighborhood and bring their own beer. There's nothing special here, just decent, cheap Mexican food in plain surroundings.

This is a small, entirely undecorated room, cooled only by fans and the open door. As if. Window blinds would have helped the afternoon onslaught from the western sun; a dictionary would have helped us communicate with the waiter, who was probably a member of la familia. A nice old man, he evidently understood only some English. We used the point and shoot method to order, then he slowly but cheerfully brought us one thing at a time: drinks, then menus, then chips, then thin, burning hot sauce.

Seafood is listed as a specialty, which seemed unlikely, but we did order shrimp enchiladas and they were good, the firm, pink little curls rolled in a corn tortilla smothered in white cheese. There are a lot of Mexican--not Tex-Mex--dishes listed: atole de maiz, the ancient, Aztec corn gruel; several soups; menudo; and guisado de puerco, a rich stew of tender pork chunks in red-chile sauce. Standards, like enchiladas and flautas, were good, and several of the extras, like guacamole and beans, were excellent.

But, as happens so often in otherwise undistinguished little restaurants, Mi Familias has one special thing going for it that makes a meal here almost worth the inconvenience and heat: These could be the best flour tortillas in Dallas. Thick and hand-formed into sort of a round shape, there was still a powder of flour on each one, and instead of the tough, slightly rubbery texture flour tortillas collapse into when they've been packaged, these still had all their bloom and tenderness. Rolled around some guiso, they were something special.

--Mary Brown Malouf

Mi Familias, 416 N. Bishop, 946-1232. Open Tuesday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 pm.; Friday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-5p.m.

Mi Familias:

Homemade Flour Tortillas $2
Carne Guisada de Puerco $5.50
Enchiladas de Camaron $7.25
Cheese Enchiladas $4.50


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