It's been some time since we rounded up Dallas' best Tex-Mex restaurants, mostly because the refried-bean scene really hasn't changed very much in the last few years. A few of our favorites have closed, though, and there have been some new discoveries, too. Besides, with heart-warming beans and cheese, and boozy margaritas, who isn't looking for a reason for an afternoon siesta?
Here are our eight favorite Tex-Mex restaurants in Dallas, starting with an old-school favorite.
Gonzalez (pictured above) I had a meal at Gonzalez years ago that was lackluster, and I wrote off the place as an old-time favorite that didn't hold up. Then I discovered the crispy tacos pictured above and everything changed. Where most Tex-Mex joints deliver heavy, greasy taco shells, these were light and crisp. Eating them before they crunched and fell apart was a formidable challenge, and by the last bite the shells had all but disappeared.
Picking up your fork to finish a taco is sometimes the price you have to pay for exemplary crunchy tacos. And at Gonzalez, the price is more than worth it.
Urban Rio Urban Rio broke onto the scene two years ago with hand-crafted ingredients, clean-tasting food and a massive dining room that's packed on weekend evenings with Plano locals. For the amount of work the kitchen puts into their dishes, from the hand-made tortillas to the fresh salsas, the menu provides a great value.
Herrera's Greedy developers and landlords can't keep good fajitas down. Herrera's days on Maple Avenue are over, but the new location on Sylvan boasts the best looking restaurant since the original closed decades ago. Don't forget about the sour cream enchiladas. For four years now I've been hunting for a superior specimen. I'm still looking.
Avila's I've visited Avila's a number of times over the past few years, including a recent visit while hunting for Dallas' best crispy tacos, and the restaurant easily made the list. The chili relleno served at Avila's has made our 100 Favorite dishes list because the kitchen leaves the pepper naked instead of breading it in what often becomes soggy batter. Best of all, every meal here starts out with a little fire. Watch out for that salsa -- it packs a punch.
Cuquita's This small family chain may have closed a few locations over the years, but it's not because of their food. Cuquita's serves simple Tex-Mex that may hit the cheese a little hard, but it doesn't leave you feeling like you need medical support to get home. And don't forget the handmade tortillas. They're some of the city's best.
Manny's Uptown These guys have the best brisket tacos in Dallas. I love the bright, crunchy vegetables, and the massive bowl of gravy they give you for dipping and dousing. As far as Uptown is concerned, Manny's is your best bet.
Mesero If you've been a fan of the upscale Tex-Mex of Mi Cocina, get out of your groove and give Mesero a try. It's owned and operated by Michael Rodriguez, the guy who built the Mi Cocina empire, and while the restaurant has gone through a few identity changes as it's grown, Mesero has fallen into stride. In fact, there's likely a Mesero empire in the works -- another location opened last year on Lovers Lane.
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El Ranchito This place is insane on a Friday night. The line is always out the door, and every time someone steps out, the deafening sounds of Mariachi music pour into the street. The cabrito is my favorite dish, but standard Tex-Mex offerings are solid, too.