Dallas is awash in good Mexican food, from El Tocallo's lengua tacos served on house-made tortillas to Seafood Shack's citrus crazy ceviche tostadas. Entire blogs are dedicated to the pursuit of the very best Mexican food Big D has to offer, and devotees disregard mileage when it comes to hunting down that perfect Oaxacan mole or torta ahogada.
Less is known about the Mexican food brunch scene, however. Perhaps this is because there is not so much a scene as there are a few restaurants that check off both boxes. Mi Dia From Scratch is one such restaurant.
The Mi Dia we visited (in Plano — the other location is in Grapevine) is situated in a quintessentially North Dallas strip mall. It's all very vanilla, of course, and so one rushes inside with the hope that more excitement will be found on the plate than that which is afforded by the locale. Inside it's a little vanilla, too, though the illuminated center bar is eye-catching. Outside, patio seating affords unparalleled views of the Dallas North Tollway as well as the Tesla-filled parking lot.
Where there are Teslas, of course, there are miniature, fancifully adorned dishes. Mi Dia's aim is to take traditional Mexican cuisine and artfully intertwine it with flavors from Tex-Mex and Santa Fe cuisines. One way chef Gabriel DeLeon accomplishes this is by swirling a verdant, juicy hatch green chili salsa with a zingy, smoky red. As far as this intrepid brunch reporter is concerned, all brunches should begin with a bowl or two of this stuff and a magical, never-ending supply of chips.
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The magic continued on the plate with an order of huevos ahogados ($15). Three mint-green domes appeared like little pastel creations born of Brunelleschi himself. The domes' foundations consisted of masa boats, pupusa-like forms that provided a little chew but not much else. Topping the boats were refried black beans, some salty, fatty crumbles of chorizo and a poached egg. The mint-green color came from the poblano sauce, which bathed the lot in a delicately fresh and peppery cream. Unfortunately, the flavor of the sauce was lost to the masa and the overpowering chorizo, rendering the dish less dazzling than its original form suggested. Though the accompanying side of potato chilaquiles was a good idea — layering thin slivers of potato with a smoky pepper mixture — it begged for a kiss of salt.
Like its sister dish, the huevos motulenos ($15) appeared fun and stylish with pops of green peas and pink pickled onions. If the mention of peas as a garnish gives you pause, you may also be confused by the choice of meat for this dish. Indeed, we weren't sure at what point this Mexican/Tex-Mex/Santa Fe restaurant crossed the English channel, but it did, and it came back with a forest ham. It's not that ham is a stranger to Mexican cuisine per se, but in this form, with seared thick-cut slabs of the stuff, it seems an unconventional choice given the veritable Mexican meat rainbow from which most restaurants pick and choose: chicharrones, pastor, barbacoa and the like. Granted, the accompanying chile arbol reduction was heavenly – so pungent and spicy – and it found a friend in the ham.
Brunch at Mi Dia was a magical experience — magical because it focused on presentation, and in doing so entertained our eyes. Save for the sauces, however, our taste buds found the show to be full of smoke and mirrors. And peas.
Mi Dia From Scratch, 3310 Dallas Parkway, Plano and 1295 S. Main St., Grapevine