The window-side tables at Veracruz Cafe in the Bishop Arts District make for excellent people-watching. They afford views of the rosy-cheeked toddler and his grandfather as they loiter outside of their home and of the quick-walking passersby who clip by the toddler in hot pursuit of a piece of pie, a good book or meal at one of Bishop's local establishments.
But for all of the interest outside, there is as much to be had inside the confines of Veracruz Cafe. This is one of two locations for Veracruz — the other is in Cedar Hill — and both feature "Mesoamerican/Mayan/Huasteco/Aztec" cuisine with a smattering of Tex-Mex thrown in for good measure.
Inside, you will find a cozy main dining area adorned with deep purple velvet curtains and rust-orange walls where thickly plastered vertical and horizontal impasto lines criss-cross their way around the room. It feels a bit like eating in a van Gogh painting set in a Victorian parlor, except one does not imagine Van Gogh's subjects eating a great deal of chips and salsa (which we did).
Verazcruz's salsa is lovely — bright and mild, with big hits of cilantro and acid. And it goes quite nicely with a $3 mimosa as you await your main entree.
Eggs are the predominant feature on Veracruz's brunch menu; they are stuffed in enchiladas ($11.95) and scrambled with chorizo (chorizo con huevos, $11.95). They are also whisked in with a smattering of potatoes, onions and other vegetables and griddled until golden-brown. This flat omelet, known as a torta tolteca, had a strong flavor. When bathed in a bit of Veracruz's salsa, however, much was forgiven.
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A side of beef flautas (coccitos, as Veracruz calls them) topped with shredded lettuce, queso fresco and crumbling white cheese provided both freshness and crunch, not to mention deep-fried goodness. The pan-fried plantain was a nice addition as well, rounding out the meal on a sweet, buttery note.
The brunch menu also plays host to Veracruz-style tamales — wherein the masa is enveloped by a banana leaf in lieu of a corn husk and takes on a lovely verdant note as a result — and gorditas. We opted for the La Gordita ($11.95), which featured a thin breakfast steak that smacked of salt and lime. The tender beefsteak was paired with some mole-spiked refried black beans and a gordita. As opposed to being stuffed, the tender masa cake was simply adorned with a bit of red sauce and left to its own chewy and savory devices.
Four mimosas, three bowls of salsa and two empty plates later, we returned our attention to the outside world, feeling all the more ready to take on the weekend.
Veracruz Cafe, 408 N. Bishop Ave. Brunch served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.