When Peak and Elm Cocina, the Tex-Mex restaurant on the outskirts of Deep Ellum, opened earlier this year, owner Jesse Moreno Sr. made a shocking announcement. Despite the menu featuring enchiladas, fajitas and other classics, the restaurant would not be serving gratis chips and salsa.
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As we pointed out as the restaurant first opened, chips and salsa were part of everyone's perceived right during a Tex-Mex meal. Other restaurants had tried and failed to get rid of the snack. We wondered how long Peak and Elm could hold out.
As a replacement, the restaurant offered a small bowl of sliced carrots, jicama, onion and jalapeño marinated in apple-cider vinegar. The vegetables were light, fresh and crisp, with an acidic tang -- the perfect thing to wake up your palate before a heavy Tex-Mex meal. But about two months ago, according to a waiter, the restaurant couldn't take the pressure any longer. "Customers expect chips and salsa when they come to a Tex-Mex type restaurant," he told me.
Now when you sit down at a table at Peak and Elm, chips and a small dish of tomato-based salsa arrive shortly after. The chips are made at nearby La Popular Tamale House, which also owns Peak and Elm. They're warm, not at all greasy and a good start to a Tex-Mex meal, provided you can exercise some restraint.
Apparently if you want to open a Te-Mex restaurant, you better put chips and salsa on every table. You've been warned.