A Trip Down Memory Lane at Tex-Mex Date Favorite Mi Cocina

For a lot of my friends, Mi Cocina is their go-to restaurant for Mexican and Tex-Mex food in the DFW area. I'm still partial to the New Mexican food I grew up on, with all of its green chile and tons of cheese, but I've come to like Mi Cocina. It consistently serves good food while guaranteeing an upbeat and fun atmosphere at its several locations.

More times than not, couples find themselves on first dates at Mi Cocina. I've been on first dates and fifth dates there. It's easy, comfortable and not many people can shy away from a Mambo Taxi.

My favorite Mi Cocina location is the one in Highland Park Village. It's open and bright, plus the upstairs bar makes for a good waiting place if your table's not ready. My most vivid memory of this location is the double date I went on there a couple summers ago.

My date was surprised to find me ordering a rum and Diet Coke instead of a margarita or Mambo Taxi. Hey, sometimes you want to keep your wits about you -- and despite it being a double, this was also a first date.

The date went well, and I enjoyed my tilapia Veracruz, a grilled fresh tilapia fillet with garlic and lime served with Latin vegetables and arroz. The cooks didn't overcook the fish, the respectable portion warranted a large to-go box.

As the four of us made our way down the Mi Cocina stairs, we noticed Hollywood film star Luke Wilson enter the restaurant and take a seat with someone we presumed to be a bodyguard at a two-top below us. My confident date decided to chat Luke up, while the rest of us waited at the front of the restaurant ready to go get dessert next door.

I wasn't in the mood to disturb Mr. Wilson since it looked like he'd just jumped out of bed, still in his pajamas for a seven o'clock dinner on a Sunday night.

Apparently Luke didn't have much to talk about with my date, but that wasn't the last we saw of him. As we enjoyed cups of gelato inside the Highland Park Village Theater, Mr. Wilson and his companion walked up to the counter and ordered their desserts too.

If you're headed for a date at the West Village Mi Cocina instead, my advice is not to sit near the mirrored wall. I once met there for a first date at lunchtime. He sat facing me, and facing the mirror, and from the minute we ordered our guacamole "Mexicano," my date kept looking in the mirror.

Or maybe he was trying to avoid looking in the mirror, but it kept catching his eye. Whichever the case, the mirror had him in a trance; his reflection possessed him. Was he vain? Was he trying to see if he needed a swipe of his napkin across his face? Was he checking if his hair was thinning? I'm not sure.

It didn't seem like a good question to ask, not at lunch, not on a first date, and certainly not without something stronger than the soda I was sipping. So I slurped my big bowl of tortilla soup, just the right size for a hearty but not too filling lunch; and never brought up the mirror incident with that guy. Well, until now.

The last Mi Cocina date I had was last December, right before the holidays, at the Southlake Town Square location. Kids and grown-ups loudly filled the restaurant trying to get their Tex-Mex fix before the holidays swamped them with turkey and ham.

Decked out in festive lights, the restaurant had a fun energy and a grand bar in the middle of the main dining room. My date and I weren't that hungry -- we had a movie to catch and had earlier agreed, no matter what, to share popcorn with butter and a bag of Skittles.

Consequently, we loaded up on Mambo Taxis, mojitos, chips and guacamole. We ultimately decided to share the crispy chicken enchiladas verdes served with salsa verde, crema, arroz and refried beans (you can also order enchiladas verdes at Taco Diner). Mi Cocina's salsa verde is tasty; I believe it's a tomatillo sauce, and it's the best part of the enchiladas dish.

Our server wasn't as attentive as we would have liked, but she did tab us out in time for us to make our movie. I'd never been to the Southlake Mi Cocina before, but I'd go back. It's an enjoyable place for a date night and the people with kids looked like they were having fun too. Plus, no mirrored walls at this spot to give your date the urge to stare at his hairline.

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Monica Berry