I measure all Tex-Mex restaurants by their fajitas. The simple dish of grilled meats and vegetables gives a great window into how the restaurant handles ingredients and, usually, what you can expect from the rest of the menu. So when I walked into the new Primo's to dine for the first time, I didn't even have to look at the menu. I ordered the fajitas, steak, and reluctantly said yes to the basket of chips and salsa that were offered up gratis.
Primo's, it appears, has gotten a serious upgrade since the McKinney Avenue days. The old location had decades of Tex-Mex smells clinging to the walls, years of margaritas spilled by local Uptowners. When the restaurant unexpectedly closed, a subsequent location was not announced. It seemed like Primo's had tossed in the napkin.
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Then the Design District iteration was announced, and the new dining room has that shiny look and feel you'd expect a restaurant to have when it occupies the first floor of a luxury condominium. Primo's has other things you might not expect in a Tex-Mex restaurant, like a pair of pool tables, but keep the focus on those fajitas for now.
They arrived with a quiet sizzle, respectable but not an inferno that might require a diner to recoil in terror. They also came on a bed of onions and red and yellow bell peppers that provided a sweet garnish for the fajita meat. Tortillas were supplied in both corn and flour varieties and they glistened with oil when you opened the plastic warming container that held them. With some solid guac and other toppings, I'll say these are some respectable fajitas.
So are they salsas, which arrive in red and green. The former is bright and fresh, with lots of tomato and cilantro, and the latter is tart with plenty of tomatillo. I only regretted the chips and salsa because I have no control. I spoil my dinner every single time they sit on my table. This time they were worth it, and a genuine contribution to the meal.
I'm not sure who will strike up a billiards game at Primo's. After every Tex-Mex meal I have had, my immediate destination is my own couch or bed or under my cubicle. Perhaps if there is ever a long wait for a table here, a few rounds of pool and margaritas will keep the hoards occupied. Personally, I'd rather spend my wait time stuffing my face with more of those salsas.